Ranma 1/2 is the creation of Takahashi Rumiko, the great and wonderful, inspiration to us all. Of all the characters that appear in this fanfic, only Risa was created by me. Please, don't sue me.
"It is the decision of this court," intoned the judge, "that Saotome Ranma is granted unsupervised access to his daughter, Tendo Risa. However, primary residence will remain with Tendo Nabiki until Risa has reached age of majority, and is able to make her own decisions regarding her living arrangements. In addition, Tendo Akane is granted access, but such access must be supervised by either Saotome Ranma, Tendo Nabiki or Tendo Kasumi.
"This court is closed."
The bailiff stood. "All rise."
The assembled persons stood as the judge swept out of the courtroom, and then the buzz of conversation began. Risa launched herself into the arms of her father.
"All right, Dad! We did it!"
Nabiki coughed. "Touching, I'm sure. But I'm willing to bet that it had more to do with the fact that you've been visiting Ranma for the last year, and that the court clinic assessment came back positively." She shrugged. "And, of course, the high powered legal firepower never hurt."
"Thanks, Nabiki-obasama." Risa hugged her aunt. "This is the best thing you've done for me all year!"
Nabiki chuckled. "Not a problem. Hey, let's go get something to eat. What do you all feel like?"
Risa jumped into the air. "Okonomiyaki!"
A bailiff approached the threesome. "Excuse me, but I was wondering if you could make my job a whole lot easier. Does any of you three know how I might contact Tendo Akane?"
Risa went from ecstatic to depressed just as though a switch had been thrown. "No, I'm sorry. Mom hasn't contacted anyone in the family for the last eight years..."
"Oh, I'm sorry." The bailiff bowed to the three. "Very sorry to have disturbed you." He backed away, turned and left.
Risa sighed. "I imagine they couldn't even find her to serve the summons." She looked up at her aunt. "Obasama, if it's all right, can we just stay home tonight?"
"I guess so, Risa. Ranma, will you join us?"
Ranma nodded, but his thoughts were elsewhere.
~She never even showed up for the assessment, or for any of the hearings. Where the hell is she?~
* * * * *
Risa sat at the table, picking at her food.
Next to her, Ranma also ate rather slowly, often just staring at his plate.
"Huh?" Father and daughter both looked up in confusion. Nabiki advanced the film on her camera.
"Just needed photographic evidence. Otherwise, no-one will believe that neither of you were tearing into food at Mach One."
Ranma picked up a small roll, considered it critically, and then bounced it off Nabiki's forehead.
Kasumi came into the family room, carrying a tea service on a wicker tray. "You two! You should be celebrating!"
"Yeah, I suppose." Ranma stood up slowly. "But, Kasumi, thanks to that loophole that Nabiki found, we've been seeing each other for the last year. It's not really anything new. We just don't have to dodge Nabiki's dogs anymore."
Nabiki tried to look innocent. And failed.
Ranma picked up a cup of tea from Kasumi's tray. "Such a conflict of interest there..."
"Not at all." She grinned. "I just wanted Risa to be happy."
Ranma shrugged. "I guess so. But you always had the damndest ways of showing it." He grinned, and sat back down. "How about the time you bought me from Akane?"
"Remember? Akane had just spilled something all over that brand new white leather jacket - I think it was soya sauce, wasn't it?"
"Might as well have been ink. The stains never did come out." Nabiki grinned. "Good thing it was actually Akane's jacket."
Risa looked up. "You bought Dad...from Mom? This must've been before they got married."
Nabiki nodded. "When I offered to take Ranma off her hands, she yelled at me, 'I'll gift-wrap him for you!' And then I went and...rented...Ranma to his various suitors. One hour, one thousand yen."
Risa stared at her. "You're nuts!"
"That's what I thought." Ranma grinned. "But in the end, everyone actually came out ahead. Nabiki got a lot of cash, that she used to pay for repairs to the house. Akane got a taste of the looniness that plagued me back then. And I...well, I managed to admit some of my...feelings...for your mother."
"You thought you were talking to me."
"That's not relevant, Nabiki."
"Sure it is. You told me that you loved me."
-Thump- went Ranma's head off the table.
"You screamed it out loud, in the middle of the park."
* * * * *
"Letter for you, Risa!"
"Thank you, Tanaka-san!" Risa took the letter from the postman and looked it over.
"No return address...Chinese postmark...but it's definitely addressed to me..." She opened the envelope, pulled out the letter and read it through. Read it again, her eyes bugging out of her head.
"Nabiki! Kasumi-obasama! A letter from Mom!"
* * * * *
|"'I am truly sorry that I have not communicated with you before now.|
|"'I have spent the last eight years in a small village in China, in the Quinghai province, called Niuchezu. It is the home of the Joketsuzoku tribe of Amazons. While they have not accepted me into their tribe, they have willingly allowed me to stay in their village, especially after their Matriarch, Kuh Lon, spoke on my behalf. Lo Shin, the owner of the Nekohanten, has just recently told me of the lifting of the court order, and so I am writing you now to ask your permission to visit you.|
|"'I know that you must be truly angry with me, both for the things I did back when you were very young, and for not trying to write to you before now. But I ask that you try to forgive me. Please, write to me. Give your letter to Lo Shin. He will ensure that it reaches me.|
|"'Please, let my sisters read this as well. They deserve to know where I've been. Tell them that I would like them to write me as well.|
|"'Hoping to see you soon,|
|"'PS: Say hi to Xian Pu for me, and tell her that Kuh Lon misses her.'"|
Risa blinked back tears.
"Oh, Obasama! She did want to see me!"
"Whoa, there, girl." Nabiki set down her cup of tea. "Remember that she hasn't said anything - anything at all - to anyone here for the last eight years. Not to mention that the Amazons were probably the most vocal advocates for Ranma not marrying her." She frowned. "Seems kind of odd that they'd welcome her with open arms."
"Hey, just trying to look at both sides, here."
"Okay, okay..." Risa bit her lip. "So what do you think I should do?"
"Me?" Nabiki leaned back. "I'm not gonna say anything. Conflict of interest."
"Yeah, right." Risa chuckled. "I thought you just wanted what was best for me."
"Yes. But that's being overridden by my desire to choke my little sister."
Risa glanced up at Nabiki in concern. The older woman's face was set in hard lines. Risa shivered a little. Nabiki often looked cool...this was downright arctic.
* * * * *
"Ah, welcome to Nekohanten!" The small Chinese gentleman behind the counter bowed to Risa. "Tendo-san! Perhaps you'd like a special?"
Risa grinned. "Sure, why not? I've got enough." She sat down at the counter. "But, can you please forward this letter to my mother?"
"Ah, she tell you, did she?"
"Yes, I got a letter in the post yesterday. Is Shampoo here?"
"My daughter, her day off it is. But still, you may find her out back."
"Thank you, Lo-san." Risa hopped up and ran for the back door.
* * * * *
The Amazon Warrior Xian Pu, Elder of the city of Nerima, stood balanced on a fence pole behind the restaurant, one leg cocked at an angle, a large Dao in one hand. Her face was set in a mask of boredom.
Artemis, how she hated the city! The buildings and paved streets had no life, did not breathe as the rocks and trees of the forest did. How she longed to run through the bamboo, leap from boulder to boulder, dive from the cliffs into the many small lakes and rivers in her homeland! Ah, for any excuse to go home...
But it was here that she had made her home, in this bizaare city of Nerima, in a foreign land. It was here that her father had opened the restaurant, serving her own people's variants on the noodles that were already a common treat among the Japanese.
And it was here that she had met and fallen in love with the man she had wed. Though she had often, in her youth, imagined it would be Ranma, that had not come to pass. But it was Ranma who had introduced her to her husband.
Though back then, she would never have considered him husband material.
Her musings were interrupted by the sudden arrival of her young pupil, Ranma's daughter Risa. She looked down at the girl as she scrabbled to a halt at the bottom of the pole.
"Elder! I got a letter from my mother today."
Xian Pu hopped down from the pole, landed lightly in front of the girl. "And how is Akane?"
Risa grinned. "Well, she wishes you well, and says that Cologne misses you."
Xian Pu grinned. "This is good to hear. Your mother and I were very close, before she and your father broke up."
Risa frowned at her. "Have you been telling Mom about all that's been going on?"
"So you've known where she was, and didn't tell me?"
"That is correct."
"She asked me not to."
Risa sat down, deflated. Xian Pu sat down across from her.
"Listen to her reasons, Student. She knew of the court order. She was horrified by how she had treated your father. She was ashamed that she had let down her family. And worst of all, she was ashamed of her own fear. But so great was her fear that she did the hardest thing possible. She went to find help to conquer it. And finally, she feels she has."
Risa looked up at Xian Pu. "How do you know?"
"She told me."
"Your answers are too easy!"
"Then try this one. Do you know what she feared?"
"She was afraid she might hurt you. She knew she had a violent temper, and was afraid that she might lash out and injure you. She confessed this to my Great-Grandmother, Kuh Lon. When she and Ranma divorced, and you were remanded to her sister's custody, Kuh Lon told her that she might travel to our village, in order to learn to control her temper. She also asked myself and my husband to train you, both in the martial arts, and in how to control your own temper."
Risa stared at her. "You mean, Mom asked you to train me?"
Risa looked at her, thoughtful. "Elder, you told me that my mother and you were very close. Did she ever tell you if she loved Dad?"
Xian Pu smiled. "Yes, child. She loved him greatly. Loved him enough to do battle with me to win the right to his hand. Loved him enough to die for him. And he loved her enough to bring her back from death."
"Then why? Why the breakup? Why did she hit him?"
Xian Pu sighed. "Again, it was the fear. Fear that she would lose him. And she did, because of that fear."
Risa stood up. "I want to see her."
"Are you sure of that, Student?"
"Yes. I'm sure. But I want to go to your village. I want to see where she's been all these years."
"So you wish to go to China?" She smiled. "I was just thinking of visiting the village again."
"I've gotta go talk to Nabiki!" Risa bowed to Xian Pu and ran from the yard.
Xian Pu shook her head. "It is never that easy..."
* * * * *
"Nabiki-obasama! Kasumi-obasama! I need to go to China!"
"Huh?" Nabiki looked at the excited girl. "Risa, what are you talking about?"
"I need to go to Shampoo's old village, the one in Qinghai!"
Nabiki shook her head. "Sorry...we don't have the cash to swing it. The legal costs drained most of my reserve."
"Then I'll swim there, like Dad did."
"Forget it. You inherited your mother's bouyancy. I'm amazed SHE made it to China."
"I'll find a way! I want to see her!"
Kasumi spoke up. "Risa, I don't really understand. For the last ten years, you've barely even spoke of her. Why do you need to see her now?"
"She wants to see me! I thought she didn't care! I thought I had done something wrong, and she wouldn't even phone me, or visit me, or anything." Her eyes glistened with tears. "And now she wants to see me, and she says she's sorry, and I have to see her!"
Kasumi sighed, and shook her head sadly. She stood up and walked into the kitchen. Nabiki leaned forward.
"Look, Risa, I'm sorry, okay? I know it means a lot to you - hell, I'd JUMP at a chance to see my mother again - but we just can't afford it. I'm sorry."
Kasumi dropped a fat pouch on the table. It clinked.
She smiled sadly. "I was saving this for a rainy day...I guess I expected to use it for a birthday present, or a Santa Day present..." She blinked back tears. "You're birthday isn't for a few more months, Risa, but I guess it's close enough."
Risa launched herself into her aunt's arms. Nabiki looked at the money, then back up at her sister.
"Oneechan, I don't really think--"
"Nabiki-chan. You should know by now that when Risa's mind is fixed on something, you can't change it. You remember how hard we both worked to keep her away from her father, and how little it mattered."
"This is different!" Nabiki jumped up, fists balled. "I didn't really think Ranma was a bad influence or anything, just a bit clueless is all! But Akane--" She raised a clenched fist. "She takes off, basically in the middle of the night, without telling anyone where the hell she's going. She doesn't even TRY to talk to Risa."
Risa took a step towards Nabiki, her mouth opening to say something, but Nabiki kept ranting.
"And let's face it, she was the real problem between her and Ranma! Always suspicious of him, always hitting him, even for things that she herself had done! Kami, I hate speaking of my own sister this way. But I am not willing to expose Risa to her. I think it'll really hurt both of them." She looked at the girl, saw the tear-streaked face, and shook her head. "I'm sorry, Risa. But I can't condone this."
Kasumi answered for Risa. "You know she's going to go anyway."
"Yeah." She wiped her eyes quickly. "I know."
* * * * *
Ranma, Risa, Nabiki, Kasumi, Ryouga and Xian Pu sat around the table in the Tendo family room.
Xian Pu set a map on the table. "It proved difficult to get a map of Qinghai. But I managed it." She opened the map and pointed to a port. "Best we make for here, then take this road. There is a bus that runs as far as the Bayankala range. After that, we will have to walk. The road will lead us through the Bayankala range, here at this pass, then down past Jushenkyou to the village." She tapped the map.
Risa leaned over to get a better view of the map. "I don't see Jushenkyou here, or Niuchezu."
"They are not exactly public." Xian Pu leaned back and grinned. "No need to advertise, is there?"
Nabiki nodded. "There's a ship that runs from Tokyo harbour to your port city. You'll be travelling passenger-freight, which is only slightly better than freight." She dropped a wallet on the table. "Here's a bunch of Chinese currency. Most places won't accept yen.
"There is one further problem. Either Kasumi, Ranma or myself absolutely MUST accompany Risa. Since I'm most likely going to throttle Akane when I see her next, I don't think I'd be a wise choice."
Ranma coughed. "I would love to go, but unfortunately, Shampoo tells me I'm still persona non grata in Niuchezu."
Kasumi grinned. "I always wanted to see China!"
Ranma snorted. "Bring me back some Oolong tea."
Ryouga spoke up. "Shampoo, I got one question. You only bought two tickets. Why?"
Xian Pu grinned, and set a pet carrier on the table. "Very simple, Husband. We are travelling baggage."
* * * * *
Akane stirred the tea, then carefully poured it into a teacup, careful not to pour any leaves with the tea. She picked up the cup and carried it over to Kuh Lon.
"Elder, here is your tea."
Kuh Lon picked up the cup and sipped it. "Hmmm...a touch weak, but overall, good. I am impressed, Student."
Akane flushed. "I'm surprised I didn't screw it up."
"Your cooking problems have always stemmed from your basic lack of patience, just like every other problem in your life." Kuh Lon set down the teacup and pointed at Akane. "Master yourself, and you shall master your environment."
Kuh Lon perked up. "There is some sort of commotion at the village gates. Shall we?"
Akane stood. It had always seemed cosmically unfair that the old woman should have better hearing than herself. But there were many things she found unfair, and basically nothing she could do about any of them.
The two women left the house, to see a large crowd of Amazons gathered at the front gate. Akane's breath froze in her chest as she caught sight of a familiar figure, in red and black silk, with red hair bound up in a pigtail.
Kuh Lon shook her head. "No, Student. It is not him. That one is female in soul as well as body."
"Then who--" Then she realized, and stumbled forward a step.
She broke into a run and grabbed her daughter in a bear hug, spinning her around, laughing. She set the girl down and took a step back.
"Risa, what on earth are you doing here?"
Risa laughed. "I came to visit you! What did you think I was here for?"
"So you got my letter?"
"Yeah..." Risa's smile faded. "Mom, we gotta talk. About you, and me, and Dad."
"Is your father here?"
"No...something about an outstanding death warrant."
Akane nodded. "I understand...some here are slow to forgive."
"Some in other places, too, Mom."
Akane nodded again, then caught sight of Kasumi. "Oneechan, you're here too?"
"How are you?"
"Very disappointed in you, Akane-chan."
Akane sighed. "Yeah, I guess I made some mistakes."
Kasumi nodded. "Yes. You did."
Kuh Lon cleared her throat, catching the attention of the group. "If I may...? We should best take this to a more private location. Let us retire to my house."
* * * * *
"Would you like some tea, everyone? I'll make it."
Kasumi stepped forward. "If you'd like, Akane, I'll make the tea. You should have more time to talk with your daughter."
"You're just concerned that the tea'll be toxic." Akane laughed, and grabbed the teapot. "Don't worry! I've had eight years of practice..." She sobered suddenly, and turned away.
Risa stood and walked forward. "Mom--"
"I'm sorry, Risa...I'm really sorry..."
Kasumi gathered Kuh Lon, Ryouga and Xian Pu with her eyes, and led them from the room.
"Mom, it's okay."
"No it's not!" Akane whirled to face her, and Risa took an involuntary step back from the rage in her eyes.
"I ran away, Risa! I left your father, left you behind, and left the country! All because I couldn't cope with myself."
"Mom, Shampoo told me. She told me all about--"
Akane was crying now. "My sisters probably hate me now, and Ranma probably hated me even before I left, and you probably hate me, too!"
"No, Mom!" Risa grabbed her mother by the shoulders, looked her in the eye. "Mom, I don't hate you! Dad doesn't hate you, he wanted to come see you! Kasumi-obasama and Nabiki-obasama don't hate you either!"
Akane closed her eyes, gathered Risa up in a hug.
"It's okay, Mom. I forgive you. Please, come home."