Ranma heavily plopped into his seat, grateful for the length of the upcoming train ride. He had been out for three months this time, and although his wife was supportive of his jaunts, as long as he kept in touch. But considering where he had been training, the signals for cell phones were not the best. He knew she wouldn't do anything drastic to him, just petty, and her pettiness was annoying enough to get him to apologize quickly.
He smiled faintly, knowing that he would be able to see her and their daughter in a few hours. As much as he trained in the first love of his life, going back to them was like falling in love all over again. Deities, did he miss them so much, enough to make these training trips seem aggravatingly tiresome. Of course, if he even hinted at "retiring" them, he knew she would have none of it. If anything, she would have her own bag packed, set up correspondence for their daughter's schooling, and dragged him to whatever training ground they caught wind of herself.
When she first proclaimed she would do such things for him, he was afraid she was overcompensating. Their courtship was brief, but filled with enough trials to either break or cement relationships that lasted till their silver anniversary. After they weathered through them, she steadfastly agreed that she wouldn't let him go. She said she would give up her life for him without a regret, told him she would follow him to whatever corner of the world he lead her…
Even back then, Ranma thought that seemed somewhat unhealthy. But it didn't matter in that moment, because that's when she asked him to marry her. Up until that point, nothing had felt better than hearing that question from her mouth. Not any martial arts victory, no praise from peers or teachers, not even the night they had shared together before her request matched the elation he felt. Of course, later on he would be embarrassed that he had not been the one to pop the question, but circumstances at the time allowed for that slight ding to his pride.
Yes, his wife proposing to him had been the happiest day of his life, until the day his daughter was born. He remembered he couldn't get back to Tokyo fast enough, occasionally calling her whenever he got to a payphone and telling her to hold on. That probably wasn't the smartest thing to ask, since she vehemently insisted that it wasn't up to her and he better damn well be there *soon* if he was that interested in introducing their child to the world. It was lucky that Dr. Tofu had managed to even get word to him in time. How did the good doctor manage to do so? Well, Ranma just decided he was that damned good.
She was beautiful, far beyond any of the sights he had seen in any place in the world he had ever been. After seeing his daughter's eyes open for the first time, the Victoria Falls, the vast towers of the Himalayas, nor the crystalline waters of the Caribbean compared to the slate grays that stared back at him as if they recognized him as her father.
He had cried before when his pride had been wounded, and he had cried when he thought he had lost the woman that had come to matter more in his life than his own mother, but he felt no shame as he wept over his new child.
He stayed to help take care of her, but eventually his wife noticed his agitation. It wasn't that it was wonderful for him to be around, but he was beginning to get on her last nerves (of course, it may have just been the hormones settling in her system). She practically kicked him out of the house, after giving him a cell phone (because he wasn't allowed to put his ears on those dirty payphones while he had a new daughter to care for), plane tickets South Korea, and a detailed training regimen with the ROKN UDT SEALs that was to last until he had his fill of training with the one of the best military forces in Asia (or until he absolutely refused to jump out of an airplane, though she paid them extra if they could get him to do it and record it). He had the time of his life abroad, but every moment he could, he called home to hear from his wife and the cries and coos of his child.
The return from this current training trip would mark the second anniversary of their wedding. It had been a subdued affair, his wife opting for a Western ceremony because "Deities, were Shinto weddings pointlessly LONG," as she put it. She didn't want word getting out, nor did she brook the chance for any interference. And while it seemed like she may have been embarrassed about the whole thing, with their past and their situation, it was forgivable.
"How did I get this lucky?" Ranma asked himself, barely letting a sigh escape his lips at the picture he was fondly gazing at.
"I give up, how?"
Ranma nearly jumped at the voice, looking across from himself to find an older man in a crisp dark gray business suit sitting in the seat. He didn't even notice someone had sat down. "Ah," the pigtailed martial artist put away the photo, before chuckling slightly, "Sorry, kinda wasn't paying attention."
The man shrugged, and crossed one leg over the other, "Getting back home to family?"
"Yeah," Ranma replied, "This will be our second anniversary."
The man blinked, before tilting his head to the side, "What are you, about twenty or so?"
"Twenty-one," Ranma replied, deciding to indulge the man in small conversation, it was a decently long train ride, after all.
The man chuckled, "And here I am, in my 40's and I still haven't gotten it right. Some guys get all the luck." He leaned forward with his hand out, "May I see?"
"Uh," Ranma paused, wondering if that would be a good idea, before he sighed and deciding he could go to another seat if this guy turned out to be a jerk, "Sure." He reached back into his backpack and pulled the picture out.
The man nodded, and took the image. As he looked it over, the smile on his face straightened, before it fell into a slight frown. Ranma watched this, before his own expression developed into a scowl, "Look, buddy, I'm not looking for your approval…"
"No… no" the older man placated, before quickly handing the picture over. "It was… just not what I expected. I mean…"
He calmed himself down from his slightly flustered state, "She must be some woman, huh?"
"Yeah," Ranma agreed, "She's…" he paused, looking out the window at the scenery speeding by "I don't know what I would do without her."
The man took a deep breath, "Tell me, how you had met?"
Ranma chuckled, "Would you believe it was an arranged marriage?" He held up a hand before the other man responded, "I didn't find out until later that her father wasn't really that serious, but my pops was an idiot. They hatched some hair brained scheme to leave me with her for a few months until 'love triumphed over all obstacles' or some bullshit like that."
"Doesn't sound like it was bullshit at all," the older man commented.
"No, it wasn't" the martial artist looked towards the ceiling, "Actually, at first we couldn't stand each other. She thought I was just an obnoxious brat, and I thought she was a moody…" Ranma stopped that sentence, having learned to watch what he says about other people, even without them in earshot, "Anyways, we kinda grew on each other, and things just… happened between us." Ranma gave a half grin, "A lot of things happened between us. But, before I knew it, I wasn't sure what I thought about her."
"I'm guessing," the man paused and checked his watch before continuing, "I guess that's when you, um, fell in love with her?"
Ranma could have sworn he heard a slight tone hinge of something in his voice; remorse, possibly? "I dunno, I sure as hell believed it was. She wasn't so sure."
"So it started out as unrequited love?"
Ranma blinked, before favoring the man with a blank stare.
"A one-sided love," the man amended, sounding faintly amused.
Ranma shrugged, "I don't think so now, it seemed that way at the time, though. Heck, I look back on it now and I can't say for sure." Ranma looked at the photo in his hand, "Look, she tried to discourage me, she even pretended that things weren't going that deep between us." Ranma took a breath, and sighed, "She was afraid of getting hurt again."
"I take it she's been hurt badly before?"
"From what I've been told, it was pretty damn bad." Ranma confirmed, "She went into depression, she even thought about… about, you know, ending it all."
"No, I didn't know," the man replied.
"Yeah, thankfully she pulled through it. She's just strong like that, I guess." Ranma blinked at the somber tone the conversation had taken, before sitting up, "Anyways, I didn't know I loved her at the time, but I sure as hell didn't like how she acted around me. She said we were at least friends, and then she started avoiding me and all. Eventually, I guess she started coming around, like she just couldn't ignore me anymore."
Ranma's mood dropped again, "And then I almost blew it." The Young martial artist continued at the man's urging, "I ain't gonna make excuses for what I did, she don't deserve that. In fact, I hurt her twice. But the second time I didn't have a choice, but I made up for it best I could." Ranma looked the man in the eyes, "And I'm gonna keep making up for it for the rest of my life. If there's a woman out there that deserves happiness until breathes her last breath, it's her!"
"It…" the older man paused, before putting on a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, "It sounds like she found a good man to take care of her. I've hurt… I've hurt women before." He snorted, and looked out the window, "I was a selfish prick. She never deserved what I did to her." He folded his hands in his lap, and looked at Ranma again, "I regret that mistake. I think about it from time to time, and wonder, 'what if'. But…"
He gathered his briefcase and his coat, before continuing, "I like to think, that she did find someone to live her life with, someone that would make the past pain go away like it never happened, and I wouldn't feel guilty about what… happened." The man stood up, "Thank you for your time, I think I better get a seat closer to the door so I can make my stop. You take care of Nabiki, alright?"
"Yeah, I…" Ranma paused, "Wait, how did you know her name?"
"It's on the back of the photo," the older man stated. Ranma blinked, and flipped it over. Sure enough, the name of his wife and daughter were on the back. He still had a nagging feeling, though.
"Hey," Ranma remembered his manners, "Saotome Ranma, by the way."
"Saito, Saito Daimon," Saito replied, before favoring Ranma with a slight bow, before heading further to the front.
"Saito…" Ranma mouthed, thinking he should know that name from somewhere. Perhaps he was an acquaintance of Nabiki's. Ranma made a mental note to ask his wife when he got home…
It was probably for the best that he forgot.
Five year Anniversary for "Older"
Yeah, it was supposed to be out yesterday, but I'm lazy, alright?
Also, because I'm getting tired of requests (and aggravated at myself for accidentally forgetting to respond to them), I'm putting the lemon part up. Also, I've been proofing this story, and I'll put the revised chapters up… eventually…
As for other fics, I'll get to them when I'm not being so damn lazy, or working out, or teaching class, or… well I'll get to them whenever, maybe…