"Darling, I have some good news to tell you. We're going to have another baby," the elegantly regal woman announced to her husband with a content smile upon her face.
The husband smiled at his wife as he pulled her into a loving embrace. It was the greatest news he had heard in two years. He already had his heir but there was nothing that said he and his wife could not have any more children. In fact, the kingdom would be all the better for having either a princess or a second prince to rally behind. While the older child, Endymion, would rule the younger child would become a great protector.
"Your majesty, the delivery was a success. Your wife has given you another son," the royal midwife announced to the king and young prince.
Once more Endymion, ruler of the Earth, was a father and once more the fates had seen fit to give him a son. Looking down at his namesake the newly minted three year old prince was now a big brother. The brother his mother had given him would become his best friend, partner in battle, and commander of the royal guard.
"You're getting soft big brother," The younger prince commented with a chuckle.
"Can I help it if my mind is elsewhere Orion," Endymion responded with a small smile and a soft chuckle.
Pointing upwards the younger prince, Orion, revealed just where his brother's mind was, "Yeah your mind is on a certain golden haired princess. Face it Endymion you're a man in love yet the citizens of both kingdoms aren't thrilled with the betrothal and resulting alliance."
It should have been a joyous occasion when Endymion pledged Earth's undying support at the ball. Yet, with both princes at the ball the Earth kingdom fell far too easily. The sons of Gaia never had the chance to make it home as the four men they called their guardians attacked the Moon Kingdom under the orders of a Trojan War queen, who wanted both Endymion and his throne, allied with a dark power. In the end, both of the princes, the moon princess, her guardian senshi, and the citizens of the Moon Kingdom and Silver Alliance perished in battle. With her last dying breath, Serenity queen of the moon sent her daughter, her senshi, and anyone present at the ball that night to be reborn into a better future.
Part 1: Lonely Hearts
The magic of the crystal to reincarnate those who were in attendance on that fateful day was not strong enough to ensure family ties would remain in their next life. However, despite that one tiny technicality certain events would happen in the lives of the reincarnated princes that would give them a common connection. A woman with a heart as big as the Earth itself would have a hand in caring for both young men. Where one young man would leave a hole in her heart the other would help mend it.
It happened when her only son was just two years old. The moment Ranma Saotome spoke his first words and formed a very strong attachment to his mother Genma Saotome decided to begin training him in the family art. However, with the strong attachment to his wife, Nodoka, training Ranma was proving to be very difficult as the toddler refused to listen to his father. It was two years later that Genma decided to remove Nodoka from the equation and take a newly potty trained Ranma on the road for a very long training trip.
Nadoka Saotome was very lonely on the fateful August third night when the crash took his parents and his memory from him. It had been over a year since she had last seen Genma and her son Ranma. In an attempt to ease her mind and fill the need to care for others, Nodoka had taken to volunteer work at the local hospital. It was on that night when she first laid eyes upon the six year old boy. He was lost and alone the only survivor of the crash. When asked what happened the scared and confused little boy said he did not know and could not remember anything before waking up in the hospital save for three things: his name, his age, and his birthday.
It was a very somber sixth birthday for Mamoru Chiba but the dark auburn haired woman who volunteered at the hospital helped him get through it. Staying the entire night in his room, the woman, who called herself Nodoka, comforted him through several bad dreams. Mamoru mumbled in his sleep about finding a princess and someone named Orion. At first, Nodoka dismissed it but then Mamoru began crying out in his sleep for his mother and Orion. After calming Mamoru down several times she was now under the impression that Orion was the name of a beloved pet that had passed.
"He can't just go into a children's home. Mamoru-kun needs to be with a parental figure right now," Nodoka argued.
It was the day Mamoru Chiba was to go home from the hospital a month after the crash. Every day since the crash Nodoka had taken it upon herself to keep Mamoru company during his in hospital therapy sessions. He was still unable to remember if he had any family besides the parents he lost but the therapists were able to get the boy back on track with his basic skills. Because he was well enough to leave the hospital child services had come to take Mamoru to children's home to make him a ward of the state. However, Nodoka would not hear of it and insisted on taking the boy home herself.
"Besides, I need him in my life right now too," Nodoka muttered barely audible to the others in the room.
It took a lot of convincing but Nodoka Saotome had talked Child Services into letting her become a foster mother. Once more she had someone in her life to care for and teach.
"Nodoka-san, the doctor said I get to leave the hospital today. I don't have any family. Where am I going to go? Who's going to take care of me," Mamoru said with obvious fear in his voice.
Smiling brightly at the child Nodoka extended her offer to him, "I thought you could live with me. I have a nice home and a room waiting for a boy like you to sleep in it. I have a son but he's with his father now and I haven't seen them in a year. I could use the company and you could use a mother figure in your life. How about it?"
Mamoru thought about the offer for a moment before looking at her with a smile on his face, "I'd like that a lot Nodoka-san."
Ten years together. That's how long Nodoka had kept Mamoru Chiba in her care. Nodoka knew one day Mamoru would leave her care. She did not think that day would come when he was accepted into a boys' high school in the Azabu-Juban neighborhood of the Minta ward. Once again Nodoka would have to say goodbye to someone in her life.
"I'm going to miss you a lot Mamoru. You helped mend a painful place in my heart. Promise me you'll call," Nodoka said as she prepared to leave the modest apartment they had found for Mamoru.
"Don't worry Nodoka-san I'll call you every week and I'll visit you on breaks when I can," Mamoru promised.
For three years Mamoru had kept true to his word. Every Sunday evening he called and during every break he would make the train journey from Azabu-Juban to visit. And then, things began to change. First, came the tabloid reports of strange creatures attacking innocents within the Azabu-Juban neighborhood. Then, came the Sendai Hill bus incident with the missing girls on the evening news. Mamoru's promised calls to Nodoka began changing by the time of the state ball for the D Kingdom princess.
At first, the Sunday calls that had lasted at times an hour in length began to get shorter with each passing week. Then, Mamoru began skipping Sundays all together. When two weeks went by with no calls from Mamoru at all Nodoka took it upon herself to initiate the phone calls to her foster child. The visits during breaks went from the entire length of the break to a single day and then no visits at all. At that point, Mamoru had begun to shut Nodoka out of his life completely ignoring her calls all together.
All was not lost for Nodoka because a private investigator she had hired to find her long missing husband and son turned up good news once more. It coincided with police blotters about weird martial arts fights occurring within the nearby Nerima ward. The fights centered around a neighborhood where not too far from it was Furinkan High School. As good fortune and fate would have it, on the list of registered students was one Ranma Saotome.
It wasn't the first such time Nodoka received news like that. Every time Ranma's name appeared on the registry for a school she would receive a phone call. However, being responsible for Mamoru Nodoka could not investigate every possible lead to her son's whereabouts. The latest lead, however, Nodoka could follow-up on. Nerima happened to be where her husband's closest friend moved with his wife shortly after their marriage. If Genma would go anywhere for a period of time and not have to pay for housing it would be with Soun Tendo.
"What do you mean my husband and son are not here," Nodoka questioned the eldest of Soun's daughters.
"They decided to go on a short training journey again Auntie. I'm sorry but I'm sure if they had known you were coming they would have stayed," Kasumi explained as she served tea to Ranma's mother.
Nadoka let out a soft sigh in defeat. She knew why Genma was avoiding her. It was the pledge he had made the family sign. It had become the only way she would let Genma take her son on what she thought would just be a simple summer training trip to a temple in the mountains. Never in her life did she think it would take Ranma from her for thirteen years. It was only when Mamoru left for high school in Azabu that Nodoka began carrying the family honor blade with her.
"It's that pledge. That's the reason why my husband does not want to see me. His ideas on what is a man among men are probably still rooted in what I used to believe was manly. Twelve years apart can change one's view on honor and manliness," Nodoka commented before sipping her tea.
"I wish I could say you came during a time when Ranko and Mr. Panda were visiting again but they couldn't leave her father's farm," Kasumi replied as the bitter taste of the lie she and her sisters concocted with Ranma sat on her tongue.
Nodoka fought back the tears that wanted to form in her eyes. She knew something major had changed in her son's life because when she saw Ranko she saw herself. There was no way the girl was related to the Tendo girls. Nodoka knew Ranko had to be her son but she was not certain how or why he was now a girl whenever Ranko and Mr. Panda were at the Tendo home. It hurt too much knowing that both her biological son and the young man she came to love as a son were both refusing to see her.
"That's okay Kasumi, I can still enjoy a nice visit with you and your sisters," Nodoka told Kasumi with a small smile.
Life for Ranma and his mother continued in much the same fashion. Genma would panic when his wife was known to visit and either declare they were going on a training trip or go into hiding as Ranko and Mr. Panda. Ranma hated lying to his mother and she hated seeing Ranma, or Ranko as the girls called her, being driven to deception by her husband. However, as long as they were able to spend time together Nodoka would not press the issue figuring, like Mamoru, Ranma would contact her again in her own time.
It took six long months before Ranma was finally able to see his mother not as Ranko. After saving her life during one of the bizarre martial arts attacks in Nerima Nodoka Saotome declared her son to be manly and honorable despite his unique condition. After thirteen years, mother and son were reunited. Now all that was missing in Nodoka's life was Mamoru Chiba the boy she took into her home.