"Okay everyone." Called the man. "It's time to close class." He waited until his students formed into two neat lines before turning to a wooden chest set against the wall. Three portraits hung over the altar. Photographs of two middle aged men were placed side by side. One of the men had a graying mustache bisecting a narrow face, the other man was bald and round faced. Above the two pictures was a single picture of a bald headed gnome like man. "Please bow to our past master and the current masters." The class bowed. "And to your sensei." The man said. The class bowed to the man, "Class is dismissed." He said. "Thank you all for coming."
The dojo slowly emptied. The teacher, for that was what he was, answered some last minute questions from some students. Said good night to the rest as they left. In less than a half hour the dojo was empty. The teacher walked around putting away some equipment, wiping the mirror and doing the hundred and one small tasks necessary to keep the dojo in good repair.
His name was Ranma Saotome and he was a young man in his late twenties. His muscular frame spoke of a life devoted to physical development and training. His black hair was tied into a long pigtail that reached the middle of his back. Trained in a family style martial arts, he had married the daughter of a man who had a dojo in the same style as his father. In fact the two men had trained under the same grandmaster and were the two men who's pictures were over the altar. As was the grandmaster. Master Happosai.
He supposed he had a good life. His wife, also a martial artist, though she no longer trained as hard as she used to, was dutiful if somewhat distant. They had married when they were teenagers. It wasn't a love match but they mostly got along. They had a ten year old son, named Akama, who looked as if he would follow in the family art. Yes, it was a comfortable though boring existence.
Ranma took one last look around the dojo. Ranma frowned. For a moment the dojo looked... different. He looked around again. Wooden dummy in the corner. Heavy bags againt the wall. The mirror...Ranma frowned again as for a moment he thought he saw someone else reflected in the mirror. It was only for a moment but he distinctly saw someone with red hair. Ranma shook his head and looked again. Nothing.
Ranma shrugged. "Must of been a trick of the light." He muttered. "Better get a move on." He said to himself. "It's almost dinner time and Akane may try cooking again." Ranma closed the dojo door and walked quickly to the main house. He removed his shoes and put on slippers before he entered the house. "Akane." He called.
"We're in the kitchen." Came an alto voice. Ranma frowned and walked into the kitchen. "Uk-chan? I mean, Ukyo?" " He nervously greeted the woman standing by the stove. She, like the man, was in her late twenties. She had long brown hair tied with a bow. Her face, though still youthful, seemed drawn and tired looking. "Not that I'm complaining, but what brings you here?" With a quick glance to the other woman in the kitchen he gave the brown haired woman a quick and hesitant hug, that was returned.
"Ask Akane." Ukyo jerked her thumb at the black haired woman at the sink. "The Tomboy called me." She said.
"Keep up the Tomboy stuff and you can leave right now." Growled the woman with short blue black hair. She also was in her late twenties. Like the brown haired woman, she seemed tired looking and drained, as if life had turned out harder than she had been prepared for. The woman shrugged. "For some reason I...it's weird, but I just felt like seeing you." She said. "I was shopping and before i knew it I called Ukyo and invited her shopping."
"You want to talk weird." Ukyo replied. "For some reason I didn't hang up on you." She gave Akane a sour look. "And then it really got weird."
"No kidding." Agreed Akane.
"What do you mean?" Ranma asked in confused tones. "It's weird enough that Uk-chan's here in the first place. It's weird enough you even called her." He said. "I mean...well you know what I mean." He said in voice tinged with more than a little shame.
"Yeah, I do." Akane replied acidly. "And that's what was really weird about shopping with Ukyo." Akane said. The two women gave each other almost identical looks. "We had a good time." Akane said in almost a whisper.
"Yeah." Agreed Ukyo in the same tone.
Ranma licked his lips. "Is...is he here?" He asked hesitantly.
"Upstairs." Akane replied quietly. "With Akama." Akane blew out a confused breath. "And that's weird too."
"What is?" Ranma asked. "They didn't fight or anything." He asked in concern.
Ukyo barked a laugh. "That, sugar." She said in emphatic tones. "Would've been normal." She said. "Those two took one look at each other and I swear they acted like they've known each other their whole lives." She and Akane exchanged confused looks again. "It seemed so...so..."
"Normal?" Akane supplied. Ukyo nodded helplessly. "Yeah." Agreed Akane. "It's like they know they're...brothers."
"I didn't tell Haya." Ukyo protested. "That was the...deal."
"I can't believe I'm saying this; but I believe you." Akane replied. Akane shook her head. "This whole day has been strange." She muttered. "First I called Uk-chan..." Akane paused. "I just called you Uk-chan." She said in a suddenly nervous voice. "What's going on?"
"I don't know, Sugar, but..." Ukyo paused. "This is going to sound like a strange question but..." Ukyo waved a hand helplessly. "But...what did you do...yesterday?"
"Yesterday?" Akane asked "What do you mean?"
"Humor me, Sugar." Ukyo replied.
Akane's face screwed up in thought. "Well, let me see." She said. "I did the laundry." She stated positively. Then her expression changed. "Or was that the day before?" She asked quietly. Akane shook her head. "No, it was yesterday." She said. "And...and I worked out in the dojo for an hour." She said. "And...oh I don't know."
"What are you getting at, Uk-chan?" Ranma asked.
"I'm not sure, Ran-chan." Ukyo replied. "It's just that I don't remember anything...unusual happening at the restaurant." She said. "Not yesterday, not the day before." She said. "All I remember is that I worked at the restaurant."
"Now that you mention it." Ranma said slowly. "All I remember is working at the dojo." He said. "Teaching class. Working out." Ranma tilted his head in thought. "Just like the day before and the day before that." Ranma shrugged. "Maybe we can't think of anything in particular because nothing in particular has happened...and for a long time."
"I guess." Ukyo said doubtfully.
"That's gotta be it, Uk-chan." Ranma replied. He said in forced good humor. "Maybe that's why you called Uk-chan, Tomboy." Ranma said cheerfully. "You were bored and needed something to get you out of the rut." He chuckled again. "You gotta admit, it was never boring when Uk-chan was around."
Akane laughed sourly. "That's true." She admitted. "And what did I say about the Tomboy thing?" She growled. "You know I hate that word."
"But it suits you so well, Tomboy." Ukyo said teasingly.
"Look who's talking." Akane snapped back. "At least I dressed like a girl." She pointed out. "Not like some people I can mention." She smiled nastily. "Still got your boys High School uniform?"
"In the back of my closet." Ukyo replied off handedly. "Gathering dust." She said. Ukyo sighed. "Maybe Ran-chan is right." She said. "Ever since we graduated, life's become kind of boring." She sighed again. Her sighs were echoed by Akane's. Ukyo looked around the kitchen and her eyes landed on the clock on the wall. "Oops, it's getting late." She said in regretful tones. "I better get Haya home and make dinner."
"Do you gotta?" Ranma asked plaintively. "It's been years, Uk-chan." He said. "And I'd..really like to talk to him." He turned to Akane. "If that's okay?"
"I don't mind." Akane added. "You know something...I really don't mind."
At that moment the door to the kitchen shot open and two young boys raced in. "Mom, mom." The younger of the two boys said. He was a athletic boy of ten or so, with black hair like both his parents. He obviously took after his father in looks. "Is there anything to eat?" Akama asked. " Haya and I are hungry."
"Like clockwork." Akane chuckled. Akane chewed her lip. "How would you feel about Haya and his mom staying for dinner?" She asked.
"Who's cooking?" Akama asked suspiciously.
"Well if we're staying for dinner, how about if I cook?" Ukyo said in amused tones.
"Can your mom cook, Haya?" Akama asked the other boy, a young man about twelve with dark brown hair. He too was athletic looking and if anyone had met them on the street they would have assumed they were brothers so similar in appearance were they. Haya nodded firmly. "Alright." Akama crowed. He raised a hand and he and Haya slapped palms. "We're going to the dojo to spar." Akama said.
"Dinner should be ready in an hour." Ukyo said.
"Cool." Akama said. "Come on, Haya." He said. "Later Pops, later Momma A, Momma U." The two young men raced out of the kitchen.
Ukyo chuckled and shook her head. "So alike." She said.
"Momma A and Momma U?" Akane said at almost the same time.
"What's that sugar?" Ukyo asked.
"That's what Akama called us." Akane replied. "Momma A and Momma U."
"They did?" Ukyo replied.
Akane nodded slowly. "You know what's really strange?" Akane asked. "I swear they've called us that before." She raised a hand. "And I know that's impossible." She said. "But I can almost hear it."
"You know something, so can I." Ukyo replied. She shook herself. "Well, I should start making dinner."
The kitchen became a quiet bustle of activity as Ukyo set about cooking. Normally, Ranma did the cooking while Akane usually set the table. However, Ukyo insisted that Akane help. "Are you sure, Uk-chan?" Akane asked nervously. "You know how I am."
"I know you'll never get better if you don't practice." Ukyo replied. "Besides, your only problem is that you're too impatient." She chuckled. "Gods, it was years before you could even make French toast."
"French toast?" Akane replied. "I can't make French Toast."
"Sure you can, Sugar." Ukyo replied. "I remember teaching you how..." Ukyo trailed off. "Damn, sugar, I just had this really vivid memory of me teaching you how to make French Toast." She said. "You were standing right here and I..." Ukyo swallowed. "That never happened, did it?"
"I think I'd remember you teaching me how to cook...anything." Akane replied. "Damn it." She exclaimed suddenly. "This is all wrong." She said. "You being here." She said. "Haya in the dojo with Akama." She said. "You being here." She repeated. "I...I should hate you." She growled. "You're the woman my husband had an affair with, a child with and here you are..." Akane clenched a fist. "And..and...this is wrong." She said. "I know I should hate you and...and...I don't." The last said in a whisper. "Why don't I hate you?" She asked.
"I don't know, Sugar." Ukyo replied. "How come you let me call you Sugar?" She asked. "I just realized I've been using that word almost since I got here and..." Ukyo shook her head. "You didn't even get mad when I called Ranma, Ran-chan." Ukyo walked over to Akane. The two women stared at each other for a long moment and then hesitantly yet at the same time the two women pulled each other into a hug. They started to cry. Ranma walked over and wrapped both women in his arms. As one they turned and each woman buried her face in Ranma's shoulders.
"I'm scared, Ranma." Akane whispered. "Something is really, really wrong." Ukyo nodded in tearful agreement.
Ranma tightened his hold on the two women. "Something is wrong." He said. "But I know that whatever it is, the three of us, together, can fix it."
Akane raised her head off of Ranma's shoulders. "The three of us?"
Ukyo raised her head off of Ranma's shoulders. "Together?"
Ranma smiled his old cocky smile. "Well yeah." He said. "Whatever is...doing whatever it is doing...is doing it to the three of us." He said. "All the weird started happening when you called Ukyo, Tomboy."
"I told you don't call me..." Akane growled.
"You like being called Tomboy." Ukyo said suddenly.
"No I.." Began Akane.
"Yes you do." Interrupted Ukyo. "I remember, you like it when Ranma...and me...call you Tomboy." Ukyo said firmly. "You just don't like it when anyone else calls you that."
"Our Tomboy." Ranma added. "That's what we called you...Our Tomboy." He said in tones of wonder. "Because we...loved you?" Ranma shook his head. "Okay, this is weird." He said. "Now I'm remembering things that never happened." He said. Ranma released the two women. "Look we can't do anything about it now." He pointed out. "And we have to consider Haya and Kama." He said. "There's no reason for them to worry too."
"Ranma's right." Akane said.
"Now that's weird." Ukyo replied. She and Akane exchanged looks and then both began giggling. The giggles lasted for only a few seconds before both women's expressions fell. "I hate to ask this." Began Ukyo.
"You're staying here tonight." Akane said firmly. "Ranma was right.' She smiled briefly. "All the weird stuff began when I called you." She said. "I think the longer we're together the...closer we're going to get to an answer."
Ukyo nodded. "I think so too." She agreed. "Besides I'll feel better knowing Ran-chan will be around to protect the kits." Ukyo blinked. "Kids...I meant kids."
Dinner that night was mostly quiet. Ranma, Akane and Ukyo didn't say much but the two boys, Hayaima and Akama, more than made up for it. The two young boys had found in the other something that until now they hadn't known was missing. The two boys chattered away like excited magpies.
"Maybe we were wrong to keep them apart." Ukyo said in quiet tones. She sighed. Something she found herself doing a lot recently. "Just look at them." She shook her head in wonder. "Just like their father." Ukyo suddenly clapped her hand over her mouth. "Sorry." She muttered apologetically to Akane.
"Thanks for reminding me." Akane said sourly. She shook her head as if to shake something off. "No, I take it back." She said firmly. "Or rather, it's okay." She pointed her chin at Hayaima. "He's certainly something." She said in reluctant admiration. "You should be proud."
"Thank you." Ukyo replied. "So should you." She said just as firmly. "But..." She raised a finger. "I wouldn't give up Haya for the world but...I do owe you an apology."
"You're not the only one, Uk-chan." Ranma said. "I only wish you had told me." He said somewhat testily.
"You had just married Akane, Ran-chan." Ukyo said. "I...I guess I figured Hayaima was the best I could hope for." Ukyo looked at her plate and moved the food around but didn't eat. "I think I had already given up on Ran-chan before...before Haya happened..." Ukyo smiled at her son. She laughed quietly. "As far as consolation prizes go, Hayaima was almost as good as winning."
Akama turned his head. A ramen noodle hung from his mouth. He slurped it up noisely. "Great ramen, Mamma U." Akama said cheerfully before returning to his conversation with Hayaima.
"Th-thanks." Ukyo stammered in reply.
"Akama." Akane called.
"Yeah, Momma A?" Akama replied with a cocky grin.
"Watch it, young man." Akane warned with a smile. "Actually, I kind of like it."
"Cool." Replied Akama. He grinned. "Momma A."
Akane chuckled. "Scamp." She scolded playfully. "Anyway, I asked Ukyo if she wouldn't mind spending the night and..."
"Cool." Chorused Akama and Hayaima. "Hey Haya, I know where we keep the spare futons." He said.
"What are we waiting for?" Hayaima replied.
"Dessert?" Suggested Ukyo with a laugh. "After you finish eating." She scolded. Ukyo grinned was both Hayaima and Akama started shoving food into their mouths so fast their chopsticks blurred. "So alike." She said in quiet satisfaction.
After dinner, while the two boys went upstairs to Akama's bedroom. The three somewhat confused adults went to the other side of the main room where a couch and coffee table were placed. There was a second chair on the other side of the coffee table yet when Ranma and Akane sat on the couch Ukyo sat on Ranma's other, his left, side. They began to discuss the days' oddness in quiet tones.
None of three noticed when at some point during the conversation Akane and Ukyo had linked hands. Their linked hands resting on Ranma's stomach. They only noticed when Ukyo yawned and found that one hand was captured. Ukyo looked at their linked hands, then at Akane, then back at their linked hands. "Ooh boy." Ukyo said in almost resigned tones. "Just when you think it can't get weirder."
"You really don't want to know what I just...remembered." Ranma said in almost frightened tones.
Akane's lips pursed in sour amusement. "I think I can guess...pervert." Akane shook her head. "If it wasn't so...impossible...I'd swear we're remembering.." Akane frowned. "Another life?"
"Heck of a life." Ukyo commented. She elbowed Ranma in the ribs. "Sounds like something you'd dream up." She accused. "Typical male adolescent fantasy."
"Hey, hey." Complained Ranma. "If what I'm...remembering...is real I'm not the pervert here." A sheepish expression appeared on his face. "Well not all the time."
"Someone's missing." Akane said suddenly. She elbowed Ranma in the ribs hard.
"What did you do that for?" He complained.
"Who's the redhead?" Akane purred. "I distinctly remembered a redhead."
"Yeah Ran-chan." Ukyo said cooly. "Busty bitch, isn't she?" She gave Ranma a cold look. "I wouldn't be surprised if she..." Ukyo made air quotes with one hand. "Turns up."
"I hope not." Ranma said in decidedly frightened tones. "Cause I just...remembered...who she is." He turned a stricken face toward Akane. "She's..." Ranma swallowed. "She's...me."
Both Akane and Ukyo raised fingers in objection and then both slowly put them down. Akane swallowed in a dry throat. "My gods Uk-chan...I just got this memory flash..."
"Me too." Whispered Ukyo. "But...but it can't be." She shook her head. "No...that isn't our life." She protested. "I'm Ukyo Kuonji. I'm a single mom and a chef...I own a popular restaurant. " She said in defiant tones. "That's it, nothing else."
Silence greeted Ukyo's pronouncement. A silence that continued for a long time. None of the people in the room wanted to break the silence in fear that some other 'memory' would be triggered. But a silence that ended nonetheless.
"I think the Tom...Akane is right." Ranma said slowly. "Somehow we're remembering someone elses life." He shook his head. "A life where...I turn into a girl?" Ranma shuddered. "Oh gods...I just remembered something else." He turned a frightened face toward Akane. "You...you...and me...and we...and we...oh my gods." He pointed an accusing finger at Akane. "You knocked me up." He said in fright.
"You wanted a kid." Akane shouted back in more fear than anger. "You wanted Shingi." Akane paused. "Shingi?" She asked in a suddenly tiny voice.
"Shingi." Affirmed Ranma wide eyed. "This is real...isn't it?" Ranma looked down at his stomach and placed a palm over it. "I had a kid?" He said in awe. "I turn into a girl?"
"I think if you turned into a girl I would have noticed." Akane said dryly. Akane shook her head. "It's getting late and if we're going to keep talking about this..." Akane stopped and shook her head again. "She's going to sleep with us." She stated in resignation. Akane elbowed Ranma in the ribs...hard.
"I didn't do nothing." Complained Ranma.
"Keep it that way." Akane said tartly. "Ukyo's sleeping with us only because if our roles were reversed I'd be scared out of my mind right now."
"Got that right." Whispered Ukyo.
"And I wouldn't want to be alone." Akane finished. "And you behave too, Uk-chan." She threatened. "and I'm sleeping in the middle."
"Honey, I'm just glad I'm not sleeping alone tonight." Ukyo said feelingly. Suddenly she grinned. "However, if what I just remembered is true, I might be safer sleeping next to Ranma."
"Yeah, well if what I just remembered is true..." Akane said. Her expression became sheepish. "You're probably right." Akane rolled her eyes as Ukyo and Ranma laughed. "Gods and I can't believe just this morning I was thinking how bored I was."
"You know what they say." Ukyo said seriously. "Be careful what you wish for." She said. "You just might get it."
Akane stood up. "Let's go to bed." She announced. "I get the bath first." She said. Akane shivered for a moment then quickly walked away.
Ukyo and Ranma watched her go. They looked at each other. "Hey." Ranma said.
"Hey." Ukyo replied.
Ranma scratched the back of his head. "So...other than the weird memories...how are you?" Ranma grinned slightly when Ukyo snorted in response. "Okay..stupid question." He agreed. "You know I've never been good at small talk."
"Oh I dunno, sugar." Ukyo replied. "I kind of remember, one of my own memories, I think, of you being good enough to talk me out of my panties a few times." Ukyo leaned over and pecked Ranma on the cheek. "Don't think I'm not tempted." She admitted. Ukyo stood. "But we have to...talk to Akane first." She said. "She's the boss after all." Ukyo smiled a shakey smile. "Remember?"
Ranma stood as well. "Yeah." Ranma replied. "I remember."
Akane squatted on a stool and washed her short black hair furiously. "What in hell is going on?" She asked herself angrily. "I feel like a damn puppet." She picked up a hose and rinsed the suds out of her hair. Two minutes later she was soaking up to her neck in hot water. She looked up as the door to the bathroom opened and Ukyo walked in.
"Thought I'd remove any...um...doubts." Ukyo said. "Soak as long as you want, I'm in no hurry."
A slight smirk appeared on Akane's face. "Uh huh." She said in disbelieving tones. The smirk became a smile. "I appreciate the thought, though." She said.
"Akane honey, believe me." Ukyo said. "I'm too scared to be tempted." Ukyo used the hose to soak herself with warm water. Then began soaping her arms. "Okay not too scared to be tempted, I'm already tempted but..." Ukyo started washing her legs. "Look if your memories or whatever they are, are like mine..."
"I did the laundry." Akane said.
Ukyo looked at Akane with a confused look. "Honey?"
"Yesterday," Akane explained. "I did the laundry." Akane blew out a breath. "Just like I did the week before that and the week before that." She said. "That's why I couldn't remember what I did because I couldn't remember when I did it." Akane sat up. "If you're done..." Akane waved a hand. "It's big enough." Akane sat back. "They're not my memories." Akane said.
Ukyo stood and climbed into the furo and sat against the side. "Feels good." She said. "I guess not." Ukyo barked a laugh. "For a moment I thought...no I hoped, I had amnesia and I was beginning to remember my real life." She smiled when Akane laughed in response.
"But they are memories." Akane said after a moment. The door to the bathroom opened. "That better not be you Ranma."
"Hit me later." Ranma replied. "There's something you gotta see." Ranma pulled his head out of the door and closed it. Akane and Ukyo looked at each other and stood. The door to the furo opened again and Ranma stuck his head back in. He opened his mouth to speak and then closed it. Ranma ducked his head out of the door and the door closed.
Akane and Ukyo quickly dried off and wrapped towels around themselves and hurried out of the bathroom. "This better be good, Ranma." Akane said threateningly,
"I don't if it's good but..." Ranma pointed to a wall where a large mirror hung. "Go ahead." Ranma said. "Look in the mirror."
Akane gave Ranma a cross look and then walked over to the mirror. "All I see is my...holy shit." Exclaimed Akane. "That's not me." The image in the mirror may not have been Akane but it was an Akane as she would be fifteen or twenty years later. If she was lucky. Akane stared at the image. She felt Ukyo stand next to her and saw Ukyo's image appear in the mirror. Except it wasn't the woman standing next to her but it was what Ukyo probably would look like in the future. She heard Ukyo gasp. The image, Akane noted as her fear began to ebb, didn't look like she gasped but smiled instead. Akane reached a trembling hand and touched her own, older, image. "Hello?" She said in a trembling voice.
The Akane image smiled in response and nodded. She touched her ear and shook her head. The Akane image then pointed at Akane. Akane shook her head. Then touched her ear and shook her head again. The Akane image looked disappointed. A pad seemed to appear in the Akane's images hand. The Akane image wrote frantically on the paper and then held the paper up.
"Must find Nanban Mirror." The note read.
"Ran-chan get something to write on and write with." Ukyo yelled. Ukyo looked at her reflection. The older Ukyo image slowly mouthed something. Ukyo tried to make out the words. "I. knew. you'd. be. there." She recited. "Knew?" She thought.
"I found an old chalkboard." Ranma announced as he walked over to the mirror. As he did a third image appeared in the mirror. Ranma swallowed. A woman in her late thirties or early forties was reflected. She had red hair and was very busty. "Oh gods."
"Is that what you look like as a girl, Ranma?" Akane said in disbelief. "She's...she's...she looks nice." The redhaired image looked at Akane and smiled knowingly. She made kissing motions with her mouth. Akane reared back in sudden anger. "Hey." The image laughed and then frowned as something hit the back of the redhead's head. "Hit her again." Akane yelled at the mirror. "The very idea." Akane turned her head. "What are you laughing at Ukyo?" She asked testily.
"I always knew you were a little...curious." Ukyo laughed. "And if anyone would know..." She pointed to the redhead. "She would." Ukyo grabbed the chalkboard and some chalk. "Anyway, we have more important things to do." She started writing on the chalkboard and held it up. "What's Nanban Mirror?" She had written.
Her message seemed to evoke consternation in the three images. The Akane image wrote frantically. "Where is Happi?" She had written.
"Happi?" Ranma, Akane and Ukyo asked in confused voices. "Oh wait, maybe she means Master Happosai." Ranma said. "Pops said people used to call him that." He said. "Write, Master Happosai dead a long time." Ukyo wrote that on the chalk board and held it up.
More frantic scribbling from the Akane image. "Kho Lon?"
"Who?" Ukyo wrote back.
"Shampoo?" The Akane image wrote.
"?" Ukyo wrote back.
The Akane image frowned. The other two images occassionally mouthed something or gesticulated. The Akane image wrote a long message. She held it up. "This is not a joke." The note began. "Can you do any of the following: roof hop, emit cold ki, emit hot ki, fly , turn female, turn male, turn into an animal?"
Akane, Ranma and Ukyo read the note in obvious confusion. As one they shook their heads. The Akane image wrote another note. "Ranma, did you ever go to China?" Said the note.
"Pops talked about going to China but we never went." Ranma said quietly. He shook his head.
The Akane image held up another note. "Ukyo do you carry a battle spatula?"
"A battle spatula?" Ukyo laughed. "That silly looking thing?"
"You mean there is such a thing." Akane asked in disbelief.
"Oh yeah, Dad tried to teach it to me." Ukyo said. "I never could get the hang of it." Ukyo turned to the mirror and shook her head. The Akane image stared at Ukyo for a long time before she lowered her head and began writing. She wrote for a very long time. The Akane image finally held up the paper. Akane, Ranma and Ukyo had to put the faces almost to the mirror glass the read it.
"Someone built a device, we call it the Super Nanban Mirror . It's supposed to show you a future or a past or another life."
"Another life?" Akane whispered.
"Something went wrong." The note continued. "It opened...holes...between universes. All the holes now closed, except yours." The next line was underlined. "It can only be closed from your side." The next line was written in red. "If you do not close the hole your universe and ours may collide and destroy both universes. We can't allow that to happen."
"I don't like the way that sounds." Ukyo said nervously.
"Ask them about the memories, Uk-chan." Ranma said.
Ukyo nodded and wrote carefully on the chalk board. "We are remembering things that didn't happen to us." The three images in the mirror gesticulated and mouthed silently for a time. Finally the Akane image wrote something down. She held up the note. "Go to sleep." The Akane image looked up as the Ukyo image mouthed something. Akane lowered the note and raised it again a moment later. Now it said. "Go to sleep. Together." A few seconds later the images in the mirror faded and the only reflections were their own.
"I guess that means they're done talking for the night." Akane said. She stood. "We should get some rest." She said. "And I'm still sleeping in the middle."
"And I still need to take a bath." Ranma replied. "I'll meet you in the bedroom."
"You'll change into your pajamas in the bathroom." Akane said "No free shows." She said warningly. "Come on, Uk-chan." Akane said. "I'm sure I have something that will fit you." Akane and Ukyo headed off to the bedroom while Ranma took a quick bath. Akane walked into the bathroom several minutes later with Ranma's pajamas.
By the time Ranma finished bathing, put on his pajamas and walked into the bedroom, Akane and Ukyo were already in bed and talking quietly. Akane scooted over to make room. "Let's try to sleep." Akane said. "For some reason, they..." She emphasized the word. "Want us to sleep, so let's sleep."
"yes, Akane." Ranma replied.
"I'll try sugar." Ukyo replied.
It took some time but finally and one by one the three fell asleep.
Ranma opened his eyes to find himself almost nose to nose with a huge snake. "Yahh." Screamed Ranma. He jumped to his feet and took a shaky guard position. The snake reared up, higher and higher until Ranma had to tilt his head up to look into the snake's eyes. Ranma fell to his knees in terror. "Guys." squeaked Ranma. "Wake up."
"Mmph." Akane noised. "Is it morning already?"
"I don't know." Squeaked Ranma. "wake Uk-chan."
"I'm awake." Ukyo muttered sleepily.
"Damn, I wish you hadn't said that." Ranma's voice cracked. "Look to your right and t-tell me what you s-see."
Akane and Ukyo rolled over. "Eeek." Akane and Ukyo screamed. "Snake."
"I wish you hadn't said that too." Muttered Ranma as the two women ducked behind Ranma.
The snake looked down at the cowering threesome. "Pitiful." It hissed.
"Oh leave them alone, snake." A familiar voice said. Into the center of the oasis strode three people. "They're obviously not used to...things." An older and more powerful looking Ranma Saotome said. "Hi." He said. "I'm Ranma Saotome, sorry about this."
"It's the only way we knew how to really talk to you." A short haired and lithe older version of Akane said.
"Hey Sugars." An older, rounder but still dangerous looking Ukyo Kyonji said. "Don't worry about the snake." She said calmly. "He's really not that bad." She grinned. "Once you get to know him."
The three older versions bowed to the snake respectfully. "Thank you for permitting us to use your home." The older Ranma said. The snake nodded in acceptance and then slithered away into the underbrush. "Like Uk-chan said, he's not that bad." He said. "But, staying here overlong wouldn't be very...healthy."
"Not for you three, anyway." The older Akane said. "Honestly, I can't detect even a touch of Ki from any of them."
"Ki?" The younger Ranma said. "That stuff isn't real."
"Oh no?" Akane said sweetly. She raised her hands to the sides and to shoulder height. Suddenly flames burst from her palms and her eyes were replaced by flames. Just as suddenly the flames winked out.
"Show off." Ukyo scolded. "But effective." She rolled her eyes at the younger threesome again cowering on their knees. "Relax, Sugars." The older Ukyo said. "We're on your side."
"Who-what are you?" Ranma gasped.
"We're you." The older Ukyo replied. "Sort of."
"Look we don't have a lot of time here." The older Ranma said. "So, let's make this quick." He said. "You have to find a mirror." He said. "It's going to be in Nerima and Happi probably has it." The older Ranma paused. "Or had it while he was alive." He said. "It will look like a cheesy hand mirror with fake jewels on it."
"You need to find it and then neutralize it." Akane said. "The simplest way is the break the mirror."
"Simplest but probably not the best way." Another voice said. Into the clearing strode three more people. The speaker was a powerfully built man in his late twenties with a long ponytail. His eyes were obviously and dramaticallly made up in shades of red and brown. "Hi Old Man." The two women following were as dramatically made up.
The older Ranma rolled his eyes. "I thought we had seen the last of you three."
"Aw." Another of the newcomers complained. She was also in her late twenties and obviously pregnant. "Now is that anyway to greet...yourself."
"You may be me, but you're still a slut, Akane." The older Akane said in annoyed tones. "Hello Ranma." The older Akane said. "Hello Ukyo." She gave the newcomer Akane a second look. "I see congratulations are in order."
"Thanks." The newcomer Akane said. "We're going to name him Akama."
"That's my son's name." The first Akane said.
"Mine too." The older Akane said.
"We're wasting time." The newcomer Ranma said. "Breaking the mirror made it very difficult to neutralize the Nanban effect." He said. "We had to replace the glass before we could close the hole." The newcomer said. "And even then...well we're not sure if we closed the hole permanantly." The newcomer finally turned his attention to the Ranma, Akane and Ukyo who were still cowering on their knees. "Get up man." The newcomer ordered in disgust. "You're embarassing the Saotome name."
Ranma, Akane and Ukyo slowly and shakily got to their feet. "that's better." The newcomer Ranma said. He turned his attention back to the older Ranma. "Before you ask, it seems that you guys and us are...attuned." He grinned. "Probably because we're so alike." The older Ranma humphed in response. "We felt you come here."
"So we followed." The newcomer Akane said. She turned her attention to the Ranma, Akane and Ukyo hanging on to each other. "I cannot believe you're us." She said in disapproval. "Ranma acts like a wimp, Ukyo looks like a housewife and...girl you really need to start working out some more." She said to the first Akane. "And what happened to your tits?"
"What's wrong with my tits, I mean breasts?" Akane complained.
"You're starting to sag, for one." The newcomer Akane said. "And you're kind of small, for another." She grinned and cupped her own swelling breasts. "Not like me and the old lady." She said.
"And really, sugar." The newcomer Ukyo said in complaint. "Would it hurt to get a facial once in a while." She turned to the snickering Akane and Ranma. "Not that kind." She said. The Newcomer Ukyo grinned. "Though that probably wouldn't hurt either." She turned her attention back to the first Ukyo. "Really, when was the last time you got laid, girl?" She said. "I know me, which means I know you, and you look frustrated as hell." She said. "What's the matter?" The newcomer Ukyo complained. "Your Ran-chan, can't get it up?"
"I-I wouldn't know." The first Ukyo said.
"What do you mean?" The older Ukyo interjected. "You guys are together, aren't you?" She pointed a thumb at the other three. "They're together and so're we." The first Ukyo shook her head. "No?" The older Ukyo said in surprise.
"Up until this morning, I hadn't seen Ranma or Akane in almost ten years." The first Ukyo replied.
"What?" Six voices chorused.
"Your world really is different." The older Ranma grumbled. "No Ki abilities, no curses, no magic..." He shook his head. "And it looks like the three of us aren't together...not really."
"That sounds boring as hell." The newcomer Ranma said.
"And lonely." The newcomer Akane added.
"For once I agree with my slutty twin." The older Akane said. "And you are a slut." The older Akane said with a grin. Her grin fell. "No wonder you all look so...so...used up." She said to the original three.
"Can we get back to the matter at hand." The older Ranma said testily. "Look, you have to find the mirror and..." He looked at the newcomer Ranma.
"We think covering it with a cloth is enough." The second Ranma said. "Sort of like the mirror in the mansion." He grinned. "If you can't see in, nothing gets out."
"Probably true." The older Ranma said. "Okay, find the mirror. Like I told you before, it's small, and cheesy looking with jewels." He said. "If you know where Happi kept his stuff before he died, try there first. If it's not there...ask Pops or Old Man Tendo to give you a list of Happi's favorite hangouts. " His expression became grim. "You have at most a month." The older Ranma looked around. "I think we've imposed on snake's hospitality long enough." He decided. "I'd say it was nice meeting you but...honestly...and no offense...at least the slutty three..."
"That's Terrible Three." The newcomer Akane said testily.
"Whatever." The older Ranma said. "They may be sluts but at least they're real martial artists."
"Love you too, Old man." The newcomer Ranma said with a grin. "Come on girls, time to go home." The newcomer Ranma gave the oasis a final look. "Not bad, maybe we'll come back one day." The three newcomers faded until they were gone.
"We'll be going as well." The older Ranma said. He and the older versions of Akane and Ukyo also faded away.
Akane, Ranma and Ukyo looked at each other. "Now what?" Ranma asked. "How do we leave?" A rustling in the bushes caused the three to turn. The monstrous snake slithered out into the clearing.
"Still here?" Hissed the snake.
"We don't know how to leave." Ranma's squeaked in terror.
The Snake hissed a laugh and reared up higher and higher until it towered over the trembling trio. The snake stared at the three for a moment then suddenly it struck down toward them with its' fanged mouth agape.
"Ahhh." Ranma screamed. His scream echoed by two additional screams. He sat bolt upright in bed. His body covered in sweat. Akane and Ukyo clung to him. Ranma could feel them tremble. He was too terrified to realize he was trembling just as hard. "A dream." Panted Ranma. "It had to be a dream."
"Had to be." Echoed a terrified Akane. "I-I saw...there were...it was."
"Snake." Whimpered Ukyo. "I hate snakes."
"You saw it too?" Whispered Akane.
"Yeah." Chorused Ranma and Ukyo in tones of fright.
"She said I was a wimp." Ranma whimpered. "I am too a real martial artist." He moaned.
"She said I looked like a housewife." Ukyo said in a voice that combined rage and fear. "Washed out."
"My tits do not sag." Declared Akane. "Okay so I don't work out like I used to...I'm busy. I have responsibilities."
"I am too a real martial artist." Ranma whimpered again.
The three clung together for minute after long minute. Finally the trembling began to subside. First Ukyo then Akane disengaged themselves from Ranma. The three looked at each other. "They said they were...together." Ukyo said. "Does...did..."
"Let's not give the pervert any ideas, Uk-chan." Akane said. "We have a mirror to find."
"I am too a real martial artist." Ranma muttered. "Yeah, right, mirror." He said when Akane elbowed him. "Didn't your dad put all of Master Happosai's stuff in the attic?"
"You don't think it's going to be that easy, do you?" Akane asked in acid tones.
Ranma shook his head. "No, but we might as well start there." He turned his head and looked at the clock sitting on the dresser. "Three in the morning." He said.
"He said we have a month." Ukyo said. She yawned. "A few more hours wont kill us." She said. "I hope." She added. Ukyo lay back down and stared at the ceiling. She stared at the ceiling for a while. "Akane?"
"Yeah, Uk-chan?" Akane replied sleepily.
"Would it be okay if...if I cuddled next to Ranma?" She asked in a tiny voice. "Just a cuddle." She added quickly. "Please..." She said plaintively.
Akane blew out a breath. "Yeah, go ahead." She said after a pause. "But you're cooking breakfast."
Ukyo laughed shakily. "Best offer I've had in years." The three rearranged themselves on the bed. With Ukyo cuddling up against Ranma's shoulder. "Akane?" Ukyo reached across Ranma and touched Akane's shoulder. "Thank you." She said sleepily. "They looked so happy. So...content." She yawned again. "Night."
"Night, Uk-chan." Akane said. "Night Ranma."
"I am too a real martial artist." Ranma muttered again. "Night."
The next morning, after Ukyo made breakfast and got the boys packed off to school. Fortunately Hayaima went to a school close to where Akama went. And with an admonition for Hayaima to wait for Akama and for them to walk to the Saotome home together, the three went to the attic.
"I think Master happosai's stuff is in the back." Akane said. She walked off toward the back of the attic and started rummaging around. Ukyo and Ranma went to check another dusty corner of the attic. They rummaged around for several hours.
"I found his stuff." Akane called. Ranma and Ukyo hurried over. There was a large wooden chest with the Saotome crest on it and the name Happosai written across the top in calligraphy. One side of the chest had what looked like a bullet hole through it. "It's locked." Akane grumbled. She looked around. She spotted a broken broom handle and started hitting the lock.
"That'll take forever, Tomboy." Ranma said. He straightened. "Be right back." Ranma hurried out of the attic, while Akane continued to hit the lock.
"What is this thing made of?" Muttered Akane. "It looks rusted as hell but it wont break." She complained. She was still hitting it when Ranma returned. He carried a short crowbar in one hand and a hammer in the other.
"Stand back." Ranma ordered. He jammed the crowbar against the lock and pulled. The lock groaned but did not break. "Tomboy, Uk-chan, give me a hand here." Ranma reset the crowbar and waited until Akane and Ukyo got a good grip. "Okay, on three." He said. "One, two...three." The three pulled as hard as they could against the lock. For a moment nothing happened then with a tortured screech, the lock sprang open.
Ranma slowly opened the chest. As he did so, a wave of dizziness overcame him and he lost his grip on the lid and it slammed shut. "Whoa, what was that?" Ranma said dizzily.
"If I had to guess, I'd say the mirror." Akane said nervously. "Let's try that again...slowly." This time all three of them lifted the lid. Again a wave of dizziness threatened to overcome them but Ranma gritted his teeth and pushed the lid back. Sitting on a stack of old clothes was a small hand mirror. It was covered with large obviously fake jewels. It was the kind of thing you'd dismiss as junk. Except..."It's glowing slightly." Akane said.
"And humming." Ukyo added.
"Cheesy looking...check." Ranma said. "Jewels...check." Ranma shook his head. "He didn't say anything about it glowing or humming." He complained.
"Maybe theirs didn't." Ukyo guessed. She swallowed. "Or maybe it starts glowing and humming when..." She swallowed again. "When it's about to...blow?"
Akane grabbed one of the old clothes, a shirt, and quickly wrapped the mirror in it. Once covered both the glow and the humming stopped. All three of them blew out a breath in relief. "Now what?" Akane asked.
"Let's ask...them." Ukyo suggested reluctantly.
With Akane carefully carrying the wrapped mirror the three made their way downstairs. They were about to go into the living room and use the mirror there when Ranma spoke. "Let's use the mirror in the dojo." Ranma suggested. "It's bigger."
"What makes you think that'll work?" Ukyo asked.
"Cause I think I saw...her...in the dojo mirror yesterday." Ranma said. "Gods I hope I'm in male form." He grumbled. "She...scared me."
"I thought she was cute." Akane disagreed.
"You would." Ukyo said. "You know it's not fair." Ukyo grumbled as they walked toward the dojo.
"what's not fair, Uk-chan?" Akane asked. "Damn, there I go calling you Uk-chan again."
"I don't mind." Ukyo replied. "As to what's not fair; It's not fair that they're obviously much older than us and...and..."
Akane nodded sourly. "You're right, it's not fair."
The three entered the dojo. Ranma turned on the overhead lights and they walked over and stood in front of the mirror. At first they only saw their own reflection and then, slowly, the images changed and they were looking at the older versions of themselves. Akane held up the wrapped mirror.
The older Ranma mimed unwrapping the mirror. Akane slowly did so and again held the mirror up. The older Ranma stared at the mirror for awhile before he nodded and mimed for Akane to wrap it up again. Akane quickly rewrapped the mirror.
The older version of Akane held up a note. "Put that damn thing someplace safe...and dark." Akane nodded at her image. The older Akane image held up a second note. "We are shutting down Nanban device. " She seemed to reach off to the side and the images of the older versions vanished and replaced with their own images.
The three stared at the mirror. "That's it?" Akane said in disbelief. "We're shutting it down?" Her voice took on a outraged growl. "No, thank you?" She exclaimed. "No, good job?"
"Before you blow a gasket, sugar." Ukyo said. "Let's get that thing put away." She pointed to the wrapped bundle Akane held. "And then..." She said in tones of gloomy anticipation. "I need a drink."
They decided to hide the Nanban mirror in the wall safe in Akane and Ranma's bedroom. It was a new installation and they were pretty sure neither of their father's knew the combination. Ranma, Akane and Ukyo then went to the main room of the house.
One of the few things Akane could make without incident was a mixed drink. As long as there weren't more than three ingredients. "Do you like rum, Ukyo?" Akane asked. Ukyo made a noise of affirmation and Akane busied herself at the bar. She walked over with a pitcher. "Rum and OJ." She explained. "Heavy on the rum."
"Good." Ukyo replied moodily.
The three sat around the main table. They didn't say anything until they had finished their second drink and just starting on the third. "I've never felt so inadequate...so...what's the word I want, Uk-chan?"
"Disregarded?" Ukyo replied. "Dismissed?"
"Dismissed." Agreed Akane. "Like I was a child."
"I think they were ashamed of us." Ranma said quietly. "No, I know..." He emphasized. "They were ashamed of us." He clenched a fist and looked at it. "Like we failed to live up to their expectations." He unclenched his fist. "I am too a real martial artist." He grumbled.
"Apparently not by their standards." Ukyo replied. She looked at her drink. "Those others...the ones who looked like...don't laugh but they looked like strippers."
"Acted like whores, at least." Akane added acidly. "My ti..breasts do not sag."
"Whores maybe, but they, the older ones, they liked them." Ukyo said. "More than that, they respected them."
"You noticed." Akane said sourly. She raised her glass and downed the remains of her drink. "Not like us." She said sadly. "When did it all go wrong?" Her voice slurred slightly. "The guys used to line up to date me." She grumbled. "I used to be able to break bricks with my hands." She raised her hands to her breasts. "Now look at me." She sniffed. "I'm a saggy titted, washed up, hag."
"We're failures." Ukyo wiped away a tear. A tear that was quickly followed by others. "Did you see the look on the other Ukyo's face when I said I don't use a battle spatula."
"I am too a real martial artist." Ranma hung his head. "Oh who am I kidding?" He said. " Compared to them, I'm a fraud, a joke." He wiped at his face. "Fifth dan, hah." He snorted. "Big deal." His shoulders slumped. "Big...fucking...deal."
All three looked down and conversation ceased for a long time. Finally Ukyo raised her head and wiped at her eyes. "I just realized something." She said in almost regretful tones. "No more...memories."
"So...it's over then." Akane said. "Now we can just go back to our normal lives." She began to sniff again. "Our normal, boring...useless lives." She spat in disgust. Silence greeted her pronouncement.
Ranma raised his head. "I'll be right back." He said moodily. He stood and walked away. He returned several minutes later and sat back down. "I cancelled todays classes." He said. "I don't think I'm in the right mood to teach." He said. Ranma sighed.
Ukyo nodded. "I bet she even cooks better than me." She said in defeated tones. "Both of them." She lifted her glass and frowned when she realized it was empty. "Any more in the pitcher?" She asked. Akane checked and shook her head. "No?" Ukyo said. "Probably best." She said. "If I drank anymore I'd pass out."
"You always were the practical one, Uk-chan." She said. "Even in High School." Akane smiled sadly. "I used to really envy you." She said. "Smart, independent...cute."
"I used to envy you." Ukyo replied. "You never let anyone tell you what to do." She smiled back at Akane. "You were the girl all the guys wanted and who all the girls wanted to be." Ukyo's smile fell. "Now look at us." Ukyo looked down at the table for a minute or so, then she raised her head. "Cute?"
"Hecka cute." Akane replied.
"I just know that if I agree with Akane I'm going to have my head handed to me." Ranma complained. "Oh hell, I have to agree with Akane, you were really cute in High School." He said. He looked at Akane. "If I tell her she's still cute am I going to have to sleep on the couch?"
"If you tell her that, yeah." Akane replied crossly. She looked at Ukyo. "You're still cute Uk-chan." Akane smiled. It was the first real smile she had all day. "You really are kind of special, you know?" Akane continued. "Let's face it, if Ranma and my dads hadn't made that stupid agreement, Ranma probably would have married you instead of me."
"Maybe, sugar." Ukyo replied. "But...he didn't." She said in regretful tones. Then Ukyo smiled. "I still got Haya out of the deal."
"Oh crap, the kids." Akane exclaimed. She looked at a wall clock. "They'll be home any minute and..."
"You straighten the place up and Ran-chan and I will make dinner." Ukyo offered.
"Deal." Akane said gratefully. Suddenly Akane snorted in wry amusement. "I bet the other Ukyo's do all the cooking too."
Ukyo laughed. "No doubt." She agreed. "Come on Ran-chan, if Akama is anything like Haya."
"Which he probably will be." Akane added.
"Probably." Ukyo replied. "He's going to be very, very hungry." She said.
"Just like their Dad." Akane said. Akane paused. "Kind of weird admitting it." She said. Akane waved a hand. "Shoo." She said. "Make dinner."
"Tempura or Okanomiyaki?" Ukyo asked.
"Do I get a vote?" Ranma asked.
"No." Chorused Akane and Ukyo. "Okonomiyaki, Uk-chan." Akane said.
"Yes, boss." Ukyo said cheerfully. "Right away boss."
"And don't you forget it." Akane said tartly. "Ukyo?" Akane called as Ukyo and Ranma headed toward the kitchen. Ukyo stopped and turned. "I think..I think we should tell them."
"Are you sure, honey?" Ukyo replied doubtfully. "They.."
"I'm sure." Akane replied. Akane smiled a wan smile. "Shoo." She said.
Akane had just finished setting the table when the front door slammed open. "We're home." Sang two young voices.
"What did I tel you about slamming the door, young man." Akane scolded.
"It wasn't me." Akama replied in innocent outrage. "It was Haya."
"Was not." Haya replied heatedly.
"Was too." Akama replied and stuck his tongue out.
"Both of you stop it right now." Akane scolded. "Both of you." She said. "Don't bang the door."
"Yes, Momma A." Chorused Akama and Hayaima.
Akane blinked. A wide smile came to her face. She forced it down and put on a stern face instead. "Dinner is going to be a little late." She said. "So, you...both have plenty of time to wash up." She said. "Haya, I'm making you responsible for Kama actually using soap this time."
Hayaima grinned. "You can count on me, Momma A." He chirped. "Come on Kama." He placed an arm companionably across the younger boy's shoulders. The walked away. They didn't take ten steps before they were giggling and shoving each other.
"We missed so much." Akane whispered in regretful realization. She shook her head. "No more." She avowed aloud. "I don't know how we're going to do it, but the boys will be raised together." Akane looked at the kitchen door as one of the 'memories' she had received repeated. Akane blushed bright red. "Oh my."
"Wow." Akama exclaimed as Ukyo placed a plate in front of him. "Okonomiyaki." He leaned over and inhaled deeply. "Oh wow." Akama drooled as he waited impatiently for everyone to get served. "Thankyouforthefood." Akama said and grabbed a still hot slice. He shoved nearly half of the piece into his mouth and bit down. Akama's eyes nearly rolled into the back of his head in ecstacy. "Oh gods, that's good." He said with a full mouth.
"Momma U makes the best Okonomiyaki in all Tokyo." Hayaima said proudly.
"Well I don't know about Tokyo." Ukyo said modestly. "But I will accept the best in Nerima."
"Tokyo." Mumbled Ranma around an equally full mouth.
"You are so lucky, Haya." Akama said jealously.
"I know." Hayaima replied in smug tones. He shoved a large piece into his mouth. "Hey." He said with a full mouth. "Maybe you can come to dinner some times."
As nearly one Akama and Hayaima turned to their respective mothers. "Please."
"I'm sure something can be arranged." Akane replied. "Right Uk-chan?"
"Well as long as the chores are done." Ukyo replied.
"Alright." Chorused Akama and Hayaima. The two boys started chattering away making plans for future visits.
Akane turned to Ukyo. "Well that answers one question." She said. She raised an eyebrow.
"I could always rent out the apartment above the store." Ukyo replied. She blushed. "Between the restaurant, the rent and what you guys pull in." She said quickly. "I think we'd be doing...okay." She looked down at the table. "I could sleep in the spare bedroom."
"Um hmm." Akame replied in knowing tones.
"Okay, I could pretend to sleep in the spare bedroom." Ukyo said. Her blush deepened.
"We'll talk about this after dinner." Akane said. "In the meantime." She looked at her empty plate. "Any more Okonomiyaki?"
Akama leaned back and patted his now full belly. "Oh man, that was a great dinner." He said contentedly. "Hey Haya." Akama tuned to a full looking Hayaima. "I got this really neat new video game."
"Don't rush off yet boys." Akane said. "Your father..." Akane paused. "And Ukyo and I have something very important to talk to you about." She said quickly. She looked at the two young boys, They didn't appear to take notice of the slip. 'You're more nervous than you thought, Akane old girl.' She thought. Akane cleared her throat. "First, I want to say how happy, Ranma, Ukyo and I are that the two of you are getting along so well."
"Haya's great Momma A." Akama said.
"So's Kama, Momma U." Hayaima added.
"We think you're both pretty great, too." Ukyo said in pleased tones.
"Anyway." Akane continued. "I...you see." Akane sighed. "Hayaima, Akama." Akane said firmly. "We have been keeping a secret." She waved a hand to include Ranma and Ukyo. "And...and we finally realized that it should never have been a secret."
"Secret Momma A?" Hayaima asked. "What kind of secret?"
"Well, you see many years ago, before Momma A married Daddy." Akane ran an hand across her now dry mouth. "Before Momma A married Daddy." She repeated. "Daddy almost married Momma U." Akama and Hayaima both turned their attention to a slightly squirming Ranma. "And you see.." Akane twisted her hands together.
"And because Momma U." Ukyo said taking up the narrative. "Thought she might be marrying Akama's father." She said to Hayaima. "Mommo U decided she wanted to have a baby right away." Ukyo swallowed. "With Akama's Daddy."
"Before he was Akama's Daddy." Akane added hurriedly. "As if that matters.' She thought. "Any way when Momma A found out about...about the baby...Momma A got very, very angry." Akane looked down. "And she told Momma U to go away and take the baby with her and never come back." Akane started to cry. She raised a tear streaked face to Akama and Hayaima. "I am so sorry." She choked out. "Seeing you...together made me realize how selfish...how wrong I was." She bowed to the two stunned children. "Please forgive me."
"Momma?" Akama said in confused tones.
"Haya is that baby." Ukyo said quietly when Akane didn't answer right away. She turned to Hayaima. "Yes, Haya." She said. "Akama is your brother." She smiled a little sadly. "Your half brother."
Hayaima and Akama looked at each other then they both turned to the crying Akane. Their faces reflected their question. Akane nodded. Hayaima and Akama looked at each other again. They stared at each other for a long time. "I knew it." Shouted Akama in glee. "I knew it. I knew it." HIs wide smile was mirrored on Hayaima's face.
Ranma leaned over to the stunned Akane. "I think they're taking it pretty well." He said. "Oof." He grunted when Akane elbowed him. "Boys." Ranma called.
"Yeah Pops?" Akama replied.
"Yes, ...Hayaima began. He stopped. Then he grinned. "Yeah, Pops."
Ranma blinked. "Yes." He breathed. He smiled. "That was one of the things I was going to say." He said. "The other...Akama...Hayaima...your mothers want the two of you to...grow up together." He said. "So, Uk...Momma U decided that you Haya could move into Akama's room." His expression became serious. "If you wanted to."
"I get the spot under the window." Hayaima said quickly.
"Hey." Akama said in protest.
"Answers that question." Ranma chuckled. "Boys."
"Yeah, Pops?" The two boys chorused.
"Momma U is going to move into the guest room." Ranma said. "And Haya will be transfered to Akama's school."
"Well duh." Hayaima said in dismissal. He looked at his mother. "Can I stay here tonight?" He pleaded.
Akane wiped her eyes. "You can stay tonight and tomorrow night." Akane said. "Now shoo." She said. The two boys jumped up. To Akane's surprise both Akama and Hayaima kissed her like sons. They repeated their gesture with first Ukyo and then Ranma. Ranma tousled both their heads and swatted both of them on their butts to propel them out of the dining area. The two boys raced each other to what was to become their bedroom.
"You okay, sugar?" Ukyo asked Akane.
"I feel...whole." Akane replied quietly. Ukyo nodded in understanding. Akane stood a little shakily and started gathering dishes. Ukyo and Ranma started doing the same. They quickly got the dirty dishes into the kitchen, rinsed and into the dishwasher. The cleaned up the rest of the kitchen quickly and once again retired to the couch in the main room.
"Gods, I'm glad that's over." Ranma sighed. "All of it."
"Not yet, Ranma." Akane said in arch tones. "We have one more thing to discuss." She shrugged. "At least one more but this one..." Akane looked at Ukyo. "Sleeping arrangements."
"Hey just because...they did it doesn't mean we have to." Ranma said nervously.
"That's a switch." Ukyo said in amusement. "I thought it was supposed to be me or Akane who needed to be...convinced."
"You." Akane said with a smile.
Ukyo laughed. "Probably." She admitted. "Ranma is one thing but something tells me you're going to be a...handful." Akane laughed in response. "Okay." Ukyo said. "Let's talk about sleeping arrangements." Ukyo nodded. "You know and I know that if I spend another night under the same roof with Ranma I'm going to jump his bones." She grinned. "Hard."
"Hey." Ranma protested.
"Shut up, Ranma." Akane said firmly. "This is girl talk." She said. "Okay we both know that." She agreed.
"We also both know that the price tag to get permission to jump Ranma's bones is to let you jump mine." Ukyo said calmly.
"Hard." Agreed Akane.
"Hard." Agreed Ukyo. Ukyo twisted her lips and looked from Ranma to Akane, back to Ranma and back to Akane. "Ropes?" She said questioningly.
"Probably." Akane said with a smile.
"You going to get one of those..?" Ukyo made some general motions toward her crotch.
"Tomorrow." Akane promised. "A big one."
Ukyo blew out a breath. "Is it girls in general or just me?" She asked.
"Just you." Akane replied. She grinned. "Of course if Ranma starts turning into a girl..."
"Please no." Ranma exclaimed in fright.
Ukyo chuckled. "Don't worry, Ran-chan, you'll learn to like it."
"That's what I'm afraid of." Ranma exclaimed.
Ukyo chuckled. "And I suppose you'll want me to do all the cooking too?" She said to Akane. "I dunno." She rubbed her chin. "Hmm." Ukyo noised. She smiled. "Okay." She said brightly.
Author's note: It just came to me a couple days ago. I had been writing, on and off, other stories but nothing worth publishing. Then this idea hit me. Two days of writing and editing. Hope you like it.