Reflections in the Mirror
Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon. I'm writing this simply because I enjoy writing, and my muse jackhammered the idea into my head one day. Took half a bottle of aspirin to g et rid of the headache after that.
Warning: There will be some OOC. It is an AU though, so that can almost be expected.
In everyone's life there is a crossroad. Some people face just one, while others encounter many. These are decisions both big and small that have a dramatic impact on their life. In the life of Ranma Saotome there are many such points. Not all of them are signified by a dramatic event. Most are, but not all. This particular one wouldn't seem to be anything special. In fact, to all outwards appearances it was just an every day occurrence.
What was this momentous non-event? It was the most ordinary of things. In fact, no one could have anticipated it to be such a big deal. There was a loud crack which echoed through the building. A meaty thud followed shortly afterwords as a teenage martial arts prodigy impacted the stones around the koi pond with his head. This was a fairly regular event in the Tendo home. It happened at least once a week, sometimes more.
There was a difference though. An hour previous Saotome had managed to make a deal for an unusual pendent from Cologne. He didn't know exactly how it worked. But according to the ancient matriarch it would grant any one desire, so long as Ranma wanted it with all his heart and soul. When the pig tailed youth stood he looked dazed. Blood trickled from a nasty gash on his head as well. But that wasn't what caused the observers to gasp.
"I wish I could have a new life," the injured teen declared.
The pendent began to glow. It's pale blue aura pulsed in time with the youth's heartbeat. He vanished two minutes later. But it should be noted that this is a crossroad. There are many ways the moment could have gone. Many paths which the pig tailed youth could have walked. But of them all, he could only chose one. That's not to say others in the vast multiverse never walked those other paths. Just that this particular teen only traveled one of them.
His skill in hand to hand combat was rather obvious. It had been demonstrated when he stopped a mugger from assaulting two wonderful people. But this raised awareness of a problem. The teenage boy had no idea who he was. Nor did he have any identification. When the police looked into it, there were no records of who this teen was. It was as if he'd just appeared out of thin air.
With no identity, he had no home. So it was thankful the couple decided to take him in. To give him a home, and name. His new father had called him a dark avenger. His new mother had gasped and exclaimed he was 'hung like a horse' when she bathed the teen. So it came as no surprise that the teen's new name was Genma. Dark horse seemed a fitting name to his adoptive parents. The more they got to know their new son, the more the other meaning seemed to fit. His table manners were extremely unpolished.
It was an off duty taxi driver that found her. Red hair is unusual for a Japanese girl. That she was bleeding alarmed him. As a former soldier, the man knew head wounds were not good. She was barely conscious. So while waiting for an ambulance he made sure she stayed awake. A task made even harder with how much blood had been lost. Kuso, he thought. What do I do now?
At the hospital nurses and doctors alike marveled at the Jane Doe brought in. No identification, badly injured, and yet the unknown redhead was coherent enough to ask who she was. Toxicology reports indicated she'd not only suffered a head wound, but had ingested a substance as poisonous as the black mamba's venom. That the unknown girl even survived exposure to such chemicals was amazing.
It was only after adoption that her love of housework was discovered. Combined with a calm and peaceful demeanor, a name had been easy to chose. That the name seemed familiar to the preteen only made it more attractive. So when the preteen girl entered school, it was as Nodoka Hino. But life as a Hino wasn't too bad. She did have a brother now. Just having a family in it's self was a good feeling.
There are moments where fate can take many paths. The people involved are shaped by many things. Their own nature, events around them, even family can affect these events. Ranma Saotome's life consisted of countless such moments. The neko-ken was a big one. As was the day he received his gender curse. But there were many others. Mushrooms which could reduce or increase one's age, swords which grant wishes, cursed mirrors, cursed bras, the list went on and on.
Unknown to the teenage boy, he was fast approaching yet another such event. Across from him sat an ancient woman who was shorter then her wooden staff. The woman was named Cologne, and she was the leader of a village in China. Or at least one of the leaders. The woman was three hundred years old, or so she claimed. She was also a martial arts master beyond compare. But that wasn't the real reason the two were talking civilly.
No, the real reason was sitting on the table between them. A small gold pendent shaped like an eagle was the cause. The asking price was high though. One which Ranma Saotome was unwilling to pay. But maybe there was something else that could be offered. Men in Cologne's village had no rights. Everything both Shampoo and her great grandmother said proved this over and over. But what to offer? Maybe, just maybe that would be accepted.
"Ain't marrying Shampoo. That's not even an option." The teenager told her.
Cologne started with her usual speech. "Son-in-law is already..."
"Nope," Ranma cut her off. "The kisses aren't considered law outside yer village."
It was amazing what saving the life of a lawyer could do to help discover such things.
"Even if I liked her as more then a friend, Shampoo tried ta kill me for six months. Plus all the potions, magic tricks, mind control attempts, blackmail... No I ain't marrying her. But I might ally with ya." With that last bit Ranma smirked.
The bargaining took another five hours, and calling in help from a friend. In the end the Saotome youth had made more concessions then he'd originally intended to. But if the pendent did what the amazonian elder claimed, it would be worth it. His greatest desire, whatever it might be. The only catch being that Ranma had to want it with his whole being. That, and it would take almost twenty four hours of contact with skin before it would work. At least, that's what the old ghoul had claimed.
One of the biggest problems was that Ranma Saotome had no idea what he really desired. Nobody ever gave him the chance to figure it out. They just assumed he wanted what they wanted. Ukyo, his oldest friend believed Ranma wanted to spend the rest of his life running a small restaurant. Shampoo assumed he wanted to spend his life as little more then her slave. At least, that was Ranma's take on it. The Kuno siblings believed he wanted nothing more then to let them have their way with his body, or kill him. It depended which form Ranma was currently in.
Even his own family refused to let him decide for himself. His father wanted a retirement plan where he never had to work. His mother wanted an endless supply of grandchildren. So the real question was this: What did Ranma Saotome want? He was still thinking about that by the time Ranma reached the Tendo home. Since it wasn't time for supper yet, he entered the dojo to meditate. Anyone watching might have called it a kata instead.
When called to supper, the teen was happy at first. Then he saw her fiance carrying a dish filled with some bubbling purple goo. It was a sight which ruined any hope of a peaceful meal. Or even an edible meal. His father started in on how it was his duty to eat his fiance's (toxic) cooking. The walking water fountain made threats with a demon head of pure chi. Even his mother was getting in on the act.
Naturally, Ranma refused to even taste the likely poisonous substance. Which equally naturally didn't sit well with the youngest Tendo. Rather then be forcefully made to consume the substance, he unleashed the weakest chi blast Saotome could manage at it. The resulting wall of fury paralyzed him. A followup uppercut sent Saotome flying through a wall. His head struck stone just before Ranma sank into the koi pond.
Unknown to the pig tailed youth, she had just reached another pivotal moment in her life. The bargaining with Cologne had been a minor one. It happened in many realities. During the course of history half the time the deal fell through. Weather or not the bargaining even took place depended on if Ranma Saotome meets and saves a lawyer two wards over. An event which by no means was certain. With family and would-be family harping about honor, duty, and manliness Ranma's desires gelled.
For the first time in her life Ranma Saotome knew exactly what she wanted, and gave voice to it. "I wish all of you actually cared about honor and me."
When the pendent began to glow everyone fell silent. The glow intensified until it surrounded every Tendo and Saotome present. After it faded nothing appeared changed. Everyone was still right where they had been before the light show. But something was different. Both of Ranma's parents looked down upon their currently female child with mounting horror. The middle Tendo blinked a few times as just how much she'd been wronging the pig tailed martial artist hit her like a ton of bricks.
Of everyone, the eldest and youngest of Soun Tendo's daughters seemed the least affected. Kasumi let loose a single "Oh my" before heading back into the kitchen to clean it. Akane on the other hand sent her fiance flying through the air with another uppercut and a cry of "Ranma no baka!" It should be noted that the youngest Tendo honestly did care for her fiance, in a manner of fashion. That such an assault was neither a sign of affection nor honorable completely eluded her grasp.
But then it should be expected that her views of honor were skewed. For most of her life Akane's training had been entirely in her own hands. Her concept of honor came from an older sister who felt it okay to sell candid pictures of her own family. It also came from a father who had spent eleven years wallowing in his grief instead of raising his daughters. Even her supposed style of martial arts had a weak grounding in honor.
After all, how honorable can a style truly be if it's founder and only grandmaster was a perverted old man who regularly groped women and stole female undergarments? The Anything Goes style put a heavy emphasis on personal skill and power. What it ignored was honor and morality. Engaging in theft during training was a grand tradition for it's practitioners. In truth, the entire style could be said to have it's origins as a means to steal.
If Soun had taken an active role in his daughter's training, it was entirely probable it would have involved theft at some point. What he use to teach at the dojo was just basic self defense, not even a true style. None of that ever occurred to Akane though. All she cared about was that her 'perverted' fiance had insulted her cooking again. It should also be noted that honor and caring about someone does not always entail a lack of self delusion. Nor did it mean one couldn't be jealous.
"Miss Tendo, why did you just hit my daughter?" Nodoka asked in an icy tone.
Her expression was one of quiet anger. Then there was the fact it was getting increasingly colder in the immediate area. The ever present katana's hilt rested casually in the Saotome matron's hand, emphasizing the unspoken threat. I can't believe I did THAT with a man, the middle aged woman thought. And just how did I become my own mother? Nodoka then shifted her piercing blue-gray eyes to freeze Nabiki in place.
"As for you, I expect you to hand over all your photos of my manly son. That includes the negatives." Nodoka's expression hardened still further. "That includes those of her cursed form. My child is not an object for you to sell."
The sight of the Saotome honor blade being prepared for use sent shivers down Genma's overweight spine. Nervously he scanned the area in search of an escape path. He wasn't the current target of his wife's ire. Yet old habits die hard. And Genma remembered just how skilled Nodoka had been with a sword in her youth. Frighteningly skilled in fact, considering she came from a family of shrine caretakers. From what he could remember, Nodoka had a niece named Rei who worked as a miko in the family shrine now.
"He deser," Akane started to claim.
Her older sister backed up and stared like Akane had grown a second head. Genma found his jaw hanging limply from the shock. Akane's father dialed the tears up until they flowed like twin rivers. These subtle clues eluded the youngest Tendo's grasp however. Instead her first warning was the rasping sound of metal on bamboo and feel of cool steel on bare skin. The icy stare had transmuted into a cold fury.
"Finish that statement only if you wish to face me," Nodoka stated with no hint of emotion. Then she smirked in a vary familiar way. The fury in her eyes melted into genuine amusement. "But I fail to see what my daughter sees in an uncute tomboy like you."
He was a big man. And on the occasions he was honest with himself, well past his prime. Today was one such day. The man was wearing a dirty white gi, with an equally dirty bandana around his bald head. His glasses were skewed from his previous efforts. From beneath the gi he pulled out an old pendent. The golden eagle was something he'd had for as long as Genma could remember. Or rather, for as long as he use to remember.
It had been almost thirty years since he'd used chi to form projectiles. But with the memories of his early life restored, the Saotome patriarch had decided to try once more. The results were rather underwhelming. Instead of the large sphere of force he remembered, all that formed was a brief puff of energy. This energy then quickly dissipated. He tried every emotion that he thought could have worked. Anger, hate, depression, confidence, joy, Genma tried them all.
A mental rant about dishonorable sons was brought to a screeching halt. The portly man could remember his own father doing the same thing. And usually when it was his father's fault the trouble happened. With this realization came another, equally horrifying, one. I have become my father. I wanted a new life. But did it have to be this one? The rumble of his stomach put such introspection to rest.
The rotund man had no real money. Nor had he in years. While there was still strong muscle beneath his girth, the strength of youth had passed him by. And the desire for honest work had been stamped out by the dreaded master. Even the one job held in recent years hadn't lasted a week. But this lack of funds created a problem. The local eateries would no longer supply him a tab. The idea of just taking food from a couple street merchants was appealing.
At least, it was until Genma remembered what would happen next. Namely that he would be running for his life. So when a woman of maybe twenty approached, the con-man immediately started thinking of ways to get some money or better yet, food. Business suit, young, probably little actual experience. The suit looks expensive, so plenty of money. Moves like she's got some training too. Let's just see what I can get.
An hour later the woman made her way home. She rinsed hair dye out in the privacy of her own bathroom, revealing that her long hair was actually green instead of black. With a happy sigh the woman reflected on her deal. Only to be brought up short. Did I just, she thought in shock. Reading over the contract proved just how big a mistake the woman had made. While the others didn't know it, she'd long ago arranged to secretly have guardianship of the girl sometimes known as 'Sailor Moon'.
"How did he convince me this was a good idea?" She wondered while reading over the engagement contract. "And why was he even carrying one to begin with?"
"What did ya sell me for this time, pops?" A teenage Japanese boy asked.
He was wearing a red sleeveless vest of Chinese design and black kung fu pants of similar styling, both made from silk. His black hair was shoulder length and tied back in a pigtail. The boy glared at his father before looking over the piece of paper in his hand. Whatever it was, must have been small, the boy thought as he examined the house. Two stories tall, no real yard, not even a dojo. Then there was the distinct feeling of something really bad inside.
"Waaaah! I'm laaaaaaate!"
The front door burst open. Immediately afterwords a blur trampled the boy into the pavement before making tracks into the distance. Ow, the boy thought as he pealed himself out of the sidewalk. Not sure what's worse, that he sold me again or that he's serious this time. The teen glared at his father angrily before knocking on the front door. If it'd been up to him, the teen would never have even been there.
But it wasn't. The family home had been trashed, again. This second time had been caused by the actions of various crazies, rivals, and fiances. All of whom had been sold information by a certain blackmailing teenager. He didn't know why they had shown up. All the boy knew was that his family home was now so much kindling. His mother had decided to stay with her family, where he didn't know. And his father had announced that the boy would be staying with his fiance. Surprisingly, it sounded like just the boy would be staying here. What his father would do, the boy didn't really know or care. Just the fact he'd been sold yet again pissed him off.
"This makes no sense!" A woman of emerald tresses exclaimed.
For the past three days she'd been trying to backtrack the history of her most recent blunder. This was a feat made difficult by the chaotic forces centered on the boy named Ranma Saotome. What she'd seen of the boy's life however made her ill. Tracing the history of his parents though was an exercise in frustration. At the ages of ten and seventeen respectively they simply popped into existence.
Not that tracking them was easy. But it wasn't the headache that tracking Ranma Saotome was. That boy seemed to breed chaos like rabbits in the spring. And the worst part was that her pet project looked to be in serious danger. Probabilities were at fifty percent. While that was up from before attempting to nullify the chaos nexus, it was impossible to tell why crystal tokyo was in danger. All that the woman knew was somehow this teenager was the cause.
But how to prevent disaster? That was the real question. And it was one she had no answer to. The last plan had failed. With the many enemies that boy had, it should have been a simple matter to have him removed. One of them would use the dream killer amulet she'd planted, and the problem would be solved. Except that wasn't how it happened. The accursed boy had used it himself. Worse yet, the usual price hadn't been exacted.
That amulet, and those like it, were a double edged sword. They would grant one their heartfelt desire. But there was always a cost. The greater the wish, the higher the price. The probabilities had indicated one of the boy's enemies would use the pendent to erase him from history. A task which would have also removed potential threats to a future utopia. Instead the boy was fine, crystal tokyo was in jeopardy, and there appeared no price to pay.
The next plan had been elegant in it's simplicity. After penning a book of extremely fatal and useless 'ultimate' martial arts techniques the woman ensured that the Saotome patriarch would get his hands on it. For a week she had watched the man torture his son. Then the impossible had happened. Rather then dying like a good little boy, her bane had instead actually learned the false technique. How he'd managed to learn the non-existent neko-ken was a complete mystery.
After that things had just gone further downhill. Subjectively the woman had spent seven years trying to remove the thorn. But each time it failed. Instead of removing an obstacle, all her efforts would do is strengthen the boy. Briefly she considered applying a potion which would cause the boy to smell of demon, then let demon hunters take care of the problem. The problem with that plan was that the potion was missing.
The incessant beeping of her communicator caused the woman to frown. She flipped open the device, which looked like a makeup compact. Within the mirror however was the image if a bedroom. And centered on the mirror was a black feline of the domestic variety. The yellow crescent shape on it's forehead was a little too distinctive. When the moon cat started yelling the woman could only think one thing. Just great, and now I'm getting chewed out by a damn cat.
The silence was nearly deafening when Usagi got home from school. At first there was a worry that something bad had happened. While a reasonable guess, it hadn't been entirely correct. Instead of the feared bodies, her parents were sitting in the family room. With them was an overweight and bald man in a dirty white martial arts gi. There was also a teenage boy in what looked like Chinese silks. Every so often the teenager would look up in the direction of Usagi's bedroom with fear in his eyes.
"Mom, who are they?" Usagi asked.
Answers got delayed when the moon cat named Luna entered the room. The teenage boy's eyes had seemed to track Luna's position. When the feline finally approached an ear piercing scream filled the air. Seconds later the boy was on the ground twitching in fear. Luna looked between the overweight man and teenage boy a few times. Finally she sauntered over and sat on the boy's stomach and glared at the man.
"Okay Genma, why did this happen twice now?" The cat asked with a tone of feminine annoyance.
Reactions were somewhat mixed. While talking cats were normal to Usagi, Genma Saotome hadn't encountered one before. He had seen enough unusual things though that he merely blinked a few times. Of her parents, Usagi saw their jaws drop and eyes glaze. As arguably the only two sane adults in the room slowly fell the bald man chuckled. He pulled out an old leather bound manual from somewhere.
"Because I am a fool. In my time I've been a thief and conman. But my greatest failing is my laziness. When he was a boy I found a book which detailed 'ultimate' martial arts techniques. Seeing it as a shortcut to an early retirement, I trained the boy in one called the neko-ken. Much to my shame."
The teenage girl blinked a few times while wondering again who these two were. "What is a nacho kin?"
Instead of answering outright, he handed the manual over. It was opened to the first technique listed. The first of over a dozen. Usagi began to read. The farther she got, the whiter her face became. With a mouse like squeak Usagi dropped the book to the ground and fled towards her room. She failed to leave the room before collapsing with dry heaves. Luna was now curious, so she padded over to the fallen book. Skimming it over made the moon cat feel a little sick to her stomach.
"Anyway, I understand someone in this house can help my son with his fear of cats. So as per the agreement I leave the boy here with his fiance, while I turn myself in to the police." He finished.
The overweight man had left before anyone could recover enough to stop him. In his wake a teenage blond who was still feeling ill slowly turned to her parents with an accusing glare. No one noticed a small black feline moving over to the leather bound book. Nor did they see said feline examining a contract laying on the coffee table. If they had it would have been wondered about how a cat with black fur can go white as a ghost.
"This was written by Pluto," Luna muttered as she continued comparing the training manual with the contract.
This came about from a random comment someone made to me. I have an overall idea where the story should eventually go, but not quite how to get there. In time I plan on doing flashbacks to explain more of each person's situation. This includes flashbacks regarding Nodoka's past. I'm also not quite sure of the interest. So I would like to know three things:
Is anyone interested in me continuing this tale? If there's little interest, I probably wont continue this plot bunny.
Should I expand the sections regarding Nodoka and Genma's childhood?
Should I write the courtship of Nodoka?
And before someone snaps at me about the seemingly abrupt inclusion of Sailor Moon, even before I knew fully the direction I planned to take this I'd set up the link via Nodoka.