By Bree R.
Thanks to Lawra/Lawohki for her proofreading and comments and always telling me to write something. Go read her stuff.
Genma smiled widely as he looked himself over in his traditional kimono. His hair was combed back nicely and he really thought he pulled off a rather dashing figure. Looking over at his mother he smiled happily as they looked back at him each proud of him.
"Nodoka is a lovely women. Now sit still and let me try to make your hair look presentable." His mother an older but still very fit distinguished pure Japanese woman began pulling a comb off the table in front of him and pulling at his hair causing him to recoil slightly, before moving on to make small adjustments to his kimono. "Sit still! Stop struggling like you're still five boy!" His mother said slapping in the back of the head before starting again to desperately try to adjust her sons kimono so it at least complimented him. "Did that degenerate you followed around for the last few years teach you nothing about being a man other then martial arts?"
Genma sighed. This was a very familiar refrain from his mother and something she'd never let him live down. "Not like I had much choice in who I was going to follow with Dad gone." Genma said unhappily. He thought back to the memories of his father. Like any child his father seemed to tower over him and be larger then life. He remembered him being harsh indeed when they were training. Telling him to push through his limits. Not stop because of simple bruises or scrapes that his mother would fuss over him for having.
But when they weren't training he showed a different more caring side and he obviously doted on his wife and child. His favorite memory was when his father had picked him up on his arms and carried him to a fair he had wanted to go to, even though he had had a broken leg suffered in a accident sustained while climbing a stubborn tree. Genma had known from a young age that he wanted to be just like his father, or at least try to be. After years of searching he found a strong martial artist, someone who he thought would teach him how to walk that same path of a strong martial artist. How was he to know what he was getting into?
"I wish he was here today." Genma said wistfully.
"He is boy." His mother proclaimed after frowning for a second. "He would be proud of you." She said putting on another smile before hugging him before backing off and poking him in the stomach. "Though you really should watch that stomach of yours."
"That's simply my extremely developed abdominal muscles!" Genma said defensively.
"Ha! Your Father used to say the same thing." His mother teased. "And when you lose your hair, like he did I'm sure you'll think it makes you look distinguished rather then some kappa."
"My hair shows no sign of such tragedy." Genma proclaimed turning back to the mirror and pulling on it briefly.
"Tsk." His mother said imperiously. "Don't you dare ruin my perfect combing on that head of yours." She said teasingly. "To think a girl like that would marry-"
"Our dojo is doing very well. Some of our students are going to be very impressive." Genma said proudly a bit put off by his mother's continuous teasing.
His mother simply rolled her eyes at his speech about his shared dojo with his training companion and childhood friend Soun. "You know you're the one that really teaches the advanced forms. Much as I hate to swell your head even more you've got talent. Why you didn't just form your own dojo..." His mother said this time seriously frowning.
"Ha! And where would I get the money for that?" Genma responded.
"We have plenty of space boy." She said proudly favoring him with a very stern look.
"We had to sell off the land that our old Dojo was on just to make ends meet." Genma said recalling a memory from when he was a teen. "I don't want to have to sell the Clan home too if things don't work out Besides where are you going to live when you get old and can't move anymore anyway old woman?"
Hitting her son over the head with a fan she simply shook her head. "Show some respect to your poor suffering mother boy!"
"Fine-fine sorry sorry." Genma said a cocky smile adorning his face.
"You underestimate yourself boy." His mother said sadly suddenly dead serious again. "That Soun wouldn't even get up in the morning without his Kimiko's cooking."
"What better motivation then food!" Soun said as he overheard the last bit of her conversation and walked into the Saotome family's staging area.
"Indeed! Truly that is the best of reasons to get married." Genma said agreeing with his friend immediately before they shared a laugh together.
"Men." Genma's mother said explosively with a put upon frown on her face. "Please excuse me, the smell of the air in here is simply too sour for an old woman." She said walking out the door without a look back.
"Sorry that I had to step out for a moment Saotome. Kasumi was going on again about wanting to see the koi in the temple pond and Kimiko was afraid she'd dive in and ruin her kimono like she did during the Hanami festival."
"She didn't did she?" Genma asked.
"Ha no! Not this time. Though she did beg me to build a pond so she could have some koi of her own."
"And then you'd have to clean the leaves out daily. That'd be horrible." Genma said thinking briefly of all of the work needed to build and maintain a proper koi pond.
"My thoughts exactly." Soun echoed. "Though it would be traditional to have one and Kimiko did seem to love the idea...Still my father filled one in to make more room for the dojo where would I find the space? Anyway, are you ready for this my friend?"
"Of course!" Genma said proudly. "You and your wife aren't going to get too many heirs ahead before I have one or two of my own." Genma boasted causing them both to break out into laughter. Thinking of the ceremony and seeing Nodoka in her beautiful kimono Genma smiled.
After the Ceremony
Nodoka smiled to herself enjoying all the attention that was focused on her at the wedding. While Genma had originally wanted a Western ceremony with her in some gaudy dress she had insisted in a proper traditional ceremony, multiple kimono's and all. She may have been born from some gaijin mother but she was a proper Japanese woman through and through. Perhaps the kimono wasn't as flattering as a tighter foreign styled dress would have been, but from the looks she caught Genma giving her when he thought she wasn't watching him it seemed he was still interested in her charms. She sighed happily.
She had married well. The Saotome's were an old Samurai family rich in legacy and honor. While they were no longer rich thanks to some bad investments coming out of the War, they were still technically noble blood while her family line had no such pedigree and was stained with foreigners blood to boot.
The teasing she had received in school for her red hair and blue eyes still haunted her. She had never fit in Japan or even for the few early years of her childhood, before the accident, when she had lived in the United States. There she had been constantly misidentified as Chinese or Korean, and never had been truly accepted by her American peers. In fact she made made friends with many of the other Asian girls and her best friend had even been Korean. When she had returned to Japan she had been properly educated by her peers on just how degenerate it was to associate with such a disgusting nationality.
But when her parents had both passed in a car accident a grandmother she barely knew back in Japan had taken her in. She was at a disadvantage from the start. While her father had taught her some rudimentary Japanese he had never taught her the basics of Hiragana and worse still she spoke Japanese with an accent! The teasing had been unmerciful as were the painful rumors that she was the the abandoned love child of some American serviceman and whorish Japanese teen. And while her grandmother was more then accepting and loving enough the same could not be said for her Aunt and Uncle who had been truly disappointed in her father marrying some 'American whore' and leaving the country. So much so that neither one of them or her many cousins had bothered to come to her wedding.
Not that she wanted to see her cousins of course. On one of the few occasions when the entire family had been over at her grandparents house she had been trying to blend in by dyeing her hair a subdued black. While this had made her stand out less among strangers her cousins were still unmerciful in their bullying. Going so far as to throw red paint into her hair and getting it all over her dress. Incensed not so much at her cousins but at her own failure to properly blend in and not stand out she had demanded that her grandmother begin to give her proper bridal training so she could remake herself into a proper Japanese girl. She had learnt flower arranging, tea ceremony, cooking, everything to make her into the Japanese ideal, and while she rarely saw her cousins, she knew she had outplayed them and the little monsters from her school days. She was a proper young Japanese woman and now she had married the descendant of a Samurai!
They were just jealous she thought with a smile, taking another sip of sake while watching some of Genma and her small group of friends enjoy themselves. Her husband's partners daughter Kasumi was trying desperately to get back into her mother's lap rather then sit in her own seat. Very little decorum indeed on that little girl, she would make sure to teach her own children to be far more polite and show the proper respect. Humoring the girl by acting like she wasn't in a formal setting was a poor example indeed she thought frowning. Still the child was indeed beautiful and no doubt she'd have her own suitors one day all to bring more glory to her new husbands shared dojo. Coming back to herself she heard Genma's mother cough and then looked down to see her holding a wrapped cylindrical object in her hands.
"Mrs...Mrs. Saotome. I thank you again for wel-welcoming me into your family. It is an honor." She said standing and bowing low. Petrified that she had somehow offended her she tried to hide her glance up, her long red hair hopefully shielding her eyes rapid movements to try to discern her new in-laws approval or disapproval. 'Oh what if I've made a mistake. Or the marriage gets annulled. My clans honor will be disgraced.' Nodoka thought panic beginning to set it.
"Heh. Enough of that girl. Today is your day not mine." Genma's mother said breaking Nodoka out of her growing dire set of thoughts. Nodoka blinked but stayed with her head bowed. "That does mean you can stop bowing and sit you know." She said with a joking tone in her voice.
Feeling ashamed and very embarrassed Nodoka sat. "Of course please excuse my rudeness Saotome-sama." Nodoka said with another slight bow of her head as she sat.
"Now now no more of that Nodoka. You are family now. Technically that makes me your mother too now, as your grandmother over there talking to Genma now is my son's grandmother."
Nodoka simply nodded not at all sure where she was going with all of this. "I really am honored that you would accept me into your clan Saoto...mother." Nodoka said carefully with a bit of fear entering her tone.
"Come on now! You can't show fear in meeting a harmless old lady Nodoka-chan!" Genma's mother said patting her on the back with surprising force and taking a seat next to her which broke quite a few social mores for a wedding feast all of which made Nodoka wince internally. "Now then I have something for you. It was handed to me when I married into the Saotome clan and now I give it to you. Our Clans Honor Blade. " With that Genma's mother pulled a worn but still exquisitely crafted scabbard containing a katana and handed it to the suddenly reverent Nodoka.
"I-I can't accept this." Nodoka said looking at the older woman in horror. "Shouldn't it go to Ge-Genma?" She further stuttered.
"It's a family tradition that it remain with the woman of the house to defend the household and maintain it's honor." Genma's mother went on seemingly back in a memory for a second. "At least that's what I was told when I married into this family. Always seemed silly to me. "It's just a old piece of rust." She said before laughing.
"But it is your Clans sword! A showing of your Clans longevity and honor. It must be respected!" Nodoka said passionately forgetting her earlier fear.
Genma's mother sighed. "Yes girl, all that is true." Genma's mother said putting a hand on Nodoka's knee to end her spiel. "But what is most important about our clan isn't that piece of steel, or what it represents. Or a name on a government register saying you've joined our clan through marriage. It'll be the family my lay-about of a son and you have and raise, and what you both help them accomplish. Do you understand?"
"I-of course Sa...Mother. I will do my best to honor both this sword and any children we may have." Nodoka said before bowing again to Genma's mother before carefully returning the katana to it's sheath and slowly re-wrapping it.
"Good!" She proclaimed mercurially, her previously serious tone totally absent and jumped up with a cough snagging a pitcher of sake. "A toast!"
Looking over at his beautiful bride in her ornate kimono Genma still couldn't believe he had landed such a beautiful exotic wife. Her red hair and blue eyes so odd in Japan were something he prized. Though a few of his acquaintances said such foreign characteristics made her unsuitable he couldn't help but be drawn into the depths of her eyes, or the feel of the odd color of her hair. Nodoka who had been talking to one of her friends seemed to sense his eyes on her and looked up at him and smiled causing Genma's heart to beat all the faster and making him blush and look away. He really couldn't wait till after the ceremony was done and they were away in their hotel room.
"Son." An aged voice called out.
Not recognizing it as his mother's voice or his accursed former master for a second the only ones to ever really call him that it took a minute before he realized it was his wife's grandmother calling to him. Blinking he turned his attention towards Nodoka's grandmother. "Ha ha! Yes sorry! Not used to hearing anyone call me that but my mother and my old master." Genma said nervously rubbing the back of his head with the hand not currently on the sake saucer.
"That's understandable." The old woman said with a smile.
"Was there something you wanted to tell me?" Genma asked nervously.
"I just wanted to congratulate you on the wedding and thank you for taking Nodoka into your family." The old woman said levelly bowing deeply.
"Err…No no please stand we're family now." Genma said favoring her with a smile.
"Thank you son. Nodoka chose well I think." she said smiling.
"Ah…" Genma began uncertain how to deal with such flattery. His own interactions with his mother while loving always led to him feeling like she expected slightly more of him. He knew she was only trying to motivate him, but still he wasn't used to this 'normal' a interaction. Standing he favored her with a bow as well. "I thank you for giving your beautiful granddaughter to me and my family then." He said seriously desperately trying to affect as much of a regal bearing as he could.
"What did attract you to lovely Nodoka if you don't mind an old woman's question?" She said with a bit of a smile.
"Ah-well the first time I met what drew my attention the most was her beautiful hair." Genma said sweating, trying hard not to reveal that he had first seen her naked while trying to stop his wretched master from peeping on some women in a hot spring, and had in fact been far more attracted to some of her...other attributes.
This response simply caused Nodoka's grandmother to frown. "Be careful about her hair color son. She finds her hair and eye color distasteful sadly."
Genma nodded in understanding. Gaijin were a touchy subject for some families but honestly it had never really mattered to him. His training with Happosai that had taken him around the world had only helped further weaken many of the cultural prejudices Genma may have had against foreigners. Many had something to offer his art and combining the best parts of other cultures and schools fighting styles was the bedrock of his and Soun's own new ever-growing style. "I honestly think they make her all the more attractive." He said after thinking about it briefly.
Looking him over the older woman seemed happy with his appraisal and put an aged hand on his shoulder. "And I'm very happy she found you for that." The elderly woman said smiling. "She really has been overly concerned with appearing too traditional." She said looking around at the very traditionally decorated temple grounds and wedding feast.
"I'm sure she'll be a fine wife." Genma said proudly hoping that was the right answer to only see his in-law frown. Before looking over towards his new wife and seeing that his Mother had given her the Clan's Honor Blade and Nodoka was looking it over with almost a sense of awe.
"I'm sure she will be a proper wife to you. And she will make her clan proud." The elderly woman proclaimed. "Though a Western gown to celebrate her mother's culture rather then only the memory of her Father would have been nice."
Trying to come to the defense of his wife Genma spit out, "Well Nodoka really wanted to do it. I don't see the problem." Genma said bewildered. "A Western dress and ceremony might have shown off her figure more but..."
"I'm sure you'll see plenty of her figure later this evening." The old woman slyly suggested causing Genma to blush and grow a goofy smile, before forcing his face to return to a neutral guarded expression. "Just make my granddaughter happy." She said before doing a double take and seeing that Nodoka had just drawn a katana that Genma's mother had handed her. "Though I suppose if you don't she's more then well armed enough to show her displeasure."
"I will." He proclaimed sweating wishing his mother really had waited to hand over his Clan's honor blade til after the Honeymoon. Seeing his mother suddenly jump up after snagging a pitcher of sake he groaned. His mother never missed a chance to make a toast or three.
"A toast to my Son and his new beautiful wife and my new daughter. May they have many beautiful kids for me to dote on before I kick the bucket!" There were quite a few cheers and laughs at that and all took a drink. After looking over at his wife Genma really couldn't be happier.
A Year Later
"I'm sorry that I've failed you Genma. I'm not living up to my duties." Nodoka said sadly as she looked at the plate of steaming rice and tofu in front of her. Her stomach swollen with obvious pregnancy.
"Fail?" Genma asked not comprehending why his wife had seemed so emotional when she had discovered he had cooked a little something for their wedding anniversary.
"It is a wife's duty to cook for their husband. Regardless of their condition." She proclaimed as if reciting an etiquette lesson.
"You haven't been feeling well and you're having our baby soon. I just thought I'd make a meal for you for a change." Genma said.
"But…" Nodoka began eyes tearing up.
"But nothing. I'm a martial artist Nodoka. I'm used to cooking for myself on the road." Genma boasted. "Heaven knows Soun couldn't do it." Genma teased.
"Soun's as bad at cooking at Kimiko?" Nodoka said eyes widening panic evident in her tone.
"Haha—no no. And besides she's improved quite a bit hasn't she?" Genma replied sweating remembering the first time he had sampled Kimiko's cooking after fighting off a yokai that had decided to make their little corner of Tokyo home a few years ago now.
"She has." Nodoka said with a smile readjusting her positioning in a futile gesture to get comfortable. "Can you just imagine their poor children though if Soun was as bad? They'd truly be cursed." This caused both Genma and Nodoka to laugh.
"Thank you for making the meal Genma." Nodoka said before picking up her chopsticks and beginning to eat.
"Umph." Genma said nodding, still uncomfortable with anyone flat out thanking him for anything. "You deserve a treat now and my son there needs his food too." Genma said lightly tapping her belly.
"And what makes you think it's a son husband?" Nodoka said mock challengingly.
"Isn't it obvious! Only a son would fight and make their mother ill before they are even born. Clearly the child will be a great fighter." He said thinking about all of the possibilities of teaching his son his art.
"I hope it is a son. A proper manly heir for you." Nodoka proclaimed proudly. "I just hate feeling so useless. I should be the one taking care of the house, and the cooking. It's my duty." She said while eating.
"You're already doing one of your other duties." Genma said rubbing Nodoka's back. "Now stop worrying and eat before it gets cold and I have to re-heat it." Genma said with a mock serious tone.
"You're just so very manly taking care of me through this. But it simply isn't proper that I'm not the one cooking for you regardless." Nodoka said smiling at her husband.
"Now don't say that No-chan. Bet Kimiko would've loved to get something other then take out when she was as far along."
"I guess you are right husband." Nodoka said before beginning her meal suddenly hungry. Nestled next to her husband feeling the weight of the first of her children in her womb she sighed happily.
Six months later
"Please stop Ranma!" Nodoka yelled out only causing the baby in her arms to cry all the louder. "How can you even still scream after staying awake all night?" Nodoka asked frustrated. 'He shouldn't be crying so much.' Nodoka thought as the baby kept up a extremely shrill cry, 'He should be showing more independence and strength by now.' Desperately she began to rock the baby hoping this would quiet him, but this only caused him to cry all the louder. What was next? Checking the diaper? But that was impossible right? She had changed it less then an hour ago. She reached down and felt that it was indeed slightly damp again. Cursing softly she carried the baby Ranma into his room and put him down on his changing table and quickly changed his diaper. Finally his near constant bellow ceased and he simply looked up at her with his wide twinkling blue eyes.
Cursing softly to herself at her polluted genetics that had shown themselves on her son and hoping that she would get a few minutes rest she mechanically placed the small baby in his crib and rubbed his head. "Could you please take a nap for a few seconds son?" she said looking into Ranma's attentive but offensively blue eyes. "Mommy needs to go make dinner for Daddy. You'll be quiet for Mommy and be a good boy right?" Nodoka asked desperately.
Stepping out of the room she smiled. Kimiko had suggested that she carry Ranma around with her tied to her back. But she had been very frightened that she'd tie the knot wrong and that he'd fall off. So she'd ignored such advice. Genma had advised her to just let him crawl around on his own a little. But when she had tried that Ranma had gotten away from her and who knew what dangers he could be in. Still she was his mother and she should know best how to raise him. She hadn't asked for advice. Why she got so much of it was annoying. She could succeed on her own.
Indeed, she thought smiling to herself, the child was getting better with her only following her own instincts on how to best raise him. He had rarely let her leave his sight as he seemed so oddly attached to either herself or Genma. The child just loved attention. But now he had calmed down and was letting his mother work. Stepping back into her kitchen she was about to begin cutting some vegetables to use for dinner when she suddenly jumped and almost cut herself heard the distant sound of Ranma crying again. 'Just ignore him.' She thought to herself. She had to finish dinner it was expected. Too often recently had she been failing to finish a simple meal and Genma had to order take-out, or worse to her complete shame cook himself. She was failing as a wife and a mother. Finishing washing and cutting her vegetables only a few minutes later Nodoka sighed as her son was still crying. Maybe she should check in on him quickly? She still had plenty of time to prepare dinner. Making her way back towards Ranma's bedroom and towards his crib Nodoka was amazed at how tied up in his sheets Ranma had become.
"How do you even get yourself in these situations Ranma?" Nodoka said exasperated as she untangled the child from his bedding and and picked him up and began rocking him till he calmed down. After the better part of an hour she realized that he had finally fallen asleep. She smiled at her apparent victory. "I've still got time to make a meal!" Nodoka muttered happily slowly shifting the baby to pick him up and place him back in his crib. This to her horror however, caused the sleeping child's eyes to slowly groggily open. Nodoka groaned she wouldn't be able to move unless she wanted the child to wake up and begin another never ending fit. Perhaps if she was quieter next time he wouldn't wake up? Readjusting herself she began rocking the baby again till he fell asleep, but against her will her own eyes slowly closing as she succumbed to only getting a couple hours sleep the night before and fell asleep as well.
Nodoka awoke to a bright flash and a laugh. Slowly blinking her eyes open she saw Genma right in front of her holding a camera, Ranma still in her arms sleeping quietly. "He tire you out again Nodoka?" Genma said a proud expression on his face. Nodoka smiled up at her husband before a look of horror crossed her face. Standing she carefully handed Ranma to Genma.
"I'm sorry husband dinner will be late. Ranma was just crying again. I'll get started..."
Nodoka babbled before Genma cut her off placing a free hand on her shoulder. "It's fine Nodoka. We can just go to the Ramen shop down the road again. You don't have to cook every night."
Nodoka sighed. Her husband was just too forgiving and again refusing to say how disappointed he was in her as his wife. She simply couldn't express that thought though. The last time she had Genma had made it clear that he didn't, 'Want to hear such nonsense! You're exactly the woman I want!'. Truly her husband was a showcase of all that was right and manly among the noble Samurai. "Of course husband if that is what you want." She finally said out loud. "If you could please watch little Ranma while I prepare myself?" She asked with what little dignity she felt she could put on.
"Of course Nodoka. Take your time. Ha! Did I tell you what little Nabiki did today? She reminds me a lot of Ranma. Kimiko tried to put her down to sleep when..." Genma started but Nodoka had already tuned him out. Ruminating in her own failures. Not only had she failed to cook her husband dinner, she also hadn't cleaned the household today, nor had she properly paid her respects to the households shrine. She'd have to stay up most of the night to get that done well enough again.
Still her husband didn't seem to see her for the failure and disappointment she knew she was becoming. That or he simply wasn't showing his displeasure. But she knew she wasn't cut out for this. She wasn't pure enough, or strong enough.
A Year Later
Genma frowned as he slowly exited the local train from Nerima back towards where his home was located in Juuban. Nodoka had really been acting odd. Constantly she was asking his approval for every little thing. At first he had enjoyed it. Someone who'd cater to his whim. It fit in well with his slightly lazy attitude.
But, her constant fear that Ranma now one and a half years old wasn't acting 'manly' enough was a large concern on its own. Really he wasn't sure what to do. Kimiko had told him that some women had a few problems and fears after they had their first child. She had offered to talk to Nodoka about it but Nodoka had refused saying she needed no help from "A over-indulgent mother like Kimiko". Really Genma and Soun had hoped the two would become friends and their children would get to grow up together making the marriage pact to join the two houses all the more certain, but Nodoka had seemingly sabotaged that dream.
Still Kimiko and Soun had both said that Nodoka would likely come around, or if she didn't perhaps he should try to get her some outside help. He really hadn't wanted to pay for such nonsense though, and had instead tried to reach out to Nodoka through asking both his own mother and Nodoka's grandmother to help. Both didn't see any problem. Nodoka hid her problems well. Towards him but especially to the outside world. She played the perfect obedient wife well. They both thought she was an excellent mother to the child and about as proper as could be. Genma's Mother had expressed some concern though worried that perhaps she was taking things a bit too seriously. But then that was what his mother said about almost everyone she met so there wasn't much help to be found there. Still things were looking up. Nodoka had just started hinting that she'd love to have another child. Perhaps if they were blessed with another child Nodoka would have evidence of just how good a mother she was, and her fear about every little thing Ranma went through would be smaller.
So it came as a large shock when he entered the house and walked into the common room that he found Nodoka and a crying Ranma sitting at the table. Nodoka had the family honor blade out and a grim expression on her face. Genma blinked and felt the desire to run. This had been something beat into him after experiencing any sort of anger from women after having travelled with Happosai for all those years. Still, this was his wife and son and he forced down his own fear and sat rigidly when Nodoka gestured for him to do so.
"No-Nodoka." Genma said trying his best to sound stern and demanding rather then let the fear he was feeling for all three of them enter his voice. "What is the meaning of this? Why do you have a blade drawn?"
"Husband." Nodoka said imperiously. "I fear that I have failed in my duties to you again." Nodoka began. Bowing her head and shooting a angry towards Ranma when he refused to give this situation the respect and gravity it deserved. Ranma was unaware and only began to cry and make motions to be picked up by his father.
Genma realizing that Nodoka was not angry at the baby slowly picked up the child to Ranma's happy giggle before setting down in his arms. Nodoka saw this and sighed but maintained her professional demeanor. "And how have you failed?" Genma asked. His skin began to break out into an icy sweat hoping that Nodoka calmed down and any bloodshed could be avoided. At least Ranma was relatively safe in his hands, and he was sorely tempted to run away with him, but who knew what his wife would do with that sword if he did.
"I simply cannot balance my wifely duties to you husband." Nodoka intoned with complete seriousness. "I am a useless and degenerate wife and ask that you please remove me from your clan in whatever way you see fit before I become a stain on your honor." Nodoka said with a resigned but dignified tone.
Genma could only blink in surprise and shock. "What brought this on?" Genma said totally bewildered.
Nodoka only sighed, "I have again failed to prepare you dinner husband, nor have I managed to do the cleaning I set out to accomplish today. Ranma is just too much of a handful for me. A proper wife..." Nodoka began tears in her eyes as she began to list her inadequacies.
"Nonsense!" Genma exclaimed. Nodoka looked up at it now very lost as if this wasn't how she had expected him to react. "If the boy is too much trouble for you I'll bring him with me to the dojo with me!" Genma intoned praying that this would be enough to knock Nodoka out of her episode.
"But-no it is my duty to care for him for you. Besides..." Nodoka again began still unmoved.
Seizing on a desperate idea Genma again interrupted, "Nonsense Nodoka. He is only a handful because of his talent in the art."
"Husband he is barely more then a year old." Nodoka said. "What kind of training is even possible at such an age."
"Psh! You would be surprised!" Genma exclaimed. "I was near his age when my Father began to teach me the basics. You can ask my Mother how much of a handful I was at his age." Genma said trying a blatant lie and making a mental note to tell his Mother to corroborate it in case Nodoka asked about it.
"You mean that I'm not a horrible mother?" Nodoka asked the fog of hopelessness seeming to lift slightly from her eyes.
"Of course not No-chan! He's just energetic. I'll take him to the dojo and begin his training each morning. I'm sure that'll help with your other duties will it not?" Genma asked again praying to any kami listening that this would placate his wife.
"Really!" Nodoka said a smile appearing on her face. "I had no idea such strident training was needed at such a young age. Of course you can take him every day and make him strong." Nodoka said again relieved. "I'm so sorry for this then husband please let me go finish Dinner." With that Nodoka stood and bowed to Genma before walking towards the kitchen.
Genma watched her go and when she was out of sight he exhaled explosively. Something was wrong with his wife. He'd have to ask for advice on what to do. This wasn't normal, and she wasn't getting better.
Two Months Later
Nodoka was relatively happy. With Ranma gone during the day to learn martial arts with his father she could keep up with her duties. The house was clean, the food was always on time, and she was more then ready to resume her...nightly wifely duties again. Though for some reason Genma seemed a bit reluctant to really accept her attempts to start something intimate for some baffling reason. Likely it was all the pressure the dojo was under what with so many tournaments coming up. At least that is what he told her every evening. Still she was still young and she had plenty of time to have a large family. And regardless she thought with a smile, men have their needs and I know Genma finds me irresistible.
Perhaps that perfume she had seen in the store...Quickly knocking herself out of her increasingly heated fantasy after hearing the door open she quickly adjusted her kimono to make sure she looked as flattering as possible. Genma upon seeing her gave her a confident smile and a very aware Ranma began to struggle to free himself from his father's grasp and began to babble something that sounded a bit like 'Ma! Ma!' over again. Genma carefully handed Ranma over to her and then kissed her lightly on the forehead.
"Did you have a good day?" Genma asked cautiously. Nodoka frowned. Ever since that day a few weeks ago where she had thought she was a poor wife and mother Genma had been acting oddly and she simply couldn't figure out why. Her Grandmother, Genma's Mother, and even that broodmare Kimiko had been over to talk to her and 'help' her with her tasks as well as ask how she was doing. Like she needed help! Genma had told her over and over that she was doing a great job. Those women were so annoying.
"I had a wonderful day husband. Now why don't you go clean yourself up while I get Ranma changed and then we can have dinner. And if Ranma is feeling a bit tired and goes to bed early..." Nodoka said a bit of passion entering her eyes to which Genma nodded a bit of a blush appearing on his face as he rapidly made his way towards the bathroom and furo that awaited him. Smiling that she still could so easily generate that reaction in her husband she walked over towards Ranma's room to change the child before eating.
Looking over the baby while she changed him Nodoka really couldn't see much evidence of the strident training her son was going through, but she did have to admit he was much quieter and slept through the night far more often. After brushing back his hair she discovered something she didn't expect a flower crudely braided around his hair. Untangling it she frowned deeply at it. Why was that in her sons hair? Setting it aside she would be sure to ask Genma about it after dinner. That was completely unacceptable for the manly male heir she wanted her son to be.
Carrying Ranma back out to the dining area she set Ranma down carefully and made sure the meal was on the table. The meals atmosphere was slightly tense. Genma seemed to realize she had something she wanted to talk about, but she had made it clear that such discussions and strife were not allowed during meals, and so Genma kept quiet.
With Dinner wrapping up Nodoka coughed to draw her husbands attention a frosty expression still plastered on her face.
"Ye-Yes dear what's wrong?" Genma asked.
"What have you been teaching our son each day?" Nodoka asked seriously.
Genma blinked at the question truly not expecting it and expecting there to be a much more serious problem with how his wife was acting before. "Very rudimentary balance exercises and some strength building." Genma said calmly. "Can't really expect him to do very much yet without him walking yet."
"Shouldn't he be able to walk by now? Considering your own skill." Nodoka said seriously causing Genma to eye her bewildered.
"Nodoka the boy isn't even two yet. He still needs to grow." Genma said anger for the first time entering his tone. "I'm not going to hurt the boy by rushing his natural development." Genma finished.
"You're lying to me aren't you Genma!?" Nodoka asked suddenly livid which caused Ranma to start crying and shifting uneasily. Nodoka seemed oblivious to this though as Genma picked the child up and tried to calm him.
"Please No-chan. You are scaring the boy. Of course I train him." Genma said quietly while making soothing gestures with his hands.
Nodoka still oblivious to her sons distress continued, "Then why husband did I find a flower sloppily braided into our sons hair. You're letting him play with Soun's girls aren't you?" Nodoka said grimly.
Genma not realizing the perilous road he was walking simply nodded. "Of course I'm letting him play with the girls. Kasumi loves to 'watch' him and play mommy. She dressed him up the other day like a doll while Kimiko watched to make sure she wasn't hurting him. It doesn't really matter if they are friends then the eventual union between our two families..."
"This ends now." Nodoka said in a tone that clearly said no arguments would be tolerated.
"Our son shouldn't be playing dress up with little girls." Nodoka said with utter seriousness.
"Nodoka he..." Genma said defeated looking aghast at Nodoka as she continued.
"He is the son of a SAMURAI. He must be held to a higher standard. Play is all well and good if it is with those who are near him in status and age. The Tendo daughters are indeed acceptable candidates for marriage to our son considering our own families status and the dowry they might bring to our clan. But to play with little girls rather then the proper children of warriors that's simply wrong." Nodoka said seriously.
"Nodoka." Genma said in a placating tone to calm his wife down. "I'll train the boy seriously. He'll be one of the finest warriors ever."
"Of course that's only to be expected." Nodoka said nodding happily pleased her husband seemed to agree with her.
"Ok, but you realize I can't really teach Ranma anything till he is walking right? I can do little things like teach him how to balance and other little things to give him a huge jump start over others but..."
"But...I asked your mother. She said that you were training at his age. Nearly walking. But Ranma...He's still not. Why is he so far behind?" Nodoka said seriously.
"Some people learn faster then others...I was gifted yes. But Ranma I'm sure he'll be smarter then his old man was and that'll more then make up for any physical..."
"It's me isn't it?" Nodoka said.
"Nodoka no more of this. I've heard enough about this-"
"My circumstances and ancestry made Ranma impure. I never should have married into a noble family. I am not clean enough for it." Nodoka said totally ignoring Genma's attempts to distract her.
"Of course not! Nodoka you really need to talk to your mother about..."
"I need to talk to no one! I know that I've been a failure as a wife already. I can easily remove the blot of dishonor that both I and Ranma have brought to your family." Nodoka said icily standing to reach for the katana that was hanging on the wall. Genma stunned put more of his body between Nodoka and the still struggling Ranma.
"No! Nodoka no! Now sit!" Genma demanded.
Nodoka froze at that. "But husband how can I..."
"Sit down!" Genma said again sternly. Ranma was openly wailing now.
"Yes husband." Nodoka said reluctantly. Eyes still on the Saotome family honor blade.
"You are not a failure Nodoka. There are just a lot of distractions here in Tokyo. Now if I take the boy for a trip and assure you that he'll be strong when I return..." Genma began laying out a hastily crafted plan to hopefully save both his wife and sons lives.
A Few Months Later
Kimiko coughed and coughed again into a handkerchief wincing at the blood on it as she casually put it back into her bag. Finally hearing the stop in Juuban she was looking for she stood up and gathered her possessions.
"Now what did I forget? Oh yes. You little Akane-chan." She joked picking up the still babbling baby sitting next to her in a baby carrier and ruffling her hair. Briefly she stared at a young teen girl with long green hair passionately kissing a teen boy who was trying to board the train she was just leaving. Rolling her eyes at the two teens who were stuck in their own little world and briefly giggling to herself at her own youthful romances she made her way around the oblivious couple and quickly made her way out of the station before orienting herself and walking towards the Saotome home.
She hoped Nodoka would at least talk to her this time rather then just shuffling out the door. Especially with what she had just learnt from the doctor about exactly why her 'little cough' wasn't going away, and how she only had at best another eighteen months. Still Genma had asked her and quite a few others to try to get through to his wife so he could come home. But things weren't going very well. Suddenly gasping for breath she carefully set down the now sleeping Akane onto a nearby bench before nearly collapsing onto the seat next to her. Another coughing fit started and she couldn't reach into her bag in time, but thankfully this time no blood was present and it took her only a few seconds to stop coughing. Resting for a few minutes and experimentally tensing herself she sighed and stood back up picking up Akane and making her way towards the Saotome's home.
Before ringing on the bell she quickly fidgeted with her hair and looked backwards down the path she had come before shrugging and resigning herself to at least talking with Nodoka again. "The things your mother does for your father's friends Akane-chan." She said jokingly before pulling the chord to ring the bell.
After only a moment the door slid open and she saw Nodoka behind it her head bowed. "Welcome!" She intoned before raising her head a brief second of irritation flashed across her face when she saw who it was before a smile replaced the expression. "Kimiko ah. Do you wish to come in?" She asked gracefully.
"If it isn't too much of a bother." Kimiko said nodding.
"Of course! We'll be one family at some point." Nodoka said before motioning her in and sliding the door closed behind her.
"I'll go put some tea on. You like Mecha right?" Nodoka said before walking off towards the kitchen.
Kimiko in the process of changing her shoes to a house slipper was not given enough time to respond before Nodoka walked off. "Actually I'd prefer Ku..." Kimiko uttered before realizing Nodoka was gone. "Yeah Mecha is fine." She muttered to herself.
After checking Akane over and walking towards the kitchen she marvelled at how clean and well kept the house was. While you could say a lot about Nodoka she obviously was a phenomenal housekeeper. After a few minutes Nodoka returned the tea set and some cookies on a tray. Setting them down Nodoka carefully poured the tea for her guests.
Kimiko fidgeted slightly uncomfortable by the silence and waiting for Nodoka to make the first move. When that didn't happen she sighed and decided to at least compliment her hoping this would make their later discussion a bit easier. "I see you've kept up the house wonderfully. Genma will be very pleased when he and Ranma return."
"Yes things are much easier with them away not messing things up left and right. You know how men and children are I take it. And you have the whole dojo to clean too."
"Yes, it can be hard." Kimiko said. "Soun and his students do take care of the dojo mostly though. And I've even drafted little Kasumi to help with some of the cleaning." Kimiko said happily thinking of her eldest daughter.
"Yes, it would be nice to have another set of hands around I'd imagine. These past couple months the house has felt a little lonely."
Kimiko inwardly cheered. At last some progress, she missed them at last. Perhaps this could be resolved at last. "Well..." She began excitedly unable to contain herself before stopping and forcefully calming herself down, "Perhaps you could write to Genma and ask him to bring Ranma home early? He could always finish his training later." She said hopefully.
"That is tempting." Nodoka said staring into her tea. Almost a minute passed before she looked back up at Kimiko and smiled, "But training is essential for our husbands and especially our children." Nodoka said seriously.
"I don't know how I'd cope myself with not seeing my daughters for a few months." Kimiko said. "It must hurt you. Why not just ask them home. They could always leave again after a visit."
"Oh Kimiko you don't understand!" Nodoka said passionetly. "You've been blessed with lovely daughters but no son. Once you and Soun have your next child, hopefully a proper heir this time you'll understand the duty that comes with having one of your own."
This rapidly darkened Kimiko's spirits. There would be no other child. She would never have that joy again. Really wishing she could get up and leave this house she instead sat to try to get her roiling emotions under control. "I truly don't think even if Soun wished to take any child I had on such a training mission I would allow it. It would hurt too much to be separated for so long."
"You'll understand when you have your own son." Nodoka said patting her on the leg happily. "When my son returns he will be so strong and masculine, and such a great fighter. Oh and of course he'll be well on his way to being a proper husband to one of your daughters. And the children he'll have..." Nodoka said airily, obviously beginning to daydream.
"You sound as if you don't expect him back for years!" Kimiko exclaimed horrified.
"Well Genma and Ranma did make a promise to me..." Nodoka said trailing off. "I'll show you!" She said proudly walking off. A few moments later she returned a piece of paper in her hands. "See?" She said proudly before with much veneration handing over a slightly worn from excessive handling piece of paper.
Kimiko took the parchment and read. "And you accepted this? And believe Genma would seriously go through with it?" Kimiko said coldly.
"Of course! Obviously this will make sure that Genma raises our son properly and becomes a proper Samurai. Perhaps Soun will do the same-"
"I would drug his food and cut out his tongue while he slept if he even suggested it." Kimiko said lividly.
"Kimiko. We are the wives of Samurai. Certain standards must be maintained." Nodoka said sternly in a tone that said she was simply communicating the facts of life to a child.
"And you really think Genma would allow this? Let you kill his Son? Because you deemed his training a failure. Is that for you to decide?"
"Genma made me the final arbitrator. Obviously realizing I would be a good judge of character. I picked him of course." Nodoka said proudly.
"And you would allow your Son to kill himself? Allow your husband to die as well if he somehow failed?" Kimiko asked aghast.
"Of course. And then afterwards I'd follow them." Nodoka said almost happily. "But I'm sure Genma will succeed and that won't be a problem."
"And...And..." Kimiko said trying to grasp words and simply failing to do so. "And if Ranma returns when he's still a child and still doesn't meet this standard? Still needs more care from you?"
"Then the contract must be carried out." Nodoka said. "The honor of our clan must be maintained."
"I see." Kimiko said. Shaking slightly at the ease, finality, and even bit of pride in her voice at the thought of watching her son and husband kill themselves. After thinking it through and seeing the calm expression on her face she suddenly jumped up. "I-I'm sure we'll talk again Nodoka. Before I...Well please excuse me I simply have to go. I just stopped by to visit since there was something I had to buy in the market here."
"So soon?" Nodoka said with a sad tone in her voice.
"I'm afraid so." Kimiko said quickly picking up Akane before walking towards the hallway and freedom from this house and the lone resident therein.
"I could come with you shopping. I need a few things myself." Nodoka said following after her.
"Oh no no. I'm going to buy a dress for Kasumi. So..."
"Ah. Well I hope to see you again soon Kimiko." Nodoka said as Kimiko quickly changed back into her outdoor shoes.
"Indeed. Goodbye Nodoka." Kimiko said walking away with as much speed as she could without seeming impolite. "Thank you very much for your hospitality." She said bowing before quickly making her way away from the household. And hoping none of Nodoka's seeming madness rubbed off on her or her daughter. 'Genma will not be pleased.' Kimiko thought sadly before resuming her walk back to the train station.
Author's Note: And there's a one shot that took me way too long to write. Why did I write this? It kind of gets old to see Genma demonized in story after story when it's Nodoka who is the one so keen to see her beloved husband and son cut open their bellies and pull out their intestines before she chops their heads off and then takes her own life after she determines they have suffered enough. A person both ANXIOUS to do that over a very flimsy contract signed by a two year old has something pretty wrong with them regardless of society and cultural differences.
The other question is why would Genma a lazy, bit of an unmotivated and slow thinker really ever take Ranma away. Is he just a evil demon? Really that seems an unfair characterization of him. Hence, this story sits as a sort of alternative. I tried to have Genma operate within character and I think I succeeded to a small degree. He makes poor decisions and is a bit over proud, but as per canon you could say that they are possibly for the right reasons. Could he have come up with better solutions to the problems his marriage was experiencing? Yes. Should he have helped his wife out more directly rather then playing into her delusions? Yes. But is either of those two options a in character thing for him to do? No. Hope this alternate take on things was at least entertaining, and hopefully makes a possible author or two think a bit more deeply about how they want to portray Genma. If anything at least consider the fact that Genma mostly by himself made Ranma into an insanely strong force. The guy has skill as a trainer regardless of anything else you think about him.
Thank you for your time, and I hope you enjoyed the story. And again thanks to Lawra/Lawohki for proof-reading this and giving me opinions on it. Much appreciated.