Where I Belong

By The Unseen Watcher

This is a Ranma ½ / Rurouni Kenshin crossover. Neither series belongs to me. Don't sue, por favor. Here it is. My masterwork (I hope). I warn you, this story is subject to radical renovation if I think of something I want to change. Don't worry, I'll finish it or my sister will kill me, and she's in medicine so it'll probably be creative AND painful. Oh, and Ranma doesn't belong to Her either. sticks out tongue and runs for life.

Chapter 1

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The young woman sat quietly in the small room, her hands curled loosely in her lap. Kneeling before a small table, she stared at her face in a small, precious mirror. Her calm, cool expression revealed none of her inner thoughts. She sat in the humble house that had become more a home than her ancestral lands ever had. Waiting for the man she called husband to return. Knowing that soon she would have to leave him. Only now did it hit her that she might never see him again. Only then did she realize just how much she wanted to stay.

She had come there at first with a mission; to unravel the great mystery of the Ishin Shishi's greatest assassin. Her purpose was to bring him down by any means possible. She had done it eagerly. She had gone, her icy rage kindled at the one who had killed her fiancé. She would do anything to make sure he paid. Bringing down the revolutionaries' plans was just a bonus.

She had been sent to spy on him, by those loyal to the present regime. They met in a rain of blood, and had been together ever since. His rebel superiors, to cover his identity and take him out of notice for awhile, arranged a faux marriage. She couldn't have been more pleased if she had thought of it herself. It was the perfect opportunity to get close to him. Closer than any Shogunate agent ever had and lived to tell of it.

So she had come, expecting to confront a heartless killing machine; a crude peasant who had some skill with the sword but no will outside his master's bidding. She had expected a blood- drinking savage. What she found was a boy.

Every day of their acquaintance brought her more questions than answers to the riddle of the one known as the Battousai. Oh, he had well earned his reputation. The efficient way he took out the men in the alley where they met had shown her that. He could be as implacable as death and coldly detached in a way to rival her iciest moods. Then he'd turn around and play with a child, the hands that dealt death so swiftly, now gentle and kind. The golden eyes that showed no mercy suddenly a warm, understanding amethyst. It was a paradox that left her almost visibly disconcerted. Everything she learned seemed to be contradicted in the next breath.

But most startling of all was the love. She had not expected him to love her. She had not known what love meant. She had cared for her fiancé, but that was her duty as his future wife. But this man loved her, even trusted her. His need to love and be loved shone out of his expressive face, though only when he thought she wasn't looking. He loved her, but she had none to give in return, her heart long buried in ice.

He didn't seem to notice though. Her cold company seemed to be welcome. Either he didn't know any different, or he saw something about her that even she didn't realize.

But gradually, that ice had thawed a little, allowing a sliver of warmth to enter. That warmth had caused her to agree to be with him once, as if they truly were husband and wife, before she had to leave him forever.

She knew it should never have happened. It had been a mistake. And yet . . . she could not bring herself to regret it. She would face the consequences with head high and unashamed. She would take whatever punishment her superiors gave, even death.

One consequence, however, she had not anticipated. She had been schooled in the duties and knowledge that a proper wife must know since girlhood. She knew the signs as well as any physician. She was with child. All the preventatives she had learned to take at her mother's knee had failed.

She sat, for one of the few times in her life, at a loss. The child had little chance at a life. It was doubtful that she'd live long enough for it to be born. There was still her duty to consider; not even a child would get in the way of her honor. Not even her child, and his.

She tried to look at the idea with her usual cool logic. Turning it this way and that in her mind and assessing it as she always had every situation life had thrust upon her. But her cold calculation had cracked substantially in the past few months. Everything that had been so clear, seemed less so now. Her husband was rubbing off on her. Realizing that she would give birth to a new life and be responsible for its care in several short months was entirely different from planning for it at some far off future date. What kind of mother could she be anyway? Did the little one deserve to grow up in a time of such chaos and uncertainty?

These new doubts and feelings had to be hidden from her superiors when she returned to report. They would kill her without pause if they thought her a threat to the regime. But how could she conceal this? Assuming she lived long enough, it would begin to show.

She had to tell her superiors herself. It would be easier than their reaction if they figured it out for themselves. She hoped. Unable to find an easy answer, she got up to tend to her chores. What should she do now?

As if in answer the mirror before her suddenly glowed, casting shadows in the dimly lit room. Then a face appeared that was not her own, and her legendary iron control of her emotions wavered. The young woman who was not her reached out a hand. It passed through the surface of the glass and into the room. The rest of her followed, until the dark-haired woman found herself seated across from another young woman who seemed as alike to her as sunshine and rain. The girl smiled gently, even in the face of her icy stare.

The other woman had long mouse-brown hair, held back from her face by an elaborate headband. Blue markings of some sort adorned her forehead and cheeks. She was dressed in an elaborate outfit that made her look like she had stepped out of an ancient ceremony. However, the fact that she had appeared from nowhere interested the dark-haired beauty more than her choice of wardrobe.

The girl smiled, her face lighting up with the gentle kindness in her blue eyes, and the room seemed to light up with her. She exuded a serene calm, which was the only thing that prevented the dark-haired young woman from going for the dagger concealed in her kimono.

She still eyed the strange newcomer warily. Her entrance had proven that she was no ordinary visitor.

"Hello," the composed young woman said, floating to a kneeling position without a bump. "My name is Belldandy and I am a goddess sent to grant you a wish."

The room's former solo occupant gazed coolly at her, her face once more impassive as she considered. On the surface the claim seemed absurd, easily dismissed as the deception of a spy or the raving of a madwoman.

However, the entrance of this Belldandy could not be so casually set aside as Ishin Shishi trickery. The walls were still intact and did not look in the least disturbed by any forced entrance. The mirror looked fine for something that had been used as an impromptu door. Add to that the fact that the mirror was only slightly larger than her palm. No, she was not someone to dismiss something simply because she did not understand it at the moment. The best thing to do would be to play along.

"Why me?" She finally said, asking the first question that popped into her head, her voice low but clearly audible. The how of it could wait till later. The fact was that this self- proclaimed goddess was here. It was her motives that were in question now.

Belldandy blinked, sensing the suspicion of the extremely cold young woman before her. She continued to smile. "You fill the right criteria to be granted a wish. Few people do so. A goddess such as myself always comes personally when it happens."

The other considered this, her brown eyes thoughtful. Well, if this woman wanted her to make a wish, then she would do so. Hopefully then she'd leave and allow he some solitude.

What should she wish for? She considered the current state of her country. Of the war that was tearing apart her world and setting her countrymen against each other. What good could she do if she could actually wish with the power of a goddess backing it up. Lost in thought, her hand went unconsciously to rest on her still-flat belly.

*I'd wish for my baby to grow up strong and proud in a time where this bloody war was nothing but a memory. * She thought, her emotions almost wistful. That would be wonderful. An impossible dream she could not long indulge in, but wonderful just the same.

Her attention was brought back as her otherworldly visitor started to shine with a radiance that became blinding. Her head was thrown back as a beam of light shot from her forehead, through the ceiling, to part the clouds above for an instant.

As the black-haired woman blinked spots from her vision she heard the other speak.

"Wish. . .accepted."

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Interested? Please say yes. I know this may be glaringly obvious to most of you, but hey every story needs build-up. This one has lots.