The Way Things Should Have Been

A Youma ½ side story by: James Thomas

 

Disclaimer:  Characters no mine!  No take my money!

 

            Ami brushed another stray hair out of her face as she tried to get the stubborn six-month-old she held cradled in her other arm to fall asleep.  Why can’t you be a nice girl like Akane and sleep once in a while?  She thought as she tried to hum a lullaby to her young child.  The baby girl she held in her arms and her twin sister seemed to have been born crying.  The raven-haired girl was already snoozing while her redheaded sister was continuing to be obstinate.  Of course, being children, why wouldn’t they fight naptime?

 

            “Shhh, Ranko.  That’s a good girl.  Just calm down for mommy.”  The blue-haired woman tried to soothe her young child.  After a few more minutes of peaceful words and gestures, the child finally snoozed on her mother’s shoulder.  She gently placed the infant into the cradle beside her sister.

 

            Saotome Ami tried to put her hair back in some reasonable order.  It had all come undone since she had hurriedly done it this morning.  She stood in the nursery of the house that her husband had built for his family.  The room was decorated in brilliant pastels and scenes that would bring cheer to any child that resided inside.  Ami herself wore a conservative housedress, blue of course.  She loved to wear that color; after all, it was her favorite.  It would still have been her favorite, even if her husband had not said she looked good in it.

 

            “I’m home!”  Came a deep, but compassionate voice from the doorway.  Well, it was compassionate to her ears anyway.  The voice had a tendency to grate on some people’s nerves with its arrogance, but to her it was more welcome than the sun in the morning.

 

            “I’m home too, momma!”  Came a smaller voice.  Ami smiled as her little six-year-old came in and hugged her about her waist.  He would be as tall as his father when he grew up.

 

            “I’m so very glad, Ryoga.  Now I know a little boy who needs a bath.”  She smiled as the young boy looked at his dirty clothes from eyes that were surrounded by a dirty face.  “Go in and start washing.  I or your father will be in to help you in a little while.”

 

            “I can wash myself!”  The young child had his father’s pride.

 

            “I have no doubt you can do a job that would satisfy yourself, but I require that you use soap and actually get wet.”  She said it all in a level motherly voice that managed to not have a drop of sarcasm in it.

 

            The boy huffed up and strode proudly out toward the bathroom.  Ami reflected on her son as he left for the dreaded bath.  He really is a good boy.  Any mother would be proud to have a son like him.

 

            “Hello, dear.  How are my little girls?”  Her husband wrapped her in his arms and planted a loving kiss on her lips before she had a chance to reply.

 

            Fifty years of marriage and he still sets my heart a flutter when he kisses me like that!  She smiled as he pulled back from the embrace.  “They’ve been nothing but little angels while you and Ryoga were training, Ranma.”

 

            The pigtailed man smirked as he looked over at the cradle where the twins were laying.  “I’m sure.  Little angels with their halos tilted on their horns.”  The tall martial artist looked over the cradle at his children.  He was dressed in a dark blue gi shirt with a red sash tied around to keep it closed.  He was also wearing black pants that hung loosely about his legs, allowing for great freedom of movement.  “Don’t forget who they are, and that one of them is almost exactly like me.  I can’t imagine myself being an easy-to-care-for child when I was younger.”

 

            Ami stepped beside him; his arm encircled her waist.  “I remember, but I also remember that they won’t have any recollection of their previous lives.  They’ll be normal kids for all intents and purposes.”

 

            “As normal as any kid of mine can be.”  Ranma commented with a smile on his face.

 

            She sighed and leaned into his side.  “I only wish that mother were still here.  She was so much help when Ryoga was born.”  Her mother had only died a couple of years prior of old age.  She had lived to see her first grandchild, even if her daughter made her wait a LONG time.  Of course, when you were immortal, you had all the time in the world to have children.  Unfortunately not everyone around you has the same advantage.

 

            Ami looked up and saw her husband’s face cloud over.  A look of despair came over his face, but it passed as quickly as he could hide it.  The only problem was he could never hide any of his emotions from his wife.  The bond they shared from so long ago was still as strong today as it was the minute of joining.  They were one in spirit, and they could always tell what the other was feeling, even over a great distance.  Not many could remember how the bond was made, but it was an old technique used back in the Silver Millennium that had only been rediscovered by accident when Ranma had been badly hurt.  “You still miss her, don’t you?  Her and everyone else?”

 

            He knew better than to try and lie about his feelings to his wife.  He absently traced infant Akane’s cheek with his index finger.  “I was just thinking about my mom.  She never got to see any of her grandchildren.  She didn’t even get to see her only child wed.”

 

            Ami nodded her head and hugged her husband tighter.  She could tell that the old emotional scars still went deep.  He had gotten over most of his depression over the Neriman slaughter, but there was still a lot of pain in his heart.  Suddenly a thought struck her.  “Why don’t we ask Setsuna if she can help you mother meet her grandchildren?  Would that help?”

 

            Ranma brightened, but then darkened just as quickly.  “Naw, she wouldn’t do it.  She’d complain that I’d screw up the time-space doohickey like when I asked if I could save everyone.”

 

            “Well, if you had saved everyone, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now, and Adamantia would be ruling the world.  You wouldn’t want that now, would you?”

 

            He hung his head.  “No, but I’d still at least like to see them all again.”

 

            Ami pulled her husband’s face down for a comforting kiss.  “Well, we’re going to the palace tonight for an audience with the queen.  I’m sure Setsuna will be there, we’ll just see what she has to say…”

 

 

 

            The day was bright and sunny, and the park was peaceful and beautiful.  Saotome Nodoka inhaled a deep breath of the clean air and let it rejuvenate her being.  Peace and quiet were rare commodities in Nerima since her son had returned from China.  Of course she hadn’t found out that he was back until a couple months ago when ‘Ranko’ turned out to be her son with shape-changing curse.  Things always seemed to happen to him, and more often then not, they were bad.  Luckily, things had been going his way lately.  He had come to peace with most of his ‘friends’, enemies, and fiancés.  He had made his choice and in a few days, he would be married, and life could calm down, hopefully.

 

            She sighed at the thought.  She didn’t believe a word of it.  It was as if the god’s had cursed her son to live an interesting life.  Things would never settle down to relatively normal around him.  She only hoped that he and Akane were stronger together than at one another’s throat.  She shook her head at the way they still sometimes bickered, but thanks to a few well-placed threats, they at least apologized to each other when they were finished.  In fact, they sometimes hugged when they apologized!  She wouldn’t be surprised if a kiss was stolen when no one was watching.

 

            Her thoughts were derailed when the peace was cut in twain by the peal of babies’ cries.  She turned and saw a beautiful young woman with short blue hair sitting on a bench trying to soothe one child she held in her right arm and rock another in the carriage that she moved slowly with her left.  She was wearing a conservative dress that Nodoka approved of, but the short hairdo simply wasn’t very traditional.  When she looked closer she realized that she couldn’t place an age to the face.  She had thought it was young, but she now saw that it was ageless, frozen forever with timeless beauty.  She knew immediately why she was having such problems when she saw the wedding ring.  A manly husband would not be able to leave a woman with her looks alone for any amount of time.  She smiled at the thought and walked over to where the other girl was trying to calm her children.  “You look like you could use a hand.  Mind if I give it a try?”

 

            The blue-haired woman smiled.  “Would you please?  My husband is about with my older son, and I’m having a time with the twins.”  She handed the redheaded bundle from her right arm to the ‘older’ woman.  She immediately picked up the raven-haired child from the cradle and held her with her head in the crook of her arm.

 

            “How old are they?  What are their names?”  Nodoka smiled as the redhead fell silent and smiled up at her.  The child held out its arms toward the Saotome matriarch.  She indulged the child by tickling its fingers.

 

            “They’re both six months old.  That one is Ranko, and this little bundle is Akane.”  The blue-haired woman smiled a knowing grin.

 

            Nodoka started slightly at the names.  Must be a coincidence.  She thought to herself.  “And you are Mrs…?”

 

            The ‘younger’ woman gave her a slight chuckle.  “No need to be so formal.  I’m Ami.”

 

            “Well, since you’ve decided to be so informal, my name is Nodoka.  These children just have, uh, remarkable names.”  She tried to bait the other woman to see if any correlation could be made.

 

            The other woman wasn’t taking the bait.  “They were named after good friends of my husband’s.  So was our son, Ryoga.  He loved them all, but they were separated several years ago, and my husband still misses them.”  Ami sighed and sat back down on the bench and patted the space beside her.  “Sit, let’s talk a bit while I wait for the men in my life to return.”

 

            Nodoka smiled and took her up on the offer.  She seemed like such a nice and sweet girl.  Despite the haircut, she seemed like a perfectly traditional housewife.  She looked down at Ranko.  And she has such beautiful children!  Her husband must have been very handsome to produce such children.  “So, do you stay home with the children all day?”

 

            “Only recently.  I was a doctor for several years before I became a housewife.”  Ami rocked the child in her arms.   After a few gentle swings, Akane’s eyes closed.

 

            “Oh my!  You’re a doctor?”

 

            “Yes.  General practice.  I always enjoy helping a wide range of people.”

 

            Nodoka didn’t know what to think.  Here she thought she was talking to a young, proper Japanese woman, but there didn’t seem to be a mold that could hold this woman.  I’m certainly glad Ranma’s not marrying a woman like this!  I wouldn’t know if I could wait to see my grandchildren.  An independent woman like this would make him wait years!  I wonder how old she really is.  “That’s very valiant of you.  So what made you decide to become a housewife?”

 

            The other woman gave her a brilliant smile.  “I’ve had my career.  Now I want my family.  My husband was glad to help.”  She giggled softly.  “Eager even.”

 

            The two women exchanged knowing glances.  “I can believe that, and I see he wasted no time.  Three children already!  How old is the first?”

 

            “Six.  He just had a birthday recently.”

 

            “So maybe he wasn’t as prompt as I thought.”

 

            They both shared another laugh.  Nodoka gave the child in her arms a sad look all of the sudden.  Ami touched her arm with her free hand.  “Is something wrong?”

 

            “I’m just sad that I have missed so much of my son’s life.  He was my only child, and I’ve only been a small part of it.”  Tears started to cloud Nodoka’s eyes.  “I just regret not seeing him grow up.  That’s why I’m looking forward to his children, so that I can have a hand in raising a child from infancy to man or womanhood.”

 

            Ami gave her a sad look.  “You want to tell me about it?  I am a doctor after all.”

 

            Nodoka gave her a faint grin.  “I didn’t know general practice went into psychology.”

 

            The blue-haired girl shrugged and smiled.  “I have a wide range of talents.”

 

            Nodoka laid out her life story for the other woman.  Although Ami knew most of the details and more, she still listened intently and helped the other woman through the more difficult parts.  The sleeping twins were placed in the baby carriage early in the chat and slept while Ami comforted the ‘older’ woman.  Nodoka had known the pain of loss.  She felt very guilty about giving up her son so early and not teaching him what he should have known about acting ‘properly’ and ‘manly’.  Of course he had no problems in the second department.  After all, he had had four women chasing after him at once!

 

            A couple of hours passed as the two women chatted.  The session was ended when a little scamp of a boy ran up and stopped in front of the blue-haired woman.  He was about two-and-a-half feet tall with wild blue-black hair.  He was dressed in a t-shirt and black kung-fu pants.  “Mommy!  Daddy showed me a bunch of cool things around here!  Can we stay a while?!  Please!!!!”  He begged.

 

            His mother chuckled and ruffled the already unruly hair of her son.  Nodoka smiled at the handsome young boy that bared a great resemblance to his mother.  “Exciting is not the word for what happens around her.”  She told the young boy with a touch of amusement.

 

            “You know better than that, Ryoga.”  Ami chided him.  “We need to return home soon.”

 

            “But we were just there!”

 

            Ami rolled her eyes.  You had to take him by the dojo, didn’t you, Ranma?  She thought.  Her and her husband’s house had been erected over the site of the old Tendo dojo as a living monument to the ones that had passed before and a legacy to those yet to come.  “No, we have to go to our real home.  Say hello to Nodoka.”

 

            “Hello, grandma!”  He smiled happily.

 

            “RYOGA!”  Ami’s face flushed in embarrassment.  “I’m so sorry, but he…uh…”

 

            Nodoka laughed and patted the boy on the head.  “It’s quite all right.  I’m hoping to be called that a lot more often.”

 

            “Where is your father, Ryoga?”  Ami asked her son.

 

            “He’s right over there!”  He pointed toward the entrance of the park.

 

            Nodoka looked and saw a man that seemed to be chiseled out of stone.  He was well built and hardened with the years, yet his eyes showed a warmth that surpassed anything she had known.  He was very handsome, yet familiar somehow.  “You’re a very lucky woman.”  She said bluntly.

 

            Ami smiled back at her.  “I know.”  She commented knowingly.  “Well, it seems our time together is done.  I’m so glad to have met you Saotome Nodoka.”  Ami turned and walked away, pushing the twins in the carriage with her right hand and holding her son’s hand with her left.  She turned and looked over her shoulder long enough to comment, “Know that your son loves you, and you will have a part in the raising of your grandchildren.”

 

            The ‘older’ woman looked shocked.  She hadn’t told the girl her name.  “How did you know my name?  What’s your name?”  She almost shouted as the other woman walked up to her husband, giving him a quick peck on the lips.

 

            Ami turned and gave her one last smile.  “Mizuno Ami by birth, but Saotome Ami by marriage.”  She and her husband turned and walked from the park.

 

            Nodoka’s eyes went wide as she saw the long pigtail that the man’s hair was tied in.  She scrambled to her feet as questions swirled through her head.

 

 

 

            As they rounded the corner, Ranma turned to his wife.  “How did it go?”

 

            Ami smiled back at him.  “Not bad for the first meeting with my Mother-In-Law.  I think she liked me.”

 

            “I hope so.  I’d hate to have to divorce after three children.”  Ami slugged him in the arm.  “Hey!  I was only kidding!  You know that hurts, especially since the line between your senshi form and human form have blurred!”

 

            “You deserved it, but I’ll make it up to you tonight.”  She gave him a kiss that promised more to come.

 

            “Yuck!”  Ryoga gagged from where he walked beside his parents.  “Why do you keep doing the mushy stuff?!”

 

            Ranma laughed.  “Some day, you might not mind so much, son.  Let’s get going, honey.”

 

            Ami nodded and pulled a small device from her pocket and a pressed a button.  In front of them a portal opened up.  “Are you sure no one will report a portal like this?”

 

            Her husband smirked.  “Trust me.  Most of the people of this district in this time wouldn’t notice a man catching on fire in the middle of the street unless he was wrecking something of theirs.”

 

            Ami just shrugged and pushed the carriage into the portal, her husband and son following after.

 

            “WAAAAIIIITTT!!!”  was heard over their shoulder as they stepped back into their own time.

 

            Ranma and Ami walked through into their living room.  A thump was heard behind them just as Ranma was about to release his son to go play.  He turned quickly to see what had made that noise.

 

            “MOM?!”