I MY RANMA! STRAWBERRY EGGS 1/2
Introduction: After seeing the Strawberry Eggs series, I decided to try my hand at a more serious spin as compared to what I usually write in my fanfiction. There still will be some humorous scenes, but overall, this will be more along the lines of Fighting Blind and Tattoon Ranma, in which our pigtailed martial artist actually... grows up!
Note: This story will start some time after Nodoka learns of Ranma's curse. As far as I'm concerned, the final battle with Saffron never happened. There will also be some changes to the original history.
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 and Strawberry Eggs belong to their own respective creators and I am only using the characters in this story for entertainment purposes.
< >: Thoughts
Ranma Saotome, heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, sighed as he sat on the roof of the Tendo Dojo. Though he was happy to finally be able to see his mother as himself, instead of as Ranko, he was still feeling depressed at the total mess that comprised his life. As gazed out at the stars, he started to think about what direction his future seemed to be going in. He winced as he imagined even more chaos, headaches and frequent-flyer miles, courtesy of Air Akane.
Ranma sadly shook his head. There seemed to be no end in sight to the numerous fiancées and rivals that were out for either his heart or his head: sometimes both. He was engaged an uncute tomboy who was violent, short-tempered and had little to no faith in him. She couldn't cook, sew or even do simple house chores without breaking something first or cause a biohazard. And whenever she saw her fiancé with another girl, she would be more than ready to believe the worst, and not give him the benefit of the doubt.
Genma's son shook his head again. He had tried to make it work. He really did. On the advice from his mother, he had lessened in his name-calling, teasing or any other act that would provoke her. However, Akane had not lessened in her abuse to him. In fact, it seemed as if the abuse had increased. And for every time she hit him, insulted him or showed no trust, Ranma lost a bit more of his own faith in her.
At that moment, he heard someone ascending toward the roof. Looking over his shoulder, he saw his mother ascending a ladder. He offered a hand to her, but she waved it off, indicating that she was capable enough. Once she set foot on the tiles, she sat down beside her only offspring.
"Kasumi told me that this was one of your favorite places to think." The older women said. "I didn't see you at dinner."
"I... wasn't hungry." Ranma replied as he turned his gaze back up toward the sky.
Nodoka was a bit surprised to hear this. Usually, her son would never turn down a meal, especially when Kasumi had cooked it. He was just like his father in that respect. Thinking of Genma, her expression turned a bit dark. After learning of the various engagements and such, she had decided that she would need to discuss with her husband on a few matters; particularly with how Ranma had been raised, and used as a bargaining chip.
Ranma's mother only wanted the best for her son. There was no doubt in her mind that her child was manly enough. After all, anyone who could receive so much turmoil and still wake up to see the next day had to be manly. The fact that he still acted manly, even as a girl was further proof. Her son had honor, far more so than his father did, and always kept his word. Ranma had shown patience with his many fiancées, especially with Akane, despite all the abuse she unloaded each day.
On that thought, Nodoka thought about the pledge to unite the families and of the girl whom her husband wanted him to marry. During her visits to the Tendos, when she had been unaware of Ranma's curse, she had treated Akane like the daughter that she never had. However, she had become very displeased once she got to know her better. She had never been present when Akane had one of her temper tantrums. The girl had always been on her best behavior during those past visits. When she saw how the Tendo girl took out her frustrations on her son, then she began to reconsider. A week ago, she had seen Akane hit Ranma with her mallet, just because he didn't want to eat that mess that she had claimed was sukiyaki. Nodoka had been around a corner when she had witnessed that violent event and she just barely repressed the urge to come up and slap the girl. She later helped Ranma with his injuries and that was when she had learned that Akane abused her son on a regular basis. From that moment, Nodoka had grown cold against the one who hurt her child for trivial reasons or no rationale at all.
Akane was violent and had no control with that temper of hers. It was one thing to be angry from name-calling, but it was quite another to hit with enough force to crush skulls. Akane had absolutely no faith in Ranma and was more than ready to believe in the worst without so much as letting him explain.
The wife of Genma sighed. It was obvious that Akane was still a child and an undisciplined one at that. Soun should have taken his responsibility as a father more seriously, and raised her better. However, like Genma, he had decided to dump all his troubles onto her son, just like everyone else. Now, it seemed that Ranma was trapped in a situation in which he had no way out, and it was all because he had not been given a choice in the matter. He had no say in his own future.
On that note, Nodoka decided to learn what Ranma really wanted.
"What are you going to do with the rest of your life?"
"I mean, what do you intend to do, once you finish High School?"
"Well... I never really thought about it."
"Don't you think that you should? After all, you've got to think about your future."
"Well, I guess I'll just... run the Tendo dojo and..." Ranma's voice trailed off as he had the words, 'marry Akane' in his head, but couldn't bring himself to say it.
Nodoka turned to face her son. "I asked you, what YOU want to do with your future. The pledge to unite the families and carry on the Tendo dojo was your father's idea, not yours."
"But what about the family honor?"
His mother held up a hand. "Don't give that any more thought. Genma had long since destroyed his honor, when he started using you as a bargaining chip." Nodoka had also learned of the multiple engagements. "You do not have to uphold something that he no longer has. Now then, what do you want to do with your life?"
"Well..." To Ranma, this was a rarity: being asked for his opinions and thoughts.
"And do not say you want to be the world's best martial artist." Nodoka reminded. "That too was also Genma's idea. He's had that drilled into your mind since he took you away on that training trip."
"Well, when you take that away, then I really don't know what I want."
"Then perhaps it's time that you think about it. Ranma... I want you to answer me truthfully. Do you really want to marry Akane and take over the dojo?"
Ranma was silent for a very long time, thinking back on all the trials that he had endured since coming to Nerima. Finally he shook his head. "No."
"Because... I... I... don't... l-l-lo..."
"You don't love her." Nodoka finished. She knew how hard it was for her son to say such things. "Are you certain about this?"
"Yes or no, Ranma. If you want to get on with the rest of your life, then you must give me a definite answer."
Ranma sighed and nodded his head. "I'm sure that I don't want to marry her. I may care for Akane, but there isn't enough between us for me to commit to something as big as marriage. All we ever do is fight. There were times, in which I thought that it might work, but something always came up and she'd be bashing me over the head with that stupid mallet again. After that last time, I stopped believing that it could ever work."
The older woman nodded. "And what about the dojo?"
"What about it? The Anything Goes doesn't depend on a dojo. In any case, that thing just takes up space. Mr. Tendo doesn't have any students and the only people who use it are Akane and me. I've had a long time to think about it and I really don't want it. The only reason why I defend it is because of what Pops said about family honor and stuff."
"I see." Ranma's confession fit perfectly with what Nodoka had been suspecting for some time. Genma had never worked a day in his life. That brief period of being employed by Dr. Tofu didn't count. Her husband was a lazy and irresponsible person and she began wondering why she had even married him.
It would be far easier for Genma to freeload off Soun, using the pledge as an excuse. In that way, he could retire early and live off his son's hard-earned sweat as he ran the dojo. Ranma's mother became extremely displeased at this. Her husband was using their only son as a means for his own gain. It was now obvious that he cared very little for her child's well being, just so long as he could get something for nothing. All of those arranged marriages and broken promises were further proof that Genma was willing to put his son through Hell, just so that he could fill that fat belly of his.
Nodoka then came to a decision. "Ranma... if you truly believe that this pledge is not what you want... then you don't have to go through with it."
"What? What about the family honor and...?"
"As I said before Ranma, you don't have to uphold what Genma does not have. Simply say no."
"I wish it could be that simple, but Pops is the head of the family and..."
"Actually, there is a way to get you out of that pledge."
"After seeing how badly Akane had treated you, I had begun reconsidering the pledge. The reason why I did not contest it before was because I thought you might be happy with the arrangement. Now I see that you are not. I do know of a way for you to be free of the pledge, but first, I must know what you really want. If you don't want to marry Akane, does that mean that you want to marry one of the other girls?"
Ranma shook his head again. "No. Ucchan's a good friend, but I can't see myself marrying her. Kasumi's like a big sister and Nabiki... well, I couldn't afford her. Shampoo says we're married according to her Amazon laws, but I don't feel that just because I beat means that I have to marry her. Besides, I really don't care for those potions and spells that she's used on me in the past and I certainly don't want that dope Mousse on my case. And as for Kodachi... brrrrr! I don't even want to think about her like that!"
"So you're saying that there is no one here that you wish to marry."
"Yeah... well, I feel that I'm nowhere near to being ready for something like that. Heck, I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that."
Nodoka considered his words, then nodded. Though she would dearly love to have grandchildren in the near future, her son's happiness still came first. "All right, Son. I'll tell you how you can get out of this. However, there's still the question of what you want to do with the rest of your life. After all, you are very near to finishing your second year at Furinken. Although your grades aren't exactly stellar, you still have a chance at college. Have you considered that?"
Ranma thought long and hard about it. In the past, he had only focused on the Art, but his mother did raise a valid point. If he could apply himself for the final year, he could still attend college. The question now was what degree could he try for?
After some more thought, Ranma nodded as he finally came to a decision. "Mom... I know what I want to do."
Nodoka nodded and smiled. "Whatever your decision is, my son, you will have my full support. Are you absolutely certain about all this?"
Ranma nodded with finality in his eyes.
"Very well then Ranma. Here's what you must do..."
A few days later...
As Nodoka had expected, Soun and her husband were not taking the news very well. Ranma had not been seen for over a week and the two fathers had been planning to find him and have the wedding ceremony immediately.
"What do you mean that Ranma will not marry Akane?!" Soun cried out in total outrage. The first signs of the dreaded Demon Head had begun to manifest. However, unlike Ranma, Nodoka was not as easily intimidated by it. In fact, she showed nothing but disdain.
"I don't see what all the fuss is about." Nodoka said firmly as the three Tendo daughters looked on with expressions of surprise, shock and anger. "Ranma told me that he wants to go to college and that he does not want to marry Akane, nor carry on the dojo. I see no reason why we should press him into something that he never decided on or wanted."
"HE WILL MARRY AKANE!" The Tendo patriarch shouted as he let loose with a Demon Head at full blast.
Genma nodded as he added, "It is a matter of honor that Ranma..."
"OH SHUT UP!" Nodoka shot back. Then suddenly, she let loose with a battle aura that dwarfed Soun's Demon Head, causing him to shrink back into his human form. Genma was especially surprised, as he had never seen his wife manifest such a powerful chi technique. She had always appeared gentle and somewhat oblivious. The Jusenkyo-cursed patriarch of the Saotome family found himself backpedaling from his spouse.
Seeing that she now had everyone's attention, Nodoka powered down her aura and spoke in a firm, unwavering tone to her husband. "Don't preach what you don't practice, Genma. You only use that honor excuse when it serves your purposes and disregard it when it works against you. I should have you commit Seppuku after all the times that you used our son as a means to feed your fat stomach."
Genma cringed a bit when he saw her finger that katana that she always carried. He would have splashed himself and gone into his 'I'm just a cute little panda routine,' but that wouldn't have worked since Nodoka knew about the curse.
"B-B-But dear, the pledge to unite the schools was made before Ranma was born and he must follow through, otherwise our family name will be disgraced and..."
"Oh? And you have not long since disgraced the Saotome name with your crimes? Don't dig that hole any deeper Genma, lest you want it to be your grave. I have decided that Ranma will no longer be paying for YOUR mistakes. And as for the pledge, he is no longer bound to follow it."
"Impossible! It was a solemn oath between Genma and I that our children be wed to carry on the Anything Goes!" Soun cried out.
Nodoka gave Soun a shrug as she responded. "Well then, that promise no longer applies to my son, since he's not a Saotome anymore."
"What nonsense is this?!" Genma exclaimed. "He is MY son and he will do as he is told!"
"Not true Genma. He renounced the Saotome name three days ago."
"That's right Genma." Nodoka said with a bit of a smug look on her face. "He is no longer a Saotome or your son. The paperwork has already been finalized. Since he isn't a Saotome, the pledge is now null and void."
There was a long moment of shocked silence as the news sunk in. Finally, someone spoke out. It was Kasumi.
"Oh my. Does this mean that Ranma is now a ronin?"
Nodoka gave the eldest Tendo daughter a reassuring smile. <What a pity that Ranma was not engaged to this one instead of that brat Akane.> "Not quite, Kasumi-chan. Ranma had been happily adopted by another family and is now part of the Amawa clan."
"Amawa?" Genma repeated in confusion. "But isn't that your maiden name?"
"Yes. Ranma is now the adopted son of my uncle Shinjo. He is now Ranma Amawa."
At this point, Akane snapped out of her shock. She couldn't believe that Ranma was now gone from her life and that his own mother had arranged it all. "B-B-But Auntie..."
Nodoka gave the youngest Tendo a cold glare. "Do not call me Auntie, Ms. Tendo. After what you had done to my son, you should consider yourself lucky that I do not declare a blood feud with your family."
"Ranma actually cared for you and what did you do to replay him for such devotion? You hit him. You never gave him the benefit of the doubt. You always believed in the worst of him. You never gave him a chance to explain. I was most displeased with your behavior and I no longer consider you a future daughter-in-law. Ranma had told me that you always said that you didn't want to marry him. Well, now you've gotten your wish. Aren't you happy?"
Akane felt the words sting at her very being. She had always seen Nodoka as the mother she never had. She had always been so kind and patient with her, but now, Akane felt betrayed and angry. Her temper began to rise as the pain of being rejected stabbed at her heart. Finally, she snapped.
Nodoka however, was not going to take any of Akane's outbursts. As soon as the Tendo girl brought her mallet to bear, Nodoka's katana cleared its scabbard and flashed forward.
Akane stared stupidly at her now useless weapon. The handle had been cut through just a millimeter shy of her hands. A little closer and her nickname would have been Stumpy.
Nodoka calmly sheathed her sword and glared at the ill-mannered child. Then, with one smooth motion, she brought one hand up and sent it flying.
"You slapped her, Mom?" Ranma asked.
"It's not that she didn't deserve it. I'm only surprised that she hadn't been disciplined and punished for such behavior in the past."
"Yeah, well... everyone always seemed to defend her. Heck, even I protected her, and she kept on hitting me."
"Well, that is all in the past, Ranma. Soun and Genma proved to be very stubborn, but I... ahem, convinced them to drop the idea of uniting the schools, at least for now. In any case, it would be best that you left. I don't want those other girls or anyone else to know where you are. They would only be a distraction, and you need to study for college. I will not have my only child become an uneducated lout like his father."
"Right." Ranma nodded as he shouldered his backpack. He then took a deep breath and gave his mother a final hug.
"Be sure to write and call me." Nodoka said as she handed him the address of her brother. Genma did not know where he lived and was certain that Ranma would be safe at his uncle's house in Osaka, while he finished his final year of high school at another establishment, then attend college. She had also gotten restraining orders against the Amazons, the Tendos and all of Ranma's rivals, to keep them away from her son. Any attack or intent to cause trouble to his person would result in arrest and perhaps prison time.
As Ranma got ready to go to the train station, Nodoka gave her son a heartfelt kiss on his cheek and bid him good luck on his new life as Ranma Amawa.
Three years later...
Ranma Amawa, age 21, took in a deep breath as he walked toward a boarding house that was near a junior high school. He was now taller than he was before he had left Nerima, after experiencing a late growth spurt and better diet. His face had become more defined. His hair no longer sported his trademarked pigtail, but was now tied in a loose, slender ponytail, that reached to a point halfway down his back. Currently, he wore not his usual attire of Chinese silk shirt, black pants and Kung Fu style shoes, but was wearing a simple T-Shirt, sweat pants and sneakers. His backpack was slung over his shoulders.
With the changes in his male body, his cursed form had also changed with him. The technicalities of the Jusenkyo curse wasn't clear as most people assumed that a person would retain the same appearance every time he or she was splashed with cold water. For some reason, Ranma's other side aged with him. As a female, Ranma-chan was taller and had gained more curves, especially in the bust, rear, and hips. She had lost much of the 'cute' baby fat to her face and in their place were more statuesque lines, giving her a kind of mature beauty. Her large, gray-blue eyes provided a striking contrast to her appearance.
Ranma Amawa, formally Ranma Saotome, had just graduated from college with a degree in physical fitness. He was eager to start teaching and was certain that he would succeed. With no rivals or fiancées breathing down his neck, he was free to make his own choices. Though he still practiced the martial arts, he was now more concerned with teaching students the joys of physical fitness, rather than being the best fighter. Though he still had his Jusenkyo curse to deal with, his life seemed to have taken a turn for the better.
He had always liked the idea of being called a sensei, but didn't want the Tendo dojo. After all, he had been taught the Anything Goes without needing a dojo. Ranma was quite certain that he could teach his students the basics of health and fitness without a dojo. All he needed was to apply for a position as a gym teacher, and he would be set.
However, fate would decide that Ranma's life would not be as easy as he wanted it.
To be continued...