Subject: A Son's Duty, Chapter Four, Does it need something more?
From: Hitomi Ichinohei
Date: 8/31/1995, 9:15 PM
To: fanfic@andrew.cais.com

Here is new version of the file.  Unfortunately, I could not continue 
this chapter without ruining it, so Chapter Five should be completed in 
about 12 to 14 hours.  It will give me just enough time to mail it before 
I catch a plane back to Canada unless unforseen circumstances occur.

Anyways, as always, I need flames as well as constructive critism.

Ichinohei Hitomi
Hitomi_Ichinohei@MBnet.mb.ca

***

A Son's Duty.

A fan fiction based on Takahashi Rumiko's ongoing Manga series, Ranma 1/2

Saotome Ranma, Saotome Genma, Saotome Nodoka, Tendo Akane, Tendo Soun, 
Tendo Kasumi, Tendo Nabiki, Tendo Ranko, Kuonji Ukyou, Hibiki Ryouga, 
P-chan, Shampoo, Mousse, Kunou Tatewaki, Kunou Kodachi, Kurenai Tsubasa, 
and Hinako Sensei are copyright 1987, 1995 by Takahashi Rumiko.

Publishing rights:

Japan:              Shogakukan Inc. Tokyo
Hong Kong:          Jademan (Holdings) Ltd.
North America:      Viz Inc.

Chapter Four:

***

It was a lovely evening.  A fine breeze was wafting across the area and, 
although it was still early in the year, the air contained a hint of a 
wonderful spring and the promise of an exquisite summer.  It felt like 
the evening carried romantic intentions from the Kami to all the mortals 
in their care.

On such evenings girls prepared special meals for their boyfriends or a 
boy took the young woman close to his heart to a nice restaurant.  This 
night would see many young people, and many adults, make commitments to 
one another, promising themselves to each other, and eyes meeting in 
wonder at the moment when they declare their love.  Their lives would 
encompass each other, and their Karma would intertwine, if only for a 
little while.

It was the perfect time for people who loved each other to ask for a date.

***

Ukyou sighed to himself as he walked back towards the Tendo's with Akane.  
He was on his way to ask Ranchan for a date, (With Akane's permission and 
encouragement no less!), but was feeling extremely uncomfortable about 
it.  It wasn't that he hadn't tried to arrange a date between himself and 
Ranchan before but, somehow, when he imagined an evening like this, it 
wasn't him going as a man to ask a girl for a date.

"Are you really sure about this └Akane?"  He asked his companion while 
trying to hold two bouquets of flowers, a box containing a dozen small 
cakes, and his school bag.  "I mean, is this the _only_ way to do this?  
Can't we do this some _other_ way?"

Akane smiled slightly to herself.  She originally thought of this as a 
quick way to help Ukyou out of the situation with his father.  It was 
while she was teaching him how to be somewhat romantic and helping him to 
shop that Akane got an idea to fix Ranma for that morning.  Not only would 
it help Ukyou, but it would solve some of the problems with Ranma's 
mother and enable her to get a little bit of revenge on her...betrothed.

It was simple really.  All Ukyou had to do was act romantically, treating 
Ranma as any girl would like to be treated, and endearing him to Nodoka.  
Ranma would then be able to hide a bit more effectively and Ukyou would 
be able to have a "girlfriend" to present to his father.  Additionally,
if both of them treated Ranma _as_ a girl during the entire time, 
including at school, then Akane would get some revenge on him, and teach 
him how to act _properly_ when he wanted to go out with her.

It was the perfect plan.

"I'm sure Ukyou.  If you want to do this without problems then you are 
going to have to do it this way.  Remember, you have to call Ranma, 
Ranko, and you have to treat her as though _you_ are the man and _she_ is 
the woman.  Also, remember to be romantic."

Ukyou gave up trying to argue and instead muttered under her breath, "I 
still say this is ridiculous..."

"Don't complain and listen," Akane replied crossly, "If you want this to 
work, then you have to treat Ranko as if she has _always_ been a girl.  
Now this means..."

***

At the moment, Ranko's thoughts were anything but romantic.

After getting out of the discussion about her school uniform with a 
somewhat unconvincing lie, Ranko started to talk with her mother about 
little things.  What was happening in each others lives, if Nodoka was 
getting on well, and how Ranma was doing.  For some of it, Ranko got very
nervous, especially since she had to talk about herself in the third 
person.  Despite this, she was starting to have a good time.

She was glad that her baka father was not there to spoil everything for her.

It was while Ranko had started to relax that the doors to the house opened.

"Hello everyone, I'm home!"

Nodoka looked up from where she was sitting as did Ranko.  There were two 
shadows behind the screen to the alcove, one obviously male.  It was 
impossible to tell who it was, but she hoped that it was Ranma at long last.

As the two young people stepped into the living area, Nodoka saw a large 
set of roses.  Lovely bright red with the buds just starting to bloom.  
Behind them was a tall young man with a long pony tail.  Looking at his 
face, Nodoka was surprised at how handsome he was.

"Oh!  Hello Auntie Saotome.  Allow me to introduce Kuonji Ukyou."

Ukyou bowed to Nodoka, a deep formal bow that was full of respect for her.  
As he looked up, Ukyou noticed where Ranchan had gotten her good looks 
from.  The resemblance was remarkable, and the features between the two 
matched exactly.  If it was not for the fact that Ranma was obviously 
younger, he would swear the m..GIRL he loved and her mother were twins.

Nodoka bowed back, pleased by the politeness this young man had 
demonstrated.  It was not often that one met young men in this day and 
age who payed attention to the old ways of Japan.  Still, when she took a 
closer look at him, she noticed that he seemed slightly nervous.  Following
his quick glace towards Ranko, she noticed that the girl was also nervous 
around this young man.  The child was looking down at the floor and had 
started to perspire once again.  Was it possible that Ranko liked him?

"I am pleased to meet you Saotome-san.", Ukyou said as his head came back 
up, "Please, if I may be allowed to, I would like to present you with one 
of these roses."

Nodoka smiled and gestured for him to sit down, "I thank you for your 
courteous gesture, but surely those are for another person in this house."

Ranko had been watching these proceedings with some anxiety, especially 
since Ukyou had not met her mother before and did not know what was going 
on.  One wrong sentence, one wrong _word_ and she would be running for 
her life.  With small bits of perspiration starting to slide down her 
forehead, she carefully kept track of the conversation between Nodoka and 
Ukyou.

"I do admit one of the bouquets is for someone else.  A girl who is like a 
small delicate rose, and whose smile brightens up the day.  As for 
these," he took a rose from one bouquet and gave it to Nodoka, "they are 
for whomever I come across who is as lovely in soul as the silk touch of a
single beautiful petal as it dances across the sunlit air."

Nodoka was suddenly very pleased with Ukyou.  True, she would not be able 
to tell much from one meeting, but he seemed pleasant, and was obviously 
a romantic.  He showed courtesy and respect for an elder and, while he 
was obviously nervous, he also affected Ranko in some way.

"I thank you Ukyou-kun, but who are these others for then?"

Ukyou turned to Ranko, and looked straight into her eyes.  With a serious 
expression on his face, he said, "For a girl I like a lot Saotome-san, if 
she will accept them from me."  He held out the roses to Ranko who, 
dumbfounded, looked as though she was about to faint.  "Do you accept
them from me Ranko-chan?"

Ranko fainted

Akane hid a smile, and took the box of cakes to the kitchen.  Ukyou was 
laying it on thick, but it was romantic.  She sighed and hoped Ranko 
would learn a few things.  Of course, the expression on Ranko's face just 
before she fainted was priceless...

***

Ukyou was beside Ranko, feeling her pulse, and trying to wake her up.

Of all the possible things that could happen, this was not the one that he 
had expected.  Ranko starting an argument, overacting, being extremely 
macho about it, those Ukyou would have expected.  For Ranko to have 
fainted was totally unlike her.

Nodoka had come up to the other side of Ranko, and had also felt her pulse.  
Hiding a small smile at the worry and guilt evident on the face of 
Ranko's suitor, she motioned for him to sit back.  "She's ok, Ukyou-kun.  
I think Ranko is startled more than anything.  In any case, she should get
cleaned up properly so please excuse us for a while."

Ukyou nodded, unable to say anything.

***

By the time Nodoka reached the washroom with her, Ranko had started to stir.

Nodoka looked at the young woman beside her and noticed the glassiness in 
her eyes.  It wasn't so surprising, after all, even though Ranko acted 
feminine and was always looking for approval from her, Nodoka knew that 
the girl wanted everyone else to think of her as a boy.

Smiling, she thought that Ranko must have been waiting for a long time for 
Ukyou to make such an overture.

Nodoka took Ranko into the bathroom and splashed a little water on her face.

"Ranko.  Wake up dear, you have a young man waiting for you."

Ranko shook her head, partially in relief, partially in shock.  As her 
eyes cleared, she thought of what had just happened in the living area.  
Ukchan had acted like a man and was romancing her!  To top it off Akane 
been there and had done absolutely nothing!  She shuddered, everyone acted
as if men asking her out was normal.  Was it possible that she going mad?

"Go in and take a bath dear, I'll get something for you to wear."

Ranko went without a word of protest.

***

After she started the water going, (and quickly splashing herself with hot 
and cold water to confirm that her memories were correct), she calmed 
down and started to relax.  Akane must have told Ukyou what was 
happening.  Luckily Ukyou was a good friend, she would not give anything
away.  But why had they come prepared?

She started the water, making sure that it was not hot enough for her to 
change.  It felt good to do something somewhat normal at the moment, 
considering what was going on in the main room.  If she didn't know 
better, she would swear that her life was becoming weirder.

The whole situation was emotionally draining, and she felt the urge to cry 
and scream.  She could not let herself do _that_ however, she was, after 
all, a man.

Sighing, she reached for a wash bucket and filled it.  "There has to be a 
way for me to explain who I am, a way for me to meet her as myself.  It's 
not as though we are complete strangers now, but what would she think of 
me?"  She shook her head a little, "Problem is that stupid promise would 
cause me to commit seppuku if she did know."

She snorted as she poured the water over herself, "I wonder which technique 
of seppuku that she would ask me to commit..."

At that moment, Nodoka stepped into the washroom, her robes removed, and 
bath articles in her hands.

Ranko shook the water out of her eyes and looked up to see who had entered.  
The sight of her mother, here in the same room with her to also take a 
bath caused her to become more upset.  She greeted Nodoka with a 
nervously stuttered hello.

"Here Ranko-chan, let me help you," Nodoka said as she came up to her 
daughter.  "Your back needs scrubbing and your hair is a bit of a mess."

Ranko nervously looked down at the floor tiles, not able to say much, the 
emotions of the day starting to crack her visage.  What Nodoka was doing, 
what she was offering, was to help one who is a family member.  She 
wanted time with her mother, wanted to share special, private moments 
together, but as mother and son, not mother and daughter.

Nodoka noticed Ranko fighting for control and silently kneeled behind her, 
waiting for the young girl to compose herself again.  She knew that Ranko 
liked to act like a boy and would not want to show any loss of control.  
To demonstrate such a loss to someone who, despite the closeness of the 
families, was a stranger would be to dishonour both of them.

That did not stop Nodoka from wishing the child would show some honest 
emotions.

Silently, Nodoka undid the braid in Ranko's hair, letting the three pieces 
float free.  Reaching down, she took some shampoo into her hands and 
started to rub it into the scalp of the girl in front of her, trying to 
be comforting, a reassuring presence that Ranko could take strength from.

It was when Ranko started to sob quietly that Nodoka, unbidden, took the 
child into her arms and just held her, letting the grief and unspeakable 
sadness run it's course.

GLOSSARY

KAMI

This is the name for all the Spirits, Goddesses, and Gods within the 
Japanese belief system.  They inhabit all things, all matter.  The Kami 
help to control aspects of life although we do have free will.  On  
occasion, the Kami may ask for help and then those chosen will perform the 
missions dictated to them.

CAKES

I had a few people ask me about this and if it matched up with the giving 
of chocolates on a date in Western culture.

Actually, this is not the case.

To be polite, when a young man is visiting the family of a girl that he 
likes, it is customary to greet the members of the family with a small 
gift.  Usually, the gift is a small treat or something that is 
affordable, yet shows that he acknowledges her family and their household.  
Everyone shares in this treat and enjoys each others company.