The Lord of Benevolence
As told by Morisato Keiichi

Chapter 5 - The End of the Beginning

Another year passed without incident. I continued tutoring the reformed demons. If you looked closely you'd have seen signs of improvement in conditions on Earth, now that the gods and the demons were cooperating instead of competing. Then another important event occurred.

I had just finished an afternoon tutoring session with Hitomi when Kimiko indicated that she wanted to speak with me. "Morisato-sensei, I'd like you to begin tutoring my daughter Natsumi."

I should have expected it, but I didn't know how to respond.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Miyazaki, but I'm not really interested in teaching your daughter."

"Why not?" she asked, "Are you too busy? We're prepared to pay appropriately."

I thought about it for a moment. Perhaps the time had come to tell the whole truth. "It's not a matter of time or money. Natsumi is a fine girl, and you should be proud of her, but she lacks one very rare qualification that I look for in my students."

Kimiko looked puzzled. "What qualification?"

"Most people don't have it-there's nothing to be ashamed of. She just doesn't have the potential to become a Megami."

Kimiko looked very confused. "Is this some kind of joke? What are you saying?"

"This won't be easy to explain. You've already noticed that I'm an unusual tutor. The truth is that I'm more unusual than you can believe. It's my job to tutor all the gods in Heaven, all the demons in Hell, and the potential gods on Earth."

Kimiko began mumbling to herself, "Gods...demons...potential gods... Oh my goodness! You mean Hitomi..." She gave me a searching look. I nodded affirmatively. She sat down looking dazed. "I wish my husband was here."

"So do I. It would be best if the three of us could talk. I can bring him here right now if you'd like."

"He doesn't even leave work for half an hour."

"That's no problem. A little time travel won't hurt him."

She looked at me wide eyed. "Oh! Very well then, please bring him here."

I turned toward the front door. It opened, revealing Mr. Miyazaki in the doorway and an office interior behind him. He looked startled, and began to turn his head back and forth rapidly. His office was behind him and the interior of his home was in front of him!

Kimiko said, "Close the door, dear, your coworkers are starting to notice."

He closed the door, looked around, and then opened the door again. The customary exterior view was plainly visible beyond the doorway. He said, "I think I've just had the most extraordinary experience."

Kimiko responded, "That was Sensei's doing. I believe he has something important to discuss with us."

Mr. Miyazaki removed his shoes and entered. After embracing his wife briefly, he turned to me and asked, "Sensei, did you really do that? How did you do it?"

I nodded. "A simple demonstration of magic in action. I needed to establish some credibility because you may find it to hard to believe me otherwise." I paused for a minute, then continued, "Let me try to start at the beginning. Normally, mortals aren't aware of the doings of gods and demons. It's better for the gods and the mortals to maintain this shield of privacy. On rare occasions a mortal with unusual qualifications will be granted a wish-this happened to me a few years ago. Originally, I was a mortal, just like you two are. One day when I was in college a goddess appeared and offered to grant me a wish."

Kosuke interrupted with, "A goddess?"

"Yes, Belldandy, the Goddess of the Present. I wished for a girl like her to stay with me forever. That simple wish began a series of extraordinary events, which culminated in my becoming the tutor to all the gods in Heaven. Since then I've extended my job to include tutoring demons and potential gods too."

Now Kimiko interrupted. "Demons?"

"Yes, but they're nice demons."

"Nice demons? That sounds like an oxymoron."

"It's a new concept, but we all have to get used to it."

Kosuke interjected, "Potential gods?"

"I'm coming to that. It is possible, but rare, for a mortal to be promoted to a god or a goddess. Most recently, this happened to my sister Megumi. Anyway, some years ago I gave my parents a magic shortcut, which enabled them to travel easily wherever they wanted to go. It works a little differently than the spell I used to bring you here. Instead of opening a door, they have to walk into a wall or other flat surface. The shortcut spell contains a privacy provision so they won't be conspicuous. Nobody can notice them walking into or out of walls except those who already know about it, and potential Megami. I didn't expect to catch any potential gods, but it never hurts to try. "

Kosuke asked, "What does that have to do with us?"

"Do you remember when four-year old Hitomi asked his mother 'How does Mrs. Morisato walk through walls?'"

Hitomi's parents considered what I had said. Kimiko asked, "Are you saying that my son is a potential god?"

"That's right. There's no assurance that he'll become a god, but he has the potential to do so. This presented a real problem for us in Heaven. In all history only six mortals have actually become gods, so we've very little experience to draw upon. Previously, the youngest identified candidate was 16 years old. We had no idea about how to handle such a young candidate. We decided to wait and watch, until the two of you began considering cram school. I guess you know the rest."

Kosuke asked, "What's going to happen next?"

"That's what I want to discuss with you. You're his parents and should have primary responsibility for raising him. For the next eight to ten years my objectives are similar to your own. I want to nurture Hitomi, protect him from harm, and watch him grow up. I'm not trying to make him do or be anything; I want his growth to be natural and choices to be his own. I'm certainly not going to snatch him away from you before he's ready to go."

I noticed a sense of relief after this last remark. Nobody said anything, so I continued. "There seems to be a narrow window of opportunity for mortals to become Megami. They have to be old enough to leave their birth family, and young enough to not have married and settled down. Could either of you say, 'Goodbye my dear, I'm off to Asgard to become a god. Take care of the kids for me, and I'll visit you on weekends?' No responsible person would do that. The few recruits we've had ranged in age from 18 to 23 years old. If Hitomi falls in love at an early age, he may choose to remain mortal. I'm sure he'll be successful if he makes that choice. That's why I've tried not to teach him anything that would prevent him from leading a normal mortal life."

Kimiko said, "This will take a while to get used to. There really are gods and demons, and my son could become one of them." A moment later she added, "Was Skuld, the Goddess of the Future, a real goddess?" I nodded. She asked, "What about you? Are you a god?"

"Not exactly. If it's convenient, you may think of me as godlike. It would save a lot of explanation."

Kimiko responded, "I guess that explains why you don't get wet when it's raining, or cold when it's snowing. I'd wondered about that."

"I've tried not to influence Hitomi into choosing one path or another, but recently he's surprised me. He's begun to develop paranormal abilities. Let me show you what I mean. The conversation you are about to see took place two days ago." I projected an image of Hitomi and me in his room, during a study session.

Hitomi-image looked up and said, "Sensei, I had a dream about you last night. I saw you living in a large house. It was all white and sparkly."

Sensei-image looked surprised and responded. "Yes, that's right. Did you dream anything else?"

"Sensei, do you really have four wives?"

"Yes, I do. Do you think that's too many?"

"Oh no. They're so pretty, and everybody looked so happy, so it must be okay."

The projected image faded away.

"You can be sure I didn't tell him that I have four wives. I suspect that just being near me may have affected his development of psychic abilities. After all, I began developing my own magical abilities because I lived with three goddesses for a few years."

I continued, "Now I really don't know what to do, and I want your advice. Should I stay away from Hitomi so he can develop naturally, or should I remain with him in case he needs help coping with whatever abilities he may develop? If I stay with him, how much should I tell him about me? What should I tell him about his own potential?"

Kosuke said, "You're asking us these questions? I'd expect you to know better than us how to handle it. This is all so unexpected that we're unprepared to answer. Give us some time to adjust."

"I don't need an answer today. I'd rather have a good answer next week than a poor answer right now. If you've any questions, you know how to reach me. You may also want to talk to my parents. A few years ago they watched my sister become a goddess. They'd be delighted to discuss their experience with you-after all, there are so few people they can talk about it with."

Kimiko looked startled, and asked, "Where's Hitomi? I haven't seen him since his lesson ended."

I answered, "He's in his room, playing cards with me. I wanted to talk to you without his overhearing."

"Playing with you? But you're here with us!"

"Where is it written that I can only be in one place at a time? Go check on him, I can wait."

She arose and went to Hitomi's room and opened the door a bit. From inside the room I looked up and winked at her. Kimiko covered her open mouth with her hand and backed away, then closed the door quietly. Returning to the living room she said, "It's true. Sensei is in two different rooms simultaneously. This is becoming stranger and stranger."

I observed, "When I told my parents what had happened to me, I made them promise not to use the word 'impossible' for 24 hours. Perhaps I should have made the same request of you. Skuld once claimed that I did three impossible things every morning before breakfast. I keep trying not to overwhelm people, but..."

Kimiko asked, "What problems could it cause if Hitomi were to develop paranormal abilities and then chose not to become a Megami?"

"An excellent question," I replied, "I inadvertently placed my sister in a similar position when I began teaching her magic while she was still a mortal. A true magician in contemporary Japan would have considerable trouble fitting in. What company would hire a wizard? What kind of job would interest someone who can walk through walls and fly without an airplane? Where would he find peers, a role model, or even close friends?"

She nodded. "It sounds like Kasuga in 'Kimagure Orange Road.'"

I agreed. "A good analogy. He could try to hide his powers in order to blend into society. That would be one way to handle it, but it seems wasteful to me."

Kosuke said, "I don't have any problems with your continuing to tutor Hitomi. He seems to like you, and he's developing well under your care. Perhaps you should give us status reports more frequently in the future. I don't want any more surprises."

After a moment, Kimiko asked, "If you were to tutor Natsumi, could it cause any problems for her? Is she likely to develop ESP?"

"Natsumi might develop psychic abilities, but they'd be less than Hitomi's. I'd be more careful not to teach her too much, so that she wouldn't become academically overqualified the way Hitomi has. In hindsight, I wish I had held back a little more while I was tutoring him."

Kimiko briefly exhibited a calculating expression, then she announced, "Morisato-sensei, I don't think I want you tutoring my son in the future unless you tutor my daughter too." Was this blackmail? No, it was maternal instinct, a force so powerful even the gods have trouble resisting it.

I laughed. I didn't object to tutoring Natsumi, but I was busy enough with Hitomi and the demons.

"I know when I'm beaten. Let me introduce you to someone who might do an even better job for her than I can." There was a soft pop as my female replica appeared in the room. I addressed Hitomi's parents as I said, "Allow me to present Morisato Keiichi. I suspect Natsumi would prefer to be tutored by her."

They looked baffled. "Is she your sister?" asked Kosuke.

I answered, "No, my sister has facial markings and short brown hair. Onna-Keiichi is myself."

Not surprisingly, Onna-Keiichi agreed with me. "We are one and the same person," she said, "To paraphrase my male self, where is it written that I must have only one gender?"

Kosuke was having trouble grasping this. "You're both the same person, even though one of you is male and the other is female?"

The two of me nodded in unison. Onna-Keiichi answered him, "Yes. And before you ask, the answers are: yes, once, and it was wonderful." Turning towards my male self, she continued, "Honestly, you men are all so ecchi (interested in sex)."

I responded, "You should know. You are one, after all."

Mr. Miyazaki blushed deeply.

I said, "Natsumi is nearly nine years old. Soon, she'll have questions that she wouldn't ask a male tutor to answer. She may be more comfortable with my female self."

Kimiko understood. "It's a good idea, but it may be hard to explain." Then she exclaimed, "Oh. Look at the time. I haven't started dinner yet." She started to rise.

"Relax," I said, "I'll prepare dinner tonight, and I'm inviting myself to join you." My male self went into the kitchen, leaving my female self in the living room.

Kosuke looked confused. "He's going to cook?"

Onna-Keiichi replied, "Why not? I'm an excellent cook. My wife Belldandy is the best cook in Heaven, and I'm a fast learner." It took him a minute to realize that my female self could have a wife. I understood this; he was getting a lot of surprising information in too short a time.

I changed the subject. "In case you were wondering, I usually don't charge for my services because I've no need for money. I've put the fees I collected from you into a bank account. When I finish my tutoring here I was going to give it to charity, but I could return it to you if you'd prefer."

They both looked surprised and relieved. "That explains why your fee was so reasonable. Why did you bother charging us anything initially?" Kimiko asked.

I answered, "I was trying to pass for human then. If I hadn't charged anything it would have aroused suspicions." A moment later I announced, "Dinner is almost ready."

Kimiko responded, "So soon? That seems very fast."

I smiled at her and let the delicious aroma wafting from the kitchen speak for itself.

The replica of myself in Hitomi's room told him to come to dinner, then delivered the same message to Natsumi, and then discreetly vanished. I thought two of me would be enough for tonight.

Soon we were seated around the table. My male self sat between Hitomi and my female self, who was seated next to Natsumi. Mr. Miyazaki was next to Hitomi; Mrs. Miyazaki was seated next to Natsumi. There were murmurs of appreciation at the sight of the appetizers already laid out. We said, "Itadakimasu," and began to eat.

Kimiko introduced my female self to her daughter. "Natsumi, this is Morisato Keiichi. She'll be your new tutor."

Natsumi looked at me and said, "That's my brother's sensei's name."

I agreed. "It certainly is. It's my name too, because he and I are the same person."

Natsumi giggled. "That's silly. He's a boy and you're a girl. You can't be the same person."

At that my male self morphed into female form, while my female self morphed into male form. "This puts me one up on Ranma," I thought, "Now I'm Keiichi 2/2." Aloud, I asked, "Who's a boy now?"

Around the table jaws dropped open. Natsumi's eyes went wide. "How did you do that?"

My two selves morphed back to their original forms, and then I answered in unison, "Magic!"

"There's no such thing as magic," Natsumi declared, but she didn't sound entirely convinced.

I smiled at her and asked, "Is there such a thing as a glass chopstick?"

She shook her head. "Of course not. That would be silly."

I reached over and touched one of her chopsticks. It made a "clink" sound as it turned into glass. "How about a silver chopstick?" I touched her other chopstick, which went "clank" and became very shiny. Natsumi's eyes opened even wider, but she made no sound. She'd been holding those chopsticks as they transformed.

My male self reached out towards Hitomi's chopsticks. "What about a golden chopstick?" Tap. "Or a chocolate one?" Tap. Hitomi held two unusual chopsticks.

Hitomi looked at me and said, "Sensei, I can't eat with a chocolate chopstick. It's not strong enough."

"I'll get you another one then," I said. Holding out a finger toward him, I said, "Pull." Hitomi pulled on the end of my finger. A sapphire chopstick pulled out from the tip of my finger.

Hitomi beamed with pride and exclaimed, "What did I tell you? My sensei can do anything!"

Natsumi said quietly, "She can do magic."

Without being prompted, Hitomi broke the chocolate chopstick in half and gave one piece to his sister. The kid was definitely a candidate for divinity.

I cleared away the remains of the appetizers and brought out the main course. There were exclamations of delight. "Wow, lobster!" "Yellowfin, my favorite!" After a few moments, there were further comments of appreciation.

"This is heavenly," said Kimiko. I nodded in agreement. She was exactly right.

A few minutes later Hitomi asked me, "Sensei, will you teach me to do magic?"

"That's a definite maybe," I answered, "But you can be sure I won't do it before you're more grown up."

The rest of the evening passed without incident.

The next day I began teaching Natsumi. We did academic material that she might get in school for about a month (I didn't want her to get too far ahead of her class), then we moved on to foreign languages. It wasn't long before the parents got used to hearing their children chattering away in French, English, Chinese, or other languages.

I discovered that I was more comfortable around the Miyazakis now that I had "come out." I didn't have to watch myself as carefully, and I was being accepted for what I actually was. Sometimes honesty really is the best policy. After a period of adjustment, they were more comfortable with me too. Little things that had puzzled them before were now understood and accepted. I may be a "supernatural being," but I was still Morisato Keiichi.

I offered them some "field trips" as part of their language education. We'd make an occasional two-hour visit to someplace interesting where the natives were speaking the language being studied. I didn't bother with passports and customs officials, which may have been technically illegal, but I invoked the Heisenberg Principle. We could break any law, provided we did it for a brief enough time. I'd be responsible for keeping the Miyazakis and the natives safe during our visits. We usually traveled by teleportation to save time, but once we flew to enjoy the scenery. Hitomi wanted to go to San Francisco, so we went there first. I converted some of my collected fees into dollars so we'd have a little spending money. We all enjoyed it so much that we went back a week later and spent two hours in the Exploratorium. When we went to Egypt, we did a little time travel too and watched the construction of the Sphinx. It was very educational, and I couldn't have done it if I hadn't confessed first.

I was just finishing teaching my last trimester in Hell when another noteworthy event occurred. Two gods and two demons had gotten together and formed a heavy metal band called Ragna-Rock. Their first concert, "Ragna-Rock Around the Clock," was held in the new amphitheater. It's a good thing the new theater is larger than the old one, because the audience for the concert exceeded the total population of Asgard. Gods and demons were mixed together in the audience and nobody gave it a second thought. Aeton was on stage performing, and Fieara was in the front row of the audience cheering him on. I guess they were getting along better now. Skuld attended with her friend Donner. I went with Urd. I also stayed home with Belldandy and Megumi, neither of whom was into heavy metal music. The concert was a little too loud for my taste, so I shielded my ears a little. Fortunately, everyone present was immune to hearing loss-a convenience that mortal rockers don't enjoy.

I thought the concert was remarkable because nobody else thought it was at all unusual. The old rivalry between the gods and the demons had been completely transcended, and both groups mixed socially without friction. I was very pleased to see this change because I'd played a significant part in making it possible.

Two weeks later Lord finally settled on his new name. I was given the privilege of announcing it to my family before it became public knowledge. Lord and I entered my home just before dinner. I projected a brief trumpet fanfare to get everyone's attention. My wives gathered around expectantly.

With a flourish, I announced, "Ladies, I have the singular honor to present-my good friend, the Lord of Benevolence."

There was a brief round of applause, with congratulations and good wishes being expressed by all. When the commotion died down, the Lord of Benevolence paused and then morphed into a new but strangely familiar shape. Megumi, Belldandy, and Skuld facefaulted.

In contrast, Urd's expression was one of pure joy. She rushed forward and embraced Lord, crying, "Mother! Oh Mom, I've missed you so much."

Lord held her tightly and answered, "It's all right, Urd-chan, from now on I'll be here for you whenever you need me."

With that one simple gesture, Lord had done what I hadn't been able to do-he healed Urd's innermost pain. It's one thing if your mother is the Lord of Terror, but it's much better if your mother is the Lord of Benevolence. If you don't believe me, just ask my wife Urd.

Postscript:

When he was 19 years old, Hitomi became the God of Serendipity. It seemed to be an appropriate choice of domain.

Despite my urging restraint, conditions on Earth improved so noticeably that old people with good memories could be heard reminiscing about "the bad old days."

The mysterious invulnerability that I exhibited during the sparring sessions was another byproduct of my wish. The Ultimate Force was keeping me safe from harm so that I could be with Belldandy forever. I hadn't wanted to tell anyone for fear that the demons would find out and devise some countermeasure.

As you know, every Thursday night "Ben" (as he's known to his closest friends), Megumi, Kami-sama, and I gather for some games and socializing. When we play four-dimensional chess, Ben usually wins. I usually win when we do interplanetary archery (it's that precision thing again). Once a year we have a design-a-world contest, which everyone particularly enjoys. Our children, star-class deities all, have been invited to join us. Usually, they're too involved with each other to pay much attention to old folks like us. It's been an interesting life, and I look forward to many more years of the same.


Authors Note: C & C welcome. I'd like to acknowledge the following fanfic authors, whose work has entertained and inspired me: Ed Sharpe for "No Mere Mortal," Brett Handy for "Oh My God!", Sean Gaffney for "Proposal/Wedding/Honeymoon," and Fred Herriot for "A Remarkable Destiny."

The good news is that I finally wrote a fanfic under my own power, without divine assistance. The bad news is that (in my humble opinion) it shows; I think I write better when the goddesses are assisting me. If you agree/disagree, drop me a line. Thanks for reading this; I enjoyed writing it.

Yes, I know that Megami are all supposed to be female. I'm ignoring that aspect of tradition in order to strike a small blow for gender equality.

I've been wondering... When Kami-sama created the universe, he didn't even try to make one as big and complex as this one is now; instead he created a "seed" universe and let it expand and evolve. Similarly, my first fanfic "Keiichi's Magic Trick" was the seed of my second fanfic "Megumi No Megami." This story was similarly contained within, and grew organically out of, MNM. Does this mean that KMT was a three-stage spell? If so, then the inspiration for my original story was probably Keiichi's work. Just a thought...

M.B. 6/28/98 Minor revisions 11/19/06