Note: I do not own Ranma ½ or any of the characters in it except the ones I added to make the story interesting.

Notes: A new story I hope you will enjoy.

I would like to say before you get started reading this fic, it does not go exactly with the canon, this is a fan fic if you wish to read the canon go grab a book my favorite starts in book 36 where Nodoka finally finds out Ranko is her son. Ranko/Ryoga pairing.

Unknown Mother

Prologue - Nerima, five years after the failed wedding of Ranma and Akane

Tatewaki Kuno still sported his trademark blue wardrobe, though a newer incarnation of it. He didn't look much older, though he was slightly more muscular due to rigorous hours of training with the sword.

Walking the streets of Nerima, he looked over to a bookstore he used to go to and shook his head in dismay. He noticed boards on the windows and its slightly decrepit look. He remembered better times when the streets were bustling, but as of late things had died down somewhat. The town seemed devoid of busy street life, though there were still people going to work or seeing their loved ones. As he continued his walk he stopped by Ucchan's restaurant, the chimes sounding as he opened the door.

"Welcome to Ucchan's Okonomiyaki, how may we help you?" Konatsu asked in a girlish lilt.

Tatewaki pondered on this a moment, trying to hide his disgust for the "boy" dressed as a waitress. "Just my usual, please," he said as he sat down at a booth by the window that had a view of the street outside.

"One coffee with two scoops of sugar coming right up, hon," Konatsu said sweetly, her breasts bouncing, causing Tatewaki to look away quickly.

Konatsu hadn't changed much except that her wife/husband had gotten her some Spring of Drowned Girl water. Ukyo had married Konatsu around four years ago once she had finally realized Ranma was no longer in the picture, as he was always off on some quest for a cure or just traveling in general.

Tatewaki pondered as he looked around, noticing a flash of a black business suit walking into the restaurant.

"Hey Tachi, you asked for me?" Nabiki said in greeting as she sat down.

Tatewaki was about to speak when Konatsu sat his coffee in front of him, along with a cappuccino for Nabiki.

"Thank you as always, Konatsu," Nabiki said as she focused in on Tatewaki.

Picking up his coffee, Tatewaki gave her a slight friendly smile before speaking. "Well, you see, Tendo, my attempts to locate my elusive Pigtailed Goddess have not borne fruit. You're her cousin, dost thou have any idea where I should look?" he asked.

Nabiki chuckled a little. "Well, not sure how much I can help you. I haven't seen Ranko since her brother Ranma moved back to his parents."

Tatewaki considered Nabiki's words. "Wait, are you telling me that cad is my Goddess's brother?" he shouted, causing Ukyo and Konatsu to look over.

"Yeah, Kuno-chan, that is what I'm saying. I haven't seen Ranma or his sister in, like, two years," Nabiki explained as she took a sip of her cappuccino.

Tatewaki mulled over Nabiki's revelations. "Well, do you know where Saotome's parents live?" he asked, pausing to drink some of his own coffee.

"No, unfortunately I don't, Tachi, or I would be collecting the money Ranma owes me for the damages to my father's dojo," Nabiki sighed, setting her drink down on the table.

Tatewaki tried to find some lead as to "Ranko"'s whereabouts. "Well, what about your sister, the fair Akane Tendo?"

"Where have you been, Kuno-chan? She got married two years ago and moved to America to become a movie star. She lives in Hollywood, California with her husband," Nabiki stated, missing her younger sister.

Tatewaki shrugged, taking one final drink of his coffee. "Then it would seem you have no information that is worthy of my time."

"Sorry, Tachi, I'm a lawyer these days, not a detective," Nabiki said with a smile.

Ukyo had not changed much either, aside from her longer hair, her ponytail now reaching her mid-thigh. She hadn't begun to show her age yet, though she was slightly heavier due to the child she was carrying. "Hey Nabiki, what brings you by my establishment?" she asked in a kind manner.

"Nothing much, just dabbling with my old career of information broker to poor Kuno-chan here," Nabiki said with a laugh.

Unknown Mother Chapter:1

Hibiki residence

Ryoga sat on his couch watching TV, letting out a chuckle here and there as he relaxed after a tiring shift. He was twenty-three years old now, his face tanned from long days at the construction job he worked. His shoulder-length hair was put back with his old yellow and black faded bandana. He wore a flannel shirt and blue jeans, along with a pair of sturdy brown work boots. 'Kami, they went all out with that comedy. Reminds me of my own complicated life,' he thought as he watched the story of a guy caught between two girls. The lead felt love for both, but would get beaten with a broom by each of them as one girl would find him hanging out with the other.

The door bell rang out.

"Son, could you please answer the door?" Ryoga's mother called out.

Ryoga stood up, following the arrows notched on the walls to the door. "Sure thing, Mom."

As he opened the door he found no one there. Looking around, he noticed a large basket sitting at his doorstep. Reaching down, he picked it up and, with one last look around, backed into the house and shut the door. Returning to the living room, Ryoga set the basket on the table and wondered about its size.

Nayomie Hibiki walked into the living room. "What is it, dear?"

Ryoga just shook his head. "I don't know, Mom. Someone left it on the porch."

Meanwhile, outside

As a figure watched Ryoga take the basket inside, she said a prayer. "Please, Kami-sama, forgive me," she whispered, before disappearing into the darkness of the night.

Back inside

Nayomie lifted the blanket. "My word," she gasped, gazing at the three babies that were sleeping side by side. They looked to be at most about one year old. A card sat with them in the basket. Reaching down, Nayomie picked up the card to read it and then looked up to Ryoga. "It's addressed to you, son."

Ryoga frowned, taking the card. As he read it, he went rigid in shock.

"If you're reading this, then I have finally delivered our burden to you. Due to reasons out of my hands, I'm leaving our children with you until such a time as I can return for them. Until then, please watch over them, Ryoga. I promise to come back for them soon as I am able," the unsigned note read.

"PS: Do not remove the pendant from around Hiroto's neck or his curse will be active. As he gets older, just loosen the slack using the latch."

Ryoga felt weak in the knees. Sitting down, he tried to slow the pounding in his chest. 'I'm a father? With who?' he wondered in shock, his heartbeat refusing to slow.

Looking at the bottom of the letter, he read the names of the children. First was Neji, who had a heart next to her name. Upon inspection of the children, Ryoga found that one of them was wearing a bracelet with hearts on it. Next was Rei, with a diamond shape alongside her name. Sure enough, the middle child's bracelet matched the drawing on the note. The final name on the letter was Hiroto's, with an emblem in the shape of a pig that matched the third child's bracelet.

Nayomie eyed her son, wondering why he looked so pale. "What is it, dear?"

"I don't know when, or who, or how, but apparently I am the father of these kids!" Ryoga shouted loud enough for the entire island to hear. His eyes wide and his hair standing on end, he fainted on the spot. Slumping to the floor, he looked like a stone statue that just crumbled.

The following day

Ryoga pulled out a notebook. Reading through his list of phone numbers, he shook his head, not seeing anyone but Akane, Akari, Ukyo, and Shampoo's numbers listed.

'This makes no sense! I never had kids with any of these girls. Ukyo got married four years ago to Konatsu, Akane married Daisuke two years ago, and Akari married that guy in America around three years ago,' he thought to himself, wracking his brain as he tried who the mother could possibly be.

His thoughts were broken by a knock at the door. Getting to his feet, he followed the arrows to the door. Studying the children briefly before answering it, he noticed that all three seemed to have fangs like his barely visible through their lips.

Ryoga opened the door. "Hey, Ranma! What brings you by?" he asked as he studied Ranma's appearance. Ranma still sported his famous pigtail from his youth, but he no longer looked like the cocky boy Ryoga knew. He looked depressed, almost a broken shell of himself. He wore a pair of black high-top shoes and forest green pants. He also sported an old, ragged red silk shirt that almost resembled his traditional outfit, though it was faded in appearance.

"Can't a guy come see his old friend once in awhile?" Ranma asked with a smile, handing Ryoga a bottle of sake.

Taking the bottle, Ryoga stepped aside and allowed Ranma to enter his house before closing the door.

Ranma stopped momentarily, looking to the children sleeping in the crib. "Wow, whose kids, yours?"

"Yeah, they are my kids, apparently. They were just dropped off last night," Ryoga explained, setting the bottle of sake down on the oak-finished coffee table.

Ranma nodded and then asked curiously, "So, who's the lucky girl? You sly dog, I go away for a year or so to look for a cure for my curse, and you're off havin' a family!"

"I wish I knew, Ranma. It's a complete surprise, really. The mother dropped them off last night, and I have no idea who it is," Ryoga said, his heart heavy as his fist balled up tight, knuckles turning white.

Ranma walked to the kitchen, grabbing two glasses, and walked back to the living room. "Well, why don't we have a drink for old time's sake, pal?"

"Sure, that would be nice. Did you find a cure?" Ryoga asked.

Ranma shrugged his shoulders. "Nope, I came up empty-handed. I'll try again soon enough, though."

"You've been saying that for five years now," Ryoga noted with a slight chuckle.

Ranma popped the cork on the sake bottle and poured their drinks. "Well, old habits die hard, ya know, and Mom's been all over me since me and Akane split up."

"Oh, so you've been searching for a cure to get away from your problems?" Ryoga asked, taking his glass.

Ranma nodded, setting the sake bottle down before picking up his own glass. "Yeah, that just about sums it up…well, here's to distant friends and family."

"I'll drink to that, Ranma," Ryoga agreed as he clanked his glass against Ranma's, taking the drink in unison.

Around that time, Nayomie walked into the room. Seeing the sake bottle, she shook her head. "Want me to watch the kids for you, dear?" she asked in a pleasant voice, noticing Ranma sitting on the couch.

Ryoga gave his mother an appreciative nod. "If you would, please, so I can talk to my friend here. He doesn't come around very often."

"With the way his father and mother carry on, I don't blame him," Nayomie said as she took the infants into the next room with her.

After watching his mother leave the room, Ryoga turned to Ranma. "You never did say why things have been getting so bad between you and your mother."

"She thinks I'm too feminine 'cause of my curse," Ranma said in a disgusted voice.

Ryoga sighed in disbelief. "I find that hard to believe. You're one of the biggest macho jerks I know, no offense."

"None taken, Ryoga. I can be a jerk, I admit it," Ranma said with a sad smile.

Ryoga thought a moment and asked, "So, do you still hate your curse with a passion like I hate mine?"

"Yeah, actually, I do. Though she gets me out of trouble a lot, she's caused my relationship with my mom and dad to deteriorate rapidly. Mom almost enforced the seppuku pledge on me during a drunken tirade she had," Ranma said, his shoulders slumped as he poured another round of sake for the both of them.

Picking up his glass, Ryoga downed its contents in unison with Ranma. "Ouch, I am sorry to hear that. Sounds like your misery is worse then mine these days."

"I think we are about even, Ryoga. Your curse puts you in situations where you can't fight back, and mine, well…complicates things," Ranma said, pouring yet another drink.

Ryoga pondered Ranma's statement before taking another gulp of his drink. "So, what do you do these days for money?" he asked kindly.

"Not really much, every so often I will do a little waitress work here and there. Oh, don't look at me like that, Ryoga. I would gladly do construction or something if I didn't get discriminated 'cause of my curse," Ranma complained, taking a long pull from the sake bottle.

Ryoga let out a sigh. "I understand. It's not easy for me, but I do manage working construction about four days every week. But yeah, with your curse you could end up…well, no need to go there."

Ranma nodded slightly. "So, you're still livin' with your mother. Why's that?"

"Well, I own this house now, actually. She stays with me so I can take care of her. My father passed away half a year ago," Ryoga explained as he watched Ranma pour him some more sake.

Ranma gave him a sad smile. "I'm sorry to hear that, pal. Well, you're definitely the better man. I can't take care of my family much less myself these days. According to my dad, I'm a useless girl who turned her back on martial arts and everything he taught me," he said with a sigh.

"Ranma, you're not useless, and you're not a girl unless you're in your other form. You shouldn't let him bother you. Please tell me you at least practice the Art in secret?" Ryoga asked his friend.

Ranma shrugged. "I practice once in a while, and I'll secretly knock off a dojo or two to keep my edge, but I think my days as a martial artist are numbered. I've got no drive anymore, you know? Just about the only thing I look forward to is seeing my friends that are still around…or 'friend,' really, that being you. You're the only one who stuck by me while everyone else moved on or moved away," he said sincerely.

Two hours later…

"So, like, there I was, Ryoga, Kuno backed into a corner, when out of nowhere Akane falls unconscious from the second-story window and lands on top of him. Well, when she woke up she gave us each a slap, callin' us perverted bakas," Ranma recounted, his speech slurred as he slouched back on the couch across from Ryoga.

Ryoga laughed drunkenly. "I remember that! She passed out 'cause she found out I was P-chan. I didn't hear the end of that for two years straight. I thought she was gonna hate me forever!"

"Yeah, I was right there with you, now that I think about it, gettin' a beating alongside you! She sure had a temper in those days," Ranma said, happily drunk.

They both continued swapping their drunken war stories, finally passing out six sake bottles later.

Coming to the living room to check on the boys, Nayomie laughed to herself as she noted all the bottles lying about. "Every time his friend comes over they drink until they drop," she said quietly to herself.

Hearing the phone ring, Nayomie went to answer it. "Hello, Hibiki residence."

"Hello, Nayomie, this is Mrs. Saotome. Is my son over there by any chance?" Nodoka queried.

Nayomie, remembering a bitter argument Ranma and his parents had, simply shrugged. "No, he hasn't been here. Why do you ask?" she carefully lied.

"Well, he finally came home briefly and then left just as quickly. He has been doing this for the last two years. We hardly get to see him anymore. I mean, he left last year and then showed up out of the blue before leaving again almost immediately," Nodoka rambled sadly.

Nayomie sighed, wanting to tell the truth, but thought better of it. "I'm sorry to hear that. If I see Ranma, I will tell him you're looking for him, Nodoka."

"Nayomie, please tell him I am sorry. I never meant what I said; I was upset at the time," Nodoka pleaded, almost on the verge of tears. Hanging up the phone, she slumped down in the corner of the kitchen.

The following day

Ranma sat eating some cereal, trying to shake the headache off.

"Your mother called looking for you, Ranma. I think she wants to apologize to you," Nayomie explained.

Ranma looked up to Ryoga's mother, letting out a sorrowful sigh. "I'll go see her when I leave here, though she'll probably just give me another speech on manliness. She'll go on about how I'm lacking in that department 'cause I haven't chosen a girlfriend. She always apologizes and then slowly tries to rework the conversation back to me," he stated bleakly.

"I don't know what to tell you, dear, but she sounded sincere to me. It's not really my place to say, but I think you should try to have faith that this time it might be different," Nayomie said in a kind and encouraging voice.

As Ranma finished his cereal he stood up, setting his bowl in the sink. Thanking Ryoga's mother for the breakfast, he then made his way to the living room where Ryoga was spending time with the children. "Have a good one, Ryoga. I'll drop by again sometime soon."

"Alright, well, see you then," Ryoga said, feeling a pang of sadness at the knowledge that he might not see his friend again for perhaps another year. With Ranma, it varied – sometimes he would come over every three months or so, but it could also be a year or more as it had been this time. His absences seemed to have gotten longer ever since Akane had left him over two years earlier for Daisuke.

Ranma opened the front door, taking a long look at his friend and the three babies by Ryoga's side. Then he left, shutting the door behind him.

Saotome residence, four hours later

Ranma reached into his pocket, pulling out the house key and unlocking the door. Stepping into the house and shutting the door behind him, he spotted his father Genma sitting on the sofa and watching TV. Ranma paid him no mind. Walking to the kitchen, he found a seat at the table where he could watch his mother fixing something for lunch.

"Are you finally going to talk to me, honey?" Nodoka asked without looking up.

Ranma sighed, feeling worn down. "What's to talk about? Pops calls me a failure 'cause we didn't get a dojo, and you think I'm unmanly. What do you think I'd wanna talk about, Mom?"

"Look, I am sorry. I didn't mean what I said about the pledge; you just frustrate me! All I want is what's best for you, dear," Nodoka said in a depressed voice.

Ranma shook his head. "Mom, you were deadly serious. Don't try to say you weren't. I told you I was getting used to my curse and didn't wanna bother with findin' a cure anymore. I mean, I searched high and low, comin' up with nothing at all. I won't marry the girls you choose for me, and you think I'm unmanly for it."

"Honey, I wasn't serious. If I was, I would be your second right now. I just want my son back, please stop this," Nodoka pleaded, getting on her knees and looking up into Ranma's eyes.

Shaking with sadness and frustration, Ranma looked to his mother with tears in his eyes. "No, come on, get up. You don't need to be beggin' me like that. I don't know what to believe anymore, Mom. A long time ago the only way I could cry was in my curse form. Now I'm a wreck, my father hates me, and I got you constantly tryin' to impose your will on me. I love you, Mom, but I can't keep this up…I just can't."

Nodoka swallowed at her son's declaration, pulling Ranma into her embrace. "I am so sorry, honey. Please know on my honor that I am telling you the truth," she said with sincerity.

Ranma started crying uncontrollably in Nodoka's arms. She rocked back and forth with him for several minutes, trying to calm him down. "Let it out, dear…Momma's with you," Nodoka said in a soothing voice. Finally aware of the damage she had caused, she started to cry as well.

After a few minutes they both calmed down somewhat, still sitting on the floor together.

"I won't try to force you to marry anyone anymore, I promise you. I just wanted a grandchild, and that was selfish of me. I'm so very sorry, dear." Nodoka said sadly.

Ranma choked up and started to cry again, his mother trying to comfort him as she attempted to figure out what set him off again.

Later that night

Nodoka sighed as she looked over her son, who was lying in his futon asleep. 'I just don't understand what I said that upset him,' she wondered. Thinking back on their conversation, she noted that she had been speaking of her desire for a grandchild. 'Could that be it?' she asked herself as she closed the door to Ranma's room before heading to her own room to get ready for bed.

"So, did the sniveling girl cry herself to sleep?" Genma asked in a cold, mocking voice.

Nodoka glared at her husband. "Can it, Genma. That is our son in there and I won't have you bad mouthing him anymore. You've done enough damage, and I feel terrible that I allowed myself to try to force our will on him to make you happy."

"No-chan, he doesn't practice the Art anymore and he's in his cursed form more often than not," Genma protested, agitation in his tone.

Nodoka was fuming. "Dearest, whose fault is that? You told him he was no longer worthy of the Art, and thanks to us, he has no drive anymore. Do you want him to die? If this keeps up, he will – if he isn't already at that point already," she said in a grief-stricken manner.

Genma felt his mouth go dry and was unable to speak.

"You can continue not wanting to be his father for all I care, but I am his mother! For once, I'm going to do my job right. If you don't like it, we can get a divorce soon," Nodoka threatened as she left the room, slamming the door and causing Genma to jump.

The following morning

Genma woke with a start. Looking to his left, he muttered to himself as he noticed his wife wasn't in bed beside him. Finally getting out of bed, he stretched a bit and walked over to the closet to pull out a clean white gi. "Foolish girl, always getting me in trouble with her mother," he muttered to himself angrily, stopping to pick up his glasses as he left the room. He entered the furo briefly and grabbed a bucket of cold water before walking towards his son's room. Opening the door, he glared at Ranma who was sprawled out on his futon, wearing only a pair of blue boxers that depicted the manga character Rei Ayanami and a black muscle shirt.

"Time to wake up, girl!" Genma shouted as he doused Ranma with the pail of water.

Ranma sprang up from her slumber sputtering. "What the hell?" she shouted as she found herself picked up and thrown out the open window, landing on the lawn roughly.

Genma walked over to the window and leapt out, landing behind his son-turned-daughter. He looked down at her slumped-over form with disgust. "Get up! It's time to learn just how worthless you are," he said with malice.

Ranma started to pick herself up off the ground when she felt herself kicked between her legs, flying forward and hitting a nearby tree. Now on her back, she turned her head to look at the culprit. Rolling over and pushing herself up off the ground, she let out a growl. "I'm gettin' real tired of this, Pops. Ya wanna show me how worthless I am? Fine, let's do this. I ain't gonna hold back. I am so sick of you! Ya think I'm lax in the Art? You're friggin' mistaken!" she exclaimed, spitting on the ground.

"Talk is cheap when it comes to worthless girls. Show me what you've got!" Genma declared. He felt confident that he could take his son-turned-daughter down like he'd been doing so often for the last five years as Ranma let her training slacken, not caring for anyone and only wallowing in her own misery.

Ranma shot her father a spiteful glare. "I will show you, old man. This time I'll pay you back for everything you've done to me a hundred fold!" she screamed out like an angered banshee.

Nodoka had just stepped out of the shower and was drying her hair when her ears perked up at the sound of fists on flesh. "Oh Kami-sama, if Genma is beating on Ranma again, so help me, I'm going to have a panda-skin rug," she growled out to herself.

"You had enough, Pops, HUH? I can't hear you, speak louder!" Ranma shouted as she brought her right fist down on Genma's tortured face, which was covered in blood and bruises that were swelling. Ranma's other hand was held firmly around Genma's throat, her eyes flaring red to match her hair.

Running outside, Nodoka covered her mouth in shock at the scene. "Please, Ranma, that is enough. Let your father go, please, before you kill him."

Ranma relaxed her hold on Genma's throat before throwing one last punch that broke her father's nose and letting him hit the ground in a heap. Her muscles tense, she walked past her mother without a word as she tried to calm her temper. She was muttering half to herself, "I been knockin' off dojos in secret for the last five years, ya know…."

Nodoka watched her daughter go into the house mumbling something she could just barely make out. 'Ranma has been challenging dojos in secret?' she asked herself several times in shock, finally connecting the dots as she recalled hearing of several dojos that had complained about a girl who resembled her son. Now those complaints made sense – the dojo owners had said the girl was erratic, a loose cannon, and would go farther than simply beating her opponent. It was as if she were determined to get rid of some pent-up rage that had been building up for far too long. 'Yes,' Nodoka thought, 'for the last five years now.'

Dr. Tofu's clinic

Kasumi and Dr. Tofu examined Genma, who lay unconscious on the examining table. They looked a little worried, thinking a new enemy or something came to Nerima.

"Who on earth did this to him, Mrs. Saotome?" Tofu asked with concern. Genma looked like a freight train had smacked him around.

Nodoka sighed. "Ranma did. Genma tried to get abusive again this morning, and I think Ranma finally snapped," she explained, not really feeling too sorry for her injured husband.

Tofu nodded his head, pushing up his glasses. "Well, I kept telling him this abuse needed to stop. He would just say that Ranma was weak and needed to be punished for not practicing the Art. But I know that Ranma has been picking off dojos over the last few years like they were nothing. I guess Mr. Saotome here got a wake-up call in a big way…or he will, once he regains consciousness."

Kasumi just shook her head, wondering what was going on in Ranma's head since Akane had left him. She knew it had a stronger impact than Ranma would let on. "So, Auntie Saotome, where is Ranma now? I haven't seen him in a year and a half."

"He's at home right now watching TV as far as I know. Hopefully he'll still be there when I get home," Nodoka said in a flat tone.

"You're not going to lecture him, are you?" Dr. Tofu asked in a worried voice.

Nodoka gave Tofu a sharp glare, but then softened her features. "I have no intention on reprimanding my son on his actions. Genma had this coming for a long time. I am happy to see the martial artist that once was my son finally come out again. I just wish he wouldn't have been quite so vicious about it."

"Well, Mrs. Saotome, your husband should be just fine fairly soon. From what I can tell, he'll make a full recovery. However, I don't recommend he try fighting any more steamrollers in the form of a redheaded girl or a raven-haired boy any time soon," Dr. Tofu said with a neutral expression as he didn't really care much for Genma and the way he treated Ranma.

"Thank you, Dr. Tofu. Unfortunately, I'm afraid he will not be my husband much longer. I think it is finally time I did what I should have done years ago, going back to at least when I found out about that horrid Neko-ken training he put my child through," Nodoka said as she turned and left for home.

Half an hour later

Nodoka sat on the couch with her son, looking him in the eye. "Honey, please promise me you will get your temper under control. I don't want to see you do something you will regret one of these days," she said with genuine concern in her voice.

"I will try, Mom. I'm really sorry; I'm just tired of my life being such a mess. I mean, I got problems comin' out of the woodwork. Look, I'll go on a trip to clear my mind if that'll help ease your worry," Ranma said calmly.

Nodoka shook her head, looking to Ranma with a slight smile. "No, just promise me. I'll take you at your word. Please don't go on another journey, stick around for a little while. You have been traveling around for how long now? Five years off and on, and you're still not any closer to controlling your temper. In fact, I'm worried it's actually gotten worse."

"Alright, Mom. If it'll help you, then I promise. And I'll stick around, but I gotta go somewhere today. I'll be back around six o'clock in the evening," Ranma said to his mother, giving her a promise that he would always try to keep.

Nodoka pulled Ranma into her arms and hugged him tight. "Thank you, dear. I will have dinner ready when you return," she said warmly as Ranma returned her hug, finally happy to be sharing a bond of affection with his mother.

Hibiki residence, a few hours later

As Ranma made his way towards his friend's house, a slight shower triggered his curse, stopping as quickly as it came. Getting closer, she could hear the cries of the three children within the Hibiki home. Her heart lurched as she quickened her pace to a near sprint until she was at the door and opened it without knocking, a look of worry on her face.

Once inside, the crying was louder. She found Ryoga trying to calm the children down. Appearing stressed, he looked up to his visitor. "Ranma, I don't know what's wrong. They've been crying for hours."

Ranma tried to hide her concern. "Have you fed them?"

"Yeah, my Mom did, and, well, she left an hour ago on an errand, and…um, I am so lost with this," Ryoga said worriedly.

Ranma noticed some diapers sitting on the table by the couch. "Maybe you should check their diapers?" she said rather bluntly.

"Um, I, well…it's not something I'm used to. I mean, two of them are girls, and…" Ryoga trailed off, feeling out of his element.

Ranma let out a sigh as she stepped closer, smelling the stench. "You're their father, right? There is nothing wrong with changing a diaper when it comes to your kids."

"Could you, maybe, since you're a girl right now and all?" Ryoga asked, somewhat fidgety.

Ranma rolled her eyes as she walked over and grabbed the diaper pack. "And you think I would know any better?" she asked, opening it up and taking out three diapers.

"Well, you're a girl right now. Don't motherly instincts kick in or something?" Ryoga asked, trying to talk Ranma into doing him the favor.

Ranma shook her head, trying to conceal how close to the mark Ryoga's comment actually was. "Ryoga, just go make us some coffee, please. I'll deal with this," she said over the sound of the screaming infants.

Ryoga went to the kitchen, worrying over the children and hoping he had not made a mistake by letting Ranma change his kids' diapers.

Ranma sighed as she made sure Ryoga was finally out of the room. "Oh, calm down. Momma's here, no need to cry now," she spoke soothingly as she went to work changing the offending diapers with a speed and precision that seemed almost effortless.

Ryoga leaned against the wall, watching the coffee percolate. "Oh Kami-sama, how am I supposed to take care of these kids? I mean, I pawn them off on my friend the first chance I get. What a loser I must be," he muttered quietly to himself.

Just then, Nayomie walked in through the back door. Seeing Ryoga leaning against the wall, she was surprised at not hearing the children crying. "You okay, dear? I see you finally calmed them down."

"I, uh, well, apparently they needed changing. Ranma's in there right now with them," Ryoga said as he grabbed two mugs and filled them with coffee.

Nayomie pondered on this a moment before walking into the living room, where she saw Ranma cradling one of the children and singing a lullaby. "You sure have a way with children, don't you, Ranma?"

"Well, not really. Just doing a martial artist's duty and helping my friends with their problems, you know," Ranma said, shrugging her shoulders.

Nayomie smiled at Ranma. "That lullaby you were singing – where did you learn it?" she asked curiously.

"Well, I was with my Pops a long time ago, and happened across a sweet young lady who was caring for her child. She would sing that lullaby almost every day we were on the boat. I figured it would help with the kids here," Ranma explained, trying to hide the fact she had taught herself the song.

Nayomie quirked an eyebrow in surprise. "I've never heard that lullaby until now. Who is Saffron?"

"Uh, not sure. Like I said, she was singing it to her child. I think he might be some kind of emperor," Ranma answered, trying to mask her lie.

Nayomie studied the child in Ranma's arms along with Ranma herself. "Well, if you're staying long, I will have dinner ready in an hour."

"Thanks, but I'll be leaving soon. Just wanted to stop by and let Ryoga know I'm gonna be in town a lot more now days," Ranma said as she set Rei back into the crib with the other two children.

Ryoga walked in carrying the coffee and handed a cup to Ranma. "Here you go, black just like you like it," he said with a smile.

"Thanks Ryoga," Ranma said as she took a sip.

After a minute or two Ryoga's mother headed to the kitchen to get started on dinner, leaving them alone together.

"You sure got them quiet fast, Ranma. How did you manage it?" Ryoga asked, hopeful to learn her secret.

Ranma took another sip before answering. "Not really much. I just changed and cleaned them up. They quieted down pretty quickly after that," she explained in a nonchalant tone.

"Well, thanks for the save. I mean, I know they're not your kids, so it's not your responsibility. You didn't have to help, but I appreciate it," Ryoga said, gratitude in his voice.

Ranma's heart wrenched at Ryoga's words, but she tried to mask her pain. "It's no problem, really, Ryoga. You're a good friend to me, so this was nothin'," she said meekly, giving him a thin smile. "I wanted you to know I'll be sticking around for a while. Mom kinda talked me into it."

"Well, that's good to hear. I was kind of hoping you weren't gonna be gone for another year or more. I really miss our sparring sessions," Ryoga said, happy to hear his friend and rival wasn't going anywhere any time soon. Then he asked, "So, you and your mom getting along again?"

Ranma shrugged. "Yeah, for the time being, anyways. Time'll tell if she's serious or not about not tryin' to force my life anymore."

Setting her empty cup on the coffee table, Ranma looked to Ryoga. "Well, I hafta go for now. I promised my mom I would return around six for dinner," she said with a smile.

"You going to come by tomorrow, Ranma? I mean, I could help you get a job at my work. I'm sure the boss would overlook your curse," Ryoga said encouragingly.

Ranma gave him a slight smile. "I would, but I think I need to get settled back into Nerima for a while before I can really do that, ya know?" she said as she walked to the door. Pausing briefly, she opened it and left for home.

Ryoga looked to the children, who were sleeping contently. "You guys will calm down for him but not me? Why is that?" he asked, knowing they couldn't answer. He let out a light chuckle as he listened to Ranma's words in his head. '"You're their father, right? There is nothing wrong with changing a diaper when it comes to your kids."'

Halfway to home

Ranma continued her walk as she approached the slightly busy market. It was then that she noticed Tatewaki Kuno walking towards her while reading a book. 'I wonder what he's been up too these past few years?' she asked herself in wonderment. "Yo, Kuno! How ya been?"

Tatewaki looked up from his book in shock to see his beloved Pigtailed Girl standing there. "Pigtailed Girl! I am so happy, the heavens weep from longing for you," he proclaimed, thrilled to see her.

"Uh…heh. Yeah, whatever. Anyway, what've you been up to?" Ranma asked again in a slightly annoyed tone.

Tatewaki just smiled to his Redheaded Goddess. "Nothing too terribly exciting, I'm afraid. I was just on my way to my afternoon kendo class. They can wait for you, surely?" he asked in a kind tone.

"You their instructor, Kuno-sempai?" Ranma asked.

Tatewaki struck a pose pulling out his katana from its sheath to show off for his Goddess. "Yes, I am indeed their sensei. I started my dojo three years ago, a rather successful one, I might add. What about you? Your brother isn't forcing you to stay at home and clean for him all the time or anything as boorish as that, is he?" he asked, sounding concerned.

Ranma stared at him blankly for a minute before realizing he was referring to her male half. "No, it's nothing like that. I come and go as I choose; same with him," she explained, rather surprised she hadn't been glomped or anything by Kuno yet. She was sure it was only a matter of time. "Well, I gotta go. My mom wants me home around six. Maybe we'll meet again!" she shouted, not waiting for an answer as she hopped onto a nearby roof and headed for home.

Tatewaki stood there feeling awkward as he put his sword away walked off towards his dojo to teach his evening classes. 'That was rather abrupt,' he thought, shaking his head.

Notes: Well this is a story I thought up, and began writing.

I hope you have enjoyed this chapter reviews that are constructive are most appreciated.