Changes of the Sword Edit

People oft wonder about me. The way I dress, the way I act, the way I speak.

Gods, even I wonder about myself. I wasn't always like this. I was once a normal boy. I had the desires of the normal boy. I wanted the newest toy on the market. I wanted to be the first on my block. I played video games, I even had friends.

And then, it happened. It was so sudden that it didn't start taking its effect upon me for some time. Nearly a month.

The death of my mother hit my father first. He was silent for weeks, not speaking a word. And then suddenly, he was gone. I had returned from school to find that he had left for Hawaii, leaving my sister and I in the care of the servants.

My sister was the second casualty. I saw a change in her as I'd never seen. She used to be a pleasant girl. Fighting over the affections of boys in her class, drawing pretty hearts on her schoolwork.

But soon, she drew roses. Not red or pink, as one would expect from a girl, but black. Black roses, as dark as the night. It took her two months for her personality to make the transition from a sweet, twelve year old school girl, to the Black Rose. What was before a mere hobby then became her life.

She had always enjoyed gymnastics. It often pleased me to watch her practice her routine. To smile with pride as she successfully completed a complicated manoeuvre, and to laugh boyishly when she would fall down.

It soon became torture. She started to live her hobby. Her gymnastics were everything, and she would stop at nothing to win. I've often been frightened of her taking things to far, even to the point of injury, or death.

I could never pinpoint the exact moment she turned that cold, from such a warm, caring individual. I could never understand why she turned. When she started regarding me with silence, and wearing a leotard under her school uniform daily, I left in search of my own resolution.

It was around that time when I realized the friends I had, the ones I played with daily. My friends who would cheer me up when I was sad, and be happy when I was happy were no longer with me.

They hadn't left. Not in the physical sense, but they were gone from me. I had pushed them away after the death of my mother, when I didn't even realize what I was doing.

There was nothing for me any longer. I had to keep ahold of my sanity for as long as I could.

And so, Tatchi Kuno, at age fourteen, became Tatewaki Kuno, rising star of the Kendo world.

Kendo soon became my life, as Gymnastics had with my sister. Of course, I had never let it progress so far in my mind as she had. I could still hold on to some of my sanity.

I say some. Yes, I know I am not completely sane. No man is, but I more than others.

I was sixteen when I met Akane Tendo. It had been my first year at Furinkan High, and Akane was taking a tour with students from her Junior High School. I had introduced myself to her. She seemed disinterested at first, but I kept on her.

Akane, I remember how beautiful she was with her long hair. How it bounced with her as she ran. Her gracefulness as she fought off the hordes of students fighting for her affection.

I realized what I had done. But I believed my affections for her would overcome that. I was wrong.

It was soon after my second year at Furinkan, that he arrived.

The demon. Ranma Saotome. I wish I could have seen him for what he really was at the beginning, but I was too blinded. Both by Akane Tendo, and soon later, the pig-tailed girl.

I see now what he is though. Ranma Saotome is no demon. He is an honourable man, willing to fight for what he believes in.

And he doesn't like me.

That isn't completely true, I suppose. I think he harboured some feelings of friendship. How he helped me when my sister had stolen my 'album'. When he cheered for me when Mariko was expressing her affections.

Had I known he was the pig-tailed girl from the beginning, a friendship could have been salvaged. But now, after all I've done to him, it's impossible. There is always the chance of acquaintances, but no more than that.

Ranma Saotome sees me as an annoyance.

As does Akane Tendo.

They see me as more than that now.

I look back upon the last few years of my life, and I feel helpless. There is nothing I can change. When I had the chance to change something, I did not. Call it fear, call it insanity rising from the quarries of my soul, but I gave up the chance. The wishing sword. And all I had to show for it was a simple date with a MAN.

It took me a long time to realize it. Ranma Saotome and the pig-tailed girl were the same person. It happened shortly after the first failed wedding. After coming home triumphant from stopping the wedding, I had retired to my chamber. The next morning, I was dead-set to teach Ranma Saotome a lesson.

I was so dead-set, that I brought my katana.

That day was the worst of my life.

That was the day of my dishonour. The day that led up to this one.

If I had not been so blind to see that I had caused the wound upon Akane's arm myself, I could have saved dishonour. Not all of it, but most. For it was what I had done next that had ruined everything.

I was blind with rage. I had truly believed in my heart that Ranma had caused the wound as retaliation for what had happened the day before.

I attacked. I attacked with rage and fury as I've never had before.

And Ranma was good enough to block, but luck may smile upon anyone. And it did upon me. The negative luck, for both parties.

The sword cut deep into his stomach. It had missed all major organs, thankfully. He would live, but the scar would always be there. Weeks after the incident, he would be as active as he was the day before, with all the ability plus even more.

But there was still the scar. The scar *I* had caused. The sword *I* plunged into him. The dishonour *I* had brought upon myself.

And then he had fallen into the pool. He staggered there, with the blood pouring from him. And then I had seen. And then I had understood.

It was after I had confirmation that he would live that I left, never to see them again.

And it leads up to this day. The day that I kneel here, in my family Dojo. My pen in hand, my tanto before me, and my sister behind.

And now it happens. Now I save the name of the Kuno family, and now I take that which should never have existed in the first place.

Now is the day that all shall find out. Tatewaki Kuno never existed. Nor did Tatchi Kuno, the carefree youth.

The Black Rose may one day find herself in my position. Who would mediate, I wonder? Perhaps father. No. He wouldn't. His mind has long since been lost.

It matters not now.

I pick up the tanto and ready myself before the family altar.

I can hear my sister behind me. Her breathing seems laboured, but she knows what to do after I've done what must be.

I place the tanto to my stomach. I can feel the tears of helplessness streaming from my eyes. I can feel my gut clenching in disgust at what is about to happen.

But there is something else. Butterflies? Am I nervous to soon be joining the afterdeath? What does it matter. I strengthen my arms and look towards the altar.

And in one swift movement, it is done. I can feel the warmth spreading out against my lower half as it seeps out from inside of me. I can feel... body parts escaping from the bloody hole I had made.

Intestines. I am holding my intestines.

It doesn't hurt. I cry loudly, but I feel no physical pain. But I want it to be over. Gods, I want it to be over. My sister should have finished it by this time.

I look back briefly. I see my sister, her eyes streaming with tears. For a brief moment, I could see Kodachi. Not the Black Rose, but Kodachi. My real sister. The one that had died years ago.

She then looked at me, and she said something. I could hear nothing over the sound of my own heart, but she said something. Something of meaning.

And then she clenched the sword, and pulled it up. She closed her eyes tightly, and then swung in a wide arc.

Though I could feel the pain as the katana entered my neck, it didn't matter. It was over. Tatewaki Kuno was no more, nor had he ever been. The honour of the Kuno family was saved. For now.

And I look back upon my life, and I cry. I look back upon myself, my dead body lying on the floor of my family Dojo, and I smile. I smile, content in the knowledge that my dishonour has been repaid. My dishonour would never again resurface.

And I look before me, hanging in limbo in the afterdeath. I see roads to take, and tracks to cover.

I sit in wait for a resolution that would never come. For the fates to tell me, 'Tatewaki, you have served your purpose.' But it won't happen. I know. I know now, and I knew then.

I could have different. I could have been a friend. I could have been an ally. I could have been loved by someone.

But now, I sit. Loved by no one. I sit in the dark, and can do nothing but contemplate.

I sit for eternity, only wondering what could have been different.

But nothing changes.

Changes of the Rose Edit

People have wondered about me. It was not until recently that I had realized why, but they had.

Perhaps it was soon after my brothers death. Perhaps it was during. Who knows? The point remains, that it happened.

The Black Rose had died, and only Kodachi Kuno remained.

The events leading to the death of my brother belong in another story, this however, is mine.

Long ago, in a much quieter neighbourhood than this, there lived a family. A family of one mother, one father, one sister and one brother.

Surprising how little it takes to send all of that crashing down.

There was something different about me. Seperate from the tortures both my father and brother had endured. I was the youngest in the family. I had lost my mother at the age of twelve, but it didn't hit me until months later. Months later, when The Black Rose came to surface.

I don't really know how it started, per se. It just happened. Piece by piece, Kodachi Kuno was becoming non- existant, until the eventual point where The Black Rose had taken complete control.

Soon afterwards, I lost my brother to the madness. Little did I know then, that the madness would consume him.

The day that The Black Rose met Ranma Saotome was actually the re-emergence of Kodachi. Most people believe Kodachi returned after the shock of losing a brother to Seppuku of all things. No. In a Black Rose state of mind, Kodachi Kuno latched on to Ranma Saotome. I saw him as an escape. The only way to rid myself of The Black Rose, but The Black Rose was the one who had latched onto him in the first place.

Years had passed before Kodachi had completely returned.

I do believe that Ranma was the trigger, but I believe the death of my brother was the explosion. I can still remember holding the sword in my hand, hesitating for a moment, nearly ready to drop the sword, cradle my brother in my arms and hope he would live.

But it was too late. I had promised my brother. And I believe I did him a favour. He would not have lived much longer before he had taken his full life by his own hand.

And I saved him the dishonour of doing so. I can vividly remember the feeling of the family katana passing through the flesh of his neck and throat. I can still hear the grotesque thump as his head had hit the floor. I can still feel the blood on my hand and face.

And then the police arrived. It was something I would to preferred not to have dealt with, but it had to be done. And it was.

Tatewaki Kuno had never existed.

Oh but he did. And he still does, in the heart of Kodachi Kuno. Not the Black Rose. Not the evil botanist woman that Kodachi once was, but Kodachi herself.

I will always remember my brother.

Years have passed since that incident. Ranma and Akane often visit me, to share old times. I can see the sadness in both of them whenever Tatewaki's name was brought up.

I bear them no ill will. Tatewaki took his life by his own choice, and they were the ones dishonoured by he. I see them as friends. They see me similiarly.

But they come, they visit. Akane is pregnant now, after being married for two years. It's about time, I must say. Since I had accepted the loss of Ranma--... No, wait. Not a loss. I never had him to begin with.

Once I had accepted their feelings for one another, I found it remarkably easy to feel good for them. To hope for their lives to take a better turn than I or my brothers did.

Years have passed, and I still find myself longing for something. I don't know if I will ever understand what that something could be, but I hope I will. And I hope some day I can fill that void.

I think the void is Tatewaki, to tell the truth. I can always guess, but never identify.

From time to time, I can feel The Black Rose

returning. My solitude seems to bring her back. Just last month, I found myself laughing maniacly... THAT laugh, at my own face in the mirror.

I had to return to the hospital after that. I just got back yesterday.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not forced to go to the hospital. I go of my own free will. I know I will never be truly rid of The Black Rose, but I can suppress her. I can prevent her from ever taking dominance over the life of Kodachi Kuno again.

And apparently, as I've found out yesterday, there are others. Friends that are willing to help.

Had I known that the people in my life were so caring, so thoughtful, I would have never let The Black Rose take control.

Yesterday, Akane visited me in the hospital. Ranma, as well. We had a nice cup of tea and talked of things. Of everything.

We spoke of Akane's pregnancy. The baby was kicking, I heard.

We spoke of the latest quest to find a 'cure' for Ranma's curse. It's funny. I don't see it as a curse, in any respect. I see it as a blessing. But then, that would be my opinion.

And finally, we spoke of me. We spoke of my progress in the hospital, and we spoke of the regressions I suffer at home.

And then, they offered. They offered me something that nobody, not even my servants or doctors have ever offered me.

They offered me a home. A real home, with a real family. To live with friends as though they were family.

The eldest Tendo daughters had long since moved from the Tendo home. That meant two empty rooms. One was being transformed into a nursery, and the other... was offered to me.

I was speechless. Here, the two people I found I cared most about in the world offered me a home. A real home, after all I'd done to them.

My mind often wanders on me. Some parts tell me it's merely pity. But it didn't stop me from accepting.

And accept it, I did. And I soon found that the void in my life was feeling more full.

They were accepting me. Kodachi Kuno, into their family.

That brings me to where I am now. I pick up the last of my things from my bedroom, and then walk out the door. That would be the last time I ever set foot in it.

And now, I walk towards the front entrance, ready to leave the home I've lived in for all my life.

And then, one of the servants attract my attention. He runs up to me, holding something in his hand.

"Mistress Kodachi!" He yells. "You forgot this!"

I am content in the fact that the servants will not become unemployed. My father still lives at the mansion, and he has more use for the servants. He has sinced regained his sanity after Tatewaki's death.

I soon recognize the object in the servants hand.

It is my ribbon. My old gymnastics ribbon.

I sigh as I speak. "I have no need of it," I tell him. "Return it to the room, and place it next to the other reminders. In one day, take all that is in that room and place it in the yard."

The servant looked confused for a moment.

"Burn it. All of it."

I turn away, and continue walking. To my new home. A home I feel I can remain happy in.

Auntie Kodachi The little ones would call me. Who knows, perhaps some day I would bear little ones of my own.

But, although the doctors say I will never be rid of The Black Rose, I feel hopeful, that through friendship and family. My new family, that one of those 'medical miracles' would happen.

I walk down the road to my new home, and I cry. Not from grief, but happiness. And I cry even harder once I realize, that I have never once cried from happiness.

I am Kodachi Kuno. I am no longer alone.

Changes of the Heart Edit

It's late. Oh Gods it's late. I don't want this to happen now. Not now, in the middle of the night. I wanted it to happen during the day.

But it's not happening like that. And now I sit here, preparing for the worst. I forget who told me that. Always prepare for the worst, and the best will happen.

But as it is, I sit here, in bed next to Ranma... My husband.

And I'm in labour.

It didn't take much to wake him up. I shook him a little first, but after getting no response, I crammed my elbow into his side.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hurt him on a regular basis! At least, not anymore. I wouldn't be doing this to him if I didn't already know he could take it.

It's funny. The man has endurance the likes nobody has ever seen, fine honed martial artist skills. Enough strength to toss a bulldozer down the street... And he won't even wake up when elbowed in the side.

So I just said two words. 'It's time.'

I've never seen Ranma move so fast. He was up, and halfway out the door to the hospital when he remembered the most important thing. Me.

On our way down the stairs, Ranma made a stop by Kodachi's room. I had wanted her to be there for the birth of my child. After all she'd been through, it was the least we could do.

She was already awake apparently. I didn't dare wake my father up, knowing full well of the help he would bring to the situation, which is to say, none. Sure, he would be angry in the morning, but he would forgive us.

And now, we're out the door. One of the perks of living with Kodachi was the car. Before, Ranma and I had to walk everywhere we went, but as a gift, Kodachi bought us the car.

Actually no. It was her car, even if she refused to admit it. She drove it, while Ranma and I walked. But this night, it was imperative that we drive.

And then Kodachi was at the wheel, and Ranma was in the back seat, going through the breathing exercises with me.

Hee hee hee hoo. Hee hee hee hoo. It's ridiculous, really. Like breathing in a different way was going to ease the pain. But I suppose it made Ranma feel more helpful. More comfortable with what was about to happen.

I remember the entire courting ritual the both of us went through years ago. I think I finally admitted to myself that I loved him after... after Jusendo.

It was actually at Jusendo when I found he cared for me. I found I cared for him before that. But the problem with real life, is that there are always complications. At that time, the complication was a winged kid-turned-adult named Saffron.

Oh, and did I mention I was turned into a doll? No, not the time I switched bodies with a haunted doll, this time was different. I was the doll. All the water in my body had dissipated, and I was beginning to die.

If it weren't for Ranma, I would have. It was that simple. He turned the dragon tap with his Hiryu Gyoten Ha, and we were both encased in ice-cold water.

And he was female, and I was human again. I guess you could call it an aftereffect of the dehydration, but I couldn't move for several moments. In fact, I thought I was dead until I managed to reach up and stroke his face.

And then we came home, and then there was the wedding. And then there wasn't. The failed wedding is another story altogether, but what happened the next day was a harsh reminder of reality.

If I ever once truly hated someone, if anyone, it was on that day. I suppose I shouldn't think that way about the dead, but my anger was blinding me at the time.

It was so sudden. One minute, I was running to school with Ranma, and the next minute, we're both on the school grounds, being attacked by K--... By Tatewaki.

Apparently I had taken him off-guard when I tried to disarm him. I couldn't believe he brought his katana to school. It was bad enough that he brought it to the wedding, but the school?

Trying to disarm him had been a mistake. I cried out in pain and he turned around. He looked at me and saw the cut wound on my arm, and automatically assumed the worse.

He assumed Ranma had done it.

And then he attacked Ranma.

I suppose it's not completely his fault. Sometimes I blame myself for it, and I know Ranma blames himself. He should have been able to block it more effectively. But there's only so much one can do to defend himself against cold steel, when all you have is flesh protecting you.

And then it happened. Tatewaki had plunged the sword into his stomach. Ranma Saotome, the man who had fought a god and lived. Ranma Saotome, who rescued me from the Yamata no Orochi at Ryugenzawa. Ranma Saotome, who had successfully received the cure for the curse-locking ladle, had been stabbed in the gut.

And then he fell into the pool.

I don't know what possessed me to jump in after him. I knew I couldn't swim, and my arm hurt like you wouldn't believe, but I dove in after him.

And I managed to pull him to the surface.

I pulled him onto the concrete and checked his pulse. It was there, but faint. He wasn't even breathing.

I was almost certain he was going to die.

I did the only thing I could do. The thing I had learned from a special class I had once taken at the hospital.

I gave Ranma Saotome mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

I ripped off his shirt as fast as I could. I briefly noticed that he was a she, but that didn't matter.

Yuka was staring at us horrifically. She took the class with me, she would know what to do. I called her over, and she head Ranma's head still, lifting the front of her jaw up so as to allow free access to her airway, she kept it still.

I mapped my fingers on his--her chest. Right where the rib bones meet, and then placed the heel of my hand between her breasts, just above where I had mapped my fingers, and compressed.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

One. Two. Three. Four. Ten.

One. Two. Three. Four. Fifteen.

Switch positions. I pinched her nose and clamped my mouth over hers.

I blew. One. Two. Three. Four.

No success. I had to try again. I knew I did. Even though I recalled the statistics.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation only has a ten percent success rate.

And so I went through the motions again. Mapping. Compressing. Breathing.

And then I got a reaction.

She coughed, and vomited water.

And all I could do was cry.

She remained silent for a long time, until the ambulance arrived. The paramedic confirmed my hopes. Ranma would live, and then we went into the ambulance together.

I still remember what he said to me. 'I feel like a Gorilla was pounding on my chest.'

And I laughed. I laughed as I cried, and then I hugged him.

And he hugged me back.

And then I looked at him, my eyes meeting his. Hers, actually.

And we shared our first kiss. I didn't care that he was a girl at the time. He was a man underneath. He was a man the whole way.

Ranma Saotome the man I loved.

Of course, that didn't stop the paramedic in the back with us from giving us strange looks.

The next day, Ranma was released from the hospital, and three days later, we heard the news.

Ranma was still somewhat weak when we found out. It was actually me that found out. At the school. Nabiki had come to the class looking rather somber, and attracted my attention.

And then she told me.

Tatewaki Kuno was dead. He had committed Seppuku the night before.

And it wasn't long before I had regretted every bad thing I had said about him in the past few days before that.

Nabiki was hit harder than I was. I found out that she truly had cared for him, not just as a business associate, but truly CARED.

And then I saw how much at his funeral.

That's right. He had a funeral. Usually that wasn't how things went when one committed Seppuku. They were supposed to be forgotten, not remembered.

But Tatewaki was remembered. All of us were there. I was even surprised to see Happosai and Cologne attend. Why Cologne attended, I had no idea at the time. But afterwards, I found out.

Cologne had come to say goodbye. Shampoo as well.

Apparently she heard from Shampoo what had happened at Jusendo, and made the decision.

Those Joketsuzoku loopholes were funny things. They creep up on you from nowhere. Apparently, if Ranma was in love with another, the Kiss of Marriage becomes completely null and void.

And so Shampoo left without another word. She went back to China.

Funny thing, though. Because we kept in contact. Shampoo would write letters. Her Japanese is improving a lot. Apparently, she plans to visit again some day.

Ukyou seemed to take the news well, too. It was apparent that she had long since accepted the fact that Ranma would have chosen me.

And all Ukyou did was smile. And nod. She's still around, surprisingly. I thought for sure that we had hurt her, but she's strong. Sometimes I see the longing gaze in her eyes as she looks at Ranma, but that's long since been gone. Since she had better things to worry about.

Her own husband.

The funny thing was, Konatsu looked good in a wedding dress.

It's a good thing Ukyou made him change, or else the Priest would have walked out right then and there.

And now they live together above the Ucchan. Man and Wife. I suppose someday they'll move to a larger place. After all, if they plan to have children some day, they should be raised in a home, not a business.

But I'm happy for them anyway. I'm also happy that though we were, in essence, competing for the affections of the same man, we remained friends through to the end.

And so we were. Ukyou Kuonji was my friend. And Ranma's friend.

I still think the only reason Ranma eats there is because of the discounts he gets on meals.

Then there was Ryouga.

That is a story in and of itself. Had I known from the beginning who 'P-Chan' really was, I'd have gone haywire on him.

But when I found out, Ranma, of all people, protected him.

Protected him from me.

As I've found out, Ranma has his reasons for everything. His reason for not telling me about Ryouga was a promise. A promise that I blamed him for.

That was our first real fight. We had almost separated after that.

But we didn't. We didn't because I realized that in the same position, I would have done exactly what he did.

My perspective of Ryouga changed after that. Before what I saw as a kind, sweet, caring and sometimes senseless individual, I saw as a pervert.

But now... I don't know. He and Akari visit often, But Ryouga still gets edgy whenever he's in the same room as me. In fact, the only time we make eye contact is when we're in the middle of a talk, with Ranma and Akari in the room too.

But I'm not mad at him anymore. My perspective of him has changed, but I'm no longer mad. I look back, and I realize while I would not have done the same thing, there were factors that were my fault completely.

When I first found him, he tried to escape. But *I* was the one who held him close. And then he saw me as a way to get back at Ranma.

I don't know if he actually did care for me, or it was an infatuation. Either way, I'm somewhat flattered.

And I'm proud of Ranma. For protecting his friend, no matter what he had done. No matter how much it had hurt him, he protected Ryouga.

And then, after that one event, we were married.

We could wait no longer. Everyone else was out of the way, so to speak, and it seemed the right time.

A year after Tatewaki's death, we married.

And I haven't had a regret since.

Last year, we saw Kodachi. She didn't notice us at first, but when she did, she swiftly started to move away.

It confused us at first. Kodachi, who was really so forward towards Ranma, ran away from us.

We had ourselves a little investigation.

It didn't take us long to put two and two together, and figure things out. Nabiki had even been more than willing to help us out. She had found out of the hospital.

The hospital. Hell, she had even gotten us records.

And then our hearts went out to her. Of the torture she endured after her mother's death. Worse than I ever could have imagined after my own mother's death. And then her brother's death didn't help things at all.

Then we read about The Black Rose.

We found out who she really was, and who Kodachi was.

And we did the only thing we could do. We became her friends.

And she became ours.

And then we received the news from Doctor Tofu.

I was pregnant.

Nabiki had moved out three months later, and left her room to us. We decided to turn it into a nursery.

Which left Kasumi's room.

I had since moved out of my room, and now lived in the old 'guest room' with Ranma. Ranma's father had in turn moved to Auntie Nodoka's place.

Happosai still lived downstairs.

Which left two empty bedrooms.

My old room, and Kasumi's.

So it came time to make an important decision.

It was actually my idea to invite Kodachi to live with us. She had not shown any signs of hostility since before her brother died, and living in that big house with nobody but her servants couldn't be healthy for her.

She didn't have friends at all, and Ranma and I were determined to fix that.

So we invited her into our home. Some people thought it was a mistake. That it would make her old feelings about Ranma resurface, but we weren't worried about that. I love Ranma, and he loves me. Of all things, I'm not worried about losing him to someone else.

So she moved into my old room.

And here we are, months later, driving like a bat out of hell to the hospital.

It turned out Kodachi was as nervous as Ranma, if not more.

"Kodachi," I said, "I think we want to arrive at the hospital in one piece."

Kodachi blinked, and then nodded. I had to laugh at that. She looked almost comical at the wheel, with her eyes wired open.

And within minutes, we were there.

After another minute, they determined I was in true labour, and I was already dilated by 6 centimeters.

They had to force my water to break. For some reason, it wouldn't break on it's own, and after that, it was all downhill.

It took three hours for our first child to be born. Both Ranma and Kodachi helped me through the entire thing. Ranma with his breathing, and Kodachi with her comical ramblings.

It's strange. I'd never have expected the old Kodachi to act in such a way, but this Kodachi, the real Kodachi did. And I appreciated it.

Even when she fainted, and Ranma had to wake her up.

And now, both of them are beside me, looking into the eyes of the first child of the Saotomes. It was a boy.

And I know Kodachi will appreciate this.

I look at Ranma and smile. He nods his assent, and I begin to speak.

"I think he should be named after someone we remember, and miss."

Ranma nodded. Kodachi remained silent.

"Kodachi, Ranma and I have discussed this, and we think that the boy should be named... Tatewaki."

And Kodachi was still silent. Speechless was more like it. But when I saw the tears well up in her eyes, I knew. I knew we had made her happy, and for some reason, making Kodachi happy was as important to us as our relationship.

Three years ago, I never would have taken this much pleasure in making her happy. But now I do.

It's strange how we all go through changes.

Changes of the Yen Edit

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was hardly possible, but there he was, right in front of me. At least, it looked like him, if not for the whole skin colour issue.

But there he was, a foreigner-- American, I'd assume, that looked almost exactly like... him. The one who had been lost to us for almost six years... He stood the same way, had the same hair, even the same look in his eyes.

'Ms. Tendo?' the psuedo-Kuno asked.

'Err. Yes,' I replied. 'Sorry.'

'My name is Timothy Klewachuck, I'm with RBC,' he said.

Oh, right. I was supposed to speak to a representive from the Royal Bank of Canada today. Still, the man sitting in front of me bore an amazing resemblance to... Dammit, why can't I just say his name?

Kuno. The man looked like Tatewaki Kuno.

'Yes,' I said. 'Please have a seat.'

I had been working with the JBIC (Japanese Bank for International Cooperation) ever since I got out of Business School last year.

'I seem to have caught you at a disadvantage?' Timothy asked, in near-perfect Japanese.

I shook my head. 'I'm sorry, it's just that... you look like someone I used to know.'

'I tend to get that a lot,' he replied.

I looked at him. 'Really?'

He laughed. 'No, not really.'

I smiled. 'Well, then. Should we get to business?'

'Indeed,' he said. I felt a chill spread through me as he said it. The intonations, the way he said it... was exactly the way Tatewaki did. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, which wasn't a normal thing. The last time I felt uncomfortable... was graduation day, six years ago. The day when I walked onto the stage to accept my graduation from high school... without Tatewaki.

'Well,' I said, shaking off the feeling. Weakness was not something you showed in my world, weakness meant giving your opponent the advantage. In many ways, my world was exactly the same as Ranma's. Winners were awarded in money and promotions, while losers were sometimes awarded with permenent trips to the mail room.

The meeting went as planned. We traded the information we were allowed to trade-- each of us keeping minor details to ourselves, until the end of the meeting, when another uncomfortable moment came between us.

The intercom buzzed.

'Ms. Tendo?' Kimiko, my secretary asked. 'You have a call from your sister.'

My sister? I was confused. I haven't spoken to anyone from my family in months. Why... why now?

'I should probably let you take that,' Timothy said. 'It's been nice meeting you, Ms. Tendo.'

'No, please,' I said. 'Stay just a little longer, this call won't take very long.'

Why did I say that? What possessed me to... show that kind of weakness?

Shaking it off, I picked up the phone.


'Nabiki? It's Akane.'

'Hello, sister,' I said, very formally. I had been so detached from my family since Business School that it seemed natural to refer to her as such.

'How are things doing?' she asked.

'Fine, fine. I'm actually in the middle of something right now, so you'll have to make this quick, Akane.'

There was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone. I was about to say something else, but Akane finally replied.

'Look, it's... it's Tatewaki's birthday on Saturday, and we're looking to make it a reunion of sorts. We were kind of hoping you could make it.'

A reunion? I knew that Tatewaki's third birthday was coming up, but I hadn't really thought much of it. After all, I hadn't been very close to my nephew. It just wasn't something I was expecting.

'Nabiki? Hello?' Akane asked.

'Yes... well... I'll have to get back to you on that, Akane,' I said, unsure of how else to reply.

'Great, then we'll see you there!' Akane said, happily. 'Are you going to bring a date?'

'Akane, I don't think that's appropriate of you to ask.' Of course I wouldn't bring a date-- who WOULD I bring? 'Anyway, I'm with a client right now. I should let you go.'

'Okay, I'll give you a call on Friday. Make sure you come, sis.'

'We'll see, Akane.'

With that, I hung up.

'Sorry about that,' I said.

'Oh, it's quite all right,' Timothy replied. 'Listen, don't think me too forward for this but... I am quite new to Japan, and I'm here until next weekend, so I was wondering if you wanted to... well, hook up with me after work, or possibly on the weekend.'

I paused. 'You speak the language so well. You haven't actually been here before?'

'My family hosted a lot of exchange students over the years. They introduced me to anime, and I took Japanese courses in college.'

I smiled. Now here was a situation. Timothy was obviously attractive-- but his resemblanced to Kuno-ch... to Tatewaki was uncanny. But it wasn't really possible.

'Not that I'm uninterested, Timothy, but I'm busy all week after work,' I replied.

Timothy nodded. 'Understood,' he said. 'It's been nice meeting you then, Ms. Tendo.'

'But--' I added. 'There is this thing... a family thing on the weekend. It's my nephews birthday... If you'd like to accompany me to that.'

Timothy smiled. 'It would be my pleasure, Ms. Tendo.'

'Nabiki,' I said, smiling at him. 'You can call me Nabiki.'

He smiled again. 'I'll be in touch with you soon, then,' he said, and then turned to leave.

I watched him leave and sat in complete silence for a few minutes. Then I swivelled my chair around and looked out my window into the city.

Perhaps it was nothing, but perhaps it was... something. I guess anything can change over time... Even an Ice Queen like myself...

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