Genma knelt alone in the silence of the dojo, his arms crossed over his chest and his head bowed. Inside the Tendou household, everyone rushed and bustled about, preparing the dwelling for tomorrows celebration. After all, it wasn't everyday that Ranma became a man. Well, actually it was, but that is besides the point.

     A week ago, Nodoka had mentioned that Ranma's birthday was approaching much to the shock of the Nerima residents. A year earlier, that day came and passed with not a word from Ranma. Confronting him, they discovered he didn't say anthing because he didn't know it was his birthday or even when it was. In fact, to his memory he never celebrated his birthday. To put it mildly, the females of Nerima were outraged and vowed to make Ranma's eighteenth birthday one he would never forget.

     All the while cursing the name of Saotome Genma. Just one more screwup to be laid at his feet. Nodoka wondered what had possessed her to let that man take her son from her all those years past.

     Finally, the rush began to slow and everyone turned in to rest for tomorrows event. No one noticed Genma's absence.

Another Branch part 1
By Darkness and Light(

Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2, Tenchi Muyo, one other anime, its characters, story and associated trademarks are properties of their respective owners. I in no way claim these characters as mine nor have I made money from it.

     "Happy Birthday Ranma!" Ranma grinned as looked around at everyones faces. Everyone had turned out, Hiroshi, Daisuke, Tsubasa, hell Nabiki even managed to track down Ryouga. As a strange turn of events everyone but the Kunos, who had been forcibly removed, had managed to be amazingly civil to one another, even Happosai. "Congradulations, Ranma." Akane smiled as she gazed into her fiance's eyes. Ranma leaned over and gently kissed her. Ever since the incident with Saffron and the failed wedding a year ago, Ranma and Akane had just gotten closer and closer. There hadn't been any official declaration of love, but then there had been no need for one. Everyone except Tatewaki and Kodachi had come to accept it in their own ways.

     Ryouga felt a surge of conflicting emotions as he watched his oft times rival and occasional friend kiss the woman he loved. The familiar flood of anger rushed through his veins. After all this time, he still was in love with Akane. His knuckles began to pop as his hand clenched into a fist. Automatically his arm began to cock back and his battle cry rose to his lips. He wanted nothing more then to smash it into Ranma's mouth, he just didn't deserve Akane.

     But slowly the muscles in his arm began to relax and his hand fell back to his side. No, he couldn't do it, he couldn't fool himself any longer. Akane loved Ranma with all her heart and nothing he did could change that. He never really had a chance, he was nothing more then a friend and she belonged to Ranma from the very beginning. But although his mind accepted reality, his heart still didn't. A part of it would always belong to Akane.

     He was jerked back to reality as a soft warm hand wrapped itself around his own callused one. He smiled as he turned to gaze into a pair of dark brown eyes. "Uh, Akari...I was just...I wouldn't" A slim finger was pressed to his lips, silencing him. "Don't worry Ryouga, it's alright. I understand" said Akari, a small sad smile marring her otherwise perfect features. Ryouga felt a twinge of guilt as he looked at her. She always been so understanding, first of his curse, then his sense of direction and now his unrequited love for Akane. If there was anyone who was undeserving of love, it was him not Ranma. Akari was so sweet and gentle, she deserved to have someone who would place her first in their heart. He sighed wearily as she cuddled up to him and clumsily put an arm around her shoulder. Well, things could be worse.

     Mousse sighed wearily as he picked himself off the ground and dusted off his white robe. Well, things could be worse. He stared longingly at Shampoo who was continuing to ignore him. He hung his head and sighed once more. He had been so sure the once Saotome was out of the way, Shampoo would realize they were destined to be together and marry him. But even after Ranma chose the Tendou girl, Shampoo continued to reject him.

     Each rejection only fueled his desire and fanned the flames of his heart. But it was hopeless. Every attempt to win her hand, every gesture of his love only drove her farther and farther away.

     Ranma gasped as he was suddenly glomped from behind. He stiffened but slowly relaxed when he recognized his mother's rather distinctive grip. Well, as much as it was possible to relax while his lungs were being crushed. Years of practice with the family sword had built up her strength until he was sure she could go a couple rounds with Ryouga. Ranma would swear that he could hear his ribs begining to creak.

     Nodoka sobbed joyfully as he clutched her only child. "Oh my son, your mother is so proud of how manly you are!" Ranma managed a gurgle that Akane thought was a reply. "Um, Aun... I mean, Mother?" A few months earlier, Nodoka had noticed the change in attitudes between Ranma and her. Since then, she had insisted that she call her Mother, but Akane was still getting used to the idea. Nodoka would have no other answer. She just knew those two would do her proud. Even when they were doing the Ranko routine she had seen the spark of interaction that created the best of friends or closest of lovers. She sighed wistfully as raven haired, blue eyed grandchildren ran through the fields of her mind.

     "Yes Akane, What is it?" said Nodoka gazing at her future daughter-in-law fondly. "Maybe you should let go of Ranma so he can breathe." Nodoka blushed deeply and hurriedly released him. "I'm sorry Ranma, are you alright?" she said concerned and embarrassed at the same time.

     Ranma coughed weakly then gave a sickly grin. "Never better." Akane rolled her eyes and turned away from Ranma to hide her growing grin. Far be it from Ranma to admit that his mother had him down and almost out. Her vision drifted until it encountered the approaching form of Mr. Saotome. Akane glared at him and silently warned him away with her thoughts. If that panda takes one step this way..."

     Perhaps sensing the her unspoken thoughts, Genma turned and shuffled into the corner where Happosai and Dad were speaking in hushed tones. Akanes hands began to spasmodically open and close. One day he would push her too far.

     She jumped as a hand settled on her right shoulder. She spun around and saw Ranma, who had a apologetic grin on his face. "Yo Akane, Mom has something she wants to announce. Lets go get everyone."

     Akane felt her heart skip a beat and her mind freeze. Of course, it all passed over Ranma's head and he departed leaving Akane with her thoughts. This is what she had been dreading over the past few weeks. About a month ago, the construction of the Saotome household had been completed. Since then she was afraid that Ranma would be taken from her. Now it seemed that her fears would be coming true.

     Saotome Nodoka was the image of peace and tranquility as the residents of Nerima gathered around her. Ranma glanced over at Akane and gave her an encouraging smile and squeezed her hand. She must be more disturbed then she thought if Ranma of all people noticed it. She squeezed him hand back as Nodoka began to speak.

     "Thank you all for coming. As you all know, twelve years ago, Genma took Ranma on their ten year training trip. You also know about the many mistakes my husband made." She halted her speech as several members of her audience glared at Genma. Surprisingly he took it with an uncharacteristic stoicism.

      "But that is not what why I've gathered all of you together now." Nodoka continued. "Since Genma has trained Ranma in his family art for ten years, it is only fair that Ranma should now learn mine." Ranma blinked in surprise. Now that he hadn't been expecting.

     Oblivious to Ranma's discomfort, Nodoka forged onward. "And to that end, I've invited someone to live with me to begin Ranma's training." She rose to her feet gracefully and slid the dojo door open to reveal a grey haired old man with wire rim spectacles.

     "I would like you to meet my father, Masaki Katsuhito.

     Akane felt air rush out of her lungs from a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. Training. Thats all it was, just more training. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She stole a glance at Ranma's face. There it was, that mix of desire and eager anticipation. Ranma was Ranma and that wild stallion would never be entirely broken.

     Genma shook his head violently. From his position on the floor, he      Stubbornly, Genma continued to speak over their voices. ". . .it is my duty to train Ranma in . I must..." Nodoka swiftly cut him of with words edged with steel. "Husband, you will say no more tonight. Don't embarrase yourself any further."

           "What you talking stupid panda man, Ranma no need thief for ancestors." "Warriors of Jurai are too too powerful." "Genma, don't make a greater fool of yourself then you already have!" Genma ignored his distressed wife and stared Ranma in the eye. Ranma glared straight back at him. "Don't take this personally old man, I'll try not to hurt you too much," Ranma said, cracking his knuckled in anticipation. Swiftly, he fell into a loose stance and watched his father with guarded eyes.

     Genma smiled. Then the world exploded into light.

(Will continue when I have time)