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WFY Chapter 7: Aftermath

Waiting For You
A Ranma 1/2 Fanfic By Stiffanie Flores

Disclaimer : Ranma 1/2 and all characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi. This fanfic is written for enjoyment and self-fulfillment purposes only.

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Sorry I never told you
      All I wanted to say
Now it's too late to hold you
      'Cause you've flown away
           So far away...

Never have I imagined
      Living without your smile
Feeling, knowing you're here with me
      It keeps me alive

Darling, I never showed you
      Assumed you'd always be there
I took your presence for granted
      But I've always cared
           And I miss the love we shared...

Sorry I never told you
      All I wanted to say...

- One Sweet Day

They all sat around the dining table - Kasumi, Nabiki, Soun, Ryouga, Shinnosuke, and Genma.

All were quiet as they sipped their tea. For once, Soun was noticeably calm and quiet, the tears and hysterical wailing conspicuously absent. As to why - no one knew, not even Nabiki. But then, that was the least of their concern for now.

After a rather long, awkward silence, Soun cleared his throat. "So," he began hesitantly. "What happened, Saotome?"

Genme remained silent, and Soun laid a hand on his shoulder. Genma looked up, his eyes still seeming unfocused.

"Could you tell us what happened?" Soun asked again, quietly.

Finally, Genma nodded. He lowered his gaze to the glass he held in both hands, and when he began speaking, his voice was a bare whisper. "I was walking through the village, when I overheard a few men talking about a young man who rescued two girls from bandits in the forest..."


"That ingrate son of mine," Genma muttered under his breath as he stalked past three men standing at the corner of the road. "When I see him, I'll-"

"Such a tragedy," Genma heard one of the men remark. "So young, too. I bet he wasn't even eighteen."

"The girls said they heard the gunshot only minutes after they ran away," another man replied.

Genma paused, pretending to pick a stone from his slipper, while he eavesdropped on their conversation. A sick feeling began to build up in the bottom of his stomach.

"It was quite a sight," a third man said. "When we got there, the three criminals were all unconscious, and the young man..." He shook his head sadly. "I suspect he'd just died by the time we got there - the body was still warm."

Genma froze, his face taking on the color of ash-white.

"You should have seen it," the second man added. "His face wore the most serene expression, with almost a smile on his lips, and he was clutching a photograph tightly in his fist. A picture of a girl smiling." He shivered involuntarily. "It chilled me to the bone."

"I wonder what really happened," the first man said.

Genma began to tremble violently. He turned around with agonizing slowness, the sound of his heartbeat thundering wildly in his ears. He started to open his mouth to form a question, but no sound came out.

The men noticed him. "Hey, old fellow," one of them said. "Can we help you?"

Genma wiped his brows with a sweaty fist. "Pardon me," he managed to croak, but his voice was a bare whisper. "I'm looking for my son. He -" He swallowed painfully. "I think he's the young man you were talking about."


"...and then they took me to him, to identify the body." Genma's hands shook as they held onto the glass of tea, and the warm liquid sloshed inside the container. "I was able to take him home right away."

Again, everyone fell silent, as each tried to come to terms with the revelation. Ranma - dead. Two words no one ever expected to be linked together in a single sentence. For he was just so brave, so strong, so fast, death seemed like an alien concept for him. He'd defeated Musk princes and phoenix kings and all sorts of evil onis... and in the end, finally killed by bandits in a forest. Not even in formal combat, not even in a death any martial artist of his caliber would be proud of. Just not fair.

"I didn't know."

Nabiki looked up. It was Ryouga, sitting with his fists clenched in front of him. His eyes were closed, as if to ward off the pain.

"I swear, I didn't know," he insisted, even though no one was arguing with him. "He told me to leave for Akane's sake, and I couldn't talk him out of it.

"I wrapped his bandage myself," he continued, looking down at his clenched fists. "He was losing so much blood, I should have known... He told me he was okay!" he burst out. "He told me he would make it back on his own. He tricked me!"

Nabiki felt the faint stirrings of panic begin to well up inside her. She looked across the table. "Ryouga."

He didn't look up, so she spoke louder. "Ryouga!"

Finally, he glanced up, his dark eyes shadowed. "What?"

"When you left him," she began, "Ranma. He was ... you said he was sitting up and talking?"

He nodded slowly. "He was trying to hide the pain, but I could see it in his eyes. He was losing so much blood..."

Nabiki closed her eyes, feeling burdened by the amazing revelation that just struck her.

"What's wrong, Nabiki?" Kasumi asked, noticing her distress.

She spoke without looking up. "He knew."

"What is it, daughter?" Soun asked.

"Don't you get it? He knew!" She stood up and began to pace restlessly. "He knew he was going to die. So he sent Ryouga home with Akane's cure. And he probably pulled the tough guy act deliberately so that no one, especially Ryouga, would suspect the truth and go back for him, and Akane's recovery might be delayed." She paused, slapping a hand to her forehead. "I should have seen this the first time!"

Genma blinked twice, his eyes wide as saucers. And then, his expression crumpled into one of despair. "My son!" he cried, tears welling in his eyes.

Ryouga seemed too shocked by the realization to say anything.

"Damn," Shinnosuke cursed softly. "I - I don't know what to say..."

Nabiki laughed - but it was a sound without humor. "That's okay, I don't think anyone has anything nice to say about something like this."

She looked around to survey the reactions of everyone in the room. She frowned as she saw Ryouga shaking his head, his mouth forming silent words over and over again.

Nabiki looked at Kasumi and nodded. Kasumi, who was sitting beside Ryouga, put a hand on his shoulder gently. "Ryouga-kun?"

He didn't speak, look up, or even move an inch from his spot. Kasumi looked back at Nabiki, her eyes troubled.

Nabiki knelt down beside her sister. "Ryouga," she began, as gently as she could, "it wasn't your fault."

He finally looked up, and Nabiki saw his eyes shimmering with unshed tears. "Isn't it?" he asked, a bitter tone in his voice. "I should have known. I shouldn't have left him alone. At least I should have gotten him to the village for help, before I went on ahead alone..."

"Ryouga-kun," Kasumi said softly, her eyes sad, "please don't take Akane's words to heart. She shock. She didn't know what she was saying. Please don't..."

Ryouga shook his head. "I would never blame Akane, Kasumi-san. Please don't think that." He closed his eyes. "She was right. I shouldn't have left him behind. I blame myself."

Nabiki sighed. "Cruel as it is to say this, but... Ranma made his own choice. We know that much. He made his choice, and he used you, but he had good intentions. He did it to save the girl he..." she trailed off, not wanting to get Ryouga more upset.

"Loved?" Ryouga finished. Nabiki looked at him with questioning eyes, and he smiled a small, bitter smile. "He did. If I..." He paused to draw a deep breath. "If I didn't believe that before, there's too much proof before me to deny it now."

Nabiki nodded slowly. "That's good," she said softly.

"Besides," Ryouga added, almost to himself, as his gaze seemed to shift to some unknown place, "I heard it from his own lips. How can I possibly deny it now?"

Nabiki, about to ask Genma another question, abruptly swiveled her gaze back to Ryouga. "What did you say?"

"I said, Takanari-sensei asked him if he loved Akane, and he said yes." He closed his eyes. "And later, when he was wounded and telling me to leave, I brought it up again, he didn't deny it in a fit of shyness like he always did."

Nabiki watched him critically. "You seem to understand Ranma pretty well, Ryouga."

He smiled bitterly. "Know thy enemy, they always say."

For the longest time, no one had anything else to say. Finally, Kasumi stood up and announced, "Since we're all here together, I'll go bring dinner out, and we can eat together."

As she turned to go to the kitchen, Nabiki asked, "Should we call Akane?"

Kasumi's eyes were downcast as she looked at Nabiki. "I'll set some food aside and bring her up something to eat later tonight," she answered. "She's still... resting."

Kasumi headed into the kitchen, her eyes darkening as she remembered Akane's anguished suffering before she fainted in Shinnosuke's arms. She briefly wondered what her sister would do when she told her about this latest discovery.

*Whatever forces are toying with my sister's fate,* she thought sadly, *please, haven't you done enough? How much more can a person take?*


When Akane woke up, she was in her room, lying on her bed, the covers pulled up to her chin.

*What - What happened? Why am I...*

Memories came crashing down like a tidal wave, and she slumped back, feeling all the energy drained from her entire body. She stared blankly at the ceiling, making no move to get up.


Kasumi had been sitting on a chair beside her sister's bed, keeping vigil. She sighed with relief when Akane opened her eyes.

Akane didn't even turn to look at Kasumi. She just kept on staring into space, a look of apathy in her eyes.

Kasumi's heart went out to her sister. She struggled to hold back her tears as she stood up. It was almost midnight.

"It's late, Akane," she said softly, leaning over Akane's bed. "Would you like some dinner? I put some food away for you."

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, Akane shook her head.

"Oh." Kasumi looked down at her, unable to think of anything to say.

There was a moment of silence, and Kasumi tried again to comfort her sister. "We're all very sad, Akane. I understand. I-"

"I'd like to be alone. Please." Akane's voice was a bare whisper, but Kasumi heard her.

She started to say something else, but the expression in Akane's eyes had her thinking otherwise. She nodded, walking slowly to the door.

She glanced again at Akane as she turned the knob. "Good night, Akane," she whispered, quietly letting herself out.

*It isn't just a bad dream,* Akane thought. *It's real. Ranma's dead.*

*Dead.* Akane's hands balled into fists, gripping her blanket so hard her palms hurt. The word was so final, so forlorn. He'd left her, without so much as a goodbye. He'd left before she had the chance to tell him she loved him.

She'd thought she had all the time in the world, to tell him she loved him. She'd taken it for granted that one day, they would marry, to continue her father's school. Sure, she'd protested the marriage every time the subject came up, but she had long ago accepted the fact that someday Ranma would be her husband.

Now it was too late. That stupid, macho jerk was gone from her life forever.

Akane sat up, grabbing the silver picture frame beside her bed, hugging it to her chest. She loved him so much, and she didn't even know if he loved her back.

She remembered lying on the bed in Dr. Tofu's clinic, Ranma sitting beside her. He'd taken her in his arms, held her close to his body. She remembered the feel of his arms around her, remembered the sleek muscles moving beneath his shirt. She'd leaned against him, burying her face against his chest, loving his clean, male scent.

She remembered Ranma coming to say farewell, telling her he was leaving to look for her cure. He'd promised to come back, and demanded that she not give up on him. He had looked so full of hope and determination. "Wait for me, Akane," he'd said. "I promise I'll come back to you. And you had better hold out until I come back." He'd smiled at her reassuringly, as he walked out her room, his backpack slung over his shoulder.

Her first instinct had been right. She shouldn't have let him go. Just like that, he'd walked out of her life forever. He hadn't even said goodbye.

God, she wished it didn't hurt so much...

He had fought for her, just like he always did. Every time she was in danger, he would always come for her. So many times, with Toma, Kirin, even Shinnosuke, he'd yelled, "Akane is mine!" and her heart had burst with happiness.

Time and again he would tempt fate to rescue her, to protect her. All those times, he'd narrowly escaped death. Until now.

*He's mine,* Akane thought. *He's always been mine. How could I ever have doubted him?*

Why was it that people discovered the truth only when it was too late?

She ran her finger over Ranma's smiling face in the photograph, feeling the cool glass underneath her skin. She loved him, that insensitive jerk who always hurt her so much with his careless words. She had lived for his praise and his approval. She would wake up every morning wishing he would be nice to her for once, smile at her, hold her hand. She would try so hard to please him, to make him happy. Before Ranma had come into her life, martial arts was the only stable thing she had. But with Ranma's presence, even martial arts had become a skill she had to hone perfectly, to win his approval.

Everything had been for Ranma. He was the single driving force in her life. Now that he was gone, what else was there left for her?

All these years, her life had been out of her control. Her mother had died when she was very young, leaving Akane only memories of her cooking, her melodious voice, her soft smile. She'd desperately wanted to be the gentle woman that her mother had been, calm and graceful. Instead, she was a wreck in the kitchen, horrible with arts and crafts, and borrowing Ranma's words, she was "all-thumbs."

Even in her personal life with Ranma, she wasn't given peace. As she'd tried to sort out her feelings for her fiance, other girls had tried to steal Ranma away from her, their tactics ranging from feminine charms, to openly trying to beat up Akane, trying to get her to give up Ranma. Strong martial artists would come to challenge Ranma, or kidnap Akane, throwing their lives into turmoil time and again.

Now that she had finally admitted that she loved him, he was whisked away from her forever. The one person she had loved was gone forever, gone into a place where she could never follow. How was she supposed to go on without him?

*Without him, what good is my life anyway?*

Akane hid all her insecurities behind a facade of violent energy. Daddy had Kasumi to look after him, and Nabiki to support the house. She was only in the way, always bringing them trouble. She had good friends, loyal friends, but Akane imagined they wouldn't miss her for too long if she were gone. She had been proud of her martial arts skills, but with the arrival of Ranma and other powerful adversaries or allies like Shampoo, Ryouga, or Mousse, no one had looked at Akane with the same degree of awe and admiration they had shown before.

Her dreams had once again been dashed away, her hopes crumbled, like sand castles helpless against the crashing waves of the ocean. Suddenly Akane felt very tired. Just like a man hanging over a cliff, holding on to a thick branch for dear life, waiting for help, as fate threw everything from wind to rain to scorching sun at him, soon the man would simply long for freedom, for release, and let go.

In a daze, Akane slipped her feet into her slippers, and went down to the kitchen. It was pitch dark, except for the sliver of moonlight seeping through the curtains in the windows.

She opened the cupboard, taking out a sharp knife. An invisible force guiding her, she retraced her steps, heading for the bathroom, and closed the door behind her.

The sliding doors leading to the inner furo were open, and Akane sat down beside the bathtub, leaning her back against it.

Just one slash, she thought, and it would be all over. She stared at her wrist, and the sharp knife glinting in the light. She imagined Ranma, holding out his hand to her. She wasn't even afraid. It was time.

*I'm sorry, Ranma,* she thought. *You tried so hard to get me cured. But I don't want to live without you.*

She closed her eyes briefly, bringing the knife down on her left wrist in a wide arc, slashing her flesh. A burning pain filled her senses, and Akane stared with transfixed eyes at the blood flowing from her arm.

Like a broken doll, Akane's whole body sagged, and her left arm went limp, dropping the knife. The blade hit the tiles with a resounding clang.

A gentle smile played across Akane's lips as she slowly drifted off into oblivion. *I'm coming, Ranma. Wait for me.*


Nabiki yawned as she closed the book she'd been reading. She glanced at her clock, surprised to see that it was past midnight. It had been a horrible day.

It had started out fine enough, with some of her clients paying off their debts, and Nabiki had been in a good mood. Akane had definitely been showing signs of recovery.

And most of all - one of Nabiki's contacts had been able to come up with a clue as to the identity of Akane's mysterious poisoner. They'd made plans to meet the next day - Sachiko said that she'd found the address of the saleslady of the store where Akane'd seen the dress, and they were going to find her to get more clues, since Nabiki had found out that said saleslady had resigned from her job on the same day Akane was poisoned...

And Akane had been in good spirits, awaiting the return of her fiance. Nabiki had thought that she had at last accepted that her future was with Ranma. Akane hadn't even tried to protest when Kasumi gently reminded her of the fact. She'd thought things were going to be fine from now on.

Then Genma Saotome had come back, bringing with him the dead body of his son. It had been awful to watch Akane's suffering. She'd almost sighed with relief when Akane fainted.

She knew what it was like, to lose someone she loved. She'd been old enough to understand when her mother died, unlike Akane, too young to know what death meant.

Death meant losing someone for eternity, not being able to see him or touch him again... death meant burying someone six feet under the ground, along with all your hopes and dreams...

And just when Akane was finally able to accept her feelings for Ranma, too...

It had been such a long and winding road for both of them. Both too proud and stubborn to admit their feelings, too scared of the unfamiliar emotions each was able to stir in the other...

Ranma did love Akane - even Ryouga had finally conceded the fact. She couldn't be too sure - after all, she had never heard him say it, and she hadn't known him for her entire life like she has Akane. But she's always been perceptive, and she's always been proud of her ability to read people so easily.

He had his faults, sure - he was rude, insensitive, arrogant, and too impulsive for his own good. His temper was as explosive as Akane's - together, they made an 8-intensity earthquake seem like the gentle rocking of a baby's cradle.

And yet, many a time Nabiki would catch him at an unguarded moment when he would look at Akane with a tender light in his eyes. He'd looked so crushed whenever he made her cry. He would get insanely jealous over any of Akane's admirers, even the besotted black pig Akane named P-chan.

And Nabiki was actually quite fond of Ranma. At first he'd only been another victim to lure into her scams and her money-making schemes. She would look at him with distaste, thinking of his insensitivity, his gullibility, and of course, the enormous bills that Nabiki had to pay every time Ranma or one of his friends would wreck the house.

But Nabiki had watched how Ranma gradually became the only man Akane had allowed to come so close to her, to enter her heart. She could see Ranma's devotion to his fiancee, despite the many girls panting after him. Nabiki understood the depth of Ranma's caring for her sister, as she watched him move heaven and earth to protect her.

But most of all, Nabiki could see that Ranma had made her little sister happy - And that was what was most important. Akane may have a nasty temper, but she was never capable of lasting hatred. In the heat of anger, she'd snarl and curse and pound on something - usually Ranma - and promptly forget about it, after having vented her anger out.

And the way she smiled at him when he was actually thinking things through before he opened his big mouth - it was funny to watch as Ranma's face started to take on the bright red shade of his silk shirt.

Ranma's sudden death had shattered the order in the Tendo household. Soun was lamenting the loss of his future son-in-law. Kasumi, being naturally affectionate and kind, was undoubtedly grieving, the calm serenity of her world disrupted. As for Akane -

Nabiki hoped that Akane would be able to cope with Ranma's death. Last time, she'd been too young to understand. But now...

She sighed and got ready for bed. Akane was probably in her room sleeping, as she hadn't come down for dinner. Nabiki hoped her sister would be in better spirits come morning.

*Yeah, right, Nabiki,* her inner voice scolded. *Dream on.*

A clatter rang out in the silence, as Nabiki was sliding underneath her covers. She strained her ears, but nothing else disturbed the stillness of the night.

Restless, Nabiki got out of bed, wanting to check out the noise. It was such an ungodly hour, who could be awake?

She opened her bedroom door, and cautiously peeked out. The halls were empty. Her trained eye noted that Akane's door was open. She walked to Akane's room, switching on the light. Akane was gone.

*Calm down,* she told herself. *She could be downstairs, getting a glass of milk.*

She headed down to the kitchen, her footsteps light, careful not to wake anyone.

Everything was pitch-dark, except for the sliver of light coming out from underneath the closed bathroom door.

Nabiki hurried over to the door, thankful when the knob turned in her hand. She opened it a crack, and poked her head inside, a grim premonition building up in her heart.

A scream welled up in her throat as she saw Akane, lying to the floor, blood gushing from a gash in her wrist.


It was the day after Akane's suicide attempt.

Nabiki's scream had echoed throughout the house, waking up everyone. Kasumi had called an ambulance, as Soun had stood aside, crying uncontrollably.

The ambulance had come on time, and they were able to save Akane.

In the hospital room, Akane sat up on her bed, leaning against the headboard. She was staring off into space, not talking, not moving. Kasumi couldn't coax her to eat anything, so the doctor had no choice but to hook her up to dextrose.

The door opened, and Nodoka Saotome let herself in.

Nabiki and Kasumi both rose to bow formally. "Good morning, Auntie Saotome," Kasumi said.

Nodoka managed a smile for her as she stood beside Akane's bed. Her eyes dimmed with sorrow, and she asked, "How is she?"

"Akane'll be all right, Auntie," Kasumi told her. "The doctor told us we could check out tomorrow. I just wish she would eat something."

"I'm happy to hear that," Nodoka said. "It's a good thing you found her when you did, Nabiki. If you hadn't..." She shook her head sadly.

"Damn you." The soft whisper startled them. Kasumi, Nabiki, and Nodoka stared at Akane, as her unfocused eyes slowly filled with tears.

She didn't look up, content to stare at the wall in front of her. Her voice broke as she clenched her fists on the blanket she was clutching in both hands. "Damn you. Why did you have to save me? Why?"

She began to sob, her thin shoulders shaking. "I wanted to die!" she cried. "I wanted to go see Ranma. He's waiting for me... I saw him! Why did you stop me?"

Kasumi and Nabiki both stared at their sister silently, unable to come up with anything to say.

Nodoka sat down on the edge of Akane's bed, putting an arm around the girl's shoulders. "My son wouldn't want to see you now, Akane," she said softly.

Akane was snapped out of her daze. She looked up, her eyes wild. "No!" she cried. "Ranma loves me. He does. He has to..." She trailed off, weeping for her lost love. "He hasn't even told me he loved me..."

"Ranma does love you, Akane-chan," Nodoka replied, her eyes sad. "He didn't want you to die. He gave his life up for yours."

Akane looked at her, her eyes wide with confusion. "What - what do you mean?"

Nodoka struggled to hold back her own tears, as she pulled out a crumpled paper from her kimono. She gently smoothed it out, showing it to Akane.

"Look, Akane. This is your picture, see? Ranma carried it inside his shirt. We found it clutched in his hand. That's why it's crumpled, and a little dirty."

Akane slowly turned, her teary eyes focusing on the photograph. Ranma brought her picture with him. Ranma had been holding it when he died.

"Your family didn't tell you because they didn't want to worry you, Akane," Nodoka continued. "But Ranma was wounded by bandits in the forest, and he told Ryouga to go on ahead to make sure you get your antidote on time."

"He - he did?"

"Do you know what that means, Akane?" Nabiki asked, stepping forward. "He knew he was dying, but even then, his last concern was for you. That's why he tricked Ryouga, tricked all of us."

Akane bowed her head, tears dripping down her face. "But..."

"Would you want him to have died in vain, Akane?" Nabiki continued, looking down at her. "He exchanged his life for yours, and you're ready to throw it away just like this? You think so little of what he did for you? What he gave up for you?"

She shook her head. "No... No, Ranma..."

Nabiki's eyes softened. "Then, please," she said gently. "Don't give us another scare like this again. We realize it's hard for you, but Ranma's not the only thing you should live for, Akane. We're here for you - we're family. Do we mean so little to you?"

"No, I don't know... I just... Ranma..."

"Akane." Nodoka waited until the girl looked up tearfully. She struggled for her voice to remain calm. "I hope you would honor my son's last wish, for which he had paid so dearly. I... I hope you won't let him die in vain." Her eyes started to fill with tears. "Would you do that one last thing for him, Akane? For my son?"

Akane stared at her for such a long time, her lower lip trembling, and Nodoka held her gaze firmly. Finally, she bowed her head and nodded. "I will," she said, her voice breaking. "I'll do what he wanted. I..." her voice broke on a sob, and they barely heard the last of her words. "I've never done anything for him..."

Nodoka shook her head as she gently drew Akane in an embrace. "Don't think that, Akane," she said softly. "You gave Ranma enough. You gave him your friendship, your support, whenever he needed it. You gave him a home, a family. You gave him your love." Nodoka smiled sadly. "He...I'm sure he knew that when he made his choice, Akane."

She wrapped her arms around Nodoka as she sobbed into her kimono. "I miss him so much," she cried. "Auntie, I miss him so..."

Nodoka closed her eyes, as tears slipped down her face. "I know. I miss him too."


The Tendo sisters walked home in silence, each absorbed in her own thoughts. It wasn't so unusual, really. They were as different as night and day. One, sweet and traditional and soft-spoken - as fragile and delicate as a rosebud. The other, a fiery sunflower - cold, calculated, and practical.

But despite all their differences, Kasumi and Nabiki shared a bond that was special in its own way - two sisters both trying her best to support her family in her own way. Between them, words weren't necessary to express how they felt about each other.

This time, it was concern for their youngest sister that brought them closer together.

Finally, Kasumi broke the silence. "Do - do you think Akane will be okay?"

Nabiki nodded. "Auntie Saotome helped a lot ... but I guess she'll be fine... in time."

Kasumi shook her head. "Poor Akane. And Ranma..." she trailed off quietly.

She glanced sideways at Nabiki. "You think he really did do that...? For Akane?"

"We're not sure, of course," Nabiki replied, staring straight ahead. "But I believe it. "

"I guess we underestimated him a lot, huh?" Kasumi asked softly.

Nabiki looked at her. "What do you mean?"

"Did you expect him to do that? To give up?"

At last, Nabiki said, "No, of course not. I always knew Ranma's good and honorable... but then again, he's also selfish and arrogant and self-centered at times..."

Kasumi shook her head sadly as she walked. "And Auntie Saotome too..."

"What about her?"

"She wanted her son to be a man among men - honorable, strong, brave... and now, Ranma did this. He fought for the honor of two young girls in peril, and gave up his life for his fiancee. What more could a mother wish for?"

"That her son were alive?" Nabiki asked quietly.

Kasumi smiled sadly. "Yes."

They fell quiet again, until Nabiki said, "Akane will be okay, though. If nothing else, knowing the truth will give her reason to live. And then... we can go on to convince her there are many more reasons aside from that."

Kasumi nodded. "I know." She paused and turned to look at Nabiki. "We'll make it through this, as a family."

Nabiki smiled, a real smile this time, making her look much more like the happy, carefree girl she was supposed to be. "That's right."

Kasumi smiled back, and started to continue forward. "Oh my," she said softly. "Isn't that Shampoo and Mousse there?"

Nabiki looked up. Sure enough, the Chinese girl was standing outside their front door, wrestling off Mousse's advances. "Go away, stupid Mousse," they heard her shout. "I go see Ranma."

"But Shampoo..." Mousse whimpered as Shampoo shoved him roughly.

Cold anger began to boil inside Nabiki. Not today. Not today, of all days.

Shampoo heard someone come up behind her, and she turned around. "Nihao!" she said. "I come see Ranma!"

Nabiki glared at her, causing some of the brightness to leave her eyes. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you can't see him."

Shampoo's eyes narrowed. "Shampoo is Ranma's bride. I have right to see him. More right than violent tomboy."

"Really now?" Nabiki crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm not in the mood for this, hussy. So just move away and let us go in our home."

Shampoo shifted her stance. "You have no right to keep Ranma from Shampoo. You get in Shampoo's way, you get hurt."

Her control snapped. "Well, then, go and take him!" she snapped. "Take his dead body back to China and see what good it does you!"

Shampoo's blood went cold. She stood, frozen in shock. Without another word, Nabiki stepped around her and went inside the house. Kasumi managed to smile at Shampoo sadly.

"I'm sorry, Shampoo," she said softly. "This isn't a good time for you to come. Perhaps another time would be better." She started to step past Shampoo to go inside.

"Wait," Shampoo said softly, turning to Kasumi. She swallowed hard. "Money girl... she... she tell truth?"

"Ranma is dead, Shampoo," Kasumi replied quietly. "Uncle Saotome brought his body back yesterday. He died while trying to get back with Akane's antidote."

"He...he die..." Shampoo whimpered, her entire body trembling.

Kasumi looked at her for a moment, then bowed silently, before she turned and went inside. Shampoo barely noticed.

Her palms began to sweat. Her eyes stared blankly at nothing as she stood, trembling violently. "He...Ranma..."

Mousse sat up groggily, and stumbled his way back to Shampoo. "Shampoo..."

She looked up and stared at Mousse with haunted eyes. "Ranma die..."

He nodded quietly. "I heard."

She closed her eyes, as tears slipped silently down her cheek. "He die...because of me..."

She choked back a sob as she spun around and ran away, leaving Mousse staring after her.

*I'm sorry, Ranma. I only wanted you to love me... I didn't want you to die...* she wailed silently, tears streaming freely down her face.

But it was too late. She'd killed him.

*** End CHAPTER 7 ***