---Author's Note---

This is a one-shot. This is very odd, I know, but I give permission for anyone to write sequels / prequels / extraneous tidbits so long as they notify me and allow me to proofread. This suddenly popped into my head while playing Metal Gear Solid, I based Kasumi's condition on the Stockholm syndrome but there are a few areas where the condition differs. Still, I think this is pretty good for a one-night fic written in two hours. Enjoy!

---Title---

Borrowed Time

A Ranma 1/2 fanfic

By Dr. Suekeiichi Kaiton

---Tokyo General---

"kasumi? Kasumi? Are you awake?"

She sat up violently, ripping the line of ninety-three stitches running up her arm, and throwing the thin hospital blanket off her body. Immediately she winced in pain at the sensation of thin thread tearing through already singing flesh and screamed as she fell back to the rattling aluminum of the hospital gurney. A warm hand pressed her back down and applied pressure to the bleeding gash that bubbled and ran. Still woozy with the stench of smoke and pain of the explosion, she gave little resistance when the person wrapped her back in the sheet.

"Stay still, Kasumiyou've got minor internal bleeding." Suddenly her arm was enveloped in warmth, a relaxing heat different from the stinging intensity of her wound. "I'll take care of the arm; these doctors looks kinda busy now." She fluttered her eyes open and strained to focus on the blurry mix of black and red.

"We're ready for her now, you'll have to wait in the lounge." Words muffled through bandages and cotton echoed in her head.

"Don't try to open your eyes, I'll see you when you get out of surgery." With the bump of brakes releasing she felt the gurney slid effortlessly down the hall, bright blotches of light burning through her eyelid. Her hand tightened on the loose handle of the bed as she felt the impact of the cart on heavy metal doors

---

"kasumi? Kasumi? Are you awake?" She didn't open her eyes, instead feebly lifting her free arm and rattling the safety guard attached to the hard bed. A hand took hers and laid it back on the bed, messaging the knuckles gently before she heard the sound of rustling clothing with her good ear. "That's good, the doctors say you may be able to open your eyes tomorrow." His voice, she assumed it was a he, was muffled and unrecognizable through the thick fog of morphine and cotton she was swaddled into, still it was comforting to know someone was there.

The individual stood and crossed to somewhere, coming back with the soft slosh of cold water. Soon enough a straw was pushed to her lips and she sucked reflexively before retching it back. Her head felt funny, light and stuffed, she felt she could just fly out of her bodythat sounded so nice

---

"kasumi? Kasumi? Are you awake?" The room was dark but naturally so, the curtains open to let the lights of the city sparkle against the sterile white and brushed steel of the hospital room. "I hope I'm not disturbing you"

She moved her hands towards the door and let him enter, her throat still hurt from the smoke inhalation, and watched as Ranma sat by her bed. He smiled at her attempts to smile, patting her hand and rubbing her knuckles reassuringly. "There's no need for you to try so hard, Kasumi, you'll get better at your own pace."

She nodded and turned their hands around so that she held his thumb in her diminutive grasp.

"The government's gonna pay for the hospital, the American government, and we're gonna move in with Mom. So get better quick okay?" She gave a quick squeeze to his thumb and motioned for the water pitcher on her nightstand. "Sure." He seemed relieved to do it for her, carefully bringing it to her lips and letting her sip at the fluid slowly. She made a brief noise in her throat when she was finished and lay back on the pillows, floating away into the arms of Morpheus.

---

"kasumi? Kasumi? Are you awake?" She fluttered her eyes open, glad to be rid of the bandages, and turned to see Ranma at her bedside again. He seemed much older than nineteen as he sat with bags under his eyes and unkempt clothes.

"Ranma, what time is it?" He looked at the watch Akane had given him last year for Christmas and read it aloud to her. It was eight at night.

"The doctors say that you can come home by the end of the week."

"But where will I go?" She lifted her arms weakly and gestured to the nothingness around her. "Everything's gone."

"Mom wants you to move in with us, start over. You can even start school if you like."

"I'd like that." She looked up at the ceiling and reached for his hand. He held it with both of his own and she felt the moist press of his lips on her knuckles. "Oh my, Ranma, what would Akane think if she saw you doing that?" She playfully asked.

""

"I'm sorry Ranma, that was wrong."

"No, Kasumi, it's not thatyou've lost a lot more than me so I can't really say anything" The atmosphere in the room dropped abruptly and crystalline tears began to flow down her cheeks. "AwI'm sorry KasumiI didn't mean-"

"No. I have to face itdon't worry Ranma. I'll be fine." She looked out the window and the lights reflected on her imperfect pair of eyes, one a bright and lively blue, the other a milky gray. "We all lost a lotplease tell Auntie I'd be honored to stay with you."

---

Nodoka was standing by the front door of her newly refurbished home, katana strapped to her back, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of her 'daughter'. Ranma had gone to take her home, an act that would hopefully precipitate her speedy recovery. Honestly, the poor girl was smitten with Ranma it seemed, she would go nowhere and talk to no one unless her son was in the room. It was bordering on dependency.

The yellow taxi pulled up to the curb and Ranma leapt out, opening the door for Kasumi, dressed in one of her borrowed outfits. Nodoka personally thought the kimono looked rather well on the girl. He held her arm as she scaled the shallow steps leading to the front door and held her hand easily when she faltered. A mother looking for grandchildren takes note of subtle body language.

"Auntiethank you so much for thisI don't know what to say" The tall brunette began to cry as the tears fell from the corners of her almond eyes. Ranma stood behind her, supporting her weight.

"Kasumi-chan, come here." Nodoka embraced the limping Tendo girl and pressed Kasumi's tear-streaked face to her shoulder. "It's all right now, you're home."

---

"kasumi? Kasumi?" She blinked and shook her head free of cobwebs as Nodoka looked at her with concern. "Are you alright?"

"Just fine mother. Just thinking about how things used to be." Kasumi straightened her blouse and sat back on the couch. To her right were the books for her first class tomorrow, the anticipation was beginning to get to her it seemed. Nodoka set a cup of tea on the table for her and sat primly in her seat, keeping a close eye on her adopted 'daughter'. "I'm just very worriedI don't think I can do thisthis just isn't right."

"Nonsense dear, you've survived a great deal worse than a classroom of pimply college students." The distinct slam of the front door announced that the third member of their household had returned.

Ranma threw his pile of notebooks and papers on the foyer table and slid open the door leading to the den. He had matured into a thin and wiry young man with a shock of purest ebony hair and haunted eyes. He sat easily next to her and accepted a cup of tea from his mother.

"Tomorrow's the big day, huh?"

"Yes, isn't it wonderful?" The Saotome patriarch was positively beaming with happiness. Kasumi began to shake.

"Mother I really don't think I'm ready for thisI really don't think this-"

"Nonsense, Kasumi. You've thought of doing this for years, you just need to get out the door."

"But thinking about it is very different from doing it, I really don't think I can handle this!" There was a shrill note of panic in her voice. Ranma seemed to notice her tone and set his hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry Kasumi, I'm coming with you to register. It'll be fine, why don't you just try to relax?" The muscle under his hand tensed suddenly and she stood up, brushing off her jeans.

"I think I'll go to bed, Father, I don't want to be too tired for tomorrow." She left her materials on the couch and quickly retreated upstairs to her room, oblivious to the Nodoka's raised eyebrow at the Freudian slip. The room was very much like her original, even down to the curtains and furniture, but seemed artificial to hershe couldn't put her finger on it

Kasumi lay down on her bed and stifled back frustrated tears. Neither of them understood her, neither of them understood how difficult it was to beout there. She couldn't do it, she couldn't go out and start her classes, and she had too much work to do at home, yes that was the reason! She had too much housework to do so it was impossible for her to clean up after five people and go to medical school full time! Yes, she would help Auntie with breakfast tomorrow morning and everything would be all right. Nothing calmed her like cleaning the floors, she positively basked in the glow of polishing the woodwork. The Saotome house was so dusty, obviously Auntie didn't have time to properly clean the place what with raising Ranma alone and taking care of hershe just had to show proper gratitude and help the poor woman out!

"Kasumi?" Ranma knocked on the door before opening it a crack. "Are you alright?"

"Yes just fine, Ranma-kun! Pardon me, would you? I have to go finish the dishes." He felt a chill go up his spine at her vapid stare.

"The dishes are all finished Kasumi, shouldn't you be studying for the first day of class? Or at least looking over your books?"

"Why Ranma? Why on Earth would I be doing that? I simply have no time for school, there's far too much work to be done around the house here!" He crossed over to her and looked down at the oblivious girl. "Whatever is the matter, Ranma-kun?"

"Stop it, Kasumi."

"Stop what?"

"Stop acting like this! You don't have to cook or clean for your family anymore, Kasumi, you can just be a normal girl now. They can't push you around anymore." He grasped her shoulders and shook her violently until a faint trace of intelligence returned to her eyes. "You're here now, Kasumi, you don't have to be a slave anymore."

"I don't appreciate you calling father and the others-"

"Stop it!" He pulled her down and pinned her against the softness of the mattress. "Stop trying to be the perfect little mother for Nabiki and Akane, they're dead!"

The light seemed to glow fiercely behind her eyes, a fire that fought with the churning darkness within. She began to tremble under his power and words. "N-noNabiki and Akane are just on a school trip, they'll be back next month!"

"They're dead! You know it Kasumi, you were there when the plane crashed, you saw them die!"

"No!" She began to trash in his grasp but he simply lay down atop her, pinning her in place. "That's not true!"

"You don't have to do those disgusting things for your father anymore, 'cause he's dead and gone! There wasn't even anything left to bury, Kasumi, which is exactly what he deserved for what he did to you all those years!"

"No!" She began to cry as the spark within intensified, blazing with more strength to break free from the shallow imprisonment of guilt. "Father was an honorable man! He was just so sad when Mother died-"

"That he got drunk and raped you, Kasumi! Nabiki told me about it before the crash, she told me all about your father's drunkenness!" She began to claw at his face, or at least tried to as he held her hands in fists that could pulverize diamond. "He took advantage of you, secluded you from contact with the world, forced you to be a slave to his lusts! Oh no he would never admit it, he would forget about it, he would dismiss it all as 'tucking you in for the night' even when you were seventeen!" Ranma was speaking with such passion that droplets of spittle fell on her cheek.

He would spit on her, call her a whore, that was a game he'd play with her when she was little, the only game. Mother was gone, so she had to be the mother for them all. She'd feel the acidic saliva on her cheek and she'd know it was time to fulfill her wifely duties. He'd hurt her, he'd hurt her so bad and slap her, in his drunkenness not even knowing he'd broken her jaw. He'd be gentle the next morning as if it were all a dream, and it could have been if not for her sprained wrist and fractured jaw.

She kicked Ranma swiftly and knocked him across the room, curling into a fetal ball and bawling for the guilt and degradation of her childhood. Ranma got up easily and shook off the injury to his back, walking slowly back to the fractured girl.

"How long will you let yourself life in the past, Kasumi? How long will you put off the things you wanted to do for the ghost of a rapist and child molester? You've been given a second chance, you were fine until tonight! What happened?" Ranma pulled her up off the bed and held her by the shoulders again, the fire was brighter, almost there. "You were frightened of going off into the world because he told you it was a bad place. Well his house was a bad place, he was a bad man and you deserve better. You're here and he's dead, Kasumi, let us help you live your life." The fire burst into greatness behind her eyes and the demons were excised as she crumpled to the floor in exhaustion.

After she was covered and in a fitful sleep, Ranma kissed her softly on the forehead and closed the door. Nodoka was standing by the stairs, waiting for the outcome and relieved when she son returned intact.

"You can beat it KasumiI know you can."

The night passed by without incident, except for Nodoka's argument with the school over reimbursement for funds rendered. Ranma simply stayed awake in his bed and listened to Kasumi's shallow breathing through the wall they shared. The terrorists had crashed a jet into Nerima, killing thousands, but with that act of terror they had ended Soun Tendo's monstrous reign. Akane and Nabiki were dead, joined by the Amazons and Genma, but the life they lived now was even more precious than preserving their memoriestheirs was a life met on borrowed time. People are only given so much thread to weave the tale of their lives, they were blessed with a knot to the next spool, they had to forget the past and embrace what remained.

Kasumi survived because up until the crash she had no life, so how could it be taken away? She had lived to experience all that she had missed and regain her freedom and mind. A plane of delusional extremists did not erase a Stockholm Syndrome of ten years, nor could it ever be truly eradicated, Kasumi would have to face the years of slavery and accept them, moving on with her life. If she did not, he couldn't bear to look at what remained if she failed.

It was past midnight when a soft, timid knock at his door broke him from these thoughts. Sitting up slowly and opening the door, he was surprised to find Kasumi clutching her pillow like a child.

"What's wrong, Kasumi, what is it?" She looked up at him with innocent eyes and he knew she had won, but to what extent the victory was pyric he could not say.

"I'm scared, Daddy, can I sleep in your bed?" Ranma's eyes began to tear up as she looked quickly to the left and right, looking for monsters no doubt. He couldn't send her away, somehow she had to reconnect with her childhood lost.

"Of course you can, Kasumi, come in."

"No touching, please Daddy." The words brought shivers as she looked up with hurt eyes and bit her lip softly. He silently cursed the black soul of Soun Tendo.

"No touching."

"Promise?" Her face had brightened considerably, though she was still skeptical of the generosity.

"Promise." He let her in and she climbed into his futon like a child, taking relish in the pleasant warmth of the blankets. It was vaguely disturbing to see a grown woman acting like a nine year old but he shook that off, reminding himself that this showed her faith in him. The bed was only made for one so the fit was tight but she didn't seem to mind his close proximity, wrapping her arms around his torso and smiling as he draped an arm under her head. For the normally nervous Ranma the position was enough to make him sweat as her very mature body rubbed against his body but this was counter-balanced with an intense feeling of protection for the physically older yet vulnerable woman sleeping deeply beside him.

He stayed awake for the rest of the night. Kasumi shifted position often and occasionally cried as the years of pent up frustration and repression bubbled up to the surface, but she remained close to him, hugging him for support thorough her nightmares. He entertained thoughts that he could actually see the demons of her mind leaving, dispersing like smoke into the darkness of the room. They continued like that in the flux between night and day until Nodoka came to check on him. She was not surprised that Kasumi had gone to him, he was the most stable and noble male figure in her life, and kissed them both before leaving.

A new day was dawning.

---

"kasumi? Kasumi?" She snapped back to reality as Ranma held a soft hand on her shoulder. She turned to him and lost herself in his deep blue eyes, those azure pools of pity and power, so much so that she felt swallowed by him. "Are you alright?"

"Y-yes, RanmaI'm just a bit overwhelmed." She adjusted her gown and tucked her diploma under her arm. "I don't know how I did it"

"You did it yourself, Kasumi, you did this on your own." He took her shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes, his gaze piercing the masks she wore and the layers of pain and betrayal beyond. "I'm proud of you." Nodoka stood away from the two young people and thanked the Kami that her son was strong enough for the both of them.

"Thank you, Ranma. Thank you." She began to cry, her body began to heave with the sobs, and she collapsed into his arms. Nestled there she felt safe and loved; she felt strong and sure of herself, these were feelings she'd thought lost after the death of her mother. "I love you."

He smiled warmly at her confession and held her closer as the crowds began to disperse. She had done it herself, she had conquered the demons of her childhood and prevailed. She was free.

"I love you too, Kasumi."

She was free.

---

"kasumi? Kasumi?" He awoke with a start and squinted as the dying rays of sunshine blazed defiantly in the moment of death. His hand came up to shield his eyes and he realized where he was, what he was doing. He lay back against the cheap beach chair and pulled the brim of his hat up.

The sun was fading on the horizon as Ranma sat on the top of a rocky cliff overlooking the beach. He had been there for hours it seemed and his lips were cracked and dry from the afternoon sun. The night was almost upon him. Three little girls and two boys were below him playing in the surf and two lovers were necking in a shadowy recess of the rocks. A wind blew through and ruffled his wide straw hat, so much so that he had to raise a hand to steady it until the buffeting gust passed.

"Was this time well spent?" He softly murmured to the sea. "Did I make the best of this time?" His skin was beginning to show signs of age, he was in the twilight of his years, and his movements weren't as sure as beforewhen they were young. "Yes"

The waves crashed to the boulders underneath his station and the children began to laugh heartily as they splashed and looked for shrimp. The lovers had broken apart and stood dripping from behind one of the breakwater rocks. Their mood was apparently ruined. The reimbursement of lost life and grievances given to the victims of that attack so long ago had allowed him to live a fulfilling life of discovery and meaning, yet kept his feet on the ground for the money was not limitless.

He looked up at the darkening sky and saw the stars twinkle off in their heavenly orbits, independent of human actions, and was reminded of his youth. "Nabiki, Akane, Oyaji, Ryouga, Ukyo, Shampoo, Mousse, Kuno, Kodachi, Cologne, all of youI hope you think what I've done is right. I hope you all are enjoying yourselves up there."

"Ranmawho are you talking to?" He looked over his shoulder and recognized the frail outline of his mother as she stood off where the cliff was wider.

"No one, Mom, just some old ghosts." She smiled wistfully and turned away. "You don't need to go, Mom."

"Don't worry, son, I'll just leave you to your ghosts." Her silhouette faded off into the warm darkness as the lights of the town began to shine.

"Ghosts" The children continued their play and the young lovers had moved further down the beach for privacy.

"Anata." He could feel the silken trill of her voice as she stepped out from the house. "Dinner's ready!" Her chestnut hair billowed from the dense cool air radiating from the interior.

"Akane, Nabiki, Ukyo! Ryouga! Tatewaki! Come on, it's time for supper!" Ranma cupped a hand around his mouth and hollered down into the ravine. "Come on Reiko, and bring that lazy boyfriend of yours!" The two lovers stopped in mid-kiss and the raven-haired girl looked up at her father with a scowl. He simply laughed as she waved a fist menacingly in his direction. As the mass exodus began he stood at the edge of the bluffs overlooking the ocean and tugged at his beard.

"Come on honey! The food will get cold!" Kasumi called from the window as everyone readied for the first dinner of the family vacation; she was taking great care in the preparation and presentation of the food.

"I'll be right there." The pig-tailed man looked out on the empty expanse of ocean and out into the sea of infinity, realizing for what seemed the thousandth time that he had done the right thing. "How would things have gone, I wonder" How would things have gone if he hadn't taken up the fatherly mantle for Kasumi's sake? She no longer thought of him as a father per se, the years of therapy and de-programming had done that rather well, but she still needed an authority figure to guide her hand. He was that figure. How the most immature young boy imaginable had safely guided her through medical school as a rock of security was beyond him, all that mattered was the role he had accepted. Kasumi was happy and that was all that mattered, right? Ranma smiled at the darkness of encroaching time and laughed heartily at the irony of fate.

"Ranma!" She was standing in the doorway now; her glasses in one hand while the other tapped a wooden spoon on her thigh.

"Coming, coming, dear."

---The End---