Ranma 1/2
'Over the Clouds'

A seven year old Kasumi sat in the corner of her room, away from any furniture, with her knees tucked to her chest. It had been over a month since the death of her mother, and since then, she could tell things were falling apart completely.

Her father had about given up on his duties, himself, and his daughters. Kasumi told herself that he loved them still, but it hurt so much to see that he couldn't bear to face them. He spent a great deal of his time a recluse for the past month, barely even being seen by any of his three daughters, with the exeptions of a few meals that he didn't spend in his room. Eventually, Soun Tendou would open himself back up to the world, but before that would happen, his daughters, his livelyhood, and his very sanity would suffer for that time.

Akane loved their mother, possibly more than Kasumi or Nabiki did. The youngest daughter constantly searched for the return of their mother, not truly comprehending what was going on. No, Akane knew, deep within, but her youthful heart denied it with great fervor. If she were to heal the wound that was slowly growing across the exuberant and cherished innocence, she would have to taught to accept things, and let them go.

Nabiki had become a steady stream of tears; from herself, and those around her. She was a force of pain that affected all associated. She became anti-social at school, snide, sometimes flippant to anyone who would tell her different, and ultimately vengeful to those who would seek to punish her. No one knew how to handle her, and threats of alerting her remaining parent were idle at best, for no one could bring Soun to care enough to take action.

Kasumi didn't understand things completely, but she knew enough through her naivity and innocence that it wouldn't be long before everything was lost. Kasumi raised her tearstreaked face from her folded arms that rested on her knees. Her expression changed from one of despair, to one of firm resolve. Her mother must be sad up in the Heaven she always used to tell stories to Kasumi about. Her mother loved them all, and wouldn't like any of them to be so sad.

Kasumi left her room for the first time in hours, and headed for the family shrine in the dojo. on the shrine, Kasumi found what she was looking for, a silver Christian cross. Tentatively, the eldest Tendou daughter reached out with the greatest of care, and grasped the cross. She opened the latch, and placed it around her neck; she would need the symbol of her mother's faith to give her her mother's strength for what she knew needed to be done.

With that, Kasumi had grown up much too fast, and left her childhood behind.

Genma watched his son sorrowfully, while cursing his soon to be ex-wife. Ranma's ordeal had affected Nodoka in a negative manner, to say the least, and showed him a side of her that he wished to all deities that never existed. He had purposely returned early from the training trip, to tell his wife what he had discovered about their son. As much as it hurt him when he found out the news, Nodoka's reaction hurt him even more. Maybe it was her strict upbringing and her traditional manner, or possibly her lack of understanding, whatever it was, Ranma lost the mother he so very much needed. The stout man gruffed to himself, deciding what was done, was done. All that mattered to him now, was Ranma's happiness.

The master of the Saotome School of Martial Arts watched his son with a calm expression that hid his quiet joy of watching his son in the art. Despite everything, Ranma was far beyond a prodigy in the art, soaking up even the most complex techniques sometimes just by observation at such a young age, and effortlessly made them his own. Every master Genma brought Ranma too had claimed they had never seen anything like it, as if the young boy were the very avatar of the essence of martial arts.

That thought alone filled Genma with great pride, knowing his son was, quite frankly, the best of his generation, and several overs before and fore. Ranma landed from the graceful half-gator without so much a sound, the dust at his feet kicked up at such, almost unnoticeable cloud, before he leapt back into the air to begin the new kata he had just learned a day prior. Genma could see his son at work, unconciously improving the motions within it, as if he were the one who created it, and was seeking to perfect his invention. Genma knew the art was the greatest joy Ranma could ever experience, and he vowed that nothing... NOTHING would ever take that away from his son, or attempt to taint the very happiness Ranma gained from it.

The robust martial artist rose from Lotus position, and called out to his son, it was time for then to continue forward on their journey for Ranma to discover all he could about the art, "Son, we must get going, now. You can play some more, later."

Ranma changed motions in mid air as if it were to happen that way. To Genma's eye, it looked as if Ranma was put off balance, and would suffer a rough fall, but he knew better. His faith was proven, as Ranma easily landed without any fault. "Okay, daddy," Ranma replied, running to his father with innocent glee and overwhelmingly youthful joy.