Then the Mourning Comes...
Part 7 of Robster80's big fic series

Okay, I forgot to post the fics with proper ordering numbers. So, in order to avoid any further confusion than necessary, I'm going to list the parts numerically:

Part 1: Much to Do without Ranma
Part 2: Old Wounds Reopened
Part 3: The Death of Innocence
Part 4: A Love Renewed, a Feud Reborn
Part 5: The Past Returns With a Vengeance
Part 6: The Final Lesson

All clear now? Then you may either go back and read them in order, or continue. ^_^


It was a black day the following Monday, but several people saw it fitting. For some, it was an omen of a bad day. For others, it was a reminder that good could not exist without evil, nor light without darkness. For Takeru "TK" Saotome, it was both of these and one other: it was a sign of mourning, of loss.

Come Thursday, it would be the sixth anniversary of the death of his cousin, Ranma Saotome. As he had done for the past few years, he wore only black that day. This year, however, he would wear black all week. There was another loss to add to his misery, another death on his conscience.

Burter, leader of the Mega Avengers, was dead.

Although TK knew that Burter would now be with his wife and son, and all his people slain by the vile King Cold, he still blamed himself, and secretly mourned bitterly. The large, blue alien had been more than a teacher to him. He had been his friend. Burter was there after Happosai died, and took TK under his wing to train him. He had been there when Kari Kamiya, TK's best friend, had moved away, and helped to settle his restless heart. Yet most of all, near the end, he had helped the teen prepare for the coming of Friezor and King Cold.

Now Burter was gone, struck down by the son of the father he had killed in revenge. Although TK had killed Friezor and saved the Earth, it was not enough to him. Burter was dead. Ranma still was and would always be. Nothing he could say or do would bring them back.

TK finished dressing and left his apartment early that Monday morning. He walked out in the gloomy city of Nerima to Furinkan High School, straight to the office of Principal Tatewaki Kuno. Calling to the secretary, he asked to see the principal. The secretary paged Kuno, who agreed to see the teen.

Principal Kuno looked up from his paperwork and said, "What brings you here so early, TK? School doesn't start for another hour."

TK approached the desk. "Principal Kuno, today King Robert and his court are meeting at the Mega Mansion. I was told to tell you that I had been summoned."

Kuno was silent for a moment before he paged his secretary and said, "Please mark Takeru Saotome on the absentee list today and put down the flu as his condition, no questions asked." He then faced TK again. "You are excused, TK. I shall have someone deliver your homework assignments to you this afternoon by 4."

Nodding, TK left the office and the school before any other students saw him.


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It's been too long, Rob Gittler thought. Since I was here at the Mansion. He had been wandering around the halls and rooms of the building, reminiscing on his days as both member and leader of the Mega Avengers. His walk led him back to the lounge, where he found several pictures hung on the walls. They were of members past and present, alive and deceased.

"Brings back memories, doesn't it?"

Rob looked to see a small, brown-furred creature in a suit walk up to him. They shook hands. "Hello, ALF! Or is it Mr. Shumwei nowadays?"

ALF smiled. "To dear and old friends, it's ALF. So, finally got tired of being in your royal Goblin form after all these years, huh? Once again, you're Rob Gittler, average human with an unbelievable imagination."

"Well, once a month I change back to human and take a breather from my duties as Goblin King. This last peace talk was exhausting. However, I wish the others and I could've returned under better circumstances."

ALF sadly nodded. "I know. I heard about Burter, too. At least we know he died after finally avenging his son and people. Is it true that that Takeru kid defeat Friezor? And all by himself at that?"

"It's true. He's reached levels beyond that of even Krillin, and he's still only a teenager. So, what brings you here from your business?"

ALF again smiled. "Well, after being the head of my own successful company for a few years, I've decided to try out for active duty again as a Mega Avenger. My experience in the real world has changed me from the happy-go-lucky, wisecracking alien you once knew into a tough-as-nails, wisecracking alien. HA!"

They both laughed at the joke until Duo appeared. "Forgive me, your highness, but TK is waiting for you. Good to see you still have your sense of humor, ALF."


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TK sat quietly in the new conference room, alone, until the main doors opened and Rob stepped in. TK rose from his seat, walked away from the table, and kneeled. "Greetings, your highness."

"In this form," Rob said. "I am not a king, but simply your fellow man. How are you, kid?"

TK rose. "Not good, Rob."

"I know. Burter was a good friend to many of us. But you mustn't blame yourself for his death. If there's anyone you should blame, it's me. I should have been here to defend my home."

"Rob, you are a king now. You have more important responsibilities-."

"I would trade them all away to come back to this. Do you know what I miss the most, Takeru, about being a hero? I miss feeling the wind in my face flying on my glider or with my ki. I miss soaring through the sky above everything and everyone. I especially miss striking fear into the hearts of people who prey on those weaker than them. Beung king is important, I know, but sometimes I just want to go back to being the Blue Goblin again, even for a moment, and relive my glory days."

Rob placed a hand on TK's shoulder. "You and I are a little alike, you know that? Each member or ally to this team that died, I blamed myself for not being a better leader that I could have saved them. I felt that way when Ranma died, that I should have been at the Mansion when Friezor attacked. But I've learned that people really die, Takeru, when they don't want to live anymore. Ranma died because he knew he had no reason to go on after what Akane did to him. I almost died like that once, when I thought Amy didn't love me. Yet I was lucky. She gave me one last chance, even though she knew she shouldn't have, and I proved to her that she made the right decision."

Rob looked TK in the eye. "It's okay to morn your losses, TK, but don't let them haunt you. You have to move on..." A tear escaped his eye as he remembered his parents death back in the Silver Millennia. "We have to move on. It's what they would want us to do. And we don't have to face this alone. Burter was trying to tell you something before he died, didn't he? And Kari was there, too, wasn't she? What does that tell you, young Saotome? Think on that."

They then sat down at the table as Rob sighed. "Now, tell me what happened that day..."


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Kari walked into the principal's office later that day, as she was asked to. "You wished to see me, sir?" she asked upon entering.

Kuno looked at her and said, "Yes, Kari. You know that TK was absent today, didn't you?"

Kari nodded. When she realized that he wouldn't be coming that day, she knew he was still mourning the death of his friend Burter. Davis had muttered something at lunch about TK not wanting to show his face after he killed someone, and Kari's hatred towards him increased. That's a funny way of showing gratitude, she thought coldly. If TK hadn't killed Friezor, we'd all be dead now and Earth would be space dust.

Kuno looked at her as if he knew what she was thinking. "You pay no attention to that fool of a cousin to Ryoga. He knows nothing about the Saotome name save for what Akane and Ryoga tell him. I wish for you to deliver TK's homework to him by 4 this afternoon. He is meeting with King Robert to give his statement on the events of Saturday, and of the death of Burter. Hopefully, he should be home by then. I also ask that you say nothing of TK's whereabouts to anyone."

Kari took the assignments and left. Checking the clock outside, she noticed it was only ten of 3. Might as well stop by the Mansion and see if he's there. She had not gone more than a few feet away from school when Davis ran up to her. "Kari, what are you doing? We have classes at the Dojo today in ten minutes!"

"I'll be late," she said, quickening her pace. "I have to deliver some homework for someone." Gotta ditch him fast!

Davis, however, also picked up the pace. "Hey, I could deliver them for you."

"No thanks. I can handle it." Now get lost!

Davis suddenly frowned. "It's for the killer, isn't it? Saotome?"

Kari stopped, then turned to glare at Davis. "What. Did. You. Call. Him?!"

"Kari, you saw what I saw Saturday. Saotome's a cold-blooded-."

That was all Kari could stand, as she punched Davis hard in the stomach, knocking the wind right out of him. Her eyes burned at him as he fell to his knees, gasping for breath. "You'd be dead right now if it wasn't for him," she said, the words dripping with venom. Turning away, she finished with "And so would I. You should be grateful to him for that, at least."

Davis watched helplessly as he watched Kari walk away, leaving him there. Why, Kari? Why?! Finally, with his breath returning to him, he picked himself off the ground and walked towards the home of Ryoga and Akane. His replayed Kari's hit repeatedly in his mind, but it slowly change to TK being the aggressor, not Kari. This made him ever more bitter. Damn him! He's doing this to her, I know it! Somehow, someway I'm gonna bring him to justice for all he and his cousin have done... but how can I without getting myself killed by that maniac's power?


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Ryoga and Davis were sparring in the Dojo while Akane broke bricks, when Kari finally arrived in her gi. The two men continued to fight, but Akane stopped her training and glared at the girl. "Where were you?" she asked, trying to remain calm. "That's not like you to be late."

Kari walked over to her. "I was asked to deliver several homework assignments to an absent student by the Principal. I told Davis to let you know I'd be late."

Akane stood up. "He did tell us. He said you were going to see TK, is that right? He was the one absent today, wasn't he?"

"Yes, Mrs. Hibiki. I went to his home and gave him his homework." Kari knew where this was going to go. She had seen Akane express her deep hatred of Ranma, and knew those feelings were mutual towards TK. She expected Davis to inform his relatives about her attempts to be with him, and expected Akane to make her stay away from him.

Akane didn't disappoint her. "I don't want you around that guy. Do you hear me? Stay away from him! After what we saw Saturday, you know that he's extremely dangerous and untrustworthy. It was because of him and Ranma that-."

"RANMA IS DEAD!" Kari exploded. "Your husband defeated him and you broke up with him, so he chose to die and never bother you again! I fail to see why you continue to fight a war that ended six years ago. As for TK, I've known him since we were in Second Grade. Granted, Ranma's death changed him and that I've been apart from him for five years, but I still trust him with all my heart. No one, not even you, can change that."

Davis and Ryoga stopped fighting as Davis said, "Kari, he's a murderer-!"

"Oh please, Davis! How can you and your cousins be so blinded by hate?! The entire planet and we would've been destroyed if it weren't for him. Moreover, none of you dare say that he doesn't care about anyone but himself. Because I saw him break down after Burter died. He blamed himself for what happened. He's even tried to push me away because he's scared to hurt me, but I know that he needs me, even if he can't admit it to himself."

Ryoga walked over to her. "Kari, I know you think that somewhere in TK he's the same boy you knew. But things change over time, and so do people. Ranma ruined my life and Akane's. We don't want the same thing to happen to you now that TK is following in his cousin's footsteps."

Kari was silent for a moment, and then softly chuckled. "It's really amazing, you know... how pig-headed you all are. Not to mention how much you think you're all blameless. You're just my martial arts instructors, and a schoolmate, NOT my family! None of you can make me abandon my best friend!"

Akane then finally lost her temper. "Hikari Kamiya, either you stay away from that bastard, or... or you can forget about your lessons here! And YOU can explain it to your parents!"

Davis was about to protest, but Kari raised her hand to silence him. "Very well," she said in a calm manner. Akane smiled, but it faded when Kari then said, "Good-bye, Mrs. Hibiki. Have a good life." Without another word, she turned on her heel and walked out of the Dojo to change out of her gi.

The Hibikis all stood in frozen shock, never seeing Kari exit the house never to return.


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It was still cloudy the next afternoon, which fit the mood perfectly for Burter's funeral. TK was among the others who had come to lay the hero to rest. However, unlike the others, he didn't shed a tear. Neither did Ginyu, for that matter, but no one dared to question them or say anything. Both of them had cried for Burter's passing, and had let the pain go. Most of the pain, anyway.

They were the last to leave as they watched the undertakers lower the large coffin into the ground. Not a word was spoken until Ginyu said, "I hope you learn something from this, TK. Never let anything come between friendships, especially foolish pride. Otherwise, it will be too late to say that you're sorry." The purple alien then looked the teen in the eye. "Go home, son. Let's let him rest in peace."

TK stared back, silent for a moment. "He still considered you and the other Elite members as his friends, Ginyu. He wanted you to know that."

This made Ginyu smile a little. "Thank you." Watching as TK left the cemetery, he then looked back at the coffin and headstone. "You taught him well, Burter. Not even I could have done a better job. Take care, old friend..."


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Mrs. Kamiya was surprised Thursday morning when Kari exited her room wearing black clothes. "I'll be home a little late, mom," she heard her say. "I'm gonna be with TK after school for a bit." Kari then walked out the door with her school bag before her mother could ask her why she was wearing that color. She then looked at her husband. "Why is she wearing that black dress? Did someone die?"

Mr. Kamiya looked up from his newspaper, confused. Tai, who had slept over, walked in and said, "Yes, mom. Six years ago tonight, someone did."

Mrs. Kamiya was about to ask who had died when it hit her. "Now I remember... it was TK's cousin. The one with the black pigtail, and the one that the Hibikis hated with a passion." She recalled earlier that week when Kari told her and Mr. Kamiya why she wouldn't be taking classes at the Dojo. They understood once she described the argument between her and Mrs. Hibiki, and called her to confirm the cancellation of Kari's lessons. Both of them had considered TK and Matt as family.

Tai nodded. "Ranma Saotome. Each year on this night, TK and those who were at the death scene go to Ranma's grave to pay their respects. Kari found out recently, and she's decided to go with them, even if TK forbids her to." There's no doubt about it... she's in love with him.


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No one said anything about TK's black attire at school all week, not even the teachers. One of them had asked Principal Kuno about it, and he replied, "Let him be! He mourns for the death of his cousin, who died six years ago around this time." Kuno had even warned Davis to keep his mouth shut on several penalties, including expulsion. "Would you rather he let Friezor kill everyone, including Kari?" was his reply to Davis's accusations of TK being a murderer. That seemed to work, and so Davis agreed to say nothing.

TK was surprised to see Kari dressed in similar color to him. She immediately told him that she would go with him tonight, and that she would not take "no" for an answer. He was not in a mood to argue since classes were just about to begin. Somewhere deep inside of him, he was glad about Kari's decision to join him.

The two of them spent most of the day together, at school and then at the Mansion. Once they met up with Cell, Metal-Etemon, Rusty, and Puppetmon, the six of them walked to the cemetery. The once sunny day soon turned cloudy, with light thunder in the distance, as they finally came to the headstone that said, "Ranma Saotome, 1980-1998. He died with honor."

Each of them stood before the headstone side-by-side, some silently praying while others quietly crying. Rusty was the first to leave, fearing the coming storm would cause his metallic body parts to rust. The two Digimon were next to go, deciding that TK and Cell needed time alone at the grave.

Cell continued to stare at the tombstone while he blindly placed a hand on TK's shoulder. TK took one hand and placed it over his friend's. "I miss him, too," he whispered, his eyes still fixed on the tombstone. The Android removed his hand gently before looking over at Kari, nodded, and then walked away. He saw King Robert and Queen Amy walking up to him, concerned looks on their faces. "I'm alright, Rob," he said, stopping to look back. "But give those two a moment alone." With that, he walked away.

TK never looked away from the tombstone, even when Kari placed her hand in his and squeezed it gently. I got him, Ranma, he thought. I got Friezor for not only what he did to you, but for what he did to Burter and countless others he slew, and for what he would have done to Earth if he wasn't stopped. But I'm sure Burter has told you that already. "This will be my last visit for a long time," he said finally. "His death has been avenged at long last, and maybe now I can truly rest."

Kari watched as he finally looked away from the headstone, and into her eyes. "Let's get you home." Nodding, she followed him down the little hill and back into the city. She looked back briefly to see an image of a teen in Chinese clothing and with black hair and a pigtail bowing to her. "Thank you," she heard a faint voice call to her before she faced front.

Now Robert and Amy approached the grave. "Ranma would be proud of him," she said to her husband. "Looking back, I can still hear Ranma and Akane fighting with each other. I watched them fight over stupid, unimportant things... making me realize how we were becoming like them." Amy then hugged Robert tight. "If it wasn't for him, my dear husband, it may have been you dead instead of him, or both of you. Why couldn't Akane see how much she was hurting him more than he to her?"

Robert returned the hug. "There are some wishes, beloved, that even the Eternal Dragon cannot grant. Yet, I only wish I could have helped him then." Looking back, he recalled how he tried to keep out of Ranma's fiancée problems, not wanting to add to them. Now, he wondered if it was wrong for him to do so.


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Kari and TK stood in front of the door to her apartment, still holding hands. He looked deeply into her brown eyes once more. "Thank you... for coming with me tonight. I appreciate you going out of your way for me."

Kari took his hand into both of hers. "I couldn't be there for you in the past five years, and I'll make it up to you by being here now, no matter what. And don't let Davis come between us, TK, because he is not my boyfriend, and never will be." Unable to control herself, she hugged him tight. "I never want to lose you, Takeru."

TK returned the hug. Takeru... she called me Takeru. He then lifted her face towards him and kissed her lips. Kari returned the kiss gladly, not wanting the moment to end. Sadly, though, it did. TK then asked, "So, what time should I come over tomorrow?"

Kari smiled. "Dinner's usually at 5, so better be here by 4:45 at the latest." She gave him one last kiss on the cheek before leaving. After the door closed behind her, she leaned back against it and sighed, clutching her heart. I love you, Takeru.

TK stared at the door for a moment before finally walking away, his heart beating rapidly. I love you, Hikari.


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ALF straightened his tie and looked in the mirror one last time. Opening his jacket, he placed a laser gun in a hoister, and then concealed it with his jacket before exiting his new room at the Mega Mansion. His footsteps echoed in the hall as he finally approached the door to the conference room and then stopped.

Well, here goes nothing! ALF finally opened the door and stepped in to see Duo, who was wearing his Gundam Deathscythe armor; Rusty, Galvatron, Sailor Moon II, Sailor Saturn, Gohan, Tekkagirl, and Spider-Carnage seated around the table, looking at him. He then approached the leader's chair and sat down, officially taking his first step as the new leader of the team. It had been a shock to him especially, but he accepted it after no one else chose to take the position.

"So," he said, pushing his doubts and nervousness aside. "This is the current roster. Let me say first that if you have any doubts about me being leader, you're not alone. I, too, doubt my status here, but I intend to do my best and ask of you all only to trust me. To you newest members, I know how you feel. I was the new guy once, too, and I still consider myself that way. We're not here to replace or outdo anyone. We're here because we want to help make the world a safer and better place. Any questions?"

After a brief silence, ALF then pulled out a file from a folder on the table. "Now, let's discuss Rusty's suggestion of possible reserve teammates. Particularly Takeru Saotome..."


To Be Continued...

Notes: Just reminding you all that I do not own any of the characters, save for King Robert/Rob Gittler and Tekkagirl, whom I just made up. Sailor Moon II is just another name for Rini, or Chibi-Usagi as some prefer to call her, and there was a character named Spider-Carnage in an old story arc in the Spider-man comic books where the carnage symbiote took over Spidey and made him go nuts for a while. Ja ne!