Standard disclaimer applies to each and every chapter of this story.

A first attempt at Ranma multi-chapter fanfiction. (: Comments and criticism greatly appreciated! Flames will be used to roast my chicken wings, thankyouverymuch. :P



By Andrina


The autumn chill was bitingly cold as it swept through the town. From time to time, one or two of the few lonely leaves still clinging on stubbornly to the trees would flutter down feebly, landing softly on the pavement. Those who were brave enough to leave the warm shelter of their homes did so unwillingly, scurrying about hurriedly and wrapped snugly in thick woolen clothing.

From up the street, a cab pulled to a stop at the pavement, not too far from the place where Doctor Tofu Ono used to work as a private practitioner. The young lady inside the cab smiled briefly as she handed over the exact cab fare, giving her thanks softly. Stepping out of the cab, the woman carefully tucked a strand of short hair behind her ears, before retrieving her suitcase from the trunk of the car.

As the cab pulled away and vanished down the street in a cloud of exhaust fumes, the woman coughed, shielding her nose and mouth with a small hand. Shaking her head slightly, she began to walk, carrying the large suitcase with surprising ease. As she walked, a small smile bloomed on her young unblemished face, and before she knew it, she had began humming softly to herself.

Oh, it felt nice to be back in Nerima.

Before long, she had stopped at the entrance of a Doujou. Surely, she thought, the place had seen better days? The walls were slightly yellowed now, and the place bore a look of shabbiness. Still... wouldn't they all be glad that she was back to spend all of December with them? She, for one, was definitely glad. There was something undeniably heartwarming about being back in the place where she had spent many of her childhood years. Perhaps, the woman thought hopefully, perhaps she would be able to pay Furinkan High School a visit sometime during her stay? She laughed quietly.

She rang the doorbell, still smiling. They would have a nice surprise.

Minutes passed. The woman's smile faded a little. Where was everyone?

She was about to ring the doorbell once more when abruptly, the doors swung open. The young woman smiled warmly then. "Oh, Kasumi," she greeted happily. "I..."

Something was wrong.

Her voice died off at the sight of dear beautiful Kasumi, usually neat and radiant, gripping the doorknob with an unnatural force. Her hair, always remembered as being gloriously luxurious and silky, was a tangled mess pulled into a messy ponytail. Her clothes, always neat and clean, now looked in dire need to adjustment and change. And her face, her dear beautiful sweet face was frighteningly pale, heightened by the lost confused eyes as Kasumi looked on blankly. After a few seconds, Kasumi spoke, her voice dry and hoarse from lack of use.

"Oh, Akane..." The older woman whispered vacantly, waving her hand impassively. "How nice. I was just about to call you to tell you that Father died last night."

Without warning, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she fell forward onto Akane in a boneless heap.


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