Prologue

He was gone.

The thought pounded away in her head. How could he just…be gone? It was to unreal. He had been everything and without him, well what was left? A cold, hallow feeling settled into the bottom of Akane Tendou's stomach and her eyes welled with tears. But she would not cry. That jerk! She would waste no tears on him or anyone else ever again. She was done crying. Feeling suddenly cold, Akane shivered before slipping completely beneath the steamy surface of the water. A minute passed, her lungs screamed for air, her vision grew bleary and then everything went black.

Akane was awoken by the sharp sound of knuckles on wood. She winced and struggled wearily to her feet. Death sure looked a lot like her old bathroom. "Akane dear? Are you alright in there? You've been in the bath for almost three hours. We're beginning to get worried." Kasumi's motherly voiced filtered into her ears and Akane smothered a curse.

That night a dinner no one spoke. Genma was the only one who seemed unaffected by the absence of the familiar pigtailed boy. His chewing sounded disgustingly loud in Akane's ears. Pushing away her untouched rice and fish she stood up. "I'm going." She announced finally. All eyes were on her in an instant, demanding an explanation.

"You are going to find Ranma?" "Oh Akane do remember to pack everything." "No, not my baby girl!" "You'll need cash you know."

She narrowed her eyes. "To bed. I'm going to bed." Disappointment, relief, concern, she could read it on their faces as easily as if it had been written. Without another word she turned and slowly climbed the stairs. The door with the duck slammed shut.

For hours she paced her room. Thinking had never been so hard. She knew she couldn't stay but…where would she go? What would she do? She was 19 years old, no plans of going to college, very little money, no hopes, no dreams, no talents. What could she do? Letting a frustrated sigh escape her lips she settled down onto her bed. A small black pig climbed into her lap and she stroked his head absently. "P-chan, am I really nothing?" He glanced questioningly up at her before shaking his head frantically. Before Ranma she had been somebody. Then all of sudden he was there, stealing the spotlight, blinding her to anything else; he defined her, he was her world.

He was everything she had ever wanted to be. The thought made her gasp. The horrible knowledge slowly dawned on her. He was something, she was nothing and without him…well without him she didn't have anything either. Almost without thinking her hand reached out to grab her diary and pen that lay beside her bed. Sad brown eyes, eyes that had stolen the hearts of many, stared down at the blue covering. Small hands, hands that could break blocks, caressed the smooth plastic. A sad smile tugged at her lips, and idea at her mind. She could write. She had never even considered the idea before but now, it seemed the obvious choice.

Always a good student Akane had discovered a fondness for writing at a young age. First she wrote stories, silly fairy tales mostly. Then poems telling of love, happiness, hope. Those died soon after Ranma had come into her life. Looking through them now, they were childish and she felt slightly ashamed at her ignorance. Her diary was her pride and joy. She had three volumes filled and was half way through a fourth. With Ranma in her life she had more then enough to write about, but it was more then that. It was a story, a grand adventure about a young martial artist who was the best their ever was.

Ranma Saotome.

Just the name made her heart beat faster. And then she knew what she would do. It would be rough at first but Akane needed a challenge. Something to distract her from herself, from him, from the lack of him.

That night Akane Tendou packed a large duffel bag. A few outfits, her gi, of course her journal, a photo of her mother, and a long-dead, blood red rose. She had quite a lot of money in the bank from working odd jobs over the past summer, not enough but it would be a start. A quick visit with Nabiki and everything was arranged. No one would even know she was gone for good until two weeks later.

She left that night, wearing a pretty dress patterned with large red flowers and a white coat. Worn out sneakers plodded noisily on the silent streets of her hometown. She boarded the train in a daze and took her seat without much notice. It wasn't until an hour later that she pulled out a notebook and pen and began to write.

i I was the best there was… /i