The Choices I Make.


Himura Alucard


I do not own any of the characters I have used in this little tale of mine. They all belong and will forever belong to their rightful owners. I'm just a poor soul who used them in a story that came out one night while I was doing nothing in particular.

Author Notes:

I know it's been a long time since I posted anything out…and I know I still have a few unfinished pieces but let's just call them 'finished' for the moment. A lot of things have happened in between my last post but for most part this story took up most of my spare time.

It's my longest one to date, it finished 24 chapters long and honestly the longer I try to make these the more I worry that by the midway the story would go flat but I tried my best to keep the story interesting. This story like all my others doesn't keep to a specific timeline so it could be said to be an AU.

Characters here maybe a little out of character but they had to be for the sake of the story. And things this time around would go a little slow between the main characters…For those who have never read any of my past Ranma stories well I'm an avid fan of Ranma and Kasumi, and so you have been warned.

I hope that you, the readers of this story would still find enjoyment in the reading…all comments are welcomed but please keep the flames to a low constructive simmer…it's been a long time since I've received one hehe.

Lastly but not the least, a very big thank you and gigantic arigatou goes out to my pre-readers, JohnnyG and Drkjester aka Thanatos. Without their efforts I wouldn't have noticed the mistakes that were made during the initial writing of the story, for that I thank them greatly.

Now onto the story…

Chapter 1


Everyone has choices to make, from the very beginning of their lives till the very end. Some are easy, and some hard, but we all have to make them either way. But there are some choices that we make in life that aren't asked of us to decide, but rather enforced upon us…


Ranma stared wearily out of his room window towards the orangey horizon that centered on the first creeping rays of the morning sun. Indicating to the whole world that another day was about to start.

"How long has it been?" A question he asked no one in particular.

"Long enough…" he replied back to himself.

Ranma let out a halfhearted sigh, and got down from sitting on his room's windowsill to get himself ready for his usual morning exercises. Stepping around the idly sleeping and loud snoring figure of a rather oversized Panda with a blanket that was rather too small to cover him, he left the room.

Normally Ranma would still be in a blissful slumber right about now, but instead he was wide awake. He had been going on like this for a few weeks now, barely sleeping enough during the night and barely making it through the rest of day without blanking out.

What was the reason behind Ranma's erratic sleeping behavior?


A few weeks back Ranma, with his school bag swung around his back, was happily walking along the path back to the Tendo Dojo after a boring day at school, when suddenly he felt as if someone was watching him. The feeling got stronger and stronger until it felt like whomever it was that was watching him was boring into his soul.

Ranma stopped and looked around, glancing across the street from where he was standing, but found nothing. Even leaping up onto a nearby wall to gain a better vantage point was fruitless as well.

'Damn it…who in the heck is watching me?'

Just as he mentally thought the question, Ranma felt the sensation of being watched being lifted up from him. Feeling no immediate return of that creepy feeling he returned to his original purpose, walking home.

With his second step forwards he heard his name being called, "Saotome Ranma…"

Coming to an instant halt Ranma looked around him, the sensation that he was being watched rushed back towards him again.

"Look whoever you are, you better show yourself," he demanded.

Ranma did a slow anti-clockwise turn, hopeful to pinpoint where this person or being was exactly. Just as he turned towards a rather dimly shadowed part of an alley he hit pay dirt.

Rushing towards the strong sensation of a pair of eyes Ranma poised himself to face whoever it was, but as quickly as he rushed in, he suddenly came to a stop. Right there in front of him, sitting Indian-styled on a very faded looking bamboo carpet, was a very old looking woman complete with white graying hair tied into a bun on top of her head.

"Nice to meet you again, Saotome Ranma," she prompted.

Ranma was sure he had no memory whatsoever of ever seeing her before.

"Again?" he quizzed.

The elderly woman overheard him and laughed. "Yes…again. This is in fact our second meeting Ranma. I guess you were too young back then to remember the last time we met."

Ranma crouched down tardily and carefully studied the woman a bit more while racking his memories hard trying to remember. The woman gave Ranma all the time he needed to try and recall the memory, if he could.

As a very blurred image floated around the insides of his head, he spoke. "You…you were that old lady from that town pops and I once stayed in while we were in China. I was waiting for pops to come back with some food."

The old woman smiled a little wider as Ranma slowly began to remember, "You then said my name and I turned around…"

Simple nodding the old woman produced from within her long overlapping sleeves what looks like deck of cards and began to one by one spread it out in a pattern on the carpet.

"I then told you that we'd met again in ten years time from that day and today is that very day…" she gave the first card she took out a very long look.

Ranma thought hard and frankly he had totally forgotten about that day and was struggling to recall it, the look he had etched on his face told her so.

"Well that doesn't really matter now for that is in the past. And right now I will tell you of your present and maybe your future. You might want to get comfortable…" as she pointed to the empty space on the mat in front of her.

Ranma sat down, copying her sitting position on the carpet, and listened in. "I see that so far your life has led you through many circumstances and also many paths..."

She accented the word 'paths' heavily with a raised eyebrow and shot a quick look at him.

"You have succeeded in many trials but also failed in countless others…"

By now Ranma's ego and the word failure don't go well together so…

"I have not failed once!" he loudly huffed.

His reply made for a very quick laugh from the old woman. "But oh you have… Ranma, oh you have. You've failed in making the choices that would have made your life so different and maybe a lot happier. Can you really say that you are happy with your life?"

Ranma quickly countered, "Yeah…of course I'm happy…"

"You're a liar… you are haunted constantly by indecision and endless self doubt. Your life is nothing but a whole assortments of self imposed mistakes and naïve foolishness. Saotome Ranma, you have yet to feel a single day of true happiness since we last met all those years ago," she shot back.

Her words stung a bit but Ranma retorted back, "Well says who! I am happy…very happy indeed…" Trailing weakly off at the end of his sentence didn't convey the truth of that fact.

"If you say so… but now I'm here to tell you of what you may face…"

Ranma hurriedly cut in, "Well who says I'm going to listen…"

Ranma just had enough of this and as he got up she said, "The burden of your problems lies within the hearts of three young girls who all vie for your affections. But yet you do not give to them what they want, instead you choose to withhold your own heart and true feelings from them..."

With his back turned towards her. "You have some nerve… obasan." Ranma's voice spilled over with threatening intent.

"I'm only telling what I see from the cards…"

Ranma glanced over his back just for a second and saw what type of cards she was looking at, some version of Tarot cards.

"I don't believe in that mumbo jumbo…" he spat.

The old woman, after dealing out the last card onto the pattern, continued regardless. "Your troubles don't just end there… you are faced with so many choices that needs to be made but you are hesitant to make your definitive choice. Instead you try so hard to find a choice that will lead all of those you care for to some sort of happiness. But you never asked yourself what if that choice doesn't exist? How long have you tried to find an alternative that you can make that will lead everyone to happiness? What if all the choices you thought were right were wrong? And in wanting everyone to be happy you may end up being terribly miserable?"

Ranma hated to hear what she had said, but in the back of his mind he dreaded to admit that she was right in some ways.

"I'd try to find a way to make everyone happy somehow…" he growled to her.

"Very well… you are as hardheaded now as you were back then, but hear this. Reflect back at your young life and see how much you have achieved. Then try looking forward and see how far you would go with those choices…"

"That's my business… you old…" Ranma stopped mid-sentence to see that the old woman had disappeared once he had turned around.


That was weeks ago and Ranma was fine at first, but her words slowly began to trek from the back of his head right into each of his thoughts. Every night from that day on he'd lay awake on his futon thinking back to what she had said.

'What I've achieved? And what is my future?' Ranma thought to himself in the recesses of his mind.

Ranma would eventually fall to sleep, but in his sleep he would memory-dream of his past, from the times spent in China to where he was now, but those were the good dreams. His nightmares would be those of his future where he was old, withered and gray like the old lecher Happosai but was still being chased by Ukyo, Shampoo and Akane.

That nightmare however couldn't compare to the nightmare where Ranma saw himself old and gray, sitting down alone under a tree inside a park, looking out to the children playing around him. He'd see one of the children suddenly fall down in front of him and as he looked carefully he swore that the young boy looked a lot like Ryoga.

And when the boy ran crying to an elderly looking couple sitting on the next bench, Ranma eyes grew wide. The couple looked like Ryoga and Akane, only older, but they were happily consoling the young child to stop his tears. Then looking around he'd see older versions of everyone else.

Shampoo was with Mousse, Kuno was sitting down with Nabiki, Ukyo with Kontatsu, and Kasumi was with Dr. Tofu. Every one of them happily playing with their grandchildren except him; he had no one to play with or no one sitting beside him.

Ranma would then wake up drenched in his own cold sweat from those nightmares. He had been waking up like this more frequently now whether he liked it or not. Then he'd be too afraid to go back sleep, or exhausted Ranma would sit on his futon with his knees tucked into his chest and lay his head on his bent knees thinking.

'Is that how am I going to end up? All alone…?'

For the first few weeks Ranma acted as if everything was normal, but all those sleepless nights one day caught up with him. One morning, looking extremely haggard and eyes blackened, Ranma staggered down to the breakfast table.

Soun looked up above his morning paper wanting to say good morning to him but stopped when he saw his appearance. "Ranma… my boy you look absolutely terrible… are you alright?"

This lead to his own father asking, "What have you been doing?"

Mumbling his answer to the two men Ranma sat down beside who he thought was Akane but was actually Nabiki.

"Ranma… err… are you sure there's nothing wrong with you? I don't want to lose out on today's bets at school," she fretted. True Nabiki was concerned with her wagers, but even looking at the poor boy herself she couldn't help but ask him about his well-being.

This made Akane take a quick look at him, but she was still mad at Ranma for allowing Shampoo to glomp him two days ago. "Humph… must have been doing something perverted…"

Kasumi was the last person to enter and as she handed everyone their bowls she let out an almighty "Oh my…" when Ranma tiredly smiled for her while accepting his bowl.

"Ranma…! You look absolutely horrible, are you feeling okay?" Kasumi then quickly placed a palm over his forehead but felt no temperature.

Normally Ranma would be blushing right now from Kasumi's innocent touch, but all he could muster out was a whisper.

"Fine… Kasumi… nothing to worry about…" He weakly took her hand down from his forehead.

Kasumi gave Ranma a weak smile and continued handing out the remaining bowls, but still wasn't so sure of Ranma's current condition. During the whole breakfast, Kasumi noticed how Ranma barely touched his dish of grilled fish and only drank tiny sips of his miso soup. He even let his portion of fish get stolen from right under him from his father.

All he managed was to take in a few bites of his rice before standing up with Akane and Nabiki for school. Heading for the door, or rather floundering to it, Ranma accepted his bento, giving another weak smile to the now rather worried looking Kasumi.

"Ranma, are you sure you want to go to school? You can call in sick… I can take you to visit the clinic."

"It's okay… Kasumi… really. See… as fit as a fiddle…" Ranma tried to puff out his chest, but strangely couldn't find the strength to, but continued to walk out of the Dojo.

Kasumi tentatively trailed behind him and looking out to the pathway she found that both Nabiki and Akane had already gone on ahead without him.

'At least they could have waited for Ranma. Didn't they see how terrible he looked?' She sighed mentally, a little saddened by their complete disregard for the young martial artist.

Slowly, but definitely, Ranma took step after step instead of his usual run and reached the main gates of the house. Just as he was about to walk out, Ranma felt a little lightheaded, so he leaned a hand on the heavy gate to prop himself up.

Ranma's vision slowly blackened and then he felt nothing. Kasumi was still standing by the inner doorway and, as if in slow motion, witnessed at first Ranma leaning on the closed gate and then suddenly collapsing beside it.



Kneeling down beside the sleeping figure of Ranma in his room, Kasumi wondered how she could not have noticed how Ranma's condition had degraded until this stage.

Thinking back she was a little occupied with trying to get Akane at least to be back on talking terms with Ranma after that afternoon when she came back home as if she was ready to start World War III.

A few hours later, Ranma, or rather Ranma-chan, lurched past her in the kitchen, heading up to her room mumbling something about "uncute tomboys should be banned from using mallets."

After that Ranma himself, at any given time, would just give everyone a wide berth, growing tired of explaining over and over again about what happened between him and Akane.

But looking at his very tired, listless face, Kasumi still couldn't forgive herself for overlooking this. It wasn't everyday that Ranma would just suddenly faint in front of the house, and when he does, you know something is very, very wrong.

Luckily her father and Genma had been around to help her carry the poor boy back up to his room and settled him down onto his futon after Kasumi had set it out for him. The two then went back downstairs mumbling about how 'weak' or how 'unmanly' fainting was for someone like him.

'How could they even say that when he fainted right in front of the house without knowing why?' Kasumi contemplated angrily at the two elder men.

Sadly Kasumi, as much as she wanted to stay and look after Ranma, had her usual morning chores to complete. But she promised him that she'd look in on him when she finished.


It was early afternoon and right after returning home from her afternoon shopping Kasumi slid Ranma's door open and quietly walked in to check on Ranma as she promised, not that he had heard her before.

Kasumi noted that Ranma had barely even moved from where he had laid since that morning, and after a quiet wait of fifteen minutes, Kasumi let out a soft sigh from her lips and started to quietly head for the door.

Just as her hand reached the handle to push it open she heard the ever so light rustling sound of someone waking behind her. Turning around her expression lit up a little brighter since morning on seeing Ranma stirring lightly.

Quickly making her way back to kneel beside him she asked, "How do you feel Ranma?"

In his tired state, Ranma barely had the strength to open his heavy eyes, but made out Kasumi asking him, "How do you feel Ranma?"

Albeit slowly, Ranma willed his eyes to open and answered her. "I feel as if I got blasted by a chi ball the size of Tokyo…"

This made Kasumi giggle a bit, but she took delight that Ranma was somewhat on the mend. But she quickly regained her composure.

"Ranma… by any chance are you getting enough sleep lately? Is there something bothering you?"

Ranma felt that he would just able to tilt his head slightly so he turned to face Kasumi. "Nah… it's nothing. I've just been having some trouble sleeping that's all. It'll go away soon enough…"

The youth then tried to sit up, but as he did his sudden exertion brought upon a splitting headache, which promptly caused him to flop back down flat onto the futon.

"Ow… ow… ow…" complained Ranma as he held his head.

"Ranma, you shouldn't try to get out of bed just yet. You've been out for almost a whole day…" mentioned Kasumi.

Looking up to his ceiling, "What you mean a day, Kasumi? What time is it now anyways?"

"Ranma… do you even remember anything about what happened to you?"

Shaking his head on his pillow, Kasumi began to fill Ranma in on the morning's events.

Sitting in silence, Kasumi studied Ranma, who for the first time she could remember looked so unlike the Ranma of old. His cheeks were a little drawn in, his eyes had lost the glint they once held and his overall surefooted presence had lost some of its arrogance.

"Ranma… what's wrong?" asked Kasumi, breaking the silence.

Her question seemed more like a request, but its simplicity hid its dire need to be answered by her soft voice.

"Do you think about your future?" was all she could hear Ranma say.

Kasumi was caught off guard with his blunt questioning. "Well… err… of course Ranma. Don't we all?"

Ranma's lips formed a sad smile. "I didn't…"

Kasumi scowled a little for him to see. "I mean Kasumi I've never thought about my future… I'm a 'live one day at a time' kinda guy, or rather I was…"

Her frown then changed into a look of confusion.

"There's nothing wrong with that… Ranma."

Ranma lifted his right hand and bent it before covering his eyes with it. "Kasumi have you ever regretted not making the right choice when you had the chance to? I mean like you were given an option, and then you went and choose the one that's not going to hurt anyone the most, instead of the logical one, but then it just brings on more problems…"

Kasumi was now even more confused, but in a way she sort of understood what he had wanted to ask her.

"Ranma… you sound tired. Maybe you should get some more rest. Maybe we can continue this chat when you're feeling better."

Leaning down a little, Kasumi had wanted to bring his blanket up a bit, but her hands only went halfway, for Ranma's own free left hand held them back.

"Kasumi… did you regret inviting us into your home? I mean, you had the chance of kicking us out a long time ago…" he said, looking very soberly up to her.

She couldn't understand why Ranma was acting so weird all of a sudden, but Kasumi figured that she could at least get to the bottom of Ranma's troubles by listening to what he had to say.

"Truthfully on a few occasions I have thought about it…" Kasumi then sat back down and patted Ranma's hands lightly before continuing. "But I never went through with it."


Seeing how Ranma was eyeing her with so much doubtfulness, she thought about what she wanted to say to him a little longer then usual.

"Well… for one you are Akane's fiancé, and secondly I had only honestly thought about kicking your father out, not you… Ranma," she said with a smile.

Ranma showed a weak grin but allowed her continue. "Well sometimes I see how Genma ji-san and Otosan do more damage then good sometimes with their so-called plans, and well sometimes I wonder if it would help things between you and Akane not having him around you two."

"Good point… I could have done so many things differently if pops wasn't around…" Ranma weakly interjected.

Kasumi was just about to add something but Ranma continued, thus she stood down. "Things could have been different, but maybe things could have stayed the same even if he was…"

Ranma talking all psychological like that made Kasumi fret a little. "Ranma…" she began.

Ranma could sense what she was about to say and cut her off.

Lifting his arm from his eyes. "You must think I've gone nuts… Ranma's finally lost it huh?"

Kasumi quickly shook her head. "No… Ranma… I never…"

"I don't blame you Kasumi… for the past few nights I've been thinking that maybe I've gone nuts… staying up in bed all night looking up at the ceiling, thinking about so many things at once. All the choices I've made in life… were they the rights ones? How many people I've unintentionally hurt by making them, instead of actually helping them…"

Ranma's words sent a small shiver up Kasumi's spine. The way he described it was exactly the way he was looking up to the ceiling right there in front of her, deep in thought.

"Ranma… life is like that. There isn't a choice which is totally right or wrong. I mean, well of course there are right ones and wrong ones, but in certain situations either one doesn't seem like the right one…" Kasumi was hopeful that she had got her point across to him.

Looking back up at her, Ranma said, "Well, if I had made some of those right ones, I wouldn't be in the damn mess I'm in right now in my life…" His voice was somewhat now raised.

For some unknown reason Kasumi wished she hadn't heard Ranma say that.

"Kasumi… I've looked back at my life so far and what have I've done? Nothing… squat!" his sudden outburst startled her a little.

"I've never had much of a choice in pretty much everything I've done. My engagements, my training, heck I don't have any control of my life. And when I do have choices to make I can't make them! What are my choices? Marrying someone who probably doesn't want to marry me in the first place? Having to protect her for the rest of our miserable lives together from everyone else? And if I did, I'd make my friends go against me… then after that I'd make your home and this town into a natural disaster area. Those aren't what I call easy choices… damn I wish I didn't have to make them at all. But I know I have to and when I do, I know I'll end up hurting everyone. Maybe it'd just be okay if I'm the only one left hurting…"

By now, Ranma has started to tremble and his eyes began to water over.

"Sad thing is that I know nothing other than how to fight… heck… I can't even keep up with my studies in school because I can't stay awake long enough. What type of life I am making for myself if I make that choice too? In the end I might just end up with nothing and no one…"

Ranma gradually turned his back towards Kasumi, trying to hide the tears that were streaming steadily from his left eye down along the bridge of his nose adding to the tears from the right.

If Ranma had still been facing Kasumi, then he would have seen her tears welling over as well. She was crying for the both of them in a sort of way. "Ranma…" she whispered.

She repeated calling his name two more times, but in the end she rather strongly forced him to face her.

Now staring directly down into his teary blue ones with her own watery brown, she said, "Ranma… you've done so many good things that I've lost count. Most of the negative things that you've described aren't even your fault, or were beyond your control in the first place, so don't go blaming yourself for those. Maybe you just need some help with your studies … I know you've got it inside of you to do well… you just need to set your mind to do it. And your not going to be alone, I'll be there with you if you want me to…" she evenly mouthed each word down to him.

A few of her lone tears dripped down onto Ranma's cheeks. Looking up and seeing how sad Kasumi looked caused Ranma's heart to tear up. He was now feeling even more miserable then before for making Kasumi cry and regretting it.

Gently sitting up, Ranma shifted a bit closer to Kasumi, close enough that her left sleeve's edge was just brushing up to his chest. Kasumi was now hiccupping in between her quiet sobs. She then tried to calm herself down by hugging herself. All Ranma could do was sit there besides her, not knowing what to do or what to say to her.

"Please… Kasumi don't cry. I didn't mean for you to cry… please," he timidly pleaded.

Ranma raised his right hand, but left it hovering just over her left shoulder, deliberating within himself if he was doing the right thing.

But he didn't have long to think about his situation as Kasumi's head gently rested down onto his chest and her hands went up and grabbed hard onto the front folds of his usual red shirt.

"I'd stop crying if you'd stop feeling like this… Ranma," she tearfully pleaded.

"Okay… I'll stop…"


After a few minutes, Kasumi's sobs gently died down, but her hold on his shirt was still as strong. Ranma, with his two hands beside him propping himself up from the floor, wanted to comfort Kasumi as best he could, but all he could do now was just to offer her something to cry on.

Ranma had a terrible track record with girls and he had, by now with Akane's constant help, etched into his mind that any contact with a girl, physical or otherwise, was deemed perverted. But he fought the urge to run away, stating to himself that this is Kasumi and the only reason she was crying was because of him and if he was a man then he should at least help her stop.

Gradually Kasumi pushed herself off his chest and wiped the few persistent tears off her slightly flushed cheeks and very red eyes.

"I'm sorry Ranma," she managed to say.

"Nah… it's me who should say sorry Kasumi… not you…."

Kasumi, looking up to Ranma's face, couldn't really think back to a time when she had actually seen Ranma cry. His cheeks were a pale crimson and his eyes glossed over in a way it made him look quite attractive, in an innocent way. Noticing how Kasumi was staring at him, Ranma looked away.

"Kami's… what would pops say about this if he saw me. Son… crying is unmanly…" Ranma tried to copy his father's voice at the last part, but just wasn't in the mood for it. He began wiping the tears off his face with his hands, while looking away from Kasumi.

But as his hands went up, Kasumi intercepted them and she carefully pulled his face back into her line of view. Lifting up the edge of her white apron, she gently wiped all traces of him ever crying from his face.

"Crying doesn't make you unmanly silly… actually I think it makes you stronger…" said Kasumi softly, as she wiped the last stream of tears from his left cheek.

Leaning back slightly Kasumi smiled upon seeing Ranma's face now seemingly looking much better. But his cheeks did rise to a higher tint or two from her actions.

"Err… thanks Kasumi…" Ranma sounded rather uncertain about what had just happened between them.

"Mind telling me what made you think like that?"

Shifting his legs under him, Ranma after some considerate thinking, spoke. "I guess I should start from the beginning…"

Ranma told Kasumi of the mystery lady and how she seemed to know everything about him, and how he met her for the first time while he was in China, and how he had then met up with her a few weeks ago while coming home.

He then proceeded to tell her about her deck of cards and how she told him of his current situation and how it may affect his future.

"You must think I'm really silly to let an old lady with some hoo-ha card trick make me think like this, huh Kasumi?" he asked her, his voice hinted of both shame and embarrassment.

"Well… to a certain point yes…" This reply made Ranma's head dig slightly deeper into his arms, but Kasumi remedied it by lifting it back up to face her.

"But I also think that it may have been a good thing…" she continued.

Now Ranma looked totally dumfounded and with a thoughtful smile Kasumi explained.

"I mean it has made you think about things like your future, right Ranma? You've probably finally accepted what are your weaknesses and strengths. If you could use that knowledge to your advantage, then you can do anything you set your mind to."

Ranma shuffled his knees together closer to his face. "Knowing them isn't helping me out Kasumi. For the past year I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a way to make everyone happy and come out on top. But I've hit so many dead ends so many times already that I was about to give up. My studies aren't going anywhere either… I've already been branded as a failure by the teachers… maybe I should just accept my life as it is."

Kasumi couldn't help but get angry with Ranma and how fast he was giving up, which was a rarity.

"Saotome Ranma! I've known you long enough to know that you are not a quitter!" she said loudly, hopefully loud enough for him to get back to his old self.

This brought Ranma back a little and having his full attention, she continued. "Ranma…" Her voice had returned to its softer tone.

"For every problem in life there are many solutions and ways to tackle them. Maybe if you have someone else beside you helping you, to offer a different point of view to figure things out. Two heads are better then one, right? You need to share those problems with someone and not just keep them bottled up… someone who you can rely on."

Ranma thought about it for a second. "Someone I rely on? Well… Akane's out of the question. I know she tries, but she just ends up thinking that I'm planning to do something perverted. Nabiki's definitely out since I can't afford to keep her quiet. Ukyo… well she's a good friend, but I don't think I can say this type of stuff to her. Shampoo and Kodachi are, well, just them. Ryoga, Mousse and Kuno would rather see me go bonkers…"

Kasumi remained quiet as Ranma listed the names of all the people he knew. "Then there's you… Kasumi…" he trailed off.

"Me?" Kasumi was rather surprised to even be mentioned. Though they lived together for months now, their interactions were kept to the bare minimum of breakfast, lunch and dinnertime, not to mention the convenient delivery of a kettle of hot water.

"Yeah, you… at least you're listening to me now."

Kasumi furrowed a brow, "Come now Ranma, I'm sure a lot of people are willing to listen to you." This was met with a loud snort from Ranma who again buried his face into his arms.

"If I said that this is the first time that someone actually stayed still long enough to listen to me talk about something, instead of glomping me, punting me out to orbit, trying to poisoning me, or trying to challenge me to some duel to the death, would you believe me?"

Kasumi considered this long and hard before letting out a sigh, he was most likely right. She had never seen anyone actually just having a normal conversation with Ranma.

"Well… Kasumi you're the first person who has really ever listened to me. I don't know why the other girls don't; maybe it's a lot of other things, but they just don't. Pops would keep on saying the usual crap, and in the end, I'm left to myself to think things through…"

"Not if you're willing to share…" Ranma heard Kasumi say. Lifting his head out from his arms, "Ranma, I'd be glad to listen to you if you have a problem, or problems, if you want to talk to me, that is…"

"Err…I don't want to be a bother to anyone…it's my own problem and I should solve them myself…that's the manly thing to do…you probably have your own problems to work out. I don't want to add mine on top on yours, Kasumi..." Ranma uttered.

'It's not like the others would come to me and ask me for my advice so why should Ranma be any different? Everyone thinks I am that clueless about things around me, don't they?' she asked herself sadly.

Ranma quickly caught on to the hapless expression she now wore and countered, "It's not like that Kasumi… I mean, why would you even want waste your time listening to me?"

Kasumi responded to him the only way she knew how, with a simple sweet smile. "Because I want to..."


How did it go? Should I continue on with Chapter 2...?