A Gift for Kasumi

By DojoRanma

Chapter 1- Last Minute Rush

"Finally! All done!" Akane said, wiping the sweat from her brow. She stepped back to marvel at her craftmanship.

Ranma opened the shoji door to the dojo, and immediately shielded his eyes as he stumbled back from the radioactive-green glow eminating from the Christmas tree and the decorations.

"Akane, I think you went a little overboard on the decorations. I mean, I know it's useful and all, but I don't think that they should glow in the light as well as the dark," he pointed out bluntly. "Well, it's better than last party's set up..."

"RANMA NO BAKA!" He was cut off by a hammer launching him into low orbit. Akane began to calm down as she stormed back into the dojo, slamming the shoji screen doors shut.

Ranma landed softly in a snow bank by the playground. Dusting himself off he began to walk towards the market. Stupid Akane! Why doesn't she just leave well enough alone? Kasumi already decorated the walls and stage, why did she have to go and try to coordinate the tree and decorations her way? At least I didn't tell her that I'm glad she wasn't cooking this year. It could have been worse, I really don't want a Christmas dinner that looked like it was made at Chernobyl. He chuckled at a thought. How many Akanes does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

He sighed. Well, at least it gives me a chance to finish shopping for everyone he said to himself. I'm lucky I didn't have to loan from Nabiki this year, that fiasco was unbearable. He remembered as images of last year's Christmas catastrophy played in his head. This year it'll be different though...I hope. Working part time as a cook at Gizu restaurant over the last couple of months has been great. Luckily, only me an' Kasumi know about it, and I hope it stays that way. It has given me enough to pay my loans off from Nabiki, put some money away, and has given me some space from all my fiancees so I can clear my head. He smiled. Who'd a thought the Saotome secret final attack would work in real life? Run away until you can think of a better strategy.

Ranma rounded a corner and began to shuffle his way into downtown Nerima. His thoughts began to turn to the girls that he was 'engaged' to.

Shampoo is a sweet girl, her antics really don't impress me though. And the whole Amazon law thing is driving me bananas. I mean, if she treated me like an actual person instead of a prize, she might've had a shot. She is very good looking, but I don't like the way she goes around throwing her weight around whenever and whereever she feels like.

Ukyo is a totally different story all together. I've known her since I was like five years old, and I thought she was a guy. I mean, if I had known she was a girl to begin with it would've been a different story. She's a great friend, but I don't think I could love her like she wants me to. Her okonomiaki is amazingly good, but for how long? After a couple of years it'd be too repetitive and boring. And the fact that her and Shampoo fight even just for visiting rights with me, is getting a little frustrating.

Kodachi... No way on Kami-sama's green earth would I be near her. She needs about 25 years of psychiatric help before anything could ever happen between us.

Nabiki, the Ice Queen of Nerima, the most manipulative, sultry, and definatly one of the finest woman I have ever met. I just wish she would quit using me as her main source of income, and I know that she usually uses it for repairs and bills (she can never know that I know that), but it's a little frustrating knowing that my girl form is the centerfold in half the guys lockers at school, and the girls have your male form as their centerfold in their lockers. I we were to be...married, she'd turn the dojo into a martial arts franchise make millions and then sell it for even more money. I'm not too much into that, money is too unrealistic for me and it feels like a meaningless pursuit for a martial artist like myself.

Ranma glanced up for a moment and noticed he had made it to the downtown core of Nerima. He sat down on a bench for a moment so he could clear his mind.

Akane. He sighed, thinking about his fiancee. After all this time, I'd figure she'd have shown some interest in me. I mean after all the suitors, all the close calls, the kidnappings, the near death experience, the battle with a god, and so on, could she show a little bit of kindness to her fiancee? Nope, that stupid mallet and that stupid temper of hers has become the bane of my existence every morning. And as much as I l.lo..care for her, she has no interest in me. I guess it's my fault that I can't be the person she wants me to be. I try so hard to not pick on her these past few months and she still treats me the same as when we fist met. I don't think it's worth it anymore.

He sat there for a few seconds, mentally listing off all the other girls that he knew, and discounted them just as quickly. He stood up and began walking through stores, looking for gifts for the last few people he had left on his list.

After about 3 hours or so, he sat down on the bench from earlier with several shopping bags in hand.

Okay. I picked up the suit for tomorrow. I got a new abacus for Nabiki. For Ryoga, a compass. Akane, a new Gi. Shampoo, Mousse, Dr. Tofu, Mr. Tendo, Pops, Mom, Ucchan, did I forget anyone?

His eyes bugged out as he remembered who he had missed, Kasumi! I forgot Kasumi! What an idiot I am!

He grabbed his bags and began running around trying to think of what to get Kasumi.

What was I thinking? After all that she's done to help me this past year. Panic began to set in, closing time was drawing near and he had to be back as a host for the Annual Christmas Party that Kasumi put on every year. She's been the only 'real' friend I've had to count on and confide in. Just being in her presence makes me feel safe and I can talk with her without worrying about being judged. She's helped me grow as a person, instead of just a martial artist. I can't ever remember having a friend that cared like that.

He hadn't found anything, nothing that he could find that represented their friendship and how much it meant to him. There was still 20 minutes until the shops would close. I have to find something special. He thought as he stepped into another store. There!

It's perfect! He thought cheerfully as he took the item to the clerk, She'll love it

----------------------------------

Meanwhile...

Kasumi was in the kitchen, preparing the turkey for tomorrow's festivities and tending to the soup for this evening's dinner, when she heard a familiar scream of "Ranma no Baka!" came echoing through the walls of the Tendo household. Kasumi glanced up to notice her youngest sister storm past the kitchen, dragging her mallet, and stomped up the stairs to her room.

Oh, Akane! Kasumi thought sadly as she looked out the window to watch Ranma's vapor trail streaking the blue sky over Nerima. "Poor Ranma..." she sighed softly as she went back to cutting up vegetables to go with dinner. He's tried so hard to be a better fiancee. It's such a shame that his efforts haven't been noticed by the one person he likes.

Kasumi continued chopping methodically as she thought back to the countless hours she had spent chatting and talking with Ranma. He was doing so well too. She thought, He was even starting to make compliments. I just don't understand why Akane doesn't see it.

She set the knife down and walked over to the pot of broth and absently stirred it for a few seconds. I hope this Christmas will be as good or better than the last one. She thought cheerfully, recalling the wonderful party they had last year. So much had happened since then. Toma, Kirin, the failed marriage, something about a fight with a god, and several other fiancees, suitors, etc.

It's uncanny the chaos and calamity he attracts on a day to day basis. She noted silently, I wonder how much different things would be if I had been the one engaged to Ranma...

"Oh My!" She immediately put her hand over her mouth politely as she began to blush, which didn't go unnoticed.

"What's wrong Kasumi?" Nabiki asked as she entered the kitchen.

Kasumi paused for a moment, her mind panicking while trying to keep a calm front showing. "Uhh... I realized I forgot to put salt in the Miso soup." She replied cheerfully, hoping that her sister would buy her alibi.

The middle Tendo daughter stared at her questioningly for a few moments, shrugged her shoulders, and went upstairs to go take care of today's earnings.

After Nabiki had vacated the room, Kasumi sighed in relief. That's the last thing I need, is to be named as another fiancee to Ranma and be thrown into the mix with my sister, Shampoo, and all his other fiancees.

She finished the cooking she had been working on and went upstairs to her room. I'll need dinner to cool a bit before I can make the rest. She removed her apron as she closed the door to her room, and set the apron neatly on the back of a chair. She walked over to her closet and opened it. There were small packages strewn across the floor and on the shelves of the closet. Unlike the rest of her room, the closet wasn't tidy and neat like the rest of her room, but, since she didn't have too many outfits, there was plenty of space to hide the gifts. There was one gift on the top shelf that she was admiring, it was an sweater that she had made for Dr. Tofu, wrapped in blue and white snowflake wrapping paper with a big red ribbon to finish.

She smiled. I know he should ask me first, but I'm tired of waiting for him to ask me out. So, I'll make the first move. She glanced over the rest of the presents before closing the door to her closet. She picked up her apron and walked out of her room to go and began on the stuffing for the party.

-------------------------------

Later on...

Ranma finished wrapping and hiding the presents he had just bought. He slid the last present into the hiding spot and then carefully slipped out through the window, leaving no trace of his presence in the room.

He landed by the koi pond, and walked in past Genma and Soun, who were playing an intense game of Go.

"Do over! Come on Saotome, do over!"

Nope.

Ranma shook his head as he drifted toward the smell of food. He stepped into the kitchen.

"Hi Kasumi! I'm back." He called cheerfully. Kasumi turned around.

"I'm glad you're alright," she replied as she walked over to him, "Now get going, dinner will be on in a few minutes." As she nudged him out of the room.

"Aww... but Kasumi-chan..." Ranma pouted mockingly, "I came here to help..."

She giggled lightly, "But you're too late, Ranma. Everything's done."

"Oh, really?" he smirked, glaring at her. "Well, I was going to offer a backrub, but since you said everything's done, so I'll just head up to my room and..."

"Hey, that's not fair!" She cried out, "You cheated!"

He leaned up against the door frame, half smiling evilly, and folded his arms. "What are you going to do about it?"

Kasumi stared him in the eyes, "Maybe Akane would like to make you dinner?"

Ranma's eyes went wide. "Okay, okay, okay!" he admitted, "You win!" He moved over and gave her a quick shoulder rub, as 'punishment' for losing.

They chatted for a few minutes, talking about the set up for the party, and a few other things before dinner. After finishing the shoulder rub, they set the table and called the rest of the family to dinner.

Maybe this Christmas will be fun. Ranma thought to himself, smiling as he sat down at the table. Then he noticed a fuming Akane, radiating a dangerously red aura, and sending angry glances every so often his way. Okay... then again, maybe not.

Dinner went by rather quickly, Ranma and Genma were eating at their usual pace, stealing food off each other's plates. Other than that, the table was rather quiet as most of the table seemed like they were walking on eggshells around Akane as she sat there pushing the vegetables around on her plate with her chopsticks.

"I'm done," Ranma announced as he stood up with his plate. "Great job on dinner, Kasumi."

"Ranma!" Soun snapped angrily, "I want you to apologize to Akane this instant!"

"For what?"

"For whatever you did to make her upset."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Tendo," Ranma said sympathetically. "But apologizing for a little constructive critizism on my part is not deemed appropriate. She blatently disregarded my opinion and considered it to be an attack on her abilities. In all fairness, I should be the one receiving an apology."

"FOR WHAT!" Akane screamed furiously, glaring into Ranma's unshifting eyes, while everyone else looked at him like he had just grown wings and antennae. "Being an arrogant, self-centered baka. How dare you belittle me? You've been nothing but a free-loader around here. Why don't you just go marry one of your other fiancees and get out of my life you stupid hentai!"

Ranma stared at her for a second, his expression blank and trying desperately not to let all hell break loose, as he clenched his fist to alleiviate his anger. He stood silently, everyone watching to see what his next move was going to be. He slowly unclenched his fist and sighed heavily. He turned around and began walking out of the room solemnly.

He stopped before he left, and turned, "Thanks again for dinner, Kasumi."

"You're welcome, Ranma." She smiled at the compliment.

He smiled, and walked out of the room.

Wahoo! My first story up and running! WooT! Please R&R. Thanks toDantemoon, Vash, Mindily, and jjjjj15 for prereading.I want to know what everyone thinks. I know it's past Christmas already, but I figure it's better late than never, ne? I will update very soon. Ja Ne!