Hidden Jewel

Prologue

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Begin.

Wake up at 6:30am. I have to slowly get out of bed, the position of things not quite in my memory yet. As I shake the sleepiness from my head, I move towards the shelves, where my clothes for the day have already been set out.

Grabbing them, I head for the furo.

"Two by three, Nabiki."

I would smile if I could. I take two steps forward and three to my left, my foot finding the bathing stool.

With a bath complete, I dress, finding my way easily enough to the dining area, enjoying a simple breakfast.

Not like Kasumi's though.

It could never be like Kasumi's.

But he tries. He tries to make it so I can smile, so I can enjoy it.

I don't deserve it. Not after...

Afterwards, he gets my sunglasses. I don't need them. All I see is grey anyway. No light, no dark; just grey.

He walks me to my school. In the three months since... Well, in the three months I have been coming here, I think I've done pretty well. I can almost read my Braille at a fifth grade level.

It's all easy when it's all you have.

He drops me off with my lunch, the teacher walking me to class to begin my lessons.

The day passes, as it always does. First are the lessons, followed by lunch.

The meal is good. Not like Kasumi's, though.

I don't deserve it to be like hers.

Lunch ends, followed by more lessons.

Then class ends. I sit on a bench just outside the school doors, meditating, trying to work on my chi and ki control.

I have to. I don't want him sticking around simply because I'm helpless. He says soon he won't need to tell me where things are, that I'll be able to sense them, like a bat with radar.

Not like it matters to me. It seems to matter to him.

Why? I can't say.

He comes a while later, fresh from his day of classes. It is still kind of weird to hear him studying, asking questions, trying to improve his mind.

We walk home, stopping at a store to pick up some last minute ingredients for dinner.

Then we arrive home at our small apartment, trying to stretch our money. He had a big windfall in several tournaments; both legal and underground. But still, we can't rely on them for too long. Bets go down, odds turn against you, prizes drop, and you become banned eventually.

He does his homework, my fingers usually tired from Braille. I help with what I can, having had my junior year before...

While he makes dinner, I call the hospital in our old district.

No change. There's never any change.

Dinner follows, some light discussion about how our respective days were.

Then we work out. A strong body allows for strong reserves. I need it for the radar trick.

He helps. He is a really great teacher.

But that might just be because I'm fragile, in his opinion. He's not like his Father: he cares about the student.

He's not like my Father, because he's still here.

He's says I'm still improving. It could be a lie for all I know. All I know is I'm not falling on my ass as much, or slamming myself into a wall.

Then we relax. I listen to the television while he watches.

I think he watches.

Then one more bath for the day. He gets my back. He's become very good at being comfortable around me.

I don't know why. I know he should hate me.

He doesn't.

I don't know why.

Then he escorts me to my room, helping me dress for bed, and tucking me in.

It seems he cares.

I don't know why. I know...I knew...I thought he cared for her.

But he's here with me, not her.

I don't know why.

"Goodnight, Nabiki."

"Goodnight, Ranma."

I close my eyes, but the grey still remains.

Dreams, nightmares, they're all the same to me now.

The day ends, time progresses, and my alarm clock goes off.

Repeat.


"So, she's still in the coma."

"Yeah. Sorry, Ranma. Are you coming to visit her tomorrow?"

"Yeah. Another youma attacked the school. I'll come after I drop Nabiki off at her classes."

"Is she..."

"She's...she's getting better. You never recover from something like that."

Ranma rubbed his forehead. It wasn't like he expected them to understand.

Kasumi was still in a coma.

Nabiki had been kicked out of the clan.

He was just as much an outcast until he left her alone; to suffer, to agonize, to be outcast.

"Sempai never would have thought..."

"I know, Mei, I know."

"Can you bring her soon?"

"She wouldn't come, even if I asked. She still needs to sort this out. Besides, I can't pull her out of classes, and her family is always there on the weekends. I'm surprised Soun isn't there all the time."

"I'm working this weekend after visiting hours. I...I could sneak you guys in then."

"I'll let you know. I...I don't think she could handle it."

"I understand. Take care of Sempai."

He hung up the phone, trying to stave off the depression. Lying back in the bed, he closed his eyes, letting sleep claim him.

After all, he had tomorrow to worry about.