The next morning, while they were just starting to pack some of Kasumi's things, the door opened and Nabiki walked in.
Kasumi glanced up at her sister. "Yes Nabiki?"
"You two really aren't the same, you really have changed."
They said nothing, waiting for her to continue.
"I just wanted to say that I'm happy for the both of you. Kasumi, nobody deserved it more than you. I'm sorry that it took so long for me to admit it."
Ranma smiled at Nabiki. To him, it's been over twenty years since he had to deal with her, and he had mellowed quite a bit during that absense. "Hey, no big deal. It both of us a while to realize what a rut we were both in. Heck, if it hadn't been for you and that One-trick-pony stuff, who knows how I would have handled that mess. Talking with you got me thinking about a lot of stuff before that stupid scroll, and I think it planted some good seeds that matured during our...vacation. Because of the people I talked to before that whole mess happened, I think I was in the right frame of mind to change for the better, instead of continuing to obsess about only Martial Arts."
"Oh-kay. I'm not sure what you are talking about...exactly, but it sounds like you are both doing well. I just wanted to say good luck before you leave. You guys really are leaving, aren't you?"
Kasumi motioned for Nabiki to come join her sitting on the bed. "Yes Nabiki we are. But before we go, we'd like your help with something"
She plopped down next to her sister. "With what?"
"We need some financial advice."
Now Nabiki was in more comfortable turf. A confident look appeared on Nabiki's face. "Ah then you've come to the right place. What can I do for you, for a commission of course."
"Of course" Kasumi agreed. "Nabiki, I want your word that what I'm about to show will stay between us. Nobody else is to know."
Nabiki squirmed. If I make the promise to Kasumi, I won't break my word, but whatever it is, I'm sure it's big, I could make big bucks on this. She thought more, and then finally said "agreed".
Kasumi's gaze bored into her sister. "I mean it Nabiki, not the slightest word about this to anybody. I'm placing a lot of trust in you, please don't disappoint me." Kasumi shifted on the bed and told Nabiki "move over there" and proceeded to reach into her sleeves. Nabiki's eyes bulged in their sockets as Kasumi started dropping gemstones and jewelry on the bed between them.
Nabiki started to literally drool as she appraised the stash in front of her. "Wha...where...how..."
After a few moments, Kasumi stopped adding to the pile. Ranma sat in the corner also gawking at the display of wealth in front of him. "Kasumi, is that what I think it is?"
A knowing smile appeared on his wife's face. "Well, I figured we weren't stealing them from anybody, after all, the Amazon's still have all the originals, these are just...souvenirs from our trip."
Ranma rolled his eyes upwards. One thing he found out about Kasumi during their marriage, she could be quite practical some times. The more he thought of it though, the more he wished he'd thought of the same thing.
Nabiki shook her head and finally managed to utter a coherent word or two. "Are. These. Yours?"
Her sister nodded her head.
"Do. You. Know. How. Much. These. Are. Worth?
Again her sister nodded, only this time in the negative. "That's why we need your help. Ranma and I may be skilled in many things, but we don't know how to sell things and how to deal with people. We'd like you to be our...agent."
Nabiki could not tear her eyes from the jewels in front of her. There were diamonds as big as robin's eggs. Jewels the color of the rainbow, all cut, all seemingly flawless.
"Fifty percent!" she blurted.
"Five" said Ranma.
"Ten, and you get to pick one for yourself, one for the family fund, and one for Akane's college fund." He offered.
She looked at the stash. Ten percent of this would probably take her through college and get her started in any business she wanted, plus buy a house...
"Plus, you can keep ten percent of whatever you make for us by investing our part. We'd like to do something with the money, something for others, but we're not sure yet. We'd like your help." Kasumi added.
Nabiki finally tore her eyes from the jewels on the bed and looked at her sister. "But why me? I may know a few things about making money, but this is in a whole new league."
"Two things." Her sister replied. "One I love you, and I trust you. One thing you've always done is take care of the family. I know we held you back, and I know you would eventually go, but with this, I can thank you properly and maybe keep you nearer to me as time goes by. Those should be enough to pay off bills and get you and Akane through college. I know you won't let Daddy con you out of them, so they'll be safe until you can use them." Kasumi winked at Ranma, who just smiled back at her.
Nabiki gave Kasumi a big hug, then paused, and gave the same to Ranma. "Thank you, both of you. Wow!" she looked again at the glittering gems on the bed and selected three from the pile. "You really mean it?"
"Yes" they both replied in unison.
"Nabiki." Ranma said..
"Don't get greedy. I know what you wanted in life, and this may help you get there, but if you get greedy, I give you my word that you will regret it."
Nabiki looked up at Ranma and saw the threat in his eyes. This wasn't small time anymore, and she could tell that he meant every word he said.
It was Kasumi's turn. "Nabiki?"
"We are putting a great deal of trust in you. Please don't disappoint us."
"I won't big sister, I won't" Nabiki slowly walked out of the room, never again taking her eyes off the jewels in her hand.
Once she left, Ranma looked at his wife and said. "You only showed her a small part of what you have, didn't you?"
Kasumi blinked. "Why Ranma, why would you say that?"
He leaned down and gave her a kiss. "Because I know you, and even though nobody would believe me, you can be sneakier than Nabiki. You may trust her, but I know how big of a stash the Amazon's had, and I'm betting you packed it all."
Kasumi stood up and walked over to her husband, putting her arms around him. "Well, I might have a few more items, it just seemed that we might be able to do a lot of good with those jewels. There are plenty of good causes that could use some help, and once we watch Nabiki sell the first batch, we should be able to decide whether we should really trust her with it all or just learn from her and do it ourselves. I may love my sister, I may trust my sister, but even I don't know how she'll handle this, and I'm not risking everything I have...yet."
"You know, Shampoo used to call you the too-too-nice girl. She was right, but she only brushed the surface."
"Well" she whispered into his ear. "We girls have to have some secrets..."
Two days later, Ranma and Kasumi came down the stairs, ready to leave the dojo. They had considered sneaking out during the night, but decided that confronting any final issues would be best in the long run.
As they came down the stairs, they were relieved to see only two people standing. Akane, Nabiki and Soun were sitting off to the side, already having resolved their differences with the couple.
Akane was still a bit moody, but had at least accepted that Ranma had made his decision on who he was to be with, and at least it was somebody that Akane could respect.
Nabiki was positively glowing. She'd had only a few of the jewels appraised and their value had been more than she could have hoped. No longer would she have to scrape together cash with small information/blackmail operations, she could go legit and try to really make something of herself. It was a dream come true for her.
On the couch, Soun seemed relatively stable. No waterworks, no crying about his poor baby. Yesterday he had a long talk with his oldest daughter and it seemed to do him a world of good. He actually seemed happy today.
Ah, but the two adults standing were the two real problems. They hadn't seen much of the elder Saotomes, and it was Ranma's guess that they had been whipping themselves up preparing for this final confrontation.
He really didn't want to have to deal with his parents like this, but he knew it would be a matter of him leading his life, or them trying to. "Mom. Pop. I guess we're ready to go."
His father led the verbal assault. "So, is my ungrateful son still slinking off from his responsibilities like some kind of a weak girl? Have you no shame! Stop this nonsense at once, or I'll be forced to make you stop."
Ranma let out a long low exhale. "Pop, we've already been over this. You can't stop me, and we're not staying here. Once we settle in maybe we'll let you know where we are, but we'd like a chance to make a life of our own first."
"Son, are you sure this is what you want to do?" Nodoka seemed unsure about how to treat her rebellious son. In the last few days she had been at a constant war with herself. On the one hand, she wanted her son to fulfill his duties, on the other hand, she didn't want to lose him again.
He looked into her eyes and answered. "Yes, Mom, more than I've ever been sure of anything. It's what I want, no, need to do. I'd like to have you on my side, but that doesn't mean I have to."
Nodoka face revealed the turmoil that was going on within her mind. It finally hit her that a man among men would do what he thought was right regardless of what those thought around him. She had come to believe that if she tried to force him, he'd just walk off and start over with a new name. He was in charge of the situation, and wasn't that what she'd always wanted from him? All of Genma's words haunted her, but she looked at her son, and his wife, and knew that she would be proud to call him her son. Not for the Martial Arts skills, but for who he was.
Ranma saw a smile creep onto her face, and then a subtle nod of approval. Yes! At least my mother is with us, that was as best as I could have hoped for!
Genma saw her movement and was furious. "Nodoka, you weak willed woman! How dare you side with your son! His place is here, taking care of me!"
Ranma slowly turned and looked at his father, who realized he may have said a bit too much. "Pop, I've always given you the benefit of the doubt, but you've just proved me wrong. I sometimes worried I was just your meal ticket, but you never really came out and said so, until now."
"Now son, it's your duty to take care of your father in his old age..."
"Pop, I'll never let you starve, but I'll be dammed if I'll be your puppet! Move aside, Kasumi and I are leaving. I promise you, if you fight me now you won't be welcome in my home in the future. It's time you realized I've got my own life now"
Genma took a ready stance and foolishly decided to try to stop Ranma. His usual flawed thinking had convinced him that Ranma had gotten in a lucky shot the other day.
Ranma sighed watching his father once again try to force his will upon him. The last time Ranma fought his father, he used no Ki based attacks. This time he didn't want to play around anymore, he cupped his hands and an intense Moko Takabisha slammed into his father and took him through the wall, across the street, and into the next building. Fortunately, the business he struck was a masonry company that had recently relocated to Nerima, seems there was a lot of business in these parts. Everyone watched to see if Genma would get up, but he was out cold.
"Coming Kas-chan?" Ranma asked.
"Where are you going?" asked Soun. He was no longer looking at his disabled friend and was now giving Kasumi a watery gaze.
"We have an idea, but we're not going to tell anybody until we get settled in. Once we do, we'll let you know."
Nabiki finally spoke up. "Remember what I told the two of you yesterday. Kasumi will need to keep everything in her name until you two can get married without needing your families permission, then you can put it in both your names."
"That won't be necessary" added Nodoka. "I will sign any documents they need to have the marriage made official. Genma never was the clan leader, I always was."
They knocked on the door of the cabin in the mountains they had lived in so many years ago. An elderly gentleman answered the door.
"Pardon us sir." Asked Kasumi. They had decided that nobody could refuse an offer from Kasumi.
"Yes" he asked the young couple standing before him.
"We were wondering if you would be willing to sell us your home."
"My house? Oh no, we're getting old and can't afford a new place. Not that we wouldn't like one, but this has been our home for many years."
A few minutes later, the old man had to sit down after they finished their offer for his home. The two young people had not only bought the house with an outrageously good offer, but for some reason they were interested in the furniture as well. With the money they had promised, he and his wife could get a fabulous house near their children a few towns away.
As Ranma and Kasumi walked back out the front door, Ranma turned to her and asked "So, bring back any good memories?"
"Oh Ranma, it is wonderful, I couldn't ask for a better place to live, it brings back so many good memories!"
"Yeah, who would have thought we'd be back here again..."
One month later, Ranma and Kasumi had moved into the house that had been their first true home. The neighbors were surprised to see such a young couple move in, but were quickly calmed when they met the two, and eagerly welcomed them into their community.
They were holding hands as they walked through the door, Ranma turned to his wife and said "we're home Kasumi. More so than when we went to your families house, we're really home."
She spun around in the center of the room, a huge smile on her face. She stopped, faced Ranma, and proceeded to give him a huge kiss. When they finally came up for air she said "I know of told you before, but thank you. Thank you so much for giving me such a wonderful life, and now we get to try it again!"
"You're welcome Kasumi. Nobody deserves it more than you." He walked over to the chair by the fireplace and sat down. "So, any news from Nabiki yet?"
Kasumi came over and arranged herself on his lap, snuggling in next to him. "Let's just say, even Nabiki is overwhelmed with the amount of money that those first jewels represented. She was a little miffed that we spent so much on this house. She said 'It isn't worth that much, why do you want it so badly?', but I didn't budge and she sent the money."
"I still feel bad that I didn't think of that too. Oh I grabbed a few things, but I never thought about the money aspect."
"Well, when you ran a house for as long as I did, you realize that having a nice cash reserve makes for a better life. It won't buy us happiness, but it'll make it a lot easier to come by."
That night, they recreated their honeymoon night as best they could, and once again made the small cabin their home.
Late that evening, Kasumi woke up in the middle of the night, hearing Ranma toss and turn next to her. As she woke up, she heard him mutter "cold, so cold. Can't let it happen, just can't" and then slip into more unintelligible mutterings. "Ranma, wake up." she said as she rocked is shoulder.
Ranma's eyes came open, and they focused on Kasumi above him. "Whoa, that was a bad dream."
"What happened, more about the creatures?"
"No, not at all, in fact I've never dreamed once about those stupid things since we've left. No this one was different. Weird. It was this place, but it wasn't this place. Everything was frozen, and everyone seemed to be gone. Not gone like the last place, gone like in perished in the cold. I don't remember much else about it, only..." he stopped, and tried to remember more details about the dream. "Only...I think there were some people alive, some girls in stupid outfits. But I can't remember anymore."
Kasumi lowered herself next to her husband. "If it's girls in strange outfits, you know how I like to play those kind of games" she chuckled to he spouse as she snuggled in next to him.
"I know, I know" Sheesh, who knew that of all the people in the house, it seemed like Kasumi turned out the be the most hentaii of the bunch, not that I can complain he thought to himself as he went back to sleep with his wife.
Their first child, a girl named Ranko, was born nine months later. She would be the first of three that the young couple would have.
Three months after that, Ukyo finally agreed to move her restaurant to their town. Under the guise of an investment, Kasumi had given Ukyo enough money to open a new beautiful business that quickly thrived in the mountain town. When she relocated her business, she was amazed at how much Kasumi and Ranma helped not only with the construction, but with the menu planning as well. Between her Okonamiyaki and Kasumi's dishes, the place was the most sought after dining location for miles around.
Ranma got his wish with Ukyo, as she accepted her role as sister and beloved friend. He was somewhat distressed that she didn't seem to pursue any romantic interests, but instead preferred her cooking and Ranma and Kasumi's company to any new love interests. Konatsu was still around helping out at the restaurant, but nothing came of the relationship between he and Ukyo.
As the years went by, everybody loved the family that had moved into the cabin near the hot springs. They were somewhat surprised that they seemed to be able to afford the neighboring houses that they consistently bought as they became available. Eventually, they named the area the Saotome compound, after the large collection of living spaces and the large dojo that was built.
Most were quite happy when it turned out that both of them were in the medical field. Their knowledge of alternate medicines was outstanding, and they often had visitors that traveled for days to see the brilliant young couple.
Even though there was an occasional car bearing the company name, none of their neighbors knew that the couple were in any way associated with 22-NICE enterprises. Oh, many people had heard about the charitable organization that had been organized a few years before, and most had seen pictures of the CEO, a young Nabiki Tendo. Of course, Ms. Tendo always pronounced the name of the company "Twenty-Two Neese", that little inside joke was between her, Ranma, Kasumi and maybe Shampoo, wherever she might be. Ranma and Kasumi were quite pleased that Nabiki had done so well with the initial investment and decided to trust Nabiki with the rest of their souvenirs. Nabiki herself had found that she liked the mix power and responsibility that was associated with running such a huge charitable organization. The fact that she no longer had to scrounge for money actually brought out the best in her, and she seemed to be quite happy with life. Nobody but Nabiki knew how much input her sister and brother-in-law had in guiding the business.
Besides the medical practice, the Saotome dojo was quickly considered the best in the country. It didn't mass produce students, but for the few who were accepted, the teachings of Ranma and Kasumi Saotome made the students the best of the best.
Both Ranma and Kasumi experienced occasional dreams of a frozen future. They agreed that it seemed a long time away, and they both felt that it was more a feeling of a possible disaster as opposed to a definite problem.
"So do we do anything about it" Kasumi once asked.
"You know, I've been thinking about that. I'm not sure, but if we decide that the probability of it becoming real is too high, we may have to look into it. Problem is, my gut tells me that when we do, we may have a little too much excitement on our hands again. I say let's just keep an eye on it for now."
Kasumi nodded her head in agreement. "Sounds good to me."
Fourteen years had passed since Ranma and Kasumi had moved to their house. All was going well for the couple, in fact too well. It seemed that Ranma had finished growing, but had seemed to stop aging beyond that, with Kasumi doing the same. Neither had an explanation, but both suspected that it was due to their experience with the world of yesterday. It only became awkward as their children got older, and were sometimes regarded as brothers or sisters to the couple. Every once in a while, the Saotome's were visited by Ranma's sister, Ranko, whom his first child was named after. None of the neighbors ever noticed that Ranma never seemed to be around when Auntie Ranko came to call.
On one fall afternoon, the two of them had traveled back to Nerima to visit Ranma's mother. One of the unfortunate outcomes of their departure was the divorce of Nodoka and Genma Saotome. Genma was so incensed by his son's actions that he left the two of them to find somebody who would appreciate him. Since then, Nodoka had thanked the gods that she had sided with her son, who she became very proud of. After the visit, they had decided to sit in the park for a bit before heading home.
They sat on a bench, with Ranma's arm around Kasumi's shoulder, and watched the various families play in the park on the beautiful park day.
They noticed a young man sitting on the bench by himself. The boy was looking around the park, observing the people gathered there. His gaze finally came to rest on Ranma and Kasumi and he stood up and walked over to them.
"Good afternoon" the young man said.
"Good afternoon. Can we help you?" said Kasumi. She looked up at the young boy and could tell something was bothering him.
"Ma'am, would you mind if I asked you about something personal?" he started. "Not that personal! It's just that I don't really have anybody else that I could talk to, and you two seemed so happy, that I thought I could get some advice from you".
"Certainly!" Ranma beamed. "What can we do for you?"
"I've been talking with a friend, who gave me some good advice. I told her that I was frustrated that my life was so focused on being the best about something, that I realized that I might be missing out on something by being so focused. She suggested that I talk to some people that seemed happy with their lives, and to see if they could give me some ideas. I just thought you too seemed to look so happy together that..."
"We might be able to tell you why we were so happy?" said the woman with a smile.
"Have a seat young man, have we got a story to tell you..."
-- End --
Authors Note: Well, I kept my word and finished this story. Yes, I know it may not be perfect, and if I had to do it again I would probably make some minor enhancements. I hope you enjoyed it, although based on the reviews, I believe you did. As I've said in my profile which I've finally updated, this was my first fanfic, and if I did well, it was because I've read so many great stories in this forum over the years and I think some of it rubbed off on me. (Frankly I still don't like it as much as many as I have read, but I'm very glad I wrote it).
Not sure when and if I'll do a sequel, and if I do, I may need help from some of the fukufic folks to make sure I don't mangle the Senshi stuff, all of which I have learned from X-over fics that I've read here, I haven't read any of the original material like I have Ranma ½. It was your good reviews that have got me thinking about doing a sequel.
But to finish, thank you all again very much. Your positive and kind reviews did more to motivate me than I thought possible, and I'm very grateful for your interest. I'm an engineer, and always hated any literature requirements, I never thought I would be able to write a story like this. I have so much more respect for other authors now that I have an inkling of what it takes to try to write a story. When I see how some people have written ten, twenty stories I am even more amazed!