A/N: This idea evolved from the first paragraph, and I like where its heading. This prologue has only been revised by me so there are bound to be many grammar/wording errors. Please feel free to help me correct them and let me know what you think so far.
Nabiki sighed softly in comfort starring up at her room ceiling with a lazy arm resting above her head; the evening sun which was slowly setting casting a soft warm glow over her walls. The room growing with each moment, more relaxing, filling with gentle whispers of drowsiness, capering her into the grip of sleep. That was till a sudden and rather loud knocking assaulted her door.
"Hey Nabiki you got a minute?" Came Ranma's less then perfect grammar.
With a huff Nabiki rose and threw her pillow in mild frustration at the door, her once warm glowing room suddenly seeming to dark for comfort, the moment of enchantment only sunset can having passed.
"What is it Ranma?" Nabiki replied making her way to her desk flipping on the florescent lamp before taking seat to reviewing whatever paper she had left sitting there from earlier. It wasn't often she left things undone or neglected, something that she had to admit she had been indulging in as of late.
"Um... Can I come in?" Ranma asked muffled threw the door, Nabiki just hung her head a second before calling out letting some of her irritation show, something else she had been doing a lot lately.
Ranma entered as she began to go over the problems on the neglected paper, evidently it was yesterday's English homework and would be due tomorrow. Idly she corrected a few mistakes pulling a knee to her chest and rested her chin atop it for comfort. Her eyes hidden from Ranma showed border and indifference as her pencil scratched away dryly at the paper, each stroke and correction easily heard in the mute silence of the fading evening.
"Must I remind you my times not free Saotome." Nabiki spoke finally, the moments of silence between her strokes lengthening as her work was slowly becoming complete.
"Um well it's about school today." Ranma spoke suddenly after a pause, followed by a small laugh. Curious Nabiki turned looking over her shoulder at Ranma who was currently scratching the back of his head.
"What about it?" Nabiki asked indifferently as her mind did a quick replay of the day to try and head of the conversations path, there didn't seem to be anything conversation worthy; a small fight with Kunou, a misunderstanding with Akane, and a misadventure with Happousai, none of which where unique in anyway.
There was always the chance she or one of her informants had missed something but she didn't put much faith in that, since Ranma had arrived at the dojo several months ago, quickly followed by a handful of rivals and competing fiancées, she and her informants had been given endless opportunity to perfect their skills.
"You heard about what happened between me and Akane?" Ranma continued scratching the back of his head "Well she's still angry and all, so I was wondering." He trailed off and look towards the floor.
Nabiki sighed and turned back to her paper waving a hand over her shoulder "I'm not going to act as go between, between you and Akane, Saotome. If you want to apologies you will have to do it yourself."
"Hey wait a minute, why should I apologies to that uncute tomboy anyways? It wasn't my fault!" Ranma burst with his usual stubbiness.
"Then what is it Ranma? Spill it, or I'm going to charge you extra." Nabiki spoke up quickly to cut off the inevitable rant she was about to be subjected to.
"Um well, there's a test tomorrow and Akane's still mad. So I was wondering if you could, you know help me study or something. Don't think Akane wants to see me right now." Ranma asked cautiously again scratching the back of his head.
Nabiki blinked, honestly surprised at the request. Studying was an unspoken apology between Ranma and Akane, whenever they fought they would always ended up making up after studying together or at least be on better terms with one another; Also Ranma never asked anything of her, except maybe the small occasional favor, never something like this and the truth was she was slightly flattered by the request.
"Study? You do remember we are in different grades." Nabiki deadpanned her small smile hidden from view as she reviewed her work.
"I know that, but you could be like.. uh what do they call it?" Ranma struggled for the words causing Nabiki to shake her head, not to Ranma's notice.
"Yea that, so can you tutor me? I hear it's an important one and all, don't want to give Akane another excuse to get angry again." Ranma sighed letting a bit of honesty slip threw about his feelings for Akane. The words themselves sounded mocking or maybe frustrated but Nabiki could pickup the faint hint of concern as he spoke Akane's name.
"I'm tired Ranma." Nabiki said plainly as she pushed away from her desk flipping off her lamp as she stood, the evening sun long gone settled her room in darkness, the light from the hall the only illumination. Turning she walked past a confused Ranma and into the light, dinner would be served soon.
"Nabiki?" Ranma asked and received no response. "Come on, you're my only hope if I don't pass this test Akane will kill me!" Ranma begged suddenly blocked Nabiki's path and loomed over here like a demon shadowing her from the light. For a moment Nabiki was surprised by the thought, and noted just how tall Ranma was compared to her before getting her bearings.
"Then I think you need to talk with her Saotome." Nabiki sighed dismissingly making her way around Ranma. "If the tests that important no matter how angry she is I'm sure she will help you."
Nabiki was startled as Ranma grabbed her wrist preventing her from leaving the room; the firmness of it left no imagination to the strength behind it. In the past months she had had front row tickets to the most amazing and sometimes idiotic battles Japan had ever seen, witness to the insane power Ranma and everyone surrounding him contained. In that time not once had she herself encountered or was subject to it in anyway, and unlike her younger sister Nabiki had no illusions to just how fragile she was and right now in Ranma's grip; she was frightened.
"Ranma let go of me."
"Your pretty smart, Akane's always saying how good your grades are. Just for an hour that's all I'm asking!" Ranma continued to plead innocently unaware of Nabiki's condition, missing the soft tremor of her voice in his desperation.
"Just an hour. I'll pay anything you want just help me pass this test!"
"I said let go!" Nabiki cried out as she slapped Ranma soundly across the face effectively stunning him, sapping his strength allowing her to quickly and effortlessly free herself. Looking up she saw Ranma's wide disbelieving eyes as she rubbed her wrist appreciating its freedom, and reassured herself that Ranma hadn't hurt her.
"Honesty Saotome" Nabiki huffed after a minute and she spun on her heels and continued her march from the room to shaken to properly deal with the situation, leaving Ranma who was still soundly stunned, caught like a deer in oncoming headlights.
It was to Nabiki relief that Ranma hadn't followed her downstairs as she entered the empty living room, the dinning room screens where closed with Kasume bustled about behind them but the opposite ones that opened to the boardwalk and side yard stood open allowing the cooling night wind to enter. Sighing Nabiki took seat outside on the boardwalk basking in the freshness of the night and continued rubbing her wrist feeling Ranma's grip still clearly there.
"Baka…" Nabiki frowned belittling herself for being childish. "It's not like Ranma would ever hurt me." She reassured herself then slammed her palms into her lap with a frustrated intake of breath, realizing how vulnerable and exposed she had felt and just how shaken she was now. If it had been Akane she wouldn't have even minded, or if she had Ranma would have had the lumps on his head to prove it.
It was a fact she truly didn't want to admit to herself, but she was envious of her younger sister's strength. Akane could confidently hold her own in a fight, even versus Ranma's other fiancés or rivals Akane significantly outclassed could still trade a blow or two and walk home relatively unharmed. Having such strength and sense of self security was a secret longing of Nabiki's, and just now in Ranma's grip she wished more then ever that she had not given up the arts for a life as a high school mercenary. There where plenty of other ways to support the family at the time, but the loss of her mother had effected her and her sisters significantly.
Akane to young to accept it was filled with anger and contempt at the world throwing herself blindly into the arts using it as her tool to express her feelings, their father no longer able to teach overcome with his grief. Kasumi old enough to accept things as they where began to care for their father and the home, replacing the gape their mother left not out of willingness but necessity. She had even managed to continue her training for some time and assist Akane when she could, till the glamour of it faded and the maintenance of the home and family became more important. Nabiki herself though, trained like her sisters in the art had never enjoyed it like Akane or possessed the talent and grace at it like Kasumi. Rebelliously she had tossed it aside, forgotten being the middle daughter of a grieving family she had sought out her own path and talent to bring herself attention and satisfaction, finding it in money.
It was like a dream come true back then when she first brought home a few hundred yen and eagerly parted with it so Kasumi could buy that extra treat for dinner and receiving much praise in the process. As time went by she was able to acquire more and more yen threw many means, threw trial and error she learned the value of money and soon the happy smiles and eagerness quickly began to fade. When Kasumi had to regrettably quite her part time jobs to care for their father who had taken a turn for the worse in his grief, Nabiki had become the sole pillar for the family to rely on and the responsibility weighed heavy on her young shoulders, eating away at her youthful innocence and replacing it with cruel hard reality.
The sliding of the dinning room screen shook Nabiki from her brooding as Kasumi's ever perfect smile welcomed her. "Oh Nabiki can you call the others to dinner?"
Never able to refuse her older sister, Nabiki stood stretching letting its comforting effect chase away uncomfortable feelings. "Sure sis."
"Oh and I believe I saw Ranma in the dojo earlier, do tell him to wash up before dinner?" Nabiki felt a chill wash over her at Kasumi's request, unable to respond as her older sister disappeared into the kitchen.
The mention of Ranma's name had made her suddenly grip her wrist defensively, cradling it protectively to her chest before realization and common sense took over. She was acting like an assault victim and it irritated her, she was the ice queen. She demanded fear and respect among her peers and enemies, even Ranma's rivals dared not cross her if they could help it. What reason should she have to even give Ranma a second thought, he had no power over her. She could crush him as easily as she could an empty juice box; make his life so painful and unbearable that it would seem like the fiery pits of hell, and that was just for starters.
She demanded… Still holding her wrist protectively to her chest…
Why was she trembling?