A/N: Another long overdue chapter, a bit short but packed full of drama.
- Chapter 6-
Nabiki blinked as she found herself sitting at the dinning room table. Looking up she felt somewhat confused at seeing Ranma in girl form wearing an apron and a bright happy smile while pouring tea into a cup.
"Sure." She spoke and watched as the tea slowly poured into her cup.
"Rice?" Nabiki turned to the head of the table where another girl form Ranma sat ladling rice. Nabiki nodded and began to sip her tea as tea pouring Ranma smiled at her and took a seat. Across from her sat two more Ranma's, both in male form. One was large and fat while the other was just ordinary Ranma.
"Oh no there's no time we will be late for school!" rice Ranma suddenly gasped and took Nabiki's arm causing her world to spin. She was now rushing into the open gates of school being towed by Ranma who wore her sister's school uniform.
"Hold it right there! I challenge thee my lovely tigress. We shall date!" A Ranma dressed in samurai gear shouted from atop the school.
Nabiki sighed and shook her head and looked over to the Ranma who was dressed like Akane only to find no sign or her. Looking down she saw she was now wearing Akane's uniform and looking back up she was suddenly surrounded by a hundred Ranma's, male and female all grinning predatorily and brandishing sports equipment.
"What… hold on, I'm not Akane!" Nabiki pleaded just as Kuno leapt forward. Gasping, she backed up in fright just before Kuno came to a stop in midair as if stuck... Watching stunned her eyes caught Normal Ranma walking into the school gates and walk over to Kuno before flicking him with a single finger sending Kuno spinning comically off into the sun.
"If anyone touches my girl they have to deal with me!" Normal Ranma shouted and the hordes of other Ranma's melted like ice cream under a heat lamp. Nabiki looked on in awe as Ranma came closer then sweeper her into his arms bringing his face closer and closer.
Nabiki's shut her eyes longingly just as Ranma's lips where about to meet hers. After several moments she opened her eyes finding no more Ranma, but instead Shampoo, Ukyo, Akane, and even Knochi staring back at her.
"We won't let you have him! Ranma is ours!" The four yelled in unison as they pounced on her their hands gripping her arms, legs, and neck and began so slowly drag her down into the ground which had become a swirling black pool.
"N..no stop!" Nabiki screamed and struggled as the four continued to repeat the mantra, dragging her down inch by inch into the dark depths.
"He is ours, Ranma is ours!"
"Nooo stop! Please! Stop! Help anyone please! Ranma, Ranma save me! Ranma!!!" Nabiki screamed hysterically just before the liquid covered her face a single arm reached high into the air grasping at the oxygen the four fiancées denied her.
Nabiki's scream echoed throughout the house as she shot up in bed. So distraught was she that she felt her comforting blanked was trying to strangle her and she kicked and fought it until Kasumi's comforting arms embraced her, calming her in an instant. Panting and trembling she shook in her sister's arms as she was soothed, after a moment she had completely forgotten the dream and along with it her distress.
"Nabiki its ok. It's ok." Kasumi reassured her sitting on the edge of the bed and holding her in her arms.
"Kasumi? Is everything ok?" Akane asked worriedly as she appeared in the doorway clad in her PJ's and rubbing sleep from her eyes. It was apparent the scream had awoken just about everyone in the house. Before Kasumi could reply Nabiki took a deep breath and let out a calming sigh.
"I'm ok; I just had a bad dream. I'm fine now." Nabiki pulled away from Kasumi and noted it was the middle of the night. She hadn't recalled going to bed and seeing the desk lamp was on and her chair looked to have been used she suspected something had happened.
Looking back at Kasumi she felt a pang of regret as she noticed her older sister was not wearing her bed cloths. It was clear she had been sitting here late into the night watching over her and forgoing sleep. In her clouded mind Nabiki was unable to recall the reason for it but feeling fine now she didn't want her sister to worry and let her finally get some rest.
"Sorry I woke you two up." Nabiki began and before Kasumi or Akane could protest with anything reassuring she continued. "I'm really tired; I'm going to go back to bed."
"Are you sure you're ok Nabiki?" Kasumi asked making no move to go. Nabiki lying back down nodded sleepily and pretended to drift off to sleep. It was only a few moments later she felt her older sister lean over and kiss her on the forehead followed by the click of her desk lamp turning off and the hushed whispers of her sisters as they left closing her door.
She waited several long quiet minuets to make sure Kasumi wasn't going to return before she sat up in bed. She felt tired but not sleepy and her mind was too full of cotton to allow her any comfort. Slipping out of bed she stumbled towards her door. Several times she nearly lost her balance as her mind played tricks on her not yet fully aware of her surroundings.
By the time she reached the kitchen downstairs her mind had cleared somewhat and the cold glass of water she sipped from served as an antidote to the fog that hid her memories. Lost in her dazed trance she relived and reviewed the event that led her to her room in primal fear. It was only after her mind informed her she was trying to drink from an empty glass that she snapped from it.
"Ranma…" Nabiki whispered the expression on her face upset and vulnerable. Closing her eyes she slipped to the floor against the counter and wrapped her arms around her knees, trembling.
Why did Ranma have to do that… why did he have to take the sparring seriously. The thought had never crossed her mind when she extended the challenge, she had only expected the same treatment he gave Akane. Both Akane and Kasumi had told him to take it seriously… but she hadn't wanted him to.
Tightening her hug on her knees she bit her lip and clamped her eyes even tighter as she couldn't get the image of Ranma's intense battle hardened eyes staring her down as if she where a long time rival.
"It was only a joke… just a joke…" Nabiki whispered hoarsely as a small sob came from her throat then another until they came one after another sobbing quietly. Why did Ranma always make her cry... always? Why was he the one that always had to witness her in tears? She hated it, she hated it so fiercely. What did Ranma think of her now? It seemed all she ever did now was cry. Is that how Ranma saw her now? A crybaby?
Yes she agreed with herself. He must think of her as a crybaby and a burden. No doubt that was the reason he had grown more distant recently. He didn't want to deal with her and her unstable emotions. He didn't want to deal with her… he wanted to hurt her… he… he hated her…
Nabiki's sobbing deepened. She didn't want Ranma to hate her… She didn't want him to hurt her… She wanted him to protect her. She wanted him to be her friend, no; she wanted him to love her…
It took a few moments of silence in her mind to comprehend what she had just thought. Slowly as if not believing its meaning her eyes widened until they where fully open and an expression of surprised shock on filled her face.
"No..." Nabiki breathed and pushed herself to her feet. Stumbling forward she refused to acknowledge the thought but in her state she had allowed the truth of it to bypass all her defenses and hammer deep into her core. There was no way for her to deny it now, not now. The feelings, the longings, the fear… It was all tied to this and she wanted it to disappear. She had always wanted it to disappear but this feeling… It remained.
"No…" She repeated as her shaky hand dropped her glass on the floor and fled. Like before with the sparring march she was facing a terrible fear. There was only one safe place to hide, her room. She had to sleep, pretend this was a dream. Sleep away the memories.
Why…. Why did she have to fall in love with Ranma…? She didn't want to love him; it wasn't something she had chosen. It was forced upon her and felt like a death sentence given to an innocent woman. It weighed unbearable as the very thought turned her insides to notes and her legs to jelly.
Lost in the blind need to find safety she fell into her bed and wrapped her blanket around her securely. Here she was safe. She curled up into a ball and breathed deeply, her troubled mind found comfort here and before any more thoughts could come she drifted off slowly to sleep.
Kasumi yawned and embarrassedly covered her mouth as she entered kitchen to prepare breakfast. Staying up so late watching over Nabiki had taken its toll on her and it appeared she overslept. When she had realized the fact she quickly and efficiently slipped from her bed and took a morning to help her prepare for the day.
"Mmm after last night I think I should prepare something special for Nabiki.. Oh?" Kasumi paused as her foot bumped into something. Frowning she picked up the unknown article, a glass, from the floor. Strange she thought she had cleaned the kitchen properly the night before. Giving the glass no special attention she placed it in the sink and busied herself with preparing the meal.
Only after the stove had been lit and a fry pan was resting over it did she ponder about her actions the night before. She had known it was a gamble when she had coaxed Ranma into sparing with Nabiki seriously, wishing to help both Ranma and Nabiki. But she was never good at gambling. She should have known better then to force something so reckless to happen.
She had stopped Akane from chasing after Nabiki and spent the next hour mediating a argument between her and Ranma. Akane blamed Ranma, and poor Ranma was completely confused as to why Nabiki had locked up in the middle of their spar. In the end the two just settled on not speaking with each other for the rest of the night but only after many reassurances from her.
She explained once more the state Nabiki was in and that they should expect more events like this in the future. Neither Akane nor Ranma looked happy or comfortable at the fact but accepted it.
"Where's Nabiki?" Akane asked sleepily as she entered the kitchen with a pillow hugged to her chest.
"Still sleeping I believe." Kasumi replied with a soft smile.
"She's not in her room, I looked in on her." Akane frowned and Kasumi felt a sudden pang of concern. She had been up for half an hour now and had heard no sounds about the house. If Nabiki wasn't in her room or up… Turning the stove off, she decided to investigate herself.
Frowning in mutual concern Akane followed Kasumi up the stairs. Looking in on Nabiki's room Kasumi frowned finding Nabiki's bed unmade and empty. With no obvious signs of where her sister could have gone she felt a stab of fear. She needed to wake Ranma, if Nabiki wasn't in the house then…
Briskly she passed down the hall to Ranma's room and slid the door open, before she could call politely to wake Ranma she stopped dead in her tracks. Akane who had followed close behind bumped into her but mirrored her own reaction when her eyes fell upon the sight before them.
There was Nabiki sleeping beside Ranma but not only beside, she was wrapped partly around him and curled up against his side. She was lying on top of the blanket with the lose end thrown over her, a hand protectively clutching at the blanket that covered Ranma's chest. And the expression she wore… It was an expression of someone on the verge of tears full of pain and sadness. In fact it looked as if she had been crying
Ranma on his part was sound asleep and appeared to have no knowledge that Nabiki was there. Despite his abnormally keen senses in battle Ranma always had a weak point when he was asleep. Unless someone meant him harm Ranma's senses neglected to inform him if someone was near, much less sharing the same bed as him.
Unfortunately for Kasumi, Akane had recovered from the sight quicker then her and her temper was quickly growing. This was a very delicate situation for everyone involved and had to be handled as such. Unfortunately Kasumi was unable to restrainer her sister in time and keep her from barging into the room.
"Ranma! What do you think you're doing with my sister!" Akane yelled in fury causing Ranma's danger sense to kick into full throttle and instantly wake him.
"Huh… what?" Ranma boggled blinking at the sight of a flaming Akane marching closer with real anger in her eyes.
"Hey! Hey wait a minuet I've done nothing!" Ranma protested and tried to wave his arms in a placating manner but found one of them was weighed down. His eyes following it to where it was pinned below Nabiki. Nabiki who was clinging to him in a very intimate way. The first thought in his head was 'oh man how do I get myself into theses situations', and the second, 'I'm going to be killed'.
"Ranma you pig!" Akane hissed and was about to attack but paused along with everyone else in the room with held breath as Nabiki whimpered. All eyes focused on her they watched as Nabiki squirmed and hid her face against Ranma's side trying to ignore all the noise much toe everyone shock. Ranma's particularly as he nearly jumped out of his skin and looked as if Nabiki has suddenly grown a tail and ears just like a cat.
With baited breath they all watched and Nabiki continued to squirm closer to Ranma, even wrapping on leg over his until… she stopped quite suddenly.
Nabiki whimpered as she felt the world calling her back. She felt so safe and so warm here she didn't want to go back, not yet. This feeling was drowning her and her heart pounded so heavily, she was in bliss, a painful bliss she refused to relinquish without a fight. Stubbornly she pulled closer to the warmth she felt so near and held to it for dear life. She was home… she never wanted to leave this place. This place where she felt whole and happy but it was not to last.
The longer she held onto the warmth a scene of wrongness filled her. Where was she, what was she holding? Her wakening mind demanded theses answers and battered her dream world with weapons of mass destruction till nothing but the foundation remained. Weakly she opened her eyes.
The first thing she saw was red… the red silk of Ranma's shirt. It was so close… so close… She closer her eyes again and breathed in deeply. She could smell him, Ranma, he smelt so wild, so strong. This was a dream, her sleepy mind reasoned, why would Ranma be in her bed… so close… so warm…
Again she opened her eyes; head nestled against the side of his chest. Looking up with her eyes only she stared into Ranma's. His where wide with surprise, his lips slightly parted in confusion. An innocent face, an attractive one and it was staring at her… at her… he was staring at her…
Feeling a sudden flutter in her chest and a wave of embarrassing insecurity she timidly turned her eyes down and away as if not seeing his eyes will remove them from her. Her cheeks flushed a light pink as she felt a small tremble take over her body. She was so close to Ranma, she was touching him and he was staring at her so intently… She liked this feeling... she wanted this feeling…
Again she looked up, timidly, shyly, his lips…. His lips drew her eyes as if a light in the dark. Without any conscience thought she pushed herself up slowly, rising just above Ranma's side. He continued to stare… his lips…. She closed her eyes and leaned forward, closer… she could feel his breath on her lips… then… then she felt his. She was kissing them, those painfully attractive lips.
She was happy, so happy and warm. There was nothing that could shatter this peace she found… nothing accept the startled gasp of her sisters. Freezing suddenly, she felt reality overtake her in a surreal way. What was she doing? This wasn't a dream… this was…
She pulled back from Ranma who looked positively terrified and speechless. Looking over her shoulder she felt her blood run cold. Kasumi and Akane stood there. Kasumi looked shocked and sad while Akane… oh god… Akane's expression of disbelief, confusion, and betrayal stabbed daggers into her heart.
Before any words could be exchanged Akane bolted from the room, her loud foot falls heavy on the wooden floorboards till they stopped with the slamming of her bedroom door. Ranma had used this sudden distraction to expertly bolt from his futon and cling to the opposite side of the room as if he expected Nabiki to give chase like Shampoo often had.
What was going on… what just happened? Nabiki felt overcome with vulnerability as she hugged herself and trembled. She would have begun to cry if Kasumi had not quickly captured her in a warm embraced and held her tight and close. How could something like this have happened? How could she do such a thing to her sister, how could she do such a thing to Ranma?
"I… I…" Nabiki began. But was silence by Kasumi who placed a finger on her lips and pulled her closer, rocking her. No mater how many times she tried to speak Kasumi would silence her and sooth her, until she cried. Nabiki couldn't help it, all theses feelings, all the loneliness, the hopes, the desired. All of it was flooding out. Where before she cried only about her pain. Now she cried about her love, and how unfair it was to have such a feeling.
Her cries echoed throughout the house, long open sobs of helplessness. There was no anguish, only an acceptance of something so cruel and so unavoidable. A guilty acceptance of falling in love with her younger sister's fiancée and knowing she truly wanted these feelings to stay.
"I.. I love him… I love him." Nabiki gasped and whimpered repeatedly to Kasumi, crying in her arms.
"I know, Nabiki. I know." Kasumi spoke softly and rubbed Nabiki's back, "I know."
Ranma, perplexed, terrified and confused quickly vanished from the room. Kasumi was sure he was fine, but Akane… First she would deal with Nabiki. Then Akane, Akane would understand in time this was for the best.
"Why did I have to fall for him…." Nabiki's tight voice squeaked just before another long session of heavy sobbing.
"Shhhh, Shhhh." Kasumi continued to calm her throughout the morning and thanked their luck this event had happened on the weekend. There was time to repair it… time enough to repair it.
End Chapter 6