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August 30th, 2001.
Los Angeles International Airport, Tom Bradley Terminal. – 8:01 AM.
As soon as the automatic sliding doors whooshed open, a blast of cool morning air mixed with the fumes of burnt diesel and petrol enveloped him with a sense of disappointment. The airport here had buses and cars the same as the airport back home.
He had hoped for a wave of nostalgia as soon as his feet had landed back in California soil, alas he would probably have to wait until he went into the city and maybe grab something he hadn't had in a while. A carne asada burrito and some al pastor tacos with some salsa roja would do the trick. A perfect way to cure jetlag, he decided.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crisp box of Marlboro Reds, unopened in its cellophane wrapper. The duty-free cartons were a steal and he stocked up a few.
A single cig hung loosely at the corner of his lips. He brought it to life with the tip of a match. He took a breath of revitalizing nicotine before he raised his arm to flag down a cab.
August 31st, 2001.
Lomita Apartments - Torrance, California. 3:24 PM.
The hinge on the front door creaked open as the mailman dropped off today's collection of supermarket specials and clearance sales at JC Penney. They dropped on the floor, next to a disheveled pile of similar junk mail pushed to the side of the wall by the door.
The curtains inside this one bedroom apartment were all dimmed and closed shut, blocking out the the current heat wave. The apartment was a virtual greenroom as it was situated on the second floor and placed in a corner of the complex that absorbed the most sunlight. There was barely use for an air conditioner though. The South Bay was close to the cool breeze of the Pacific Ocean and devoid of the smog from Los Angeles which was some fifteen miles* to the north.
Nabiki stared vapidly at the TV screen, flipping through the channels with her legs balled up and her chin on her knees. The only thing that was remotely interesting was CNN.
The apartment was stale with the acrid smell of burnt tobacco and the compost stench of takeout cartons stacked high and tumbled over the wastebasket in the kitchen. Mildew reeked from the sinks, packed with dishes left unwashed and chunks of food backed up in the garbage disposal.
Nabiki's mouth yawed and her tongue kept scraping her teeth. Her crusty lips pressed down and puckered in succession, emphasizing her chubbier cheeks and daring to show what started to look like a saggy chin.
She was dressed in a white tank top over an uncomfortably tight looking pair of cotton shorts. The threads disheveled a bit where her waistline had stretched out ever so gradually.
"Where are my smokes?" Nabiki set down the remote control and started aimlessly reaching around the floor to her side. She knocked down a couple of stacks of hundred dollar bills as she grabbed an empty pack of cigs.
"Shit." She closed her eyes for a moment, considering the trip she'd have to make outside. After bracing herself by breathing really heavily, she stood up.
Nabiki grabbed a pair of sunglasses off the scummy, crumb laden counter that overlooked her kitchen and the living room. She had no furniture, no bed. Just an assorted collection of blankets and pillows sprawled everywhere. She was too paranoid to set up her home, fearing she might have to flee. This was despite the fact she hadn't done it once, paranoid that moving often was suspicious as well.
She shielded her weary eyes and covered her messy hair with a large cap, a blue Dodgers duckbill. Nabiki grabbed her carkeys and went out the door, locking it from the inside out by twisting the knob lock. She had long neglected utilizing the dead bolt like she normally would.
Her choice of transportation was a run of the mill Toyota Camry. It was a purchase that she had reluctantly made versus something nicer as it easily blended in as a common appliance for the road. She triggered the keyless entry as she climbed down the stairs to the parking lot.
Nabiki's over-boosted eardrums noticed the footsteps behind her first.
She didn't turn around. Her keys were still in her hands. That voice didn't make her scream. It didn't even make her blood run cold.
"Hey," the voice behind her repeated again.
She wished she could say she was surprised. She wasn't. Nabiki turned around and saw Ranma standing in front of her. She stared at him with her eyes hidden by her large sunglasses.
"Hey," Nabiki responded. She looked at him carefully. She thought about the plans and precautions she had made prior to coming here.
Ranma looked at her with even eyes, his eyebrows straight and rigid. He took a look at Nabiki up and down and silently cried out in alarm inside. She looked like a wreck.
She thought about her family. She had last heard Ryoga had tried to commit suicide. She wasn't able to communicate long enough to find out if he had died or survived. The phone calls were easily traceable.
Ranma put his mouth up to his hand and he rubbed his chin. His eyes softened a bit. He gestured at her apartment. "Let's go up and talk, yes?"
Nabiki nodded reluctantly and walked her way up. She thought about her apartment.
Ranma silently followed her from the bottom. He could smell the stale leftovers of smoke and trash from her apartment when she opened the door.
When he walked in, Ranma figured he shouldn't bother taking off his shoes. The place was a mess. The carpeted floor was littered with random bits of junk. He caught his eye on a counter on the kitchen. There were several prescription bottles sitting there. He immediately shuffled over to take a look.
Nabiki's mind kept wandering. She expected it because she hadn't covered her tracks like she meant to. Why had she been so paranoid?
And then she saw him grab one of her medicine bottles on the counter. She broke out of her reverie. That's right.
"Adderall? Desoxyn? Xanax?" Ranma shook his head as he picked up and read each one. He noticed the stacks of money littered on the ground too.
Nabiki pressed her back against the wall, furthest away from Ranma. She faced him, but covered her face and peeked through her fingers. She slowly slid down to the ground.
Ranma took a step back and saw some more prescription bottles on the ground. These were near the money, on top of a photo album. The bottles were all similar and he assumed they were the same drug. He picked up the album and flipped through it first. They were pictures of the Tendo family. Ranma was in some of them too. And they were under bottles of Oxycontin.
Nabiki quietly started sobbing. Her hands were matted to her hair, and her palms collected the tears that were cascading down her cheeks.
"Nabiki, Nabiki, Nabiki." Ranma pinched the bridge of his nose and talked with his back against her. "What have you been doing to yourself?"
He walked over and sat down to her left. He cradled his knees under his chin and leaned his head back against the wall as he continued to listen to her sob.
"You left behind a lot of worried people, Nabiki. The government and the authorities are also very concerned of your whereabouts. Your father got better and recovered from his shock. Kasumi got out of the hospital and is recovering and rebuilding her life after getting over what has happened. Akane is nursing Ryoga full time and attending therapy sessions with both him and Kasumi to adjust."
Nabiki peeked out her wet, bloodshot eyes. "Ryoga survived?"
Ranma sighed. He pulled out his pack of cigarettes and offered Nabiki one. She gingerly took it and received a light too. Ranma lit one for himself.
"So you heard too, huh?" Ranma replied.
Nabiki didn't respond. She just puffed her cigarette and let it ash on herself.
"He shot himself in the mouth but it missed his brain. It came out behind his ear, kinda like Edward Norton in Fight Club. It happened at a hospital so the doctors saved his life by patching him up pretty quickly.
"And he told me about the whole thing too. Why he'd done it. How he came to do it. What you had said to him. I heard it all."
"Akane calls me about you. Almost every day. Even though she knows I have to arrest you, she thinks I'm the only one who can find you. Kasumi worries too, but she's been lost in her own world. She's gotten over mourning for Tofu it seems, more as a friend than a husband.
"You're on the JNSA's most wanted list and at Interpol too. Shit, knowing how smart you are I'm sure you know the airports have you blacklisted. I hear even the CIA is upset with you for running arms to a faction which of course they would no way in hell endorse. Shit, supposedly it was their resources that helped me find you.
"I gotta hand it to you, Nabs. You're real cunning. The way you fooled our investigators, myself, and just about every analyst we had with the way you hid your money. Having Ryoga's family name as part of the dojo property wasn't just an honor bound ruse, was it? You managed to set up an amazing backchannel of accounts after accessing his family name and their own financial dealings. It makes sense though, Ryoga and his family of the lost have wandered and practically opened up a bank account or savings account under their names virtually all over the world seeing as how they never knew when they might need it again. It was nigh impossible to track."
Nabiki cracked her first smile. It had been a good ruse she had set up. It wasn't impenetrable, but it had given her an ample edge of escape time. Time she had squandered away.
"You know, even the Yakuza have it out for you? Even though you didn't deal with them? Forty million dollars, Nabiki. That's some serious drug money. When I found out how crazy of an amount they paid you, I didn't think you were so crazy for what you did. But it seems like there's a hundred thousand dollar contract on your head for your body. Dead or alive."
"I didn't even think I'd be worth that much," she muttered.
"It's enough to get me worried. I've only heard about high hit contracts like that in the movies. Technically, I could get paid that much right now if I did it myself."
Nabiki shrugged. She glanced at him with a resigned sigh.
"But I didn't come here for that. I didn't come here to tell you of your impending doom. I'm not here to tell you about all the horrible things I thought I wished of you when I thought about the fact that you had me killed. I'm not here for revenge."
"You here to arrest me, Officer Saotome?" Nabiki spat. "Put the cuffs on me and strike another victory for justice?"
Ranma looked at her and saw her prone form, hunched over next to him. He lifted is arm and wrapped it around her, jolting her in alarm. He gently put his hand on her hair and pulled her over to him.
"I'm not here to arrest you either, Nabiki."
Nabiki almost threw up from surprise. Her mouth hung open and she perked her ears.
"There's a million different things and reasons I can think of to do to you. And I think you know you deserve them. Or worse yet know you have it coming to you. But I'm not going to do that.
"Just looking at the way you've been living here, it seems I won't regret what I'm offering to you. Your family begged me to find you. They've begged me to spare you. Truth be told, I've begged myself the same thing at night when I'm by myself. When we finally found you, I begged my own terms on how to handle you to my superiors."
Nabiki stuttered out her next few words. "W-what d-does that m-m-m-mean?"
"I'm giving you a chance. You come back with me. You start over. Obviously you'll never be working for the government again. You accept the fact that you're going to be under surveillance for the rest of your life. And you give up all that money you've earned."
That last demand brought her brain to a screeching halt. She looked at him desperately, wordlessly pleading with him that it was too much. Ranma didn't budge.
"You can't have it. You want to start clean, you start clean. If you want it that bad, I'll tell you what. I'll leave here and let you live your life as you were and see how long you'll last. It's up to you."
Nabiki's eyes started watering again. She thought about the way she was living the past few months. The drugs. The drinking. The nightmares. The regrets...
"Just ask yourself, Nabiki..."
She had surrounded herself with stacks of money she didn't know how to spend as nothing had helped heal the wounds.
"Was it really worth it?"
And she cracked. She broke out into tears and cried freely into Ranma's chest. No, it wasn't worth it. It was never worth it.
She was curled up on his lap like a lost kitten. Ranma pat her head gently.
*15 miles – 24km for you metric folks.
September 2nd, 2001.
Rose Hills Memorial Park - Whittier, California. 10:12 AM.
"I know I should've visited you more often, baby. I'm sorry. I just haven't been myself the past year."
Ranma laid down a bouquet of sunflowers and daisies. They were some of her favorite flowers. He brushed away the dirt and pulled out the weeds next to the discreet low mounted gravestone. He wanted to clear the view to the crystal display of a police badge that was embedded at the bottom.
She who gave her life,
To Serve and To Protect
He looked at her name and closed his eyes. Had it been over a year, already? He flashed through what was the most tumultuous year of his life. It had all come back full circle. It was an epiphany that entailed having to forgive and save Nabiki before he could save himself for what he had become.
Ranma kneeled down and kissed the gravestone. "I miss you, Itchan. It's been a tough time without you. Just so many things have happened." His eyes wandered at the sky while he was talking, watering up as he addressed her spirit. "I think I've finally found the will to move on. I can go on with my life now. But that doesn't mean I'll ever stop loving you."
A gust of wind blew in Ranma's direction and nearly knocked him over. He was immediately thinking how odd it was to get such strong winds in the hills at this time of the year when his phone started ringing.
He looked at the caller ID. It was Kiyone.
"Hey, Kiyone. What's up?"
Kiyone's voice came out loud, almost like she was shouting. "What are you sounding so down for? You alright?"
"Yeah, Kiyone. I'm at cemetery right now. Visiting my late fiancée."
"You look down though. Want me to come and cheer you up?" Kiyone replied brightly.
Ranma tickled his nose with his finger. "Haha, sure. Why not. And what do you mean I look down, how would you know what I look like?"
Another gust of wind whooshed its way in Ranma's direction, this time making him fall to the ground. The sky above Ranma shifted into different colors like one big optical mind trick and the Yagami partially appeared, revealing its bay doors only. It opened up to reveal Kiyone with her ship's communicator on her ear.
Ranma dropped his phone and stared at her with eyes chocked. "Kiyone!?"
"Thought I'd give you a little surprise." She snapped her fingers and Yagami disappeared again, shielded by its cloaking device. "I flew over here with Yagami and traced your GPS signal. I kind of missed you and figured I had a vacation coming... I might as well spend it with you in America?"
Ranma laughed heartily as she walked up to him and helped him off the ground. He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and grabbed her hands. He brought her to Ichino's grave with a solemn smile.
"Itchan, I'd like you to meet Kiyone. Kiyone, I'd like you to meet Ichino Yanagida. She was the finest police officer I ever knew."
Kiyone bowed graciously with heartfelt respect.
"I'm glad I got her to meet you, Itchan. She's real nice. I think you'd definitely like her. I'll drop in from time to time, ok?"
The couple walked away after Ranma gave one last kiss goodbye from his lips to his fingertips. Kiyone wrapped her arms around Ranma. They walked back to his rental car parked alongside the road.
"So, is there anything you feel like doing in particular?" Ranma asked.
Kiyone hummed for a few moments and then batted her eyes cutely at Ranma. "I don't know. I've never been to America before. We're in California right? Is there a lot of stuff to see?"
Ranma shrugged. "Sure. Depends on what you want to see."
"Well," Kiyone said, licking her lips. She smirked and then kissed him on the lips. "I remember you talked about real American cuisine once. Show me a tour."
"A food tour, huh?" Ranma started his car and then frowned at his choice of transportation. He looked at Kiyone and then felt his eyebrows lift to one side as he smiled. "Sure."
"-N-R-Y-U-U, that's how you spell her family name." Ranma nodded as he kept talking into his cell phone as he drove and navigated the twisting roads. "That's right, I want half of it transferred immediately, no questions asked, no hassles for her."
He ended the call and tossed his phone into the center console bin.
"What was that?" Kiyone asked, from the passenger seat.
"Just a gift for an old friend," Ranma said. He gripped the steering wheel with both hands and aggressively blipped the throttle as he went around the high speed bends.
"So this freeway goes all along the ocean?" Kiyone pointed towards the blue sea, shimmering in the sunset. She had an empty bag of In-N-Out Burger at her feet.
"All the way to San Francisco," Ranma said out loud. He pulled on a paddle that was behind the steering wheel.
"You sure you can buy something like this? What are you going to do about all this money?" Kiyone lifted her arms outside the cockpit, dragging her hands in the open wind.
Ranma lifted his hand up to catch the wind in his new convertible. A brand new Ferrari 360 Modena Spyder. It screamed along the cliff-side roads with its wailing V8 and striking Ferrari Rossa paint.
Kiyone squealed. Ranma howled as he upshifted with a paddle flick on the Ferrari's trademark sequential transmission.
He grabbed Kiyone's hand and lifted it up in the air with her. They both laughed like excited children.
Ranma mashed the throttle, beaming from ear-to-ear. "Better us than the government. Don't worry, I can think of plenty things I can do with it."
Disclaimer: This is fan fiction, I don't plan to make a profit out of someone else's work, just don't sue me. All respective trademarks, copyrights, whatever-rights, theirs and not mine.
From the Author:
I started this fic back in early 2001, which is why the dates in this fic still refer back to that era. It has been 8 years in the making. 8, wonderful, long, and memorable years which have brought me hundreds of pages of writing, countless hours of sitting at the word processors, countless hours of talking to fans/writers/friends on IRC, email, Delphi [RIP], and Anifics [RIP], dozens (perhaps close to a hundred even) of pages that were written and subsequently erased because it didn't go the way I wanted... wow. I could go on and on.
I want to thank you readers who have come this far and are reading my notes here right now. I want to especially, from the bottom of my heart, thank you folks who have followed me from years back, the ones who know and have waited for me to update in-between long and infrequent updates. This story is now finished. I can't believe it's finished. I hope it was as much fun and enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write. Fanfiction once started off as a hobby that piqued my interest as a fan boy and inner-nerd. It has over the years blossomed into a passion of mine that has always itched away at me no matter how busy my life was and how little time I found for it. It became something that I wanted to constantly improve on, something that I actually even took the time to take creative writing workshops for to improve my writing craft.
I want to thank you guys for enjoying a character that I, in all honestly, started off as a one-dimensional badass that I created just for the sake of Michael Bay-esque awesomeness and as a forced shoehorn to make a Kiyone pairing. What I didn't expect, was the motivation and the interest to create (or at least try my personal best) a believable character based off the canon and flesh him out with prose and honest development.
There are lots of people I want to thank, like Thermopyle and KPJAM back in the day for helping me preread. James Axelrad and PCHeintz for helping me out with the newer chapters. The remnants of old Delphi. Anifics folks while it was still running. Ariolander for his incredibly generous help in giving me a working website, and a badass one at that. Thank all of you who actually sent me emails. Everyone at fanfiction dot net (fucking FF net url filters) for your reviews and feedback. I took them all to heart and considered all of your words.
So, how'd you like how this saga ended? Maybe I'm jumpin' the gun a little bit, but I do believe my fic is probably one of the longest running fics to ever be actually completed in the Ranma-verse. It took 8 years for me to get to this point. I'd gladly put in another 8 years perhaps to do it all over again.
In the end, I concluded this story on the theme of redemption. As much as I know a GOOD number of you will howl at me for the happy-ish ending, well... I got an alternate epilogue in the works. I was originally planning to release it at the same time as this, but I didn't know that it would take me this long to shit out a 9 page shortie. I figured 8 months is a long wait for you guys. Let's end it. I'll give you the alternate ending later.
And to some who were wondering about Akari's bittersweet fate, well. She
ain't gonna be so bittersweet with $20 mil in the bank now, is she?
Well, this journey has definitely been fun. And I must say, I am VERY sad to see it end. I'd like to consider perhaps making a very modern sequel to this, this time set in a post- 9/11 world without the constraint of the year in the storyline. But for now, I have other projects I need to finish. The Miho/Ranma project is scrapped, as much as I hate to fucking do it. I looked at it many times since I started it and now 8 years later I must conclude that it is shit. The Daily Report is woefully underworked, and I have yet one Officer Saotome alternate story that was put completely on hold that was supposed to be a Rally Vincent/Ranma matchup in a Gunsmith Cats x-over. There's a dozen different story ideas I have up in my noggin that I'd like to jot down and perhaps pursue.
Check out my new website at .com . Lots of cool stuff there, in addition to my fanfics!.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SEND ME FEEDBACK!!! My e-mail is . That's SgtRanma AT Gmail dot com for those of you who can't see the link. For the fanfiction net people, you'll have to click the links on my profile.
Finished August 4, 2009