Disclaimer: Ranma is not mine, etc.
Quick note before I begin. I literally dreamed this one up, just thought you should know.
"Ranma? Is that you?" Kasumi called as she heard someone enter. She turned to face the person and gasped in surprise. "Oh my! What happened? You didn't find any of those mushrooms again, did you?"
Ranma shook her head. "Something like that. I can't believe this happened, I mean, look at me."
Kasumi looked. The little girl that confronted her was an adorable four year old. The little dress she wore was just darling. She couldn't help but comment. "You look quite adorable like that." She watched the girl's face fall. "No don't be like that. If you saw yourself you'd think the same thing. Where did you get that dress?"
Ranma looked ashamed before she dropped her gaze to the floor. She held her hands behind her back as she drew circles with her toe. "I found it."
A stern look came across Kasumi's face then. "You mean you stole it. Look at me young lady." She waited until Ranma's lifted her face and looked her in the eye. "I think I can understand why you felt the need to take that dress, but stealing is wrong."
"I know that Kasumi, but what could I do? My own clothes were way too big and I couldn't just run around naked. I panicked."
"I understand, but I think you need to be punished. Until we find a cure for this condition or for the next 2 weeks you'll have to stay a girl as much as possible and wear appropriate clothing."
"What? Kasumi you can't expect me to..."
"Oh but I do expect you to. Our fathers are away for that time and due to your unfortunate condition that puts you in my care. If you want to fuss about it and throw a tantrum I can think of worse punishments."
"Fine." Ranma huffed, then stomped away... or tried to.
"Stop right there young lady and lose the attitude. If your going to be like this then I think it's time for you to go to you room and take a nap. I'll find you some pajamas and meet you in your room. If you need to go potty I suggest you do it now."
Ranma looked indignant. "You don't have to talk to me like a little kid. My mind was unaffected this time."
"If you're going to act like a little kid it is only fair that I treat you as one, now go." Kasumi gave her a little pat on the behind as incentive to move.
"Kasumi? We're home. Have you seen Ranma?" Akane called out as she and Nabiki entered their home.
"She's upstairs sleeping. Would you wake her and tell her I'd like to see her in the kitchen?"
Akane looked disgusted, but couldn't refuse her sister. "Yeah, I'll get that baka up."
As Akane turned to leave Kasumi placed a gentle hand upon her arm. "Be gentle with her Akane, no water."
Akane shrugged of her sisters hand. "Whatever." Akane responded as she headed upstairs to wake her fiancé. Once there she opened the door and went to kick him awake. She stopped herself when she noticed her fiancé's condition.
"Ranma? What the hell happened to you this time?" She yelled as she knelt next to her fiancé and tried to wake her. It took a few minutes of shaking before Ranma's eyes slowly opened.
Ranma sat up rubbing her eyes. "Akane? What time is it?"
"Time for you to explain what the hell happened. Why are you like this, wearing that?"
Ranma attempted to explain. "Well I..."
Akane cut her off. "You were with that hussy Shampoo weren't you?" She angrily accused. "She must have slipped you some kind of potion."
Ranma couldn't believe what she was hearing. She retorted. "Don't be ridiculous, I..."
Akane threw her arms into the air. "You know what? I don't care. Kasumi wants to see you in the kitchen. She sounded pretty upset." With that she stormed off.
Ranma shook her head then got up to see what Kasumi wanted.
"Nice look Saotome." Nabiki snidely remarked from the door way. "Dare I ask what happened?"
"Not right now, Nabiki. Kasumi wanted to see me, maybe later okay?" Ranma sent a pleading look her way.
"Yeah, sure. Meet me in my room when you get a chance. Later Ranma-baby. No pun intended."
Ranma stuck out her tongue at the older girl then preceded to the kitchen. Ranma adopted the same nervous position she had when she lied about the dress earlier. "You wanted to see me?"
Kasumi walked up to her and knelt. "Look at me." Ranma quickly tilted her head up, not wanting to displease her. Kasumi placed her hands on Ranma's shoulders and looked her dead in the eye. "I want you to know that I was very disappointed with your behavior earlier. I trust you've gotten everything out of your system."
"I've had time to think about it, Kasumi. I'll try to be less trouble."
"That's good to hear, now give me a hug." At Ranma's confused look Kasumi proceeded to initiate the hug. While rubbing her back Kasumi continued. "There now, that unpleasantness has been dealt with. Now, you're too little to help with dinner, so please go play while I get started and don't leave the house in your pajamas."
Ranma adopted what Kasumi thought was an adorable little pout. "Fine, I'm going, but I'm a little old to 'go play'."
Kasumi couldn't help herself, the situation was just to amusing. She smiled. "That is yet to be determined."
"When did you develop a sense of humor?" Ranma asked, a wondering look upon her face.
"How do you think I could stay sane without one?"
"Alright, Saotome, what happened? Didn't think you were cute enough to keep getting free food?" She asked, amusedly.
That little pout returned for a moment. "Ha ha. No, nothing so simple. You know how whenever something goes wrong I end up getting blamed for it?"
Her voice dripped with sarcasm as she spoke. "No, I don't know what you're talking about, that never happens."
"Look, I can do without your sarcasm." Ranma huffed.
Nabiki's expression went cold. "Well, considering what your condition will do to my revenue stream I think I'm entitled. Now what happened?"
Ranma felt slightly guilty at that. She hated to be a burden and knew how much Nabiki's efforts supported the entire household. "Okay, fine. I messed up. This time I was completely at fault."
Nabiki's brow furrowed in confusion. "Your telling me you did this to yourself?"
Ranma shook her head. "Not intentionally, I... well no, that's not true. My actions were intentional, the result was far from what I expected. I was just looking to get away from everything for awhile, but I've grown comfortable here. The item I acquired should have kept most of my stress away. This was the consequence."
Nabiki's disbelief was clear. "What, you haven't figured out that magic never works on you the way it is intended? How can you be so dense?"
"Look, I felt it was worth the risk, okay? I'm tired Nabiki. I've been thinking about walking away from everything for quite some time now. I don't know what to do so I needed a vacation. Time to get my head around everything. It was stupid, I know, but what can I do? It seems like I'm trapped and I can't seem to find a way out."
It was clear to Nabiki that Ranma was exasperated, yet she failed to see how this would help. "And what makes you think this will help with your fiancée's?"
"Don't you think it would look weird if they tried to be romantic with a child? What can go wrong?"
Nabiki's eyes widened. "When are you going to learn not to say things like that? You only ask for more trouble."
"I'm sorry okay, my mouth likes to move faster than my brain. Anyways, do you think you can keep these things to yourself? I really need some help but seppuku seems more appealing everyday."
Nabiki gasped. "You can't be serious!"
"And why not?" Ranma nearly shouted. "Everyones' honor would be taken care of then, no one loses."
"You would lose." Nabiki stated softly, as realization began to creep in.
Ranma laughed bitterly. "Would I? Death seems a lot more peaceful then this hell."
Nabiki could scarcely believe what she was hearing. "I guess I didn't realize things were getting so bad. I'll help, no charge this time."
"Thank you Nabiki. You don't know how much this means to me."
"I can guess. Just promise that if it comes to the point were you want to commit seppuku that you'll come to me first." Nabiki pleaded.
Dinner had come and gone and everyone had gone to bed. Ranma rolled her eyes when Kasumi insisted on 'tucking her in', but accepted it. It was actually kind of nice to be cared for in such a way.
At the moment, however, Ranma was sleeping fitfully. Her eyes snapped open as she sat up in a cold sweat. She was gasping for air as she shivered, fearfully. She tried to calm down, but her body seemed to want to override her mind. She quickly got up and ran from the room straight into Akane's.
The change in pressure as her door opened was enough to wake her. "Who's there?"
Ranma's voice quavered as she responded. "Akane its me, Ranma."
Anger clouded her mind, she grabbed a heavy book from nearby and chucked it as hard as she could. "You pervert, get out of my room."
If it hadn't been for her fear, Ranma might have been able to dodge out of the way. Unfortunately, such was not the case. The force of the throw and weight of the book was enough to fracture her forearm where it hit. Ranma's scream could have raised the dead. She lay on the floor clutching her arm as she cried, unable to hold back her tears.
Akane remembered then that Ranma's body was that of a little girl. Afraid that Ranma was injured she attempted to approach. Unfortunately Ranma noticed her approach. "Somebody help me! Don't let her hurt me! Kasumi! Help! Help!"
Kasumi charged in then, upon seeing Ranma she swept her up into her arms and attempted to quiet her. The motion reminded her of the injury, causing her to cry out. "It hurts! Owie!"
"Oh my! What happened?"
Ranma fought for control. She couldn't stop herself from crying, but she was able to explain.
Kasumi's motherly instinct overrode the fact that the child in her arms was still a teenager in mind. "Hush now baby. Everything will be okay. I'll call Dr. Tofu and see if he can do anything to help. I'm going to leave you with Nabiki for a minute. Is that alright?"
Ranma nodded as she continued to cry.
"Who is this?" Tofu nearly yelled into the phone, upset to be awoken at such an hour.
A harried voice responded. "Dr. Tofu, it's Kasumi, I..."
Predictably his glasses fogged as he lost his mind. "Kasumi? Fancy meeting you here? You're awfully phone shaped, did you lose weight? I..."
"Get ahold of yourself Tofu." Kasumi shouted. "There has been an emergency and we need your help."
Dr. Tofu snapped out of his insanity when Kasumi said the word emergency. "What's going on, what happened?"
"It's Ranma, she was turned into a child earlier today and she broke her arm when Akane threw a book at her. Can we bring her down to the clinic?"
"Yes, I'll be ready when you get here. Try to keep her arm still if you can."
"Okay. We'll be there shortly."
"How bad was it doctor?" Kasumi asked, her voice filled with apprehension.
"The way her energy is dispersed in her arm it is safe to say that it is broken. It seems though that her phenomenal healing is still in effect. I'd estimate a week or less before we can remove the cast. Just make sure she keeps it elevated and if she seems to be in a lot of pain please have her take this. One dose should last for about 4 hours."
Kasumi smiled, relieved. "Thank you Dr. Tofu. I'm sorry we had to wake you."
"It is understandable." His demeanor quickly turned hard as he broached the next topic. "I am very upset with Akane, she acted in anger and someone was hurt because of it. She went too far tonight. Ranma's injury would have been much worse if it hadn't been a glancing blow. If she'd been hit in the head... There might not have been anything I could have done." Kasumi paled at that bit of news. Tofu continued. "She's out of control and I would recommend some anger management therapy to begin as soon as possible, before she can hurt someone else."
"I know that Akane has some violent tendencies but..."
Tofu cut in angrily. "No!" He nearly yelled. "No excuses this time. If she doesn't get help soon then I'll have to report this incident. I suspect it will only be a matter of time before something serious happens. Something that can't be fixed"
Meanwhile Nabiki was sitting with Ranma in another room.
That cute little pout of Ranma's had returned. "I can't believe I acted like such a baby."
Ranma's revelation the night before had Nabiki seeing Ranma in a different light. It was strange, but she found herself offering comfort. She hoped this fault in her character would go undiscovered by other. She shook her head as she offered Ranma some kind words. "Ranma, as much as you might be grown up in your mind, your body is still that of a little girl. There is no shame in crying because Akane broke your arm." Nabiki didn't fail to notice that Ranma flinched when she said the name Akane. "I still can't believe that Akane did that to you." Once again saying the name Akane caused Ranma to flinch. Her mind came to a startling conclusion, but she asked anyway. "You're not afraid of Akane, are you?"
Ranma wasn't one to admit easily to weakness, she immediately began her denial. "What? No I… I…" Ranma could tell that Nabiki had already drawn her own conclusion. A lie would only act as an admission. "Okay, maybe I am, a little. I guess I didn't realize how little trust she has for me. I feel so weak to admit this but when I awoke from that nightmare I was scared. Everything looked so different in my room that… I was terrified. I know Akane and I have our differences, but I just thought that she could protect me, comfort me. It was stupid and childish but… Dammit, she could have killed me if she had aimed a little differently! She wasn't thinking at all, she didn't care why I was there. Didn't even stop to ask. What if something had happened to someone, or there had been an emergency? I…" It was all she could do to continue without crying. "Oh god, this is so hard. I can't believe I'm saying this, as much as I loved her, when she came at me in her room… I honestly thought she was coming to finish the job. I..." Ranma stopped suddenly as sobs stole her voice.
It was a terrible thing for Nabiki to watch. Seeing someone she thought she knew, changing so drastically in such a short time. Ranma's wording didn't fail to elude her. It was clear that Ranma meant she was in love with Akane, but that love had died in Akane's moment of blind anger. Nabiki's heart, as calloused as it was, broke. She quickly closed the distance between herself and Ranma, pulling her into a comforting embrace. "Shh, don't cry. It's over now. You don't worry about Akane right now. I'm sure Kasumi will take care of it." Ranma let Nabiki's comforting presence flow over her. In a few moments her crying slowed.
In the moment before sleep claimed her Ranma sleepily mumbled, "Love you Biki."
She couldn't believe what she had just heard, three simple words. Her heart, broken and raw as it was, it made her want to cry. All the loneliness she felt in her lifetime and the horror that she had witnessed in these early morning hours was swept away with those simple words. She placed a tender kiss on Ranma's head as she replied, "I Love you too, Ranma. Sleep tight." Nabiki carefully moved back to her chair with Ranma nestled against her. Once comfortable she closed her eyes, a contented smile upon her face.
Kasumi entered and smiled when she caught sight of Ranma and her sister. She'd never seen Nabiki appear so blissful. Kasumi's motherly instincts informed her that the child in her arms was fast asleep. She spoke softly, not wanting to wake Ranma. "Are you ready to go?"
Ranma awoke feeling contented and refreshed. Her thoughts from earlier still churned in her head, but somehow they failed to take those feelings away. She felt Nabiki's warmth next to her and smiled. It seemed that the magic was actually working. Sure there had been some rough moments, but Ranma had never felt quite like she was feeling this morning. She knew that trying to wake Nabiki now would be like trying to wake the dead.
Instead she crawled out of Nabiki's embrace and left the room. Her sensitive hearing caught the slightest of sounds emanating from downstairs. Kasumi must already be awake and preparing breakfast. She took care of a pressing need before heading down to join her in the kitchen.
"Morning Kasumi." Ranma called out brightly as she entered the kitchen.
Kasumi smiled. She couldn't remember ever hearing Ranma so happy. Her mind flashed back to what had occurred earlier this morning. "You gave us quite a scare this morning Ranma, how are you feeling?"
"Honestly? I can't remember ever feeling like this. I think I might actually be happy."
"I know that much. Your attitude and voice were a dead giveaway. I was actually talking about your arm, does it hurt?"
"Oh, the arm is fine. Just a dull ache."
"Let me know if and when it starts to hurt. Tofu gave me some medicine you can take to help relieve the pain. Now go get dressed, then would you mind waking Nabiki? I'll see to Akane myself."
A sudden thought struck Ranma then. "Uh, Kasumi? I don't really have anything else to wear except for that dress I had yesterday."
Kasumi gave a slight gasp. "Oh my, I had forgotten. Go into my room, you'll find a box of clothes that I brought down from the attic yesterday. Find a nice dress to put on."
"A dress? Kasumi you can't…" Ranma recalled what had happened the last time she uttered those words. "Right, punishment. I almost forgot."
"I'm glad you remembered before I had to say anything." Kasumi smiled, but her threat had been delivered, behave or there will be consequences.
Seems as good a place as any to stop. Watch for the next installment.