Description: Is it possible for someone to always smile and be oblivious to everything? Is it easy to remain this way? Look into Kasumi Tendou's heart and know.

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Disclaimer: Ranma ½ is brought to you by Miss Rumiko Takahashi and all other distributors related to it. So, all rights are held by them. This fanfic is a form of appreciation for all the great work, laughs, and sentimental moments shared because of Ranma Nibunnoichi.



Unexpectedly - by Yui Miyamoto

"Goodbye," I said to Ranma, Akane, and Nabiki as they left for school.

I got up from the table and began to fix it as father and Mr. Saotome sat on the den's edge to look at the pond.

After fixing and washing the dishes, they said they were going out. As soon as they leave, I find myself standing at the den's edge looking up to the sky with my hand trying to block the sunlight.

As I did so, I commented, "It really is a pretty day."

I looked down at the floor with my head bowed. I sighed and smiled to myself. "I must stay like this. This is who I am."

Slowly, I just sat there regarding the koi pond with my head leaning on my knuckles because I was thinking. One leg was up while the other swung below the floor above the grass. The wind blew and I sighed once more.

"Oblivious. That's all they say I think as," I said to myself. "But, I am not."

Immediately, I stood up to go over and do the laundry.

"Ranma's...Akane's...Father's...Nabiki's...Mr. Saotome's...Grandfather's..." As I put each article of clothing of theirs on the clothesline, I would say their name.

Being at a loss of what to think, I went over into the bathroom and looked into the mirror.

I smiled my usual smile. My usual smile...my usual smile...my usual smile, distant smile...

They thought it was naive of me to think everyone and everything was good-natured.

I knew too well...

` ... life wasn't.

I used to practice that smile. I used to believe in that smile.

With tears about to emerge, I rush out of the room and take down the laundry. Grandfather shows up in the den to iron his stolen merchandise as I iron also.

"Kasumi, be a dear and make me some tea please."

"Yes." I get up and prepare the tea and hand it over to him with that smile.

Then, he leaves.

I am once again alone in this house.

"We need..." I start to ponder aloud while I bite my pinky finger and look around the kitchen closets. "Dinner. I've got to buy ingredients."

I again take off my apron, brush off, get a bag upstairs, and walk to the marketplace.

People I pass warai and say hi to me. I kindly return their friendly greetings.

But inside, I am thinking; it is inside that I die. I couldn't help but think of all of us as I walked.

It wasn't always like this.

I never thought I'd be like this.

We all had different responses to what happened and this was my own.

Father.

Father was the first to change. He never acted like this. He never cried at the slightest things. I remember him working and coming home with a smile on his face. To me, he was a man's man. I wanted a guy to be just like him. He was strong and mature...but that all changed in a flash.

I saw that he had no appetite and no will to live. Now, his feared master has returned to make him become worse than neurotic.

"Nabiki." I sigh as I walk on the intersection. Nabiki's response quite astounded me. Here was the sweet girl who would hang onto mom like there was no tomorrow. She always used to have two pigtails. In other words, she is the opposite of what she is today.

When we were little and there was no Akane, we used to run all over this house. When Akane came, we'd all hang out together.

We used to be close Nabiki, but now, you're so far away. I would never have thought in a million years you'd become this way. Sure, you'd trade trinkets but that was just for fun. Now, it's a part of life.

This was your response. I know very well you were hurt, but all of us were too. Now you think that having business relations to replace human emotions are the best things to do so that you won't get hurt again. You shut yourself away so easily as closing your door and no one knows what you're doing.

Don't give me this slick performance. I'm your sister. I know you so well that I know you better than you know yourself. If I go on and on about you, it's because I never thought you'd act this way.

"Akane-chan," I say as I buy all the ingredients and supplies for our home.

"Hello, Miss Kasumi. What would you like today?"

I point at several things.

"Here."

"Thank you very much."

"Here, Kasumi. You're such a sweetheart." The old woman hands me an extra daikon.

I bow in gratitude.

As I walked back home and watch the blue sky above me, I think, "Blue. It's the color of mother's and Akane's hair."

And I began thinking again. It's us, isn't it Akane-chan?

When mother passed away when we were little, I became your mother. I know I haven't done too well, but I tried my best.

You grew up being a tomboy...

...because I was one myself.

I was supposed to take over the dojo so I studied the arts. I was supposed to. You know that, but we never say anything about it, especially about my martial arts training.

I tried my hardest to be the best. Just like you. We switched places, baby sister.

I was the tomboy and you were the feminine one. You'd love to bow or perform for mom. Of course, you were her little girl.

But I am not Mother. I could not stop you from becoming more and more "unfeminine" as Ranma would put it. I thought that if I changed to be like this, you'd take my example by osmosis, or at least, unconsciously.

Then again, that's not you. It takes you a while to figure things out.

I remember being the one to hug you when mother died. You didn't go to Dad or Nabiki, you ran to ME. You knew that if you couldn't go to mom, I was always next in line.

Following me, holding my hand, and always saying, "Kasumi, onee- chan?"

That hasn't changed.

But we became each other. Except, I think I took this the hardest...

I found myself in front on the same bathroom mirror that day...

"Smile. That's all you can do." So, I kept on repeating that over and over to myself.

As the days went by, you thought I hadn't changed. It was just that I could never practice if I took over all the household chores. But I always wore the same smile you all knew I'd have.

I secretly cry every night thinking about everyone. Of course, I never let that be known.

I was mother's and father's first child. It was my duty to be there and take responsibility. I learned to cook because I knew I had to learn someday.

I have to keep everyone's spirits high. My usual smile had changed meaning for me: It HAD to be on my face.

Cook for father so that he won't be so depressed. I did. Stop martial arts because you condone violence. You have to act like your mom. Take care of Akane. I attended everything and did everything for her. From bandaids to plays to injuries, she knew who to count on.

Don't be a tomboy, be a role model.

Nabiki took this better than me.

I was closer to mom than anyone else in this house. From cooking to martial arts, mommy was there. And when she was taken away, I later went to my room and stared blankly at the ceiling thinking, "I don't want to hurt like this." (So, as much as I paid attention to Ono, I couldn't let him into my heart. And so, I play along as if I don't know until I can sort out my own emotions.)

I began to cook dinner and I lost my train of thought. They were coming in from school or other and I greeted them warmly as they passed the kitchen.

"Kasumi-san?"

"Hm?" I turned around to look at Ranma peeking into the kitchen.

"What's wrong? I've been callin' yur name for a minute now and you're lookin' straight at the broken hot water pipe."

"Ara. I'm sorry. I was just thinking."

Ranma came over to me and pushed me on the stool to sit down.

"I have to cook."

"You're gonna burn the food. What's wrong?" He turned off the oven.

"Nothing. I was just thinking."

But that's Ranma. I stood up and gave him a quick hug. "You needed that, didn't you?"

I then found myself in a trance as the rain fell outside the window.

It's always sad when it rains.

"Kasumi-san, you never say that."

I quickly turn around. "Did I say that aloud?"

"I only hate the rain because it comes and turns me into a girl."

"Unexpectedly. Everything came unexpectedly." I look at Ranma, but then I turn to him. I cover my mouth because I'm silently sobbing with tears about to fall, but not quite. "This is our secret, Ranma. I know I can count on you."

"Uh, yeah, sure," he answers half-confused.

"Just because I don't react doesn't mean I don't feel anything, Ranma. That's what you all don't realize."

He grew pale.

"That's what I've been carrying for all these years. Thank you for listening." I resume cooking as he still stands there to digest what I have just done.

I turn to him with a smile on my face. My true, wistful face. "I don't know what got into me I-"

"Sorry, Kasumi-san. I-I didn't know. You always acted like you didn't know what was going on."

"It's because I know, that I don't react."

He nodded and color came back to his face. Ranma put up the victory sign up with a grin on his face half-understanding me, but trying to. "Okay, I know now. I promise not to tell."

He leaves and I go back to cooking. Then, I go back to my family to eat dinner.

I looked at each and everyone one of them as they all ate; I brightly curve my lips upward.

I did this all for you. Even you Ranma and Mr. Saotome, though I will not go into details.

I get up to watch the koi pond being rained upon. A tear finally comes down my cheek after all these years and I whisper to myself, "Unexpectedly. Everything came as unexpectedly as the rain."

Owari.



Author's comments: I liked my Kasumi fanfic. It was short and it "suddenly" ended and not the way I wanted (I originally wanted something with Dr. Tofu), but I am very satisfied because of her gentle nature. She isn't a crybaby. She's mature, but is oblivious for a specific reason. I always believed there was something more to her because everyone has some type of classification of knowing good and bad, even a bit. I really like her more because of this.

I'd love to hear from you! E-mail: reiakane2@yahoo.com