The next morning, Kasumi went to check on Akane. This was the time her sister usually woke to get ready for school, but there hadn't been so much as a peep from her room. Kasumi politely knocked on the door and softly called out, "Akane?". When there was no response, Kasumi tried the knob, only to find it locked. "Oh dear." Kasumi fretted. She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out a key. She knew her sister wouldn't typically want her privacy intruded upon, but her sister was always very forgiving where Kasumi was involved since she only had Akane's best interest in mind. She slipped the key in the lock and opened the door cautiously, ducking her head in just a bit and calling again, still softly, "Akane?"
The room was dark with the curtains drawn tight and Kasumi squinted in the dim light and noticed the mound of a body under a pile of blankets on the bed. "Oh my…" Kasumi tutted to herself looking around at the mound of tissues overflowing the trashcan near her bed.
Kasumi turned on the bedroom light and the mound of blankets shifted a bit. She approached the bed and tried calling for her sister again. "Akane?" Still no response.
When she reached the bed, Kasumi pulled back the blankets enough to reveal her sisters red and puffy eyes, tear stained cheeks, tousled hair and headphones wedged over her ears, faint sounds of music reaching even Kasumi's ears. She grimaced at the volume level and found the power button. Akane groaned and cracked a swollen eyelid before she lazily pulled the headphones from her ears and set her hazy gaze to try to focus on her sister.
Kasumi smiled gently down at her sister. "You're going to be late for school."
Akane groaned and buried her face in the pillow. "'m no' goin' school" came her muffled reply.
Kasumi bent to stroke her sister's short hair lovingly. "Can I get you any breakfast?" Akane shook her head against the pillow. "Tea?"
Akane rolled to face her, cracking her eyes open. "Yes please." She croaked out in a rough voice that spoke to the long night of crying and sobbing she had done. Kasumi turned to go but her little sister grabbed her hand and Kasumi turned around again. Akane had propped herself up on her other elbow and clutched her with a face full of desperation and fear. "Don't-"Her voice cracked and she stopped to clear it, "don't let Ranma in."
Kasumi's smile faltered, but only for a moment. "The Saotome's are… gone. They left last night."
"Oh." Was Akane's hollow reply. She remembered now, what Auntie Saotome had told her about leaving the Tendo residence now that there was no engagement. Her grip on Kasumi slowly slackened until it fell away. Kasumi reached out and brushed away a tear Akane hadn't realized was falling down her cheek.
"I'll get the tea. You just rest." Kasumi said soothingly as she gently parted the curtains to let the beautiful sunshine in and turned off the light before closing the door behind her.
"She staying home today?" Nabiki asked as she lazily at her breakfast.
"Yes. She just doesn't have it in her to go today, poor girl."
"Hmmm…" Nabiki mused aloud as she thought of ways she could use this to her advantage and make a profit.
"Nabiki, would you please pick up Akane's homework for her?"
"Phe, I guess Ranma was good for something…" Nabiki's older sister stared at her with that sweet smile and chills went down Nabiki's spine so she forced a cheerful smile. "Sure thing sis!"
Kasumi cocked her head and smiled in a less chilling way before disappearing into the kitchen to begin making tea.
Ranma stood on the gate leading to the school's entrance, blue eyes frantically searching the crowd for a familiar face. Instead, he found Nabiki, so he hopped down next to her, still looking around.
"Hey Nabiki, where's Akane at?"
Nabiki gave him an icy look and then looked past him for a brief moment and smirked. She threw the back of her arm across her forehead dramatically, looking forlorn. "Why Ranma! She's home in bed… NURSING A BROKEN HEART!" Nabiki ended by using a megaphone so the whole school yard.
"Erk!" Ranma leapt back at this and before he could recover from that declaration, he sensed something coming from behind and he ducked swiftly to the side.
"Saotome! You scoundrel! I upperclassman Kuno, Blue Thunder of Furinkan High, will avenge my beautiful love!" Kuno recited out of rote as he swung his bokken at Ranma with great fury.
Nabiki raised her megaphone again, "My poor, single sister! She needs a real man!"
In the midst of Ranma's dodging, he turned to shoot Nabiki a glare. "Whadya mean real man!" He barked at her. "Cut it out Kuno!" His patience was running thin so Ranma punched Kuno hard enough to launch his across the yard and land in a dazed heap.
Many former members of the hentai horde began talking excitedly about reforming the next morning.
"Hey!" Ranma turned to bark at the eager teen boys, but their fear was overpowered as Nabiki held up a handful of polaroid's. There was a male stampede of hormones towards Nabiki that Ranma got caught under.
The bell rang and Ranma got swept up in the stampede to get to class on time. Still a little stunned, Ranma shook his head to focus and with a resigned sigh, he slouched to his seat and plopped down, knowing he wasn't going to hear a word Ms. Hinako was going to say.
That evening Akane came downstairs wrapped in a blanket, looking a mess, and sat down for dinner. Nabiki looked her over critically, while Soun wept silent tears at the state of his daughter, and Kasumi pretended everything was normal as she served Akane a hearty meal since she had slept through lunch.
"You look terrible." Nabiki stated blandly as she continued to eat her dumplings and rice.
"Nabiki!" Kasumi scolded.
Akane poked tentatively at her food, knowing she should eat, but not really feeling hungry.
"Are you going to school tomorrow, or do I need to bring you your homework again?" Nabiki asked, sliding Akane's homework to her.
Exhaustion dragged so heavily at Akane that she ignored her sisters barbed comments. "Can you bring me my homework tomorrow? I think I just need one more day."
Nabiki gave a put-upon sigh. "Alright, but more than that and it's going to start costing you."
The next day, Akane slept in late, finally dragging herself from bed she dressed in her yellow gi before going out to the dojo to burn off some anger. Yesterday had been about grieving, crying her eyes out from all the hurt Ranma had brought up the day before. They had always argued, and they traded insults regularly, but Akane had thought things were finally changing between them. She had heard him say he loved her, but that must have been a hallucination from being rehydrated after such a close call. Any argument she could come up with to defend the closeness they had been experiencing lately had vanished after his urgent denials. She had tried to help him, but he had only seen her as a burden, someone who just got in the way and made everything more complicated.
Today was a day to get out her anger. If she was going to be able to keep a level head tomorrow at school, she had to work off some of her fury. She stacked cinder blocks and broke through them with an angry cry time and time again. She did this until she was standing ankle deep in rubble and her hands were red and sore from the repeated impacts and she was covered in sweat. She felt calmer, if not a bit empty as she dusted off her hands and prepared to take a long bath. As she passed by the kitchen, her sister called after her.
"Once your done with your bath, your lunch should be ready."
"Thanks sis." Akane called back as she made her way towards the bathroom. After peeling out of her sweat slicked gi and tossing it in the laundry, Akane began scrubbing up, enjoying the cold water rinsing away all the sweat, dirt, pain and hurt. Once she sunk into the furo, she felt much better. The hot water felt good on her tired muscles and she relaxed, arms folded on the edge of the tub, her head pillowed atop them. She sighed, thinking about her inevitable return to school.
She was glad she had taken the time to process things, and felt confident that when she was confronted, she would be able to handle it without completely losing it like she had when she had fled during lunch.
Sarahplainntall here! Hope you enjoyed the latest chapter. Review and let me know what ya think! I always appreciate comments, even if they are flames. Hehehe