Prologue: The Ill-Conceived Secret
A Ranma ½ story
by Adrian D. Moten
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Morning came to Nerima. Kasumi Tendo, normally the early bird of the family, was just beginning to stir out of her bed, groaning softly. She should have been downstairs in the kitchen preparing breakfast for her family and the two Saotome males living under their roof. Cooking, however, she was not feeling well at the time. Waves of nausea rippled through her with a vengeance then, an event that had been going on for the last two days. With a frown of disgust, she fought down the rising bile before managing to slide out of bed. She stood on bare feet with the hem of a V-neck lavender nightgown reaching down just past her knees. She went out to her closet to fetch some clothes, when suddenly, her legs started to buckle, and Kasumi barely caught herself upon the nearest wall. She leaned against it for a few minutes, letting her world reorient itself. The morning had not even started, yet, she felt incredibly drained of her strength. With some effort, she pushed off the wall and stood erect, though a little shaky.
'I should see Tofu-sensei later today. I may be coming down with a cold, or influenza,' Kasumi thought. 'Perhaps it's—“
Her thoughts were cut short by a new wave of nausea, one prompting her to reach the bathroom as quickly as possible.
Several frantic sounds were made behind the office door a few seconds after she spoke his name: many metallic items clanging to the floor, an elderly sounding man crying out something before the voice turned into a full fledged scream of pain, and a lot of shuffling about among others before Tofu said through the door, "K-K-Kasumi… I wasn't… expecting you… to show up…" His nervous laughter was heard, along with a few strained groans underlined with choice curse words.
Kasumi blushed a little after making out a couple of the colorful words, then gracefully composed herself before speaking. "Tofu-sensei, I think I may be coming down with the flu or something. Could you examine me when you're finished?"
From behind the office door, Tofu paused in his excitement. "Something's… wrong? With Kasumi?" he said to himself aloud. The thoughts that ran through his head instantly sobered him up. Then he looked down on the table before him and blinked at an elderly man bent at many an angle that looked especially painful. "Mr. Yoshimura! You're nearly ninety! You really shouldn't be trying to live out your younger days now!"
The elderly patient groaned in agony as a response.
Somehow, Tofu managed to keep himself under control for the duration of Kasumi's visit, even after she took off her blouse and brassiere for the examination (though he was hastily repeating a mantra "Kasumi could be ill" under his breath). Once the examination was over— and Kasumi redressed, much to his relief and chagrin in equal parts— he carefully labeled and stored away the samples he obtained. Then he tried to escort her out of his office without going to pieces every time he looked at her soft, warm smile.
"So tell me, Tofu-sensei, what is wrong with me?"
He bounced a little on the balls of his feet before he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Oh, so far, nothing really life-threatening. As you said earlier, perhaps you attracted a flu or something of the like. But I won't know exactly what kind of disease it is until after I run some tests."
"Oh, that's good. When will I get the results?"
"As soon as possible, Kasumi; perhaps by tomorrow afternoon."
"Oh, good. Then I shall be expecting your call." She smiled at Tofu.
His legs started to turned into rubber and threatened to go on strike then and there. Quickly, he managed to scrape up what will he had left. "Go home and take it easy for the day."
"All right. Goodbye, Tofu-sensei."
He smiled. "Goodbye, Kasumi."
She smiled back and turned to walk home. Tofu's smile slipped into a frown upon her retreating back. A cloud of darkness passed over his features, but vanished after a second. "Impossible. It couldn't be that," he muttered under his breath. Sighing, he walked back into his clinic to rush the samples he had taken earlier to a medical laboratory.
The next day, the Tendo residence was almost completely deserted, except for a busy Kasumi. Genma and Soun had taken off for a training trip two days ago and wouldn't be back for another three days. Ryouga had disappeared again last night; he would not be back for a couple of weeks with his sense of direction. Akane and Ranma were supposed to be heading over to Ucchan's after school today. Nabiki had decided to tag along with the two, in case a moneymaking opportunity should appear before her. "Wherever Ranma goes, there's always the chance that something extraordinary with happen, or Akane will wallop Ranma back to the house when he plants his foot in his mouth. Either way, it won't be a boring trip."
The eldest Tendo daughter sighed as Nabiki's words decided to echo with her. Akane had been getting more irritated over the course of the last month. Ranma hadn't helped matters get any better with his careless words, either, though it was to be admitted that he was hard at work trying to mince them as much as possible. However, it seemed to be a regular event where he would either get pushed by and/or push her little sister too far, and she would end up retaliating with physical force. It was like a vicious reflex action, an old habit that proved to be very hard to break.
Kasumi heaved another sigh. Just once, she would like to have a day go by without Akane sending Ranma into low orbit or thumping him over the head with a mallet or table. Just once, she wanted a day to end without her arguing with Ranma about something or another. Just once, for her to admit that she…
She bit her lip hard, instantly killing the thought before it could proceed any farther. There were some issues she did not want to think about. Some matters, she rather not discuss with anyone, herself included.
Just as she shook free of her reverie, the phone rang. Putting down her cleaning items, she went to answer it. "Hello? Oh, Tofu-sensei!" She smiled. "I take it you have the results of the test…. Is something wrong?" Kasumi listened to Tofu on the other end for five minutes. The smile she had earlier had drained away long ago along with the color from her face. Her mouth popped open in stunned silence, and her legs gave out. She fell to the floor, stiffly erect.
She found her voice at the end of the conversation. "…Oh… oh my… I-I'm… pregnant…?"
To Be Continued…
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