Future Memories - Fragile Control
She jerked upward into wakefulness, the scream dying before fully reaching her lips. Panting heavily she pressed her hand into her chest and felt the beat of her heart, racing like she'd just run a marathon. Taking several deep breaths she slowly went about the business of untangling her legs from the sweat soaked bed sheets, before unsteadily making her way to the bathroom to splash cold water on her face.
Flicking the light switch on she stared at her own reflection in the dimly lit mirror. Between the water dripping down her face, the dark bags of skin hanging from underneath her eyes, and the bloodshot eyes themselves she admitted that she looked like hell. Rubbing her face with her hands to wake up a bit more, she glanced once more into the mirror.
It hadn't helped.
With a sigh she turned away from her own reflection and started the shower.
It wasn't even four o'clock in the morning, and she already knew it was going to be a long day.
Having gotten no answer at the front door she'd walked around to the rear entrance. Approaching the back fence she heard sounds of yelling, and ran over to peak above the fence line.
Just in time to see her fiancée, bloody and heaving with effort, thrust a katana through the side of the man in front of him...
...slamming her knuckles into the tile wall she used the pain to drag herself out of the memory. Again taking several deep breaths she turned up the water pressure until it beat almost painfully into her skin.
Eventually she got out and dried herself off, turning on the lights to her apartment as she went. Hunting through her wardrobe she finally settled on a drab looking business outfit, something she figured would fit her mood, and dressed. With another sigh she then sat down in front of the vanity mirror and started the process of covering up the signs of yet one more night of little sleep.
Even with the months of practice that she now had, it took much longer then getting dressed.
Collecting her purse, pausing just long enough to make sure the small, highly illegal handgun was loaded, she killed the lights and left the questionable safety of her apartment to head for work.
...she watched as her fiancée's opponent looked down at the blade sticking out of his body, a look of pure hatred smeared across his face. She watched as the man lashed out with a foot, sending her fiancée flying twenty feet backward to crash into the brick siding of the house, only to slowly slide down to the ground. She watched as the man pulled the sword from his chest and toss it aside, and then proceed to smash her fiancée's face and chest again and again with his enormous hands.
With a jerk she twisted to see her assistant standing next to her, a worried expression on her face.
"Sempai, are you okay?"
Clenching her still shaking hands tightly she gave a tired smile and said, "Yes, Sakura, everything is fine. Just not feeling my best today. Must be catching that bug that's going around the office."
Giving her a close look the older lady finally said, "Well, let me make you some nice hot tea. You look like you could use it."
Giving the woman a nod she said, "Thanks Sakura," and watched as the woman left the office. Then turning towards the window she stared at the framed outside world for a moment before finally grimacing to herself and fishing out a business card from her purse.
Picking up the phone she dialed the number, which thankfully picked up after only a single ring.
"Dr. Tagamoto's office, can I help you?"
Taking another one of those deep-cleansing breaths she said, "Yes, this is Tendo Nabiki. I would like to make an psychiatric appointment as soon as possible."
"Of course, Ms. Tendo, just a moment while I check his calendar. Hmm... I can pencil you in for tomorrow at two in the afternoon. Would that be okay?"
"Yes, that would be fine."
"The appointment is now confirmed. Is there anything else I can do for you Ms. Tendo?"
Closing her eyes as she pinched her nose, she paused. Should she, or should she not? Was it worth the price?
Could she survive without it?
"Yes, there is something. Could you please check and see if my prescription of sleeping pills is still refillable? And... and if so, could you please order them?"
"Certainly Ms. Tendo, I'll see to it."
Dropping the phone back down onto the receiver she took a moment to curse herself. For someone who claimed to always be in control, she'd lately seen very little of it.
Turning to her computer she punched up the list of clients on her 'special attention' list and combed through it, looking for a name that she hadn't personally visited recently. And as the list scrolled past, the name practically leaped out at her. Someone she hadn't seen in a couple months now.
Stopping just long enough to grab her purse and the profile of the client in question, she left her office almost running her assistant over in the process.
"I'm going out to visit a client, Sakura, please push anything urgent to tomorrow if you can."
And with that, she was gone.
...watching as the man drove his fists over and over again into her future husband until his chest suddenly caved in. Several more punches and with a sickening crunch his face exploded in blood as it gave way under the assault.
At that point she heard the sound. A high-pitched wail that reached out to everyone within hearing range and just wrenched their spine. It was a horrid noise, one made by an animal or a madman.
And as the man then turned and faced her, she noticed that it was coming from her...
Jerked once again from the memories she turned to the taxi driver.
"Miss, I said we're there."
Looking out of the car and recognizing the area she said, "Of course." Stepping out of the vehicle she paid the driver and then turned towards the house.
It was a little place, old but lived in, the word 'quaint' came to mind as a good description. She stepped up to the door and knocked.
After a few moments the door opened and a woman appearing to be in her mid or late thirties was revealed, though Nibiki knew that she was older. Smiling at the surprised look on the woman's face she said, "Good afternoon Mrs. Saotome. I was wondering if you had time to go over some of your recent stock options?"
Expecting a friendly smile and warm welcome, she instead got a nervous look as the woman said, "Hello Nabiki. Umm... actually, I'm entertaining at the moment. Maybe another time?"
Trying hard to keep the smile on her face she said, "Of course. I'll try back in a couple of day's then-" but just as she started to turn away the woman suddenly said, "Wait." Finding herself under some kind of scrutiny the woman suddenly said, "Why don't you come in after all." With a smile she added, "You name was about to come up in conversation anyhow."
Trying to hide any look of relief she let herself in as Mrs. Saotome said, "Why don't you settle in the living room while I make up another tea."
Nodding she walked the mere dozen feet to the room indicated and stepped inside, just barely managing to spot the silent young man already seated there.
Taking a moment to size up the man she couldn't help but appreciate his physique. A native Japanese man, tall and well muscled, but not overly bulky, with deep tan lines and a short black ponytail. Overall, very nice. He watched her warily, to an extent that she began to wonder if they'd met before.
It was at that moment that Mrs. Saotome came in and placed the extra tea setting in front of her. Glancing over at the young man the woman then said, "Oh come now, Ranma, I seriously doubt that she knew you were visiting today." At this he nodded while tossing an envelope he'd been holding onto the table.
Suddenly her mind did a double take.
Unable to help herself she stared at the young man. He was taller now, had filled out some, even seemed more reserved, but... yes, he still had those same vivid blue eyes. Trying to set down her teacup she managed to spill over half of it onto the paperwork she'd been carrying.
After pulling his famous disappearing act three years ago no one had been able to find out what had happened to him. Not even her, and she'd tried. Why was he here? And what had he been doing?
Pushing back into a more comfortable position in the chair, she settled for just simply listening as Mrs. Saotome caught her son up on the local gossip....
"...and, well, she doesn't have any family or nothing, so I was wondering if it'd be okay if I invited her over for dinner or something. It's just no fun being alone on the holidays, ya know?"
Having slowly drifted into her own thoughts over the next couple of hours she pulled herself back into the conversation at hand and suddenly asked, "Who is this again?"
Giving her a look Ranma paused before saying, "The Major, at the agency where I've been training."
"Nabiki-chan," Mrs. Saotome chided her, "haven't you been listening. Ranma's been working in law enforcement for over a year now." The smile on the older woman's face spoke volumes of how much she approved of it.
Closing her eyes as she tried once again to wrap her mind around the whole contradictory idea she said, "That's right. Sorry."
"That's okay, Nabiki. It's starting to get late anyhow, did you drive here?"
Shaking her head she answered, "No, I took a cab."
"Well then. It's a nice night out, why don't you have Ranma walk you home?"
Opening her eyes she grinned saying, "That sounds like a wonderful idea." Watching as the young man scowled she added in an overly cheerful tone, "Shall we go?"
Muttering, "Okay," he stood up and grabbed a nice looking leather jacket from the floor next to him. Collecting the now dry paperwork she joined him, and with a wave to the Saotome patriarch they left.
As they walked she noticed that now, and even back when he'd been talking with him mother, Ranma seemed a much quieter person. It was almost unsettling how he managed to talk as little as possible now, and she wondered what could have caused such a change in his personality.
Near twenty minutes into their walk she got fed up with the silent treatment and turned to face him. "Ranma, why-"
-and found herself being violently shoved aside by him while something wet and red splashed her.
Grimacing at the pain from her now scraped knees she looked up but instead of Ranma she found an incredibly lanky man with glowing eyes staring down at her. Raising his right arm she found herself staring at the retro-style claw clamps that replaced his hand. The man grinned evilly at her as he licked his lips...
...she stood there, frozen in place as that awful scream came from her lips. The huge man, a cyborg really, turned and grinned at her, his eyes promising a most painful death, and he started to walk towards her.
Closer and closer, until he was close enough to reach out and-
-she jerked as a gun roared next to her, watching as the man's cybernetic hand exploded into individual pieces of metal and fluids. Then there was a second shot, then a third, and the man looming above her was thrown backward landing flat. And then somebody was shaking her, though it took a few moments to finally understand what they were saying.
"Nabiki! Are you okay? Hey, Nabiki!"
Wrenching her eyes away from the man laying on the ground in front of her, she looked into a piercing set of blue eyes instead. Ranma's eyes, attached to a handsome face, which rested atop a sturdy body, which was bleeding from a deep foot-long gash in the side...
...and then she passed out.
She opened her eyes to find herself lying down, surrounded by dim lighting and covered in a warm blanket. Blinking a couple of times she looked around, and it was only a few moments before she finally recognized Saotome Nodoka's living room.
Pushing the blanket off of her she moved to a sitting position, though the effort took more out of her then she thought it should have. Rubbing her face she tried to remember the last few moments of wakefulness, and started to shake as they came back with painful clarity.
Looking around the room she suddenly found her eyes drawn to an envelope resting on the table in front of her. Picking it up she found it addressed to Ranma, with no return stamp, and that it had been previously opened.
Without even knowing why she opened the envelope and pulled out the letter.
'Dear Ranma, both the family honor, and myself, are in your debt.'
There was a single black rose petal at the bottom of the envelope.
It took a while, several minutes of putting pieces together within her mind, before it struck her.
"Nabiki-chan," Mrs. Saotome had chided her earlier, "haven't you been listening. Ranma's been working in law enforcement for over a year now."
Ranma had caught the bastard who'd killed Tatewaki, the monster who'd-
Dropping the letter back onto the table she stared at her shaking hands a moment before she burst into tears.
Hugging herself, she cried.
And cried some more.
Because the nightmare was over.
Eventually, the worst now past, she made an effort to wipe the tears from her face and stood. Legs still shaky, she slowly made her way to the guest bedroom and as quietly as she could, opened the door.
Peering inside she found Ranma, sleeping deeply.
Stepping into the room, pausing just long enough to close the door behind her, she crossed the room and moved the blankets covering his body to allow room for her. As soon as she started to climb in, however, he woke.
Her voice low she said, "Just shut up Ranma and move over."
Feeling him tense up in confusion she then softly added, "Please."
With something half groan and half sigh, he shifted over allowing room for her to climb in next to him.
Snuggling up against his warm body she heard him mutter, "If you start quoting stock prices in your sleep, even once, I am SO kicking you onto the floor."
A smile on her face, she closed her eyes.
And for the first time in nine months, Tendo Nabiki drifted off to sleep without the aid of alcohol or drugs.
And she didn't dream.