- Chapter 1
Kasumi was intently focused on the small paper notebook on the kitchen counter. It was filled with different types of recipes that her mother had written down, and now that her dear mother was no longer in this world she treasured the book greatly. Sh was so distracted by the book that she completely forgot about the food on the stove. Until she noticed the smell of burnt vegetables fly by her nose. She quickly ran to the stove in an effort to save to food.
"Oh no, please don't burn!" She exclaimed as she turned the stove off, removed the pan, and stirred it around. Luckily for her it wasn't too badly burnt. She sighed in relief and then went to fetch the plates.
She sets the table as best as she can, and after 10 minutes of moving the food around, she finally had everything in place ready for dinner.
"Akane, Nabiki, Father! Dinner is ready." She called out, looking back to the table wondering if she should change anything, but quickly deciding against it as her father immediately entered the room along with Nabiki.
"Oh Kasumi, Thank you for making dinner. It wasn't too hard I hope?" Soun asked with a touch of guilt.
Kasumi slowly shook her head and replied. "Oh no, it was no big deal, really."
Kasumi could hear the guilt in her father's voice and a sudden pain entered her heart. Ever since her mother had died things hadn't been the same. You could tell just by walking in through the front door that something tragic had happened to this family. The whole place felt heavy and darkened by sorrow.
Akane then stumbled into the room, quickly taking her place next to Nabiki.
Soun and Nabiki were to absorbed by their sadness and food that they didn't notice her tear stained face and bruised hands. Oh course she did a very good job of concealing it from them. However; Kasumi noticed right away and was yet again filled with sadness and concern for her youngest sister.
She had noticed that ever since their mother passed away Akane had been throwing herself into the art more vigorously. She strain herself until she couldn't even stand anymore. She would come to the table every day with puffy red eyes and hands that looked like they had been smashing through a brick wall.
Kasumi knew she had to do something for she was frightened theat one of these days Akane was going to push herself too far. She decided right then that she would speak with her father after dinner.
After dinner Nabiki and Akane headed to the furo to take a warm bath before the retired to bed. Soun helped Kasumi pick up all of the dishes of the table. They were both washing the dishes when Kasumi began to speak.
"Father, Have noticed Akane lately?" She began.
Soun stopped for a second, not expecting Kasumi to start asking questions. He thought about it for a second, then replied.
"No, have you?"
"Yes, I've noticed her increased dedication to the art."
"Well, that should be a good thing, right?" Soun contemplated what she had meant. Her words were good but her tone said otherwise.
"Father, She has been pushing herself to hard. She practices till she passes out and she always comes to dinner with bruised hands and a tear stained face...I starting to get worried."
Soun looked at his daughter with surprise. How could he not have noticed it before. The more thought about it the more it made sense. He felt a pang of guilt inside. His little girl was exhausting herself and he hadn't even noticed. He had been to absorbed in his own sorrow.
"I-I think you should start teaching her." Kasumi jumped in again.
Soun froze again at the thought. Teach? How could he teach? He was so down trodden that he could barely drag himself out of bed in the morning. How was he supposed to teach his little girl how to practice martial arts correctly? No, he couldn't do it. It reminded him to much of his dearly departed wife, and even if he could get past the memory he was still to broken-hearted to do her any good.
Soun looked back at his oldest daughter, who was still looking at him for an answer.
"Please?" She added.
But he shook his head and said, " I'm sorry Kasumi. I just can't bring myself to I-I just can't. I'm sorry."
"But Father if you could just-"
"No Kasumi." He firmly replied. "You'll just have tell her that she is no longer allowed to practice in the dojo." With that he quickly exited the kitchen in order to avoid an argument.
Kasumi just stood there staring at the the place where her father had stood just a second ago and hung her head in despair.
Soun laid in his bed staring at a picture frame placed on his bedside table. The frame held a picture of the whole family. There was him, His wife, and the girls all smiling. He found he did this often when he couldn't handle the stress of life. He would quietly lay in bed looking at how his family was, before his wife passed away.
He thought about what Kasumi had said earlier. He hadn't ment to be so firm with her, but he just couldn't do what she had asked.
He was also worried about Akane. She was so young. She had her whole life ahead of her. He couldn't stand to watch her break apart in front of him so early. he couldn't teach her and she couldn't go on practicing martial arts incorrectly or she would wind up breaking a leg or an arm or worse.
Had he done the right thing? He didn't want to take the art away from his daughter, but what other choice did he have?
Kasumi knocked on Akane's door and gently swung it open. She found Akane sitting in her bed with only the lamp light on, doodling in one of her notebooks. For someone so young she was incredibly smart. Kasumi admired that about her.
Akane quickly looked up from her notebook as Kasumi entered the room.
"Do you mind if I come in?" She softly asked. Akane looked her for a minute before nodding her head in approval. Kasumi entered the room and quietly shut the door behind her. She walked over to Akane's bed and lifted herself up and in, sitting down right next to her.
"What are you drawing?" She asked. Akane showed her the notebook. She had drawn two people. A young woman and a little girl. Kasumi could tell that it was her mother and Akane even though her pictures weren't brilliant. They were both dressed up in gi, standing in a pose that said 'ready to fight'. Kasumi couldn't help but smile a little.
"Is that you and mom practicing martial arts?" She asked handing her little sister back her notebook. Akane nodded as she accepted the book. She looked at it for another minute before closing it. She hugged it tightly as if it were her greatest treasure.
They both sat there in the dimly lit room saying nothing for about 5 minutes.
"I heard." Akane said suddenly, breaking the silence. Kasumi looked back at her with confusion.
"What you and dad were talking about." She continued.
noticing now what she meant she looked at her with a sorry expression and what seemed to be a hint of pity.
"I'm so sorry Akane, but if you continue this you're only going to get hurt." Kasumi explained, hoping that she would understand. She would have expected her to scream or throw a fit about it. It was typical Akane, but what she hadn't anticipated was her silent tears.
"It's just the only thing that reminds me of mom," She started sobbing through her sentences. "I miss her so much, why did she have to go?!" Akane was now fully weeping in her sister's arms. She held onto Kasumi's shirt and continued to cry.
Kasumi didn't know what to do. She wanted her to be happy. She wanted everyone to be happy, but nothing seemed to go right. Akane loved martial arts. It was the only thing that she felt connected her to their mother, and now they had taken that away from her aswell. Kasumi didn't know what to do so she did the only thing she could do. And that was holding her little sister until she had cried herself to sleep.
Soun dug through his old desk drawers and pulled out a pen and a post card he had hidden away. This was the only solution. He didn't like it all that much, in fact it was killing him to do this, but he knew he had to. If he didn't his daughter would be miserable for the rest of her life, and that killed him even more.
So he quickly sat down and started to write. ' My old friend Saotome, I have a favor to ask of you.'