On Her Own (2.0 rewrite) Chapter 2

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On Her Own (2.0 rewrite) Chapter 2

Postby khammel » Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:54 pm

On Her Own
By Kevin D. Hammel

A Story Inspired by Jeff Hosmer's Amazons.

Episode 02: The Winter of Her Content.

Ranma 1/2 is property of Rumiko Takahashi. Publishing rights are held by Viz in The US and Shogakukan in Japan. My purpose is to honor the creator and her works. No infringement intended.

Ranma's stomach decided that the time for thought was past, it was time to eat. As she walked, she looked for the edible fruits and berries the amazons had shown her during her stay with them. In an hour of hiking at a slightly slower pace, she had almost enough for a meal, and would use a ration of the food she was carrying to complete it. Stopping for a few minutes, she dropped her pack, removed a little dried food from it, and enjoyed the fruits of the past hour's labors.

As the sun began to dip, Ranma again began to look for more edible fruit along the trail. Before it got too dark, she selected and prepared a campsite. She ate her evening meal, and snuggled into her sleeping bag. Ranma was so tired from this day's exertions that she was asleep before the sun had set.


Weeks passed as Ranma made her way down the road. Though the weather had often threatened rain, or worse, things remained clear. Temperatures, however, grew steadily colder. Soon winter would come. Ranma was able to subsist on an occasional fish she would pull from a creek and fruit she collected along the roadside. Ten years on the road had taught her to be an able forager. A real meal became a tantalizing fantasy that drove her on.

Finally, Ranma's luck ran out and rain poured down. Though she had a small tent in her pack, she decided to try to find some shelter to ride out the storm.

After walking another kilometer, she made out through the downpour a broken-down outbuilding. Slogging through the mud a short distance from the road, she was dry at last inside the shelter.

Ranma smiled a little as she considered her good luck, this time. In the future, she would put on her coat at the first sign of inclement weather. Hypothermia was not a word found in either of her vocabularies, but a danger she understood from experience. Her clothes were soaked, so she quickly took off the dripping shirt, socks, slippers and shorts. Then her soaked underwear. It was ccccccold. After using one of her soiled shirts to dry herself off, she dressed in a fresh outfit; deciding jeans tucked into her hiking boots would be best in rainy weather.

As darkness approached, the storm turned even more violent, so the girl decided that, for a night at least; this ruined building would be home. Structures like this had often served to provide a night's shelter the last decade. She looked around the hut for a dry place to lay out her bedroll when a light caught her eye. She swallowed as the light moved toward her shelter, silently preparing for combat... just in case.

"Hello?" A shaky voice asked in Mandarin.

Ranma remained quiet, wanting to see her opponent before they saw her. As the light came closer, an elderly man came into view, illuminated by the oil lamp he carried. He LOOKED safe, so Ranma hazarded a cautious response. "Hello?" She did not relax her guard, however.

The man advanced slowly into the building. From the sound of her voice, there was a young woman inside who had obviously sought shelter from the storm. Her Mandarin was highly accented; indicating it wasn't her first language... Why was she here? Why was she alone so far, it seemed, from home? As the girl came into focus, his breath caught for a moment. She reminded him of his own daughter. She was about that age when... The man could not keep back tears.

Ranma looked at the old man, noticing he was crying. "What's wrong, Grandfather?" She asked. He had passed by many people such as this in the past decade; their suffering beneath both his notice and contempt. But were they beneath hers?

The man composed himself, using the arm of his worn gray shirt to wipe away his tears. "It was nothing, miss. My wife and I would love for you to spend the night. We rarely have guests." The wrinkles of a grin lost themselves amongst the multitude on his weather-beaten face. "I'm sure you would like to spend a night indoors. Perhaps you would like to share our evening meal?"

The prospect of a night spent in warmth and comfort was one thing, but the possibility of a hot meal overrode any misgivings the girl had. She stood, and bowed to her host. "I'd love to spend a night with you!" She quickly re-packed her possessions and followed the man back to his home across the field.


It was a simple shack... a room for living and an adjacent one for sleeping. But it was cozy, and WARM. Warmth like this was something Ranma hadn't felt since Joketsuzoku. It seemed to flow into her as she scrunched up her legs and hugged them close to keep all the heat inside her small body. She looked around the cabin, her gaze falling at last on the man's wife. The elderly woman stooped over a pot boiling on a cast-iron wood stove, her labors filling the home with the aromas of real food. To a certain redheaded guest, it was the most wonderful thing she had smelled in a long time. It was mostly the scent of cooking rice, with a little fragrance of ginger and fish. It wasn't long before her stomach announced its desire to partake of dinner with an angry growl.

Ranma's face reddened. "Sorry, I guess I'm pretty hungry." She said with an embarrassed grin.

The woman turned to face her guest, smiling at the sight of the pretty girl enjoying the warmth. "Well, young one, if you help me with the cooking, you can eat that much faster."

Ranma thought for a moment. Cooking in a kitchen was what girls do. Over a campfire was different, but here... With a determined look she stood up and walked over to the woman. "How can I help you, Grandmother?" She paused for a moment, then continued. "By the way, my name's Ranma!"

The woman turned, "Well, Ranma, perhaps you can..."

Dinner was ready just a few minutes later. After dishing up three servings of the rice and fish mixture, Ranma was ready to dig in. As the redhead moved to pick up her chopsticks, the girl caught the reproachful stare of her hostess. She set down her utensils and folded her hands. There were no free-for-alls here, and guys ate first.

Grandfather sampled some food with his chopsticks, then a bit more. "Excellent," he said at last.

With a nod from Grandmother, Ranma dug in with gusto. Food... It was amazing what a difference a hot meal made to her disposition. Just an hour ago, she was cold and miserable; now she was warm and happy. She looked into the older woman's eyes; noticing happiness mixed with a touch of sadness. "The food was great! Thanks." Ranma finally said with satisfaction and gratitude.

"It was my pleasure." The old woman replied. She looked at Ranma for a moment. "Now, will you tell me how a sweet girl like you ended up by herself so far from home?"

In an instant, Ranma's smile vaporized. "Well, my story is gonna sound strange..." She thought for a moment... "My father took me to the Joketsuzoku area to train. We got separated in a battle and I was captured by the Musk..." This elderly couple didn't need to deal with the whole truth, just most of it...

By the time the girl had finished her story, she and her hosts could not keep tears from their eyes. Silence presided over the scene for several minutes.

Grandfather finally broke the silence. "Ranma, soon the weather will turn, and the snow will fall." He cast a hopeful look his wife's direction, quickly answered by a nod and a small smile. Bolstered by unspoken concurrence, he continued. "We are elderly and have little, but we would love to share our home with you for the winter."

The girl looked thoughtful for a moment. She knew the winter would be harsh at this elevation... A warm cabin would be a wonderful place to spend the frigid months, and the prospect of real hot food every day brought a smile to her face. Her smile dimmed a little as she continued thinking... One thing she had learned from the Amazons was the value, and pleasure, of repaying those that helped her in kind, with her own hard work. "I'd like to stay, but only if I can pull my own weight. Is there anything I can help you folks with?"

The elderly couple smiled at each other, the man turning to Ranma. "There are a lot of things I've been meaning to do around here... a young pair of hands would be welcome. Maybe you can show me just how strong you are, Ranma..."

Grandmother spoke after her husband, " And I would love to teach you to more about cooking and housekeeping, little one."

Ranma couldn't keep a silly, proud, grin off her face any longer. "I'd love to help both of you! Guess I'll stay for a while."


Snow covered the countryside hiding both the ground and, it seemed all sound beneath a silent white blanket. A sharp crack colored the scene for a moment, followed by many more in rapid succession. The source of the noise was a small girl almost hidden beneath a jacket clearly intended for a larger person. She provided a splash of color amongst the gray and white, primarily deep browns and blacks, topped off by a fiery red mane flowing unbound down her back. As she chopped the last of the logs, silence again nearly blanketed the scene as the girl loaded the wood onto a sled to haul back to the cabin. Though she had been working all day long, the teenager stepped lightly as she pulled the mass of timber back to her temporary home.

Having stacked the last of the firewood by the hut, Ranma returned to the warmth indoors. "I'm home!" She whispered in Japanese, then repeated louder in Mandarin.

Grandmother turned to the girl, who had already removed her coat and gloves, revealing a dark gray wool dress beneath it. Ranma had protested the garment at first, but grown to appreciate it as the weather turned colder. The woman smiled at the girl who had added such joy and comfort to their lives, her eyes following as the teenager took her accustomed seat before the fire.

Ranma looked down at the dress she wore. She thought back to the time she first looked down at a dress in the fortress. Each of the sisters on the bridal assembly line had an identical shiny, pink dress. Uniqueness was provided by the way the thin chenogasm clung to individual feminine curves, each locked in the tight embrace of forced matrimony with the garment. All a bride could offer a warrior was blatantly advertised. This new dress, her third dress, was very plain. The only thing that made it feminine was the simple fact it was a dress. Her body increased that femininity gently as the coarse, thick material smoothed her curves. That made it a much nicer dress than in the fortress, in her mind.

But guys didn't wear dresses, even plain ones, let alone sew them. And she had altered this dress. She had made it hers by taking it out for her chest, in for her waist, and raising the hem. Grandmother had instructed her and the elderly woman's admiration of Ranma's handiwork had made the girl glow.

Her bright blue eyes shimmered for a moment, but only a single tear escaped the shining pool to seek its destiny down her face.

She had two roads to travel in her journey home. At the end of one road were Japan and her parents.

But she felt there was another road she had to travel... at its end was a shadowy woman she was still trying to figure out. Still waiting to be fully revealed... Where a man had been.

She had already taken a few, halting steps down that dark and frightening path. The first footfall was at Jusenkyou, but it was the Musk who really forced her feet upon it. With Shampoo's help, she had willingly taken a few steps... to save her life. Shampoo had helped her so so so much.

God, she missed Shampoo. Maybe she should start writing her now. And put all she wrote in an envelope, or a giant box, whatever she needed, to send it to her sister when she got to a city again. Would she find another friend who loved her like that, who she could open her heart to?

Is that the sort of person you marry?

She was was at least used to her body now. Periods, boobs and bras, being a cute shrimpy girl... were part of what she was now. But most of that was required just for survival. She still didn't love her body, but it was... okay.

Would there be a day when she embraced the scrawny girl body the Musk had stuck her with? But it was not as scrawny as it was. Shrimpy, sure, but NOT scrawny. She kept in shape by exercising hard and practicing her kata every day. Slowly, she was looking more and more the way she wanted to as she shaped her body to show more muscle. Maybe that was one way she could get back some of what HE lost during her journey. She already knew girls could do much more than her father said. She knew she would still be a martial artist, being a girl hadn't changed that. But, all she had really fought so far was just girls.

Could she fight a man and win?

But what ELSE would she be? When she was a guy, a martial artist was all he was or wanted to be, but what about her? She'd contributed to the family that had adopted her for the winter by doing hard physical labor for Grandfather, but she also now enjoyed helping Grandmother in her chores too. Cleaning floors, mending clothes, cooking were all were things she now enjoyed. Especially when her hosts noticed and expressed appreciation. But there was always a warm sense of personal satisfaction. It was especially fun to adapt her martial arts prowess to make all that stuff easier.

What would her father think of martial arts housekeeping?

What would she have thought when she was a he, just a few months ago? Was the male she had been a person, a concept, she was losing touch with? Did that really matter now?

What if HER curse was unlocked, and she could became a man again? She masked a shudder, wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her dress, and went to help Grandmother with dinner.


Ranma pounded that last of the nails with satisfaction. Finally, she had repaired the last fence... her work here was complete. Looking up from the plank, she noticed pockets of mud amidst the snow. Spring was upon the land and she had a road, muddy but emerging from winter's mantle, to walk.

Turning toward the cabin, she noticed two people looking at her with pride, joy, and sadness. They knew their daughter of a winter would soon be gone, but only from their presence.

The girl looked at the rustic gray dress that she made hers with her own hands, carefully folding it so she could carry it down the road. She now knew the special care wool and silk needed, and how to clean all her clothes. And all of them were clean, pressed, and neatly folded in her pack. She also would be carrying several days' supply of dried fish and fruits, so she wouldn't go hungry for at least a few hours' travel. As she fastened the last buckle, she looked up at her hosts, noticing tears in their eyes; soon the two people blurred a bit, as the girl's own tears flowed freely. She shouldered the pack and walked over to the woman and embraced her, only to find herself swallowed up in a returned hug. The man joined in and the three just stood there for a few moments, not wanting to let go for a while.

Finally, the redheaded guest reluctantly shrugged off the warmth of the shared embrace. Her two hosts went to the door, which Grandfather opened for her.

Ranma followed her grandparents of a winter to the entryway, offering the couple a sad smile. "Goodbye, Grandmother and Grandfather... Thanks for everything."

The woman bowed, "Thank you Ranma, for giving me a daughter again, if only until spring."

Grandfather then spoke. "And thank you for all your hard work on our home. Good luck, little one."

Ranma grinned, a bit more happiness showing up on her face to drive out the sweet sorrow. "Thanks, but it was really no problem! Bye, you two!" With that, she turned and slogged down the muddy road... The smile on her face lasted for days.

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