Ranma 1/2 is published in the U.S. by Viz Communications. All U.S. rights for the characters in this fiction are controlled by Viz.

This is a fanfiction. There is no intent to dilute the ownership of Ranma 1/2, nor is there any intent or desire for monetary compensation for this work.

All bow before the great Rumiko Takahashi, the creator of Ranma 1/2.

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Ranma pulled the covers over his body and savored the warmth the extra blanket afforded. It was a cold night and the weather forecast predicted freezing temperatures by early morning. As he relaxed, he heard Kasumi's soft footsteps in the hall as she made her way to her bedroom. Her quiet trip down the hall indicated that the day was officially over. As he drifted to sleep, his mind slowly eliminated all thoughts one by one. After a few minutes, Ranma fell asleep wondering what Kasumi was going to serve for breakfast the next morning.

In the other room, Kasumi closed the door and stripped her clothes off. Standing nude in her room, she let the cold pull a little of the extra heat that her body generated. When she felt the first chill, she walked to her dresser and found a warm nightgown and put it on. She completed her nightly ritual of setting her alarm clock, placing her slippers by the bed, and only after making sure her hair was properly tied, did she finally slip under the covers. A tired sigh escaped her lips, and she went to sleep hoping that the next day would be a little more exciting than the one that was just concluding.

Ranma snapped awake and looked around. Something was different, but he didn't know what was different. In the dark room he couldn't make out anything that was out of the ordinary, and when he concentrated, he couldn't feel anything strange. Fully awake, he realized that he must have been dreaming about something, and he was reacting to his dream. Feeling confident that nothing was amiss, he adjusted the covers and nudged his father over and went back to sleep.

Kasumi lay awake in her bed looking at the dim orange light of her alarm clock. She wondered why she always woke up just before the alarm would go off. Perhaps it was because knew she had to get out of bed as soon as the noise started, but if she awoke a few minutes before the alarm fired, she could savor the comfort of her bed. She contrasted the feeling of the smooth sheets and soft warmth against the cold air that she felt against her face. It was no contest as to which she preferred, and she pulled the covers over her head in hope that she read the time on the clock incorrectly.

The alarm finally rang, and Kasumi half-consciously threw the covers off of her and turned it off. In the silent morning, she felt the cold air attack her body and drive away the relaxed feeling she felt. The morning was going to be a busy one, and there was not time to dawdle. She planned to do some personal shopping in the morning right after breakfast and before the crowds developed. She pulled her legs together and sat up and slipped her feet into the slippers. She shook her head and let her hair whip around a little, and she was a little unhappy that she was going to have to fight a tangle battle before she stepped out.

At the same moment that Kasumi finished using the brush on her hair; Ranma woke up when his father yanked the blankets off of him. He opened his eyes and saw the first rays of morning light settle on the window sill and decided that he could get up early that morning. Battling his father for the blanket wasn't interesting at the moment. He stretched and silently changed his clothes before exiting the room.

On her way to the bathroom, Kasumi stopped by the kitchen to start the rice cooker.

"Mornin' Kasumi."

Kasumi was surprised to see Ranma plugging in the rice cooker and already had the two tea kettles on the stove.

"Good morning, Ranma," she replied. "You don't have to do that, Ranma. I'll be back in just a few minutes."

Ranma waved Kasumi off. "No problem. I thought I'd get a head start before Pops wakes up." Just then Ranma's stomach growled, eliciting a smile from both teenagers. "Well, that and I'm really hungry."

"I'll be back in just a few minutes. If you don't do anything more, I'll show you a little secret when I get back."

Ranma watched Kasumi turn and walk to the bathroom and leaned against the counter and waited for the lady of the house to return. As time passed, Ranma turned the heat down for the kettles and relaxed next to the warm stove. After what seemed to be an eternity, Kasumi entered the kitchen looking fresh and clean.

Ranma crossed his arms and asked, "So, what's the secret?"

Ranma saw give him a little smile that seemed a little different than what he normally saw on her face. When she walked over to the cupboard next to the stove and motioned for him to peer inside he wondered what she had in mind.

"See the can of fruit?" she said.


"Next time you are hungry, eat it."

Ranma pulled his head out of the cupboard and turned to look at Kasumi. She had a serious expression on her face, but he saw a hint of mirth in her eyes. He knew she had a wicked dry sense of humor when she decided to exhibit it, which was only when she was alone with one or maybe two other people.

Since he knew she was teasing him, he played her game. "Eat the can?" he said in mock stupidity.

"No, silly."

Ranma watched her shake her head. He wondered how she was able to keep her face so serious looking when they played this little game. It was taking everything Ranma had not to crack a smile.

"Oh," he said in all seriousness, "you mean I'm supposed to eat the label. That makes sense. At least I can chew the paper."

Ranma watched Kasumi struggle to keep from letting a giggle from escaping her lips. He did see a smile form on her lips. Ranma let loose his toothy grin.


"I didn't smile."

"Yeah, you did. It was slight, but it was definitely there, and I think you almost laughed."

Kasumi crossed her arms, and whispered, "I did nothing of the sort."

Ranma winked at her. "If you admit you smiled, I won't say you almost giggled."

Kasumi leaned forwards and pinched Ranma's cheek. "Okay. I smiled."

Ranma's stomach growled again. "What's for breakfast?"

Kasumi reached into the cupboard and pulled out the can and handed it to Ranma. "The usual, but this ought to hold you until everyone else is up."

Ranma took the can and found the opener in the knife drawer. He quietly opened the can and put the can opener back in the drawer. As he turned to go to the drawer with the spoons, he saw that Kasumi had already pulled one out for him. He grabbed the spoon and was about to scoop his first bite out of the can when he heard a quiet, "Ahem."

"Yeah, Kasumi?" Ranma looked at the girl as she opened the package of tofu.

"Bowl, Ranma. Civilized people do not eat out of cans."

Ranma felt like hitting his head against the wall. "Of course," he thought, "I've been trapped. I swear she plans this stuff." Every so often Kasumi would chastise Ranma for a breach of etiquette that even Ranma knew he had broken. Feeling guilty for being both stupid enough to fall for Kasumi's little trap and for actually not thinking about a bowl, he conceded the match to Kasumi. "Sorry. I knew better and you caught me," he said. With a playful tone in his voice he added, "Again."

His response earned him a smile from Kasumi. He had to admit, he was learning something from her, but he wasn't sure what. In any case, he went to the cupboard and found a bowl that held a large serving of fruit. Only after he found a napkin did he take his first bite of fruit.

He ate the food slowly, at least by his standards, and watched Kasumi prepare breakfast. He hoped that he was as good in martial arts as she was in the kitchen. He knew he was the best martial artist around, but there was something magical about Kasumi's mastery of the kitchen. He knew that she was three years older than he was, and perhaps that was the difference in skill. Although he was good, the best even, he knew he could always be better, and with time, he would be.

"Speaking of getting better," he mused when he heard some fumbling at the top of the stairs, "Pops just woke up."

And thus began the rest of Ranma's day.

Ranma gingerly pulled the covers over him that night. His shoulder was still sore from the scrape he received when he slid against the icy yard. Ranma had lost his footing on a patch of ice and tried to compensate by lowering his center of gravity, but his father saw an opening and kicked him into the pond. His father got it the worst though, Ranma thought, when the combination of a sudden hailstorm and a low throw caused the panda to slide along the gravel pathway, causing him to lose most of the fur on his stomach. Even though his idiot father was sleeping as a human next to him, he felt sorry for the guy; his chest and stomach had a large red rash that had to be uncomfortable.

Ranma turned over and drifted to sleep after making sure that he heard Kasumi walk to her room.

In her bed after doing her nightly ritual, Kasumi tossed a few times before deciding she was comfortable. As she drifted asleep, she giggled as she replayed her early morning discussion with Ranma.

Ranma stood at the top of the stairs for a moment and contemplated if he should jump the distance or walk down. Deciding that jumping was too noisy, he walked down normally, avoiding all the noisy spots. Once down, he heard the pots in the kitchen rattle as they adjusted to the heat and the cold water.

"Hey Kasumi!" he whispered loudly as he entered the kitchen.

"Good Morning, Ranma. Did you sleep well?"

"Yep. I think Pops had a little problem, though."

The room went suddenly went quiet. Ranma and Kasumi noticed that the pots were no longer making any noise and they both simultaneously looked at the stove.

Ranma and Kasumi stepped closer to the stove to learn what may have gone wrong. When Ranma reached for the controls, Kasumi grabbed his hand and jerked him away.

"We have to..."

Ranma never heard the rest of Kasumi's warning; everything went very loudly black.

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Ranma awoke to a tickling feeling on his cheek. He moved his hand and brushed whatever it was off and opened his eyes. Green grass filled his field of vision; it was obvious he was laying down in a field somewhere. He quickly sat up and felt his extremities to verify that he was not injured. Satisfied that he was not in danger of dying, he looked around, trying to get his bearings. He immediately saw Kasumi in the grass just out of reach.

Ranma crawled over to her and saw that she did not have any obvious injuries. He hesitantly touched her shoulder and gave her a little shake.

He gently shook her and quietly called her name, "Kasumi?"

At the gentle shake, she opened her eyes and saw Ranma hovering over her. The ground she was on felt cool.

"Ranma? What happened?" she asked.

Ranma looked around and saw that they were on the edge of a meadow that had a small house at its edge. It definitely wasn't Nerima, Tokyo, or even Japan. The trees were just too tall and too big.

"I don't know. The last thing I remember is you pulling me away from the stove. This don't look like Nerima to me."

Kasumi sat up and straightened her dress. She looked around and saw the trees. "Where are we?" she asked. Ranma could hear fear creep into her voice.

"Don't know." He looked at the edges of the meadow and saw a giant tree lying on its side. There was something about it that didn't make sense to Ranma. He stood up, and looked again. The downed tree was different, but he couldn't tell just what yet.

After helping Kasumi to her feet, the two looked around again before Ranma suggested that they walk to the downed tree. Kasumi simply nodded her acceptance and the two of them trekked across the field. After a few dozen steps, Ranma felt that Kasumi was a little further behind him than he felt was right.

"Something wrong, Kasumi?" he asked. She was standing on one foot and was placing the shoe back on.

"Nothing big, Ranma. I just had a small pebble in my shoe."

Ranma waited for Kasumi to catch up with him and they, side by side, walked to the large fallen tree.

When they covered half the distance between their starting point and the tree, they both realized the scale of the tree. On its side, it was almost as tall as the Tendo dojo.

"Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?" Ranma pointed to the large roots that soared into the air.

"A door?" Kasumi asked.

"Whew! I thought I was imaging it."

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Ranma and Kasumi stood in front of the door. They had already walked around part of the tree and looked for signs of inhabitation. There was a very large stack of firewood under a crudely built gazebo of some sort, and a vegetable garden that was carefully fenced off from animals. By the garden, they found a smaller tree; perhaps it was a branch from the giant that had a door in it as well. A short distance away, just behind the tree and slightly down hill was a large creek.

"Nobody's here. I say we go on in."

Kasumi protested, "But we might be intruding."

"There isn't anyone here. If someone was here, there'd be smoke coming out of the chimney." Ranma placed his hand on the door knob and pushed down on the lever. The door swung open to reveal a coat rack and a table.

"Hello!" Ranma called out. When he didn't get an answer, he stepped in and looked around. The light from a nearby window illuminated a small sitting area with four stuffed chairs and two tables. Just beyond the chairs he saw a dining room complete with table chairs, and a small sitting area next to a window and a fireplace.

Ranma mentioned to Kasumi to follow him in, and the two of them slowly walked through the house-in-a-tree. They were surprised to see two bedrooms with soft beds, a kitchen with a wood burning stove and a bath room. The biggest surprises were the hot and cold running water in the bathroom and the kitchen. Although there was no electricity, there were several lanterns that turned on when Kasumi touched the base of the lamp.

Ranma followed Kasumi to a desk that was tucked away in on one of the bedrooms and watched her carefully lift the roll-away cover. On the top of the desk was a single piece of paper. Kasumi picked it up and looked at it.

"Oh, my!"

Ranma immediately went to her side and looked at the paper she held. Ranma felt his mouth opening in shock.

"Welcome to your new home, Ranma and Kasumi!" the paper started. "I trust that it was only a short walk from where you woke to here. When I first came here, found myself in the middle of the field next to the house.

"When I first came here, I too found a letter on this desk, and it explained to me a few of the important things about this place. Unfortunately, it took me a while to learn the smaller details."

Ranma and Kasumi read the rest of the letter. The house itself was magical; it would protect them from the elements outside, and always had hot and cold running water. The cabinets in the kitchen were always full of food, so they were never going to starve. The only thing they had to do was make sure they had a huge stack of firewood for when the weather became cold. If they wanted, they could fish in the river or hunt for animals if they wanted a variety of meats.

Kasumi turned the letter over to the second side and the two of them gasped at the closing paragraphs.

Ranma blurted in surprise, "There's nobody around? We are stuck here, in the middle of nowhere?"

Kasumi's hands shook, and she let out a quiet "oh, my." She handed the paper to Ranma and said, "Read the last paragraph" before she sat down in the chair in front of the desk.

Ranma read the last paragraph. "We can't leave unless the house lets us go."

Kasumi nodded her head.

Ranma put the paper down and walked out the bedroom and through the house. At the front door, Ranma watched Kasumi catch up with him. Ranma opened the door and stepped outside.

The air was cooler, it was obviously late afternoon. There was a light breeze coming from the meadow and it carried the scent of grass and trees.

"What are you going to do, Ranma?"

"I dunno. I guess I'll practice a little. If we are really going to be here for tonight, I guess we ought to get comfortable." He looked over at the girl and saw a strange expression on her face. He recognized it, he'd seen it on other people, but this was the first time he had seen it on Kasumi. She was scared.

He smiled at her, and tried to make her feel a little more comfortable. "I'll be right outside, by the window."

Kasumi found a small bench next to door and sat down. Ranma picked a place to practice, and started his kata.

After what seemed to be a long time, Kasumi went inside to see what she could do for dinner that night. She went through the cabinets and found different canned goods, a clay pot of flour and sealed jar with rice. There were several metal cooking pots and two heavy skillets. She took a breath and started preparing dinner.

Outside, Ranma smelled Kasumi's cooking and stopped his practice. He walked around back to see the garden, and tried to figure out what was growing. There wasn't anything that ready to harvest; in fact, there were only just a few sprouts showing. Ranma sighed, and went into the house.

The two youngsters took their time with dinner, and began to relax in the comfortable chairs next to the window after cleaning up. The two talked until the sun went down and the stars lit the night sky. As the sky darkened, the two discovered that the globes on the walls of the cabin were light fixtures when they automatically flickered on. Amazed at what they just saw, they investigated the globes and discovered that they could turn them off and on by touching them. Tired, the two picked a bedroom and said good night to each other.

In his own room, Ranma went through the dresser that dominated the wall opposite the door. He saw that it contained clothes that looked as if it would fit him with no problem. As he went through the clothes, Ranma remarked to himself that whoever stocked the dresser knew his size and tastes. He yawned, stretched, laid down on the bed, and let sleep take him.

Kasumi sat at the small desk, and found a mirror that folded up from the writing surface. Under the mirror was a small depression that held a few hair brushes. She brushed her hair as she walked around the room, exploring the dresser and the small closet. She found clothes of various styles. She looked at a few and guessed that the house not only provided food, but also coverings.

She put her brush back in the desk and closed the lid. She was tired, and the bed called to her. In moments her room was dark, and she was asleep.

The next eleven days allowed Ranma and Kasumi to settle into a routine. They would get up in the morning, have breakfast, and perform morning chores such as clean the house, split wood, and tend to the garden. In the afternoon, Ranma and Kasumi would hike for a few hours in a different direction, hoping to find some sign of civilization. When the sun started to get low, they would return back to the house, Ranma would practice his katas for a few hours while Kasumi cooked dinner. After the last meal, the two would sit quietly on the chairs and talk about whatever that came to mind.

The twelfth day started much the same as the previous ones. Ranma and Kasumi were tending to the garden when they heard a new sound come from the woods.


"Yeah, I heard it too, Kasumi. Why don't you go on inside and watch?"

Ranma waited in the garden while Kasumi went in the house. After a few tense moments, a large, dark skinned man carrying a large rucksack came through the woods. Ranma watched the man come towards the house and tried to discern any hostile aggression. When the man stopped at the far end the garden and smiled, Ranma relaxed slightly.

"'Ello! Welcome to the woods!" the man hollered to Ranma. "I bring information for you!"

Ranma nodded to indicate that it was alright for the man to come closer. Ranma studied the man, and found that the man had skin almost the color of the black pans inside the house, and his hair was long and luxurious.

The clothing was most interesting. The man wore dhoti over his legs, but the shirt

looked like on oversize tee-shirt with embroidery. The rucksack was large, and looked full. As the man walked up, Ranma was impressed with the strength of the man.

"You must be Ranma. I'm Kerim. I felt your arrival several days ago, and I came to make sure that you are doing well here."

Ranma watched Karim's approach stop just a few arm lengths away. Karim made now attempt to take the rucksack off and stood with an easy demeanor. "Uh, hello, I guess. I think we're doing okay."

Karim let loose a small chuckle before speaking, "It looks to me you are doing very well. The two of you are tending to the garden. I can see the wood pile has actually grown since I last left it.

"How is Kasumi? I would imagine that she is probably the one that his having the hardest time adapting."

"She's fine." Ranma was cautious with his answer.

Kasumi's voice called from the now-opened window, "Ranma! Who is he?"

"His name is Karim!" Ranma called back.

"Ask him if he wants to stay for lunch!"

Ranma suddenly felt relaxed. If Kasumi thought Karim was safe, then he probably was. He didn't know why he trusted Kasumi's reaction to him, but he did. "Well, I guess she wants to feed you lunch. Care to join us?"

Karim's smile was large, and showed a large gap between his front two teeth. "Thank you. It was a long walk this morning."

Ranma led Karim to the front door and helped him take the sack off his back. As Ranma suspected, the sack was very heavy. The two of them went inside and relaxed while Kasumi finished making lunch.

"How did you know we were here?"

Karim pulled a lock of hair away from his face and looked at Ranma. "Like I said, I felt it. I've been here for quite a long time, and I've become quite attuned to this place. Since you are new here, you changed how it felt."

"But how did you know our names?"

"I'd like to say that's a secret, but I was told a long time ago that you would be here. In fact, I was here just a few days before your arrival and made sure that things were in order. It seems the previous inhabitants left the place in very good shape. There was nothing for me to do except just walk on back home."

Ranma and Karim heard Kasumi's voice call from the kitchen window, "Lunch is ready."

The three sat at the table and politely ate their meal. About halfway though eating, Kasumi had to ask, "Where do you live? We walked all over and never saw anybody, and we certainly didn't see any place that looked like a home."

Karim wiped his face, and thought a moment before answering. His voice was carefully measured, as if he chose his words very carefully. "From your perspective, this place is essentially uninhabited. From my perspective, you are only about a two hour walk from my home, and I am your nearest neighbor."

"Essentially uninhabited?" Kasumi asked. The comment about a two hour walk concerned her. She and Ranma did spend many hours walking around, following animal trails and occasionally blazed their own, and never did they see any sign of inhabitation. If the closet neighbor was two hours away by walk, then she and Ranma had no one to turn to if something went wrong.

"Huh?" asked Ranma.

Kasumi watched Karim take a sip from his water goblet before looking at Ranma and her. There was something strange about him that she couldn't place.

"Yes, essentially," Karim said as he put the goblet down. "There's a lot of magic on this world, and it's very pervasive. This place," he waved his hand to indicate the house, "has existed for a very, very long time, and has an interesting purpose. Anyone that lives here is alone, by themselves, for whatever purpose that brought them here. The magic in this house knows when its occupants can leave, and you'll know when that happens."

When Karim said "alone," Kasumi felt a sudden emptiness in her gut. She lived in a huge city with anything she ever wanted near by. Hearing from someone else what she suspected frightened her, but what drove the point home was that she never really had been by herself; at home there was always someone by to talk to. "My family," she said.

"I won't lie to the two of you. You may be here only one more day, or you may be here for many years. I can not tell you when you will leave, and I can not tell you how much time passed back at your home." Karim sighed and reached for Kasumi's hand.

Kasumi felt Karim's hand on hers. She tried to steady her hand, but failed. She could be away from her family forever. She tried to think of positive thoughts; perhaps she would return home in just a few hours, or a few days at the latest.

Ranma asked, "Did you bring us here?"

Karim shook his head. "No, but I do know this much," he said as he let go of Kasumi's hand and leaned back in his chair. "In some way, the two of you were specifically chosen to come here, and the two of you did something together that made it possible to bring you here."

Kasumi looked at Ranma for a quick moment. She had no idea why she was chosen to come to the house with Ranma; this type of adventure normally happened to Akane. She saw that Ranma was looking at her the same way, and she realized that Ranma must be having the same thoughts. Kasumi also thought that it was also possible that Ranma was thankful that Akane wasn't there, for if she was, he probably would become ill from her cooking. "At least it was Ranma that I traveled with her. I don't think I would get as much help if it were Uncle Genma with me" she thought.

Kasumi looked at Karim. His brown eyes gave them no clue as to what he was thinking, and the expression on his face gave her the impression that he really didn't have much else to say.

On the other hand, Karim looked at the two people the two people in front of him, and suppressed a chuckle. It was obvious what direction they were there were headed, but he had no idea what criteria they had to meet. He did have a suspicion that they won't spend that much time here; at least they won't be here as long has he has been, all six hundred thirty two years.

Karim studied the other two at the table a little more and decided that they needed some time alone to discuss what he told them. He pushed back from the table and stood up. As he made his way to the door, he bowed to Kasumi. "Thank you for the wonderful lunch and your hospitality."

Kasumi smiled and nodded her head in thanks, then turned to clean the table.

Karim opened the door and bent over to pick up his sack. Standing up, he shrugged and threw the pack on his shoulders. Ranma stood behind him and lifted the pack so Karim could make his final adjustments. Quietly, as not let Kasumi overhear, Karim spoke, "Ranma, the only advice I can give you is to take your time and don't rush things. The magic here will take care of you two, and there's nothing you can do about it. That much, I know."

"I will be looking in on the two of you occasionally just to make sure you aren't going crazy. I'm afraid I won't be able to bring any news, mostly because there really isn't anybody around to have anything to happen."

Ranma and Kasumi went to the door, and watched Karim disappear into the woods.

"Strange man," Kasumi observed. "What did he say to you?"

"He gave me some advice. He said to take my time."

Kasumi tugged Ranma's shirt to indicate that she wanted him to come inside. He followed her in and together they cleaned the dishes from the lunch.

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Kasumi stared at her handiwork. In her hands was a new calendar she carefully penned over the last few days. The first day of the calendar was the day they arrived, and it stretched for a year after that date. She put a small dot under the current day, and sighed in sadness.

She and Ranma had been living in the magical house for one hundred days, and in that time, they've seen Karim three times. Each time he would show up in time for lunch, and would talk to them for a few hours before disappearing in the woods again.

Kasumi watched the door open and saw Ranma step in. He had been working hard out side, splitting wood into smaller pieces so it would be easier to make fires when winter arrives. There was a short period about three weeks into living at the house when he spent all of his time practicing his martial arts, and she felt that she was being ignored. Late one night, after they had eaten dinner and were getting ready to go to bed, she confronted him about his behavior.

She really didn't know what how or what he would say or do, but to see a tear escape from his eye caught her by surprise. When he prostrated himself on the floor and apologized, Kasumi found herself brushing his hair. For the rest of that night, the two of them sat on the stuffed chairs and told personal secrets all night long. When the early morning light started to peer through the window, the two of them walked outside and watched the sun come up.

Since that time, Ranma and Kasumi made it a point to never ignore each other.

She watched Ranma take his cap off and put his coat on the hook by the door. Over the last three plus months, she watched Ranma go though a growth spurt. His old pants and shirt no fit, and he'd starting shaving every day. His face has lost some of its boyishness and taken a slight angular look.

His female form stayed very much the same, although she made her appearance much less frequently than when Ranma was in Nerima. Ranma noted that he wasn't getting hit with cold water as much and mentioned it to Kasumi. Since his curse had no real effect on how they lived, or on the relationship between the two of them, Kasumi just accepted Ranma for what he was, and if he became a she less often, well, all it meant was that she didn't have to make a kettle of hot water as often.


"Yes?" The time spent with Kasumi had some slight impact on his speech patterns. He still was course and borderline rude, but there were instances when he unconsciously was polite.

"You know we've been here one hundred days?"

Ranma pulled up a chair and sat next to Kasumi and looked at the calendar. "Nope. Really?"

Kasumi nodded her head.

"Wow. I didn't think we've been here that long." Ranma smiled at her.

"Today is Daddy's birthday." Kasumi tried to keep her voice even. If she cracked the slightest, she was afraid she would break down into tears. The calendar was her last real link back to "home". The tree house that she shared with Ranma was becoming more of a home for her than she wanted to admit. The house was slowly changing to Kasumi's and Ranma's will. Not only did Ranma work hard with the firewood, the garden, and the occasional hunt, they both worked on making a few changes to the house. The windows outside now had small planter boxes under them. The old curtains were washed and re-hung. There were two scrolls that were drawn by Kasumi during a rainstorm a few weeks earlier. Ranma and Kasumi had found a small chest full of books, and one of the books was on furniture making, and now there sat a new bookshelf under the sitting room window.

"Well, then, let's have dinner in his honor. I'll go check the traps I set up this morning in a little while. Maybe we can have a stew."

The sun had dropped and Ranma and Kasumi had just finished putting the dishes away. Ranma did come home with a rabbit and the stew was delicious. The two of them sat in their regular chairs and looked at each other.

Ranma averted his eyes a moment and then looked back at Kasumi. He felt a little apprehensive about what he was going to do, but he had to take care of her. She was his only companion here, and he wanted to let her know that he considered her to be family, and that she will always be family to him. He leaned over and gently touched her hand. When she looked over at him he froze a moment before finding the strength to continue.

"Ka, Kasumi?" Ranma was not feeling confident, and he knew it his voice reflected his emotions. He felt his body start to shiver from nerves. It was now or maybe never. "Kasumi, thank you for being here with me and puttin' up with me. I know it can't be easy for ya here, not having your family here." Ranma took a deep breath and tried to will his body to relax. He felt the shaking stop and continued, "I also miss your family, and strangely enough, Pops too." Ranma felt Kasumi's hand on his. "I just want you to know that I'll always consider you to be family."

Kasumi smiled at him, and squeezed his hand. "Thank you, Ranma," she said. She stood up and pulled him up to her and gave him a hug. The two of them stood there for several minutes before deciding to go to bed.

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Ranma brought in the last load of firewood for the day. The storm outside was blowing hard, and snow was beginning to pile. Thankfully the wind has blown the snow away from the house, so drifts didn't develop and completely cover the tree. Every so often, Ranma would go outside and shovel the show away from the door and the windows. As he walked back to the door and took his jacket and hat off, he called for Kasumi, who was in her bedroom working on her latest art project. Given the quiet time they both had, she had discovered she had quite a bit of talent with a pen and brush. Some of the walls were adorned with some of her better works. Ranma's favorite was one of a small bird on a planter box.

"I'm done. I think there's enough wood in here to last for three or four days."

"That's good. Did you remember to remove the traps?" she called back from her room.

"All but one, and that one was busted so I just left it there."

Ranma stood next to the stove and warmed his hands. Before they came here, they were calloused from martial arts. Now, it seemed, that the calluses had calluses. His hard work outside strengthened his hands and his shoulders. He still spent several hours a day practicing his martial arts and found some interesting ways to train by using trees and the creek. He thought he was actually getting stronger and that his endurance had increased, but without having a sparing partner for the last eight months, he had no idea of what his skills were like.

As long as he was here, with Kasumi, the art didn't matter to him as much as it did. What did matter was Kasumi and making sure that she was happy and in good health. He thought that they worked well with each other and that she was very easy to live with. Since his arrival, he had worked very hard on making sure that he didn't upset her and that he contributed to the care of the house.

He looked around the room and gazed upon the things they've added to the place. "Not a house," he whispered to himself, "this is our home."

That night, the storm strengthened and attacked the meadow and the giant tree with ferocity. Even the stove was stoked as hot as Ranma and Kasumi could make it and it was still cold inside. They had taken the mattresses off the beds and placed them on the floor of the kitchen so they could be near something warm. With the every blanket they could find on top of them, they were both still cold.

"I'm cold."

Ranma could hear the shivers in Kasumi's voice. "Me too," he said. It was going to only get colder, and he didn't think he could sleep if he were any more uncomfortable. "Hey, Kasumi."


"Bring your covers over here and join me in here."


Ranma flustered a moment. "It ain't like that. It's only gonna get colder, and if you were in here with me, we could share body heat and maybe we'll get some sleep."

He watched Kasumi wrap her covers around her and crawled over to him. He lifted his covers and felt a blast of cold air invade his bed. Kasumi slid in and threw her covers over the two of them. The two of them faced each other in the bed. Kasumi had an impish smile on her face.

"You know Ranma, I never thought I'd ever go to bed with you. I always thought it would be Akane."

Ranma suddenly felt depressed. Although he had not seen his fiancee in what seemed to be forever, he still felt a bond, built through trial, with the girl. He took the engagement with her seriously, and in his private moments, he could admit that he thought Akane was wonderful. He missed that tomboy.

Ranma felt the warmth under the covers grow. Kasumi was very close to him, he could almost feel her knees next to his legs. He considered moving slightly away from her, but that just felt wrong. He knew that Kasumi wouldn't hit him. He knew that Kasumi would receive comfort from being physically close to him.

He knew that he felt an overwhelming desire to provide to Kasumi whatever she wanted and needed.

He didn't feel anything less with Akane; even after all this time with Kasumi his emotions towards Akane were very strong. When he was with Akane, there was the sense of adventure. He felt that he and Akane had worked very hard on overcoming initial impressions, and later on, they built a mutual support system.

Unfortunately, with Akane, there was still the occasional jealous moment brought on by the other girls, but he knew he could weather even those trying times.

With Kasumi, he felt a comfortable sense of teamwork, a strong partnership that was built upon trust and need. Being here, in this world, made it possible for them to talk and to get to know each other without the madness that infested the Tendo household. The first few days were awkward for Ranma because they had to re-learn how to relate to each other. Kasumi was no longer the older-sister and mother figure; she was now a full partner in surviving in the woods where they now lived.

In the beginning, Ranma thought his biggest challenge was to break Kasumi out of her shell that she lived in. Back home, in Japan, she was the nice, kind, occasionally oblivious, and rarely stern mistress of the house that tried to keep the spirit, the Wa, in harmony. Through a few the cycles of the moon, Ranma had found that his challenge was not to change Kasumi, but rather to meet her expectations. He may be the best marital artist in the world, but unless he could live with Kasumi as a single partner, he knew that they both would slowly sink to insanity.

Ranma paid close attention to Kasumi behavior, her mannerisms, and her emotional state. It was hard to do at first, for she was always smiling, always trying to keep a positive outlook on their situation. As time passed, Ranma began to recognize little signals that indicated what she really thought and felt. Ranma knew that when Kasumi placed the rice to her left, it meant that she was upset at something. He also knew that if Kasumi placed the soap on the kitchen window sill, it meant that Kasumi was feeling lonely. If she rubbed her elbow while waiting for him, he knew that she was trying to be patient. There were all sorts of little signals that Kasumi used.

The relationship between Ranma and Kasumi was different. Kasumi was his partner.

Sadly, he said, "Well, I am still engaged to her, it could still happen."

It was quiet for a few minutes.


Kasumi looked at Ranma and studied his face. He was not wearing any masks with her and she could read that he was in turmoil.

"I'm sorry, Ranma. I shouldn't have said that," she said. Kasumi regretted reminding him of Akane. She knew he was close to her youngest sister, and that while the engagement was often a big problem, he did take it very seriously.

"No, it's okay. It is something I need to talk about though." Ranma used his arm as a pillow and made sure he had a good view of Kasumi's face.

"We've been here, for how long? Almost seven months now, right?"

Kasumi knew the calendar had ticked of seven months, two weeks, and a day. She thought about giving him the full count, but decided against it because she knew that Ranma had to say something important, and such a comment might distract Ranma from what he had to do. Instead, she simply said, "That sounds about right."

"I don't know if we'll ever go back, and if we do, there's no way I can go back to Akane after this."

Kasumi suddenly felt her heart pound hard. She had noticed that Ranma had been doing some heavy thinking while he chopped wood, and suspected what he was trying to work out in his mind. Now, here, under the covers, he was finally about to reveal what he was thinking about.

She quickly analyzed what he just said. Part of her felt bad for Akane, another part feared for herself. She steeled herself and then said, "But you just said you were still engaged to her."

"Yeah, but that's there, and this is here. There are a lot of differences."

She felt like sighing, or perhaps strangling the boy. Ranma could be an eloquent communicator if he wanted to be, but it was more often he was vague and noncommittal. It made sense; ten years on the road with his father plus almost another year in Nerima would make almost anybody be cautious. She nudged Ranma in the direction she knew he wanted to go, "You want to get out of the engagement?"


She knew it was a certainty that Ranma no longer wanted to be engaged to Akane. Her heart was pounding and she felt a vast void develop in her chest. She knew what was coming up; she knew what she was going to say. She wanted to get this moment over with, but deep down, very deep down, she knew that Ranma had to finish this. It was going to be a catharsis for him and she had to let him take the next step. She hoped that what came next wouldn't hurt.

"But the agreement..." Kasumi started to say, but was stopped by Ranma putting a finger to her lips. It was an intimate move, by far the most intimate move Ranma had ever made towards her.

"I've been thinking. If we never get out of here, we might as well be married because all we'll ever have is each other." Ranma said as he smiled at Kasumi.

She felt her hand be captured by his when he continued speaking, "and that's okay, because I can't see it any other way."

"The word" was running through Kasumi's mind. She rolled it around in her own head for a moment. It sounded right.

Her hand was gently squeezed, and she felt a burst of energy flow from him to her. She watched his face, and looked down to his chest. The moment was intense, and she was rapidly loosing control of herself. She wanted him to hurry up and say "it." She felt Ranma's hand shake in nervousness, and she gave it a light squeeze in response.

"And if we ever do make it back," he said, I've spent too much time away from her and too much time with you for me to..."

Ranma halted for a moment; it was obvious that trying to find the right words to say. She knew that he had committed himself to this path just moments before.

Now all they could do was continue on, taking one step at a time.

Quietly, just above a whisper, he said, "For me to leave you."

The void in Kasumi's chest suddenly filled. Intellectually she knew what he was going to say, but she had to hear him say it. There was one small question that remained for her, and she asked it. "You want to be engaged to me?"

Ranma had that infernal, yet irresistible smirk on his face. "No," he said, "I want to be married to you."

Kasumi had no thoughts, only emotions. She instinctively pulled him close to her and answered him with a kiss.

It was her first kiss, and for all essential purposes, she knew it was Ranma's first as well. It was soft and quick, but she made sure it told him everything he needed to know.

Now that the stressful part was over, she hugged him and softly said into his ear, "Ranma, I will marry you under one condition."

She felt him freeze in fear, "What?"

Kasumi's voice couldn't hold back a giggle, "I'll marry you only if you put another log in the stove."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The next night had Ranma and Kasumi sleeping in each own bedrooms. The two looked at each other in confusion for a moment and quickly darted into their own sanctums for the night.

On the second night, the two stared at each other in confusion again, but this time they acted on what they felt, and kissed goodnight before retiring their respective bedrooms.

Several hours into the night, Ranma woke up wondering what was wrong. He was sleeping fine. The snow was still falling, the stove was obviously still hot, and the house was quiet. He reached over and touched a small glow globe. The globe flashed brightly for a moment, then dimmed when it sensed what Ranma wanted.

Ranma looked at the ceiling and the walls and determined that something was missing. His eyes caught one of Kasumi's ink drawings and he decided that he didn't want to be alone anymore. He crawled out of bed, and crept into Kasumi's bed.

"I was wondering if you were going to come in here."

"Gah!" Ranma shouted. "You scared me!" He didn't expect Kasumi to be awake. Once he caught his breath, he immediately started praying that she wouldn't kick him out of her room, but when she turned over and put her head on his chest, he knew that things were going to be alright. What she said next surprised him.

"I was thinking about joining you in your bed. You just beat me to it, that's all."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The storm finally left, and the sky was clear with only a few white puffy clouds to add beauty to the scene. Ranma and Kasumi stood at the door, inhaling the cold, crisp, and fresh air. They had heavy clothes on and were ready to get to work shoveling snow. They had to clear a path to the wood pile and make sure the pile was intact. Then they were going to have to dig around the frame of the house and make sure that the windows could be opened to let in fresh air instead of snow.

The two of them stepped onto the porch together, and without a word, started to dig. Occasionally Ranma would feel Kasumi gently bump into his back. Ranma didn't mind her actions; instead he felt reassured that she was still there and would bump her in return.

The last night of the storm was an emotional breakthrough for the two of them. Although he proposed to Kasumi a few nights before, he finally said something he never thought he had the courage to say.

He told Kasumi that he loved her.

His confession wasn't eloquent, but it didn't have the nervous stutter that he often exhibited when he tried to talk to Akane either. He discovered that it was easy to say those magic words when they were true and he knew that he was loved in return.

Ranma stuck his shovel in the snow and stepped over to where Kasumi was working.

"Hey Kasumi!"

Ranma watched Kasumi turn around. When she faced him, he felt a goofy grin spread across his face. He leaned forwards and gently placed his lips upon hers. The heat from the kiss grew and he leaned into Kasumi's body so he could feel the passion grow.

He leaned a little more, just a little more, hoping to feel her next to him.

He felt her hands envelop his and held them tight. He felt her slowly sink to the ground, and he followed her, and never broke the kiss on the way.

Kasumi slowly rolled on her back while Ranma climbed on top of her. Ranma felt Kasumi turn slightly and he reluctantly, but gently, broke the kiss. As their lips separated, Ranma took a deep breath of air. "Kissing is hard work! I'm outta breath," he thought. "I guess I gotta practice that some more."

:"You don't need to practice that any more. We need to practice."

Ranma suddenly realized that Kasumi spoke. "I didn't say that aloud, did I?"

Kasumi laughed at Ranma's question. "Yes, silly. You did."

Ranma felt the goofy grin return. "So, wanna continue?"

Kasumi's response was laugh to throw snow down Ranma's jacket. "Sure, if you think you can kiss me with a wad of snow in your jacket."

The snow sent a shock down Ranma's chest. It wasn't much snow, but it was enough to make him do a quick shiver. He shook to remove the mini-snowball and pulled himself off of Kasumi. Once he was standing, he held his hand out and helped Kasumi up.

Kasumi shook the snow out of her hair and picked a large clump from jacket. Satisfied that there was no more snow in her jacket she gave Ranma a quick kiss. They stood there with their foreheads touching and enjoyed each other's company.

They jumped when a loud crack of a limb giving way to the weight of too much snow startled them out of their private moment.

"Back to work" Kasumi said.

A few hours later, at the end of the path, the two stood next to each other and held each other close, not for warmth, but because it felt right.

They took their shovels and leaned them against the wood pile, and took a short stroll to the creek that was just down the hill. Although there were patches of ice near the rocks, the creek still flowed swiftly. The sun reflected off the clear water, and the rocks below took on a bright glow. After taking in the scene, the two walked back up the hill to the house. When they came to the edge of the trees, they looked at the house and how it was framed by the expanse of the snowy meadow.

"Home," Kasumi said.

"This is our home," Ranma agreed.

They kissed one more time, and when they broke the kiss, they walked to the house together with the intention of practicing more where it was warm and comfortable.

As they stepped through the front door, the world went black.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ranma rolled over and felt Kasumi next to him. He was lying on the kitchen floor. Apparently Kasumi pulled him away just in time before the oven door blew open and knocked them both over.

"We aren't home any more," he thought. He felt the back of his head and then shook it to see if the dream in his head would leave. Just as he stopped his shaking, he heard Kasumi.

"Ranma? Are you alright?"

Ranma heard the concern in Kasumi's voice. "Yeah. You okay?"

"Yes" he said. Ranma sighed as he looked upon her face. Kasumi was...she just was. The dream he just had must have really had an impact; he could remember everything about it, and the feelings he felt for Kasumi in the dream have carried over to the waking world.

Ranma felt himself beginning to blush when he caught himself staring at the woman next to him. When he saw Kasumi blush he felt his face turn very red.

"Did you have a dream?" he asked.

Kasumi nodded, and asked, "The last thing I remembered was walking into a house in a beautiful meadow, and ..." She stopped speaking and averted her eyes.

"I remember that." Ranma thought quickly to see if the dream he just had was truly shared with her. "What was the name of the guy that came by the house sometimes?"

"Karim. He had this funny accent and wore those strange pants."

Ranma stood up and then helped Kasumi up. She tried to pull her hands away, but he held her firmly.

"Ranma," she protested.

"Kasumi, we were there for almost nine months."

Ranma saw Kasumi's eyes widen in surprise. Her reaction gave him the confidence he needed to finish what he started.

"Remember what I said a few nights ago?"

Kasumi tried to avert Ranma's gaze, but failed. "Yes," she said quietly.

Ranma felt Kasumi's pulse increase in her hands, so he knew that she really did remember.

She tried to change the direction where Ranma was going with, "But that was there. At the meadow. In..."

Ranma interrupted her. "In our home. We had a life there, and when we were there, I made a decision." Ranma paused and quickly planned what he was going to say.

"When we were outside," he started, "shoveling that snow, I... Every time I looked at you, I ..." Ranma stopped again, trying to settle his mind so he could say one coherent thought. After taking couple of breaths, he finally calmed himself enough to start again. "Every time I looked at you when we were shoveling that snow, I didn't see Kasumi Tendo." His right hand let go of Kasumi and gently caressed a lock of hair out of her face.

"Do you know what I saw?"

Ranma felt Kasumi start to shake, just like she did the other night.

"No," she said.

"I saw my wife."

Ranma brushed a tear from Kasumi's face. She surged forward and crushed her face against Ranma's chest.

"Thank you," she said.

They stood alone, hugging each other, in the kitchen for a few minutes. Kasumi finally let go of Ranma and leaned against the counter behind her.

"Do you want to keep this secret?" she asked.

Ranma smiled and almost yelled, "No way! I want to stand up on the roof and tell!"

"I don't think that's necessary," Kasumi said. Ranma watched Kasumi's eyes change slightly when she said, "But if you do, I'd like to be there with you."

With that one statement, Ranma decided that he was going to have to tell everyone as soon as possible. His biggest worry was Akane, but his biggest fear was the Amazons. Akane, he knew, would be an emotional tornado in the house, and might get physical. If she attacked Kasumi, she would learn what a true martial artist could do.

The Amazons were a different story. Mousse wasn't a threat, Shampoo was a threat, but could be managed, but it was the old ghoul that changed everything. He was going to have to come up with a plan for her. Maybe he could get Mousse to help...

Ranma was about to respond when a soft knock was heard from the front door. The two of them looked at each other and walked to the front door.

"Ah ha! I thought you were here!"

Ranma and Kasumi looked at Karim in surprise. He stood in front of them, complete with his rucksack.

"I bring a gift from the house." Karim pulled two small boxes out his pants. "Here."

Karim offered a white box to Kasumi, and when she took hers, he gave a red box to Ranma.

"I have to return now, but I think I'll be seeing you two again."

Ranma and Kasumi watched Karim fade and disappear in front of their eyes. As usual, he appeared and disappeared when they least expected him. And as usual, his timing was always very good.

Ranma and Kasumi shut the door in front of them and looked at the boxes they held. They smiled and looked at each other, and wordlessly, opened the gifts.

Inside Ranma's box were two rings, an engagement ring and a wedding ring for Kasumi. He took the engagement ring out of the box and simply said as he showed her the ring, "I think this is yours."

Kasumi held out her left hand, and Ranma took it. He was about to place the ring on her finger when he decided that he needed to do this differently. He dropped to one knee and held her hand.

"Kasumi, will you marry me?"

"On one condition."

Ranma had a sense of deja-vu. "And that condition is?"

"If you put another log in the stove..."

Ranma laughed, and placed the ring on her finger. "For you, I'll always put another log in the stove."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The End?
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About the location of the story, the house and the field...the place I describe is a fictionalized version of a small part of Sequoia National Park.

It was that location that made me write this story. I had the final scene with the snowstorm and all in my head from the beginning, and all I had to do was get them there.

The story started out with Kasumi, but then I really wanted to use Akane. Unfortunately, I started to run against a few character issues and things weren't working right. Although I could see her doing well in the world of the House, I couldn't see her cook and not kill Ranma. I also couldn't see Ranma cooking, either. There was also way too much emotional investment between Ranma and Akane for this to work. So, Akane was out.

Then I thought about Nabiki, but she was eliminated because she's too cosmopolitan and I can't see her doing well psychologically in this scenario.

So, it was back to Kasumi.

One of these days I'll have to come up with a similar story for Ranma and Akane.