This is a story that hit me while I was writing an e-mail to LizMUN.  Not wanting to lose it, I wrote it on the spot while I was still composin' the e-mail.  The story is virtually unchanged  (except for the addition of a title) since I first wrote it.  Enjoy.

NeeP Productions Presents:

Strong Enough for a Man...?
By Niki (NeeP) Paradis

    It was getting dark when Ryouga and Jiro finally finished setting up the tents.  The fire was starting to die down at the time.  Jiro put the last of the cut firewood into the flames.
      "We're going to need more, Oniisan.  It's your turn to chop the wood."
      "Right."  Ryouga went to the woodpile, which was located a little ways away from the fire.  He set a log onto the chopping block.
      "Hiiiyaaa!" he shouted as he split the log in half --the economical way --by using a karate chop.  He continued to split wood in this manner while Jiro set the kettle on the fire to boil for their instant noodles.
      Jiro sat back after putting the kettle on.  It's a beautiful night, she thought as she looked up through the treetops to the sky.  It's so quiet, so peaceful...
      "Yow!"  Ryouga was practically screaming.
      Jiro started at the shriek.
      "What's wrong?  Oniisan, are you okay?!?"
      Ryouga was kneeling by the chopping block, bent over and cradling his hand.  Panicking, she rushed over to Ryouga, and tried to help him up.
      "What is it?" she asked, as she gingerly took his hand.
      With tears in his eyes, Ryouga let his 'foster-sister' examine him.  The light was dim, away from the fire, but Jiro was able to make out the splinter of wood embedded in his hand.
      "Oi!  That's gotta hurt," she commented.
      "Well, yeah."  Ryouga's voice was a hiss of pain.
      "Let's examine it over by the fire.  The light's better over there."  Jiro took a few pieces of the cut wood in one hand and the wrist of Ryouga's un-injured hand in her other, and took both over to the fire.
      Once Jiro set the wood and her 'foster-brother' down, she examined Ryouga's hand again.  The splinter was embedded a little more than a centimetre deep.  She grimaced.  *That's not gonna be fun for either of us*, she thought.  Outloud, she said, "It has to come out, before it gets infected."
      Ryouga nodded miserably.  "Just do it," he said.
      "Right."  Jiro went to her backpack and pulled out her little first-aid kit and a needle from her sewing kit.  She went back to her patient who was biting his lower lip.  She sat with her back to him, and secured his arm under her own.  She gripped Ryouga's wrist with the hand that was attached to her securing arm and held the needle with her free hand.
      "Are you ready," she asked.
      "Ready."  Ryouga's voice was a whisper.
      The needle barely touched the flesh, when Ryouga yelped --right in Jiro's ear.

    (Now, Jiro's ears are pointed, which makes them more conductive to sound --which meant that Ryouga's yelp was waaaaay louder to her than it would have been to most people.)

      Jiro winced, and waited for her head to stop ringing.
      "Stop that!  It HAS to come out, Oniisan!"
      "I know, I know, but it hurts."
      Jiro turned to look at the individual who she has witnessed taking several hits by various Martial Artists and shake the blows off.  The person she has seen slammed into solid stone and walked away with barely a scratch.  She looked at this person, who now had tears running down his face at the removal of a splinter.  She sighed and shook her head.  Who knew? she thought.
      "I promise not to yell like that again," Ryouga said softly.
      "Okay, then."
      Jiro tried again.  But before the needle even reached the flesh, Ryouga's hand jerked out from under her arm.
      "Sorry, sorry."
      She tried various methods of securing Ryouga's hand, from a tighter grip to sitting on his arm to sitting on his head.  But everytime, Ryouga managed to pull his hand away.
      Jiro growled.
      "Do you want this to get infected?!?" she asked in exasperation.
      "No, of course not," Ryouga replied.  "It's just the anticipation of the pain."
      Jiro looked thoughtful.  She looked at Ryouga, and she looked at his hand.
      "Maybe you just need something to help relax you," she said.  "Wait here."  She got up and went to her backpack.  Ryouga watched as Jiro rummaged through the contents.
      "Here it is," she chirped as she pulled something out.
      "What is it?"  Ryouga was surprised to see Jiro bring her old water-bucket back to the fire.
      "It's a water-bucket," she said simply.
      "What's it for?" he asked.
      Without replying, Jiro raised the bucket and brought it down hard on Ryouga's head.  It was a blow that was worthy of Akane and her mallet.  Ryouga went out like a light.
      "I thought that would work," she said to herself as she continued to work on Ryouga's hand.

      Ryouga woke up a while later with a slight headache.  He sat up and looked at his bandaged hand.  Then, he looked at Jiro who was roasting marsh-mallows over the fire.
      "Why did you do that?" he asked, refering to the blow on the head.
      "You wouldn't stop squirming," she said.
      "It was a low blow."
      "So was yelling in my ear."
      The two glared at each other for a bit.
      Then Jiro giggled.
      Ryouga chuckled.
      "It was a splinter, Oniisan...And here I thought that you were 'Oh-so-tough'."
      "Um, just don't tell anyone, okay?"  Ryouga grinned sheepishly.  "Especially Ranma --he wouldn't let me live it down."
      "Okay, but you'll owe me one."  Jiro chuckled.  She picked up the bag of marsh-mallows that was sitting beside her and held it up.  "Marsh-mallow?" she offered.
      "Thanks," said Ryouga as he helped himself.  "And thanks, Jiro," he said, holding up his bandaged hand.
      "No problem.  That's what little sisters are for."

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