Izo sat in his wrecked wagon, a mirror in his hand, as he touched up his hair. That storm had ruined nearly all his cargo, the horse he had bought was gone: collapsed from the cold. He did his best to drag the broken mode of transportation as far as he could, but for as toned as his arms were, he couldn't carry a wagon four times his size (very far). The snow was deep, pulling him down like quick sand, and he would be lying if he said the sight of frozen over splinters and cuts marring his hands from his effort didn't make him queasy.
He'd gone inside the small wooden structure, wrapping amongst the warmer, less valuable fabrics, covering his blemished hands in soothing creams, bandage and after a bit composition, some long red gloves with a simply gorgeous black embroidery matching his belt like sash - making them was decidedly unnecessary, but it did a great deal to calm him down: helped him to gather his thoughts.
He gazed over the expensive, quality fabrics, and garbs, and threads, and wools, as well as the heaps of accompanying equipment. He had been given up on his small clothing shop at home, as people refused to shop there, some resorting to vandalism and robbery to express their distaste at his less... masculine attributes. To put it simply he'd become something a pariah ever since he'd started cross dressing publicly; he didn't feel he should have to hide it, and if that made others sneer as they passed, and mothers steer their children away from him in the streets, then so be it.
Because, people had begun to avoid even the street his business was situated on, he'd moved his business elsewhere; he'd taken to travelling, always seeing new places, new buyers, yet still wherever he seemed to go there would always be someone that treated him like some kind of heretic for being himself.
At that, he went back to anxiously fixing his hair, as he tried to comprise a solution to his unexpected situation, when the torn up, freezing tarp in the wagon's entryway shifted revealing a head of short, matted chestnut hair: A child?
Perhaps people actually lived out here: he could get help (unless these people were bigoted assholes too). Actually, now that he thought about it, it was more likely that there were other people stranded after that ferocious tundra of a storm.
"Hey there kid...", Izo spoke gently, in the least threatening voice he could muster, giving the child - he looked about fifteen - a light, warm smile.
His head rose, no longer covered by the sheet; Izo could see two strong, piercing navy-blue eyes on pale skin, under a thick dark green cloak that hung loosely on the child's form. The child stared at him in open curiosity, before smiling giddily at him, as if having made a judgement.
"HI, Do yOU NEed HELp", he asked, Izo flinched at the unexpected volume and absolute lack of intonation, before nodding gratefully at them.
"Please", Izo punctuated politely, "Do you live around here?", he added hopefully.
"YEP", the kid semi-yelled, popping the 'p', whilst he gestured for the man to follow with a mischief glint in his eyes. Knowing he didn't really have a choice, but to follow him, Izo chose to pretend he hadn't seen the look the child had flashed him, instead opting to offer him a weary smile as he rose.
"Lead the way".
Izo walked briskly, panting lightly, trying to keep up with the rambunctious child, kimono pulled high, so not to trail it through the snow. The boy leading him was scampering about, practically running up the tree walls, as he chattered quickly - and loudly he was grating at his ears- about his family, after Izo had asked who he lived out here with.
"-anD POps LIKes BEIng cALLed WHITebeard; I THINk he thiNKS It's FUNny; MarcO SAid ThATCH Came UP WIth it buT THE She DOEsn't HAVe anoTHER NAMEe yet, anD HEr 'noW' ONE is reaLLY DIffiCULT TO say- sAY,", the kid stopped in his tracks turning back towards Izo suddenly, greatly shocking the man.
"WhAT Is yoUR NAme, ladY?" He asked, a face of genuine curiosity.
"Izo", he chose to respond plainly, realizing the kid thought he was a woman, and as deeply as it irked him he chose to ignore it.
"COol, M' NAmes HaRUTA".
"That's a girl's name", Izo observed, before reprimanding himself for the rude statement.
"...yEAH, it iS", the child said, tilted head. He seemed slightly confused at his comment for some reason, while not taking an offense.
They walked quite a bit further, and Izo was beginning to wonder whether it was an intelligent decision to ask a young boy to aid him, when a glow in the distance became visible, and mere minutes later they had arrived at a large, well build cabin.
It was large, two story house, and it looked sturdy and well insulated, though a deeper inspection of the building's structure, it seemed like a small house that might have been added on to over time. It was impressive. Had Izo not seen Haruta's clothing (a thick, but worn pair of worn brown pants, and a green shirt in the same condition) he might have believed this to be the home of some rick hermits. One of the windows was lit up brightly, Izo suspected a candle had been placed by the sill.
"WELL HEre wE ARE", Haruta exclaimed with a prideful vigour. "Me anD BROOk anD SHAKky aND LAboon sTAY herE".
Haruta grabbed Izo by the arm, eagerly pulling him into the house, and through various halls and rooms. The rooms they passed were filled with an abundance of wooden furnishings, trinkets and other items. Haruta finally allowed them to come to a stop as they entered a spacious room. Countless books sat on shelves, in piles in corners, andon the long hardwood table in the middle of the room. At the end of a table sat a long slender woman writing something in an, in Izo opinion, stupendous outfit; it brought so many ideas and concepts for new creations to mind.
The woman briefly looked up at Izo, as if his presence was completely expected, before turning back to Haruta and closing he book with a light, innocent smile - it felt like much more than her features should be capable of.
"Hello Haruta", the woman greeted kindly,
"Hey Shakky", Haruta greeted merrily in turn; Izo couldn't help, but stare as the child's previous manner of speech wasn't presence in the slightest: had he been faking? Izo thought with mild irritation. The inattentive, inconsistent kid continued, not noticing the change.
"This is Izo, I met her in a huge wood cart-".
"wagon", Izo interrupted helpfully.
"-wagon, she made gloves, aren't they cool". Haruta finished pointing at the long, comfortable gloves, which surprised Izo, as he wasn't aware that Haruta had been watching him for so long. The woman, Shakky, had raised her eyebrow at something Haruta had said, with a scrutinizing glower, that made Izo want to leave the room.
"Really now, do you suppose you could make more" Shakky chirped, voice changing to suit her mask. She acted well, Izo almost fell for it, and from the expression he'd caught fleeting across the kid's face, he may have too, but quickly ignored it in favour of the prospect of gloves.
"Could you?" Haruta pleaded eagerly.
"Sure, I could go get some things from my-"
"No!", Izo winced at the unexpected shout. Haruta paused, thinking, before her face lit up with a bright red blush; she cleared her throat, seeming to realize she had accidentally dropped her incorrect speech. "W-we have a ton of fabric and clothes stuff, right Shakky", she said trying - and failing - to wipe the flustered expression off her face.
"Why don't you get some, Haruta" Shakky suggested, and Haruta, desperate cool down, didn't question the request or the synthesised tone, instead haphazardly nodding, and rushing out the entrance.
Izo shifted uncomfortably under the stare of the woman.
"she?", Izo realised she was referring to how Haruta had addressed him earlier, becoming extremely flushed. "So what are you exactly: an okama?".
"What?" Izo asked understanding what she meant by that.
A sigh, "why are you wearing a dress?" she simplified crudely.
"Oh", Izo breathed; now that was a question he got asked often, although nobody ever seemed to ever accept his answer; "I...I just feel n-more comfortable".
Izo's simple answer actually seemed to satisfy the woman; she hummed. "A cross dresser then", a stream of smoke leaked out of her mouth, but she didn't seem to be smoking(?).
"What are you doing out here?", Shakky questioned in a much kinder tone, causing Izo to relax a little more.
"I was travelling, I'm a tailor", Izo realized that the two declarations didn't make any sense together, but Shakky seemed to understand completely, giving her a sad look, and so he told her about the storm and how he'd come to be stranded here.
"No, that's a cross stitch", Izo chided gently as Haruta reattempted his seal, before letting Izo take over. The child had returned with heaps of fabrics, both scraps and silks, old and rare materials Izo only new of through descriptions. As Haruta watched excitedly as Izo made the gloves the display had become a sort of lesson. And so here they were.
"Ooooowww", Haruta whined, clutching the many aching pinpricks at his fingers, as Izo giggled at his antics. Izo looked at the at the mounds of fabric left, relaxed.
"You know, I can make you a new outfit", Izo offered, causing Haruta to take a look at his clothes, and blush at their state.
"Sure, as long as it's not a dress", Izo stiffened, feeling anger rise; the supposedly ignorant child had assumed he would force his preferred lifestyle on-
Shakky must have caught on to his growing agitation; her statement left his mind blank from raw shock: "Haruta is a girl", she said her eyes shining with mirth. Haruta frowned at that.
"I don't look like a girl, is it my hair?".
"Yes", she said immediately, with a playful smirk, drawing a cute pout from Haruta.
"Sorry, I just assumed", Izo justified weakly after finally processing that piece of information, "it doesn't have to be a dress", he offered.
"Cool, but first do you wanna meet Pops?" Haruta asked with a toothy grin.
"Thatch, hold still", Izo warned, whacking Thatch with a fan. Izo's new form was very much the same as his old one, only there were bright beautiful feathers hanging off his lower back, like a peakock's.
Izo loved using Thatch as a model when working; he just had the perfect physic (that and he was the only one who would actually let him do this).
"Ow!, then stop jabbing be with pins!" Thatch threw back. Despite his ghost like form the outfit sat perfectly on him.
"IT'S Not thAT BAd , yOU Baby" Haruta nearly screeched, in order to annoy Thatch; he was the only one who still believed her speech was that bad, and she used this annoy him at every opportunity.
"No", Izo groaned; one of the patches he was going to attach, was stained, and from the dismissive look on Haruta's face he could tell it was her, but he could be mad at her, despite his feathers turning a crimson hue.
Thatch then took the cloth from Izo's hand; "hold on I've been practicing this", a look of pure concentration covered Thatch's features, until finally, the stain fell through the faded clothing, landing on the ground, and the piece regained it's opacity.
Izo's feathers turned a soft pink.
"...Thatch, I think I love you right now".
Haruta's laughter could be heard in every inch of the forest