Finding One Another....
He put his hands on his back and stretched as he surveyed the days work. Not bad he decided looking at the pile of chopped wood. This should give him enough money to get him to the next town. He wished he knew where he should look for them. Walking to the back door of the house he tapped and waited for the elderly man to answer.
"The wood is done Shinchiro-san."
"Very well Jin-san. Thank you for helping out an old man in need. Would you care to come in for a cup of tea? I fancy a cup myself and some company would be very nice."
The old man had an air of loneliness about him. Jin decided he could indeed spare the time for a cup of tea and some conversation to settle the older mans spirits. And, he thought to himself, though he would never admit it, he would appreciate something to ease his solitary existence.
"Hai. Thank you."
"Good. Good. Your company will be most welcome. Come on in while I start the water." The old man smiled and walked off. His spirits did seem lifted at the prospect of company.
Jin felt like he had done the right thing. A thought occurred to him then. One day this could be him. Alone and forgotten with no one to care of what becomes of him. The thought depressed him and he decided then and there to find his friends at any cost.
"You have the look of a traveler. I bet you have many interesting stories to share. Would you care to tell me a few of your tales?" The man looked eager for stories of the outside world.
The most interesting stories Jin knew were the ones of the three of them, their journey for the sunflower samurai. Now which ones to share...
"Hai. I would be happy to share with you."
Jin started his story telling and watched the man putter around and make the tea. He told him of a young girl he had once known.
"Her name was Fuu. She was always hungry and despite being a very small girl she had the appetite of ten men. She always told us that she was a growing girl and had to eat to grow properly, but where she put it I cannot say. I don't think I ever noticed anything on her grow." Jin laughed at the thought of Fuu and food. "She would put food in her mouth at a rate that I have seen neither before nor since. Her cheeks would be stuffed like a chipmunks preparing for the winter. There were times I'm surprised we didn't have to roll her down the street. Our other companion, Mugen, would pick on her terribly at times. The two of them fought like children over the last sweet. They cared for one another though. Whenever either was in danger the other would attack like a mother cub. They did the same for me many times too." Jin could hear the sadness in his own voice.
"You sound like you miss them very much young Jin-san. Whatever happened to them?" He asked kindly.
"I-I'm not sure. When our journey was finished we went our separate ways with the understanding that someday we would meet again." Jin took a sip of the tea that had been set in front of him.
"You're looking for them aren't you? Friends are treasures that should never be cast aside you know, they are more important than any other treasure you could name. With money you can eat, buy things, but when the money is gone you are still alone. Relationships are the same way. If one goes sour then you do not remain friends and then you are alone. A friend will forgive you anything and always be by your side. One warning though, friendships when neglected can go either of two ways. One, they can wait for you patiently and decide that you're worth the wait or two, they can decide that since the friendship is no longer important they shouldn't bother nurturing it. You should find your friends and hold them close Jin. Listen to an old man who made the very mistake he's warning you about and is now alone."
Shinchiro looked sad once again. Jin thought of what the man had said and agreed. Without his friends he would forever be alone and wandering, with no place to call home. And home was not necessarily a building but wherever those that cared for him were.
"Thank you for the advice and tea Shinchiro-san. I really should be going now though."
As Jin stood up to leave Shinchiro started speaking again.
"I have heard of a girl that passed through this town a couple of weeks ago. The women at the teahouse were complaining that they couldn't keep up with her appetite. The men laughed and said they had never seen a woman eat as much as that one did. You might as there after this Fuu."
Jin's eyes lit up. He hadn't had any leads since he started this journey. Hopefully this would be the one he needed.
"Thank you very much Shinchiro-san."
"May we meet again." Jin bowed and walked out the door.
What the hell were people supposed to do for money around here, Mugen thought to himself. He had never seen a town with tighter security. He wandered down the alley beside the brothel and waited, hoping someone careless would walk out. The idea of honest labor didn't even cross his mind. That was something that Jin would do. He had to come up with some money soon though, he thought as his stomach growled loudly. Just then the back door to the brothel opened and a man walked out. That guy definitely looked like he had enjoyed his share of sake... and then some. Mugen grinned to himself. He walked over to the guy and bumped into him, pretending to stumble.
"See here young man." The guy slurred trying his best to push Mugen.
"Very sorry sir. I will be more careful next time."
"See that you do." The man snorted and stumbled off towards the street.
Dumbass! People were such idiots at times. Thankful that he'd found the man Mugen walked back into the street himself. From the feel of it the man had had a very heavy purse. Now what to do. Food is really needed. Mugen looked up and saw that he was standing in front of the brothel now. You know, some ways of eating are more fun than others. He grinned to himself and walked in. Fuu and Jin would be waiting tomorrow as well as today. He grinned even harder when the red head with the large upper half walked by and winked at him. Yeah, this is definitely my lucky night.
The next morning Mugen woke up with a grin on his face. The red head next to him was just starting to stir.
"Hey, you haven't heard anything about a loud hungry chick or a scrawny quiet samurai with glasses have you?"
She blinked in confusion at him actually asking her a real question. They certainly hadn't done very much talking last night.
"Um, there was a man with glasses and swords who walked through here a few weeks ago. I saw him walk out the southern end of town. He didn't stop for anything just kept walking. I remember thinking that it was odd that he never spoke to anyone."
That had to be him. That sounded just like the idiot. Now to find breakfast and head for the southern end of town.
"So, what's for breakfast around here," he asked as he smacked the girls rump.
Another teahouse another day Fuu thought to herself. Why was there no more exciting work for females. Ah well, if she worked a long shift today that should be enough money to eat for the next few days. I guess that's one good thing about teahouses she thought to herself, the ones with nice owners always fed you well. Fuu grinned as she thought about her breakfast that morning, hehe I bet the kind old woman regretted offering her her fill before work. Fuu knew that eating was what she was best at. The only hard part about traveling was the lack of constant food. But hey, when it was around that was an even better reason to eat what you could. Fuu was really good at justifying why she ate as much as she did. Over the past few years she had filled out quite nicely. Even she was amazed at the figure she ended up with. Just wait until that pirate tried to pick on her about her lack of womanly blessing! He couldn't even begin to do that now she laughed to herself. The teahouse was about to close and Fuu was cleaning up after her tables when the old woman walked up.
"You have done a very fine job today Fuu, are you sure you wouldn't like to stay for awhile?"
She really was a nice old lady. Whenever Fuu looked at her she felt all warm and fuzzy. She is just what a grandmother ought to be.
"No ma'am. I've got things I need to do. I'm actually looking for two friends of mine. They're both men in their early twenties, one is a quiet samurai who wears glasses and the other is an obnoxious unkempt man who is also a samurai. He's very loud and rude and has a mop of tangled hair. Have you seen either one by any chance?"
The older woman looked thoughtful for a second and then spoke.
"There was a man through here not more than a week ago who was rather loud and obnoxious. If you must know he kept propositioning my waitress. He did have a sword with him too. When he left he turned west. I'm not sure if that's the direction he kept going though, I didn't watch."
"Thank you very much!" Fuu grinned. "That sounds just like him!"
Taking her pay for the day Fuu left and headed west. Maybe this would be the day she found them, or at least one of them, she thought to herself. Fuu hummed to herself as she skipped her way through town, well fed and on her way again.