She unwittingly chose...
Jin awoke alert...."something was different"...he thought to himself. Looking up he saw that the moon was just midway through its' path and morning was still a long ways off. Then he felt it...looking down he saw Fuus' hand wrapped around his own. She was holding it in her sleep. He noticed how soft her skin was...much softer than anything he was used to. His own hands were roughened from his constant training and swordplay. He also realized how small she really was. Rubbing his thumb across her fingers, he realized how fine her bones were, how fragile she was, and wondered how such strength came from such a small person. She had been through many dark times in her life already, with undoubtedly more to come, and as small she was, she had faced it all bravely, courageously...up until this last event. This most recent turn of fate seemed to have stolen the life, the spirit, completely from her body. He remembered how empty she had looked when they had found her. The blank look she had kept on her face throughout the entire ordeal haunted him. Remembering her ever cheerful smile he felt pain shoot through his heart. The heart that, until recently, was rarely used for anything except for its' sole purpose of keeping him alive. The heart that, until recently, had closed off from all human emotion and feeling. The heart that she, without even meaning too, had unlocked and awakened. The heart that now bled for her, for all that she had been through. He wished, in a way, that he could go back to being cold and unfeeling. That he could stop himself from feeling the guilt and the pain that he now felt. He hadn't protected her and now she was broken, broken enough that he might never have her back as she was before. If he could rid himself of these feelings, life would be much more tolerable again. But...the thought of losing the one light in his life...of losing her laughter and her smile....made him understand why people chose to keep the negative feelings. Life was all about balance and without the negative emotions he would not be able to feel the positive ones. He did not want to lose what he felt for her so that he wouldn't feel the guilt that was rightfully his. It was worth it, he decided.
Rolling over onto his side he softly pulled his hand from Fuus'. He saw her clench her fist in protest and smiled. Maybe when she awoke, she would come back to them again.
Reaching up he brushed the soft brown hair off of her face. She really was beautiful in the moonlight, he thought to himself.
Catching him off guard Fuu rolled her warm body flush against his. She snuggled her face deeper into his cloth covered chest and sighed in her sleep.
What should he do? he wondered to himself, while marveling at how good her sleep softened body felt against his. He didn't want to lose her come morning, but he couldn't deny the urge to wrap his arm around her and hold her while they slept. Leaning over he buried his face in her hair. He savored the scent that was uniquely hers. Laying his cheek on the top of her head, he wrapped his arm around her and closed his eyes. He drifted off to sleep with the slightest hint of a smile on his usually solemn face.
Mugen woke up to the sounds of the forest creatures scurrying around busily and starting their days. Looking up he saw that dawn was just breaking over the forest. He could still sleep for a while longer, he thought to himself. Rolling over, he froze. What the hell! When did that happen? He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Rage shot through him and he clenched his fists. This could NOT happen. This was not how it was supposed to be. On the edge of the anger, despair was floating around in his heart, trying to push the anger away. He would not let it though. Better to be mad than be a fucking whiny ass bitch of a man. He closed his eyes and rolled away from them. Cursing the fates, he decided it had been stupid of him in the first place to think that he deserved her. He should know better than to think that any damn positive thing in this shit world would happen to him. He had broken his own rule. Hope was not for people like him, hope was for the rich assholes who could make it happen. The fates didn't look kindly on idiots like him. This was what he fucking deserved for deciding to hope.
Standing up he decided it was time for him to go. He didn't need to be here anymore. She would be fine with Jin to look after her and he didn't want to watch them together. He knew he was stupid for believing he could ever be with her, but he wasn't a complete moron. He wasn't dumb enough to stay and rub salt into his own wounds.
Mugen quietly walked over, picked up his sword and continued on to the edge of the clearing. Looking back he saw the smiles on their faces.
Fuus' smile was one of hope, Jins', while small, was the happiest that Mugen had ever seen on the silent ronin.
Shoulders drooping, Mugen walked off into the forest, determined not to let this shit happen to him again. He would not let himself be caught off guard a second time. He would be strong and fuck anyone who wanted to mess with him. What the hell did he need friends for anyway? They only hurt you in the end. He hadn't needed anyone before and he sure as hell wouldn't be needing anyone again. Friends were just like scabs. Comforting while they covered your wounds, easily ripped off to leave you bleeding. He'd had enough scabs in his life...and they always got ripped off. Besides, he silently admitted to himself, having friends just hurt too damn much...
Jin watched through the crack in his eyelids as the pirate turned back to them for a moment then walked away through the forest. He wasn't planning on coming back, Jin knew. He didn't know what exactly to expect when Fuu awoke, whether or not this would mean anything more to her than friendship. His newly awakened emotional side hoped that she reciprocated his feelings. It might break the heart, he now acknowledged, if she chose to remain friends, but he would take what he could get. He did regret that the pirate had left immediately after seeing them this morning. They had formed the closest thing that either had had to a friendship and Jin didn't want to be the one to hurt him. He didn't want to be the one to prove their theories on friendship right.
Rubbing his face against her soft hair, he decided that this was the best way to greet the morning. If Fuu stayed by his side, he would begin and end each day with her wrapped in his arms.
Feeling her move, he tilted his head down to her face. The first thing he noticed was the way she was smiling hesitantly up at him.
"Good...um...good morning....um...Jin," she murmured, turning pink and looking down at his stomach.
"Good morning Fuu," he whispered back to her. Leaning down, he placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "How are you feeling this morning?"
She pressed her face forward into his clothing, "Better," she mumbled.
Raising his hand he stroked her hair where it lay down her back. He felt her relax into his touch.
Jins' hand felt so nice on her hair, Fuu thought to herself. If only they could always be like this. Waking up in his arms had been the perfect way to start the day.
Turning her face up she smiled up at him and saw him smile in return. She idly wondered where Mugen was off too. It was really early for him to be gone. She hoped he had gone to find some breakfast.
She laid her head on Jins' chest and listened to his heartbeat. She would love to spend a lifetime doing this. She would spend every day thanking the stars if only she could be the perfect woman for him. She thought she would do pretty well as a wife someday. She could cook and clean, she would make sure her husband was very comfortable. It was what she hoped for...a family of her own. Closing her eyes she could almost see Jin sitting in a cozy room with a child on his knee. She saw herself walk over to him and watched as he pulled her into his lap. Smiling she laid her head on his shoulder. There was a knock on the door, opening her eyes she stood up and rushed to open it. Maybe it was their next door neighbor, bringing over a loaf of bread she had baked that day...or the young girl from down the road that sold fresh flowers door to door... Opening the door, Fuu saw the man from the brothel...pointing at her he started screaming..."She's not a virgin! I paid damn good money for a virgin! This one here's already a whore!"
Jerking her eyes open Fuu felt her memories intruding into the quiet moment she was sharing with Jin.
Feeling ashamed she rolled away from him and sat up.
She was not worthy of a samurai. Jin needed a woman who could hold her head up, one who would not embarrass him in any way. Someday he would do great things, she believed. He was too special a person and too talented a samurai to do anything less. They could still be friends, but he could not choose a whore to stay by his side. She would not put him through that.
Standing up she walked over to the remains of the fire from last night.
"I'm going to look for some berries," she said as she turned and walked into the woods.
He watched her walk away and wondered what had gone wrong. When had life become so complicated. He had now alienated his enemy-turned-friend, who had left, and the woman he had just spent the night curled up with had turned sad and pulled away only to leave him alone for the time being.
Standing up he followed after Fuu, determined to find out what had just happened. He caught up to her not far from their campsite. She was sitting on a log quietly crying and hugging herself.
He walked over to her and pulled her against his chest.
"Why are you crying Fuu?"
"...it's all so hopeless Jin..." she cried even harder as she pressed closer to him.
"What's hopeless Fuu?"
He stroked her hair and held her, waiting patiently for her to calm down. He felt the need to fix whatever was bothering her...to comfort her and make her feel better, but he couldn't fix it until he figured out what it was.
They sat like that for a few minutes longer, until he judged Fuu calm enough to talk.
"Can you tell me what is wrong now Fuu?"
She pulled away and turned her head to the side. Her face showed her despair and her eyes were filled with hopelessness.
"It...it came to me...while you were holding me this morning..." she whispered so softly he almost couldn't hear her words.
"What came to you?"
"I-I realized that...n-no man...is going to want a...prostitute....for....anything....anything except..."
A/N: Please Read And Review!