Chapter Ten – If You Could Only See
I was dreaming. There were flashes of memories, things I was beginning to recall now that I knew why they had gone in the first place. I remembered Kenji, and how he had betrayed me then, the same way he did now.
Most assassins come right after you, just try and kill you in the first few moments of meeting them. But Kenji was always different. He liked to mess with your mind and fuck with your emotions, attacking when you’re most vulnerable.
I remembered him now, of how he had convinced me we were something special. Seems strange now, almost surreal. He was the first male lover I had that made me think of being a one-lover man. Kenji was a great actor, knew exactly what to say and when to say it. He was different from everyone I had ever known, and, hell, I was young then, even younger than I am now. Being raised by an island of criminals doesn’t mean I knew all about the tricksters. Even the smartest of us could fall for pretty words.
He attacked late one night, same as he did with me and Jin, bashing my head in with a thick heavy vase. I don’t remember much of that afterwards, fists striking my gut and legs, one more striking me in the head that eventually rendered me unconscious. I was still numb from the feeling of outright betrayal. It was one of the worst feelings in the world.
I also dreamed of life back on the island, growing up surrounded by criminals, the scum of the world, or so I had been told from day one. I was a criminal because I was born one… that was my life. It was a far cry from Jin’s upbringing. I knew he was a wealthy boy, he couldn’t hide that fact. It was in every inch of his being from the way he walked, talked, dressed; everything screamed aristocrat. Whereas it was obvious what all I had done. From my tattoos and shaggy hair and attitude, I was far from ever knowing that life.
I didn’t hate him for it nor was I envious. From what I could tell, it didn’t seem his life was that much better than mine. Why else would his family be trying to kill him? That’s what I heard Kenji say anyways. Jin hadn’t told me anything yet, just like I hadn’t told him the truth of Kenji and other memories that were now crashing back with a vengeance.
I didn’t want to think about the past… I wasn’t that type to dwell. Why worry about what had happened then when all that mattered was the here and now? All that meant anything to me was lying in the bed with me… well, excluding Fuu. I have to admit, the little annoying girl kinda grows on ya after awhile.
I awoke slowly, to the comforting feeling of him wrapped around my back with his arms around my waist. I could feel his even breathing across the back of my neck and couldn’t help the smile that broke out on my face. My body was aching slightly from the pounding I had taken, so sex was the furthest thing from my mind. But it was still nice to wake up with him next to me.
Then I made the mistake of trying to move my injured arm. Bad move. I hissed with the pain and succeeded in waking him up, as well. He twitched behind me before his arms automatically tightened.
“Morning…” his voice came to me all sleepy and quiet like. If I weren’t so injured, I would turn over and jump him.
I rolled over and looked him in the face. He had his eyes closed like he was going to fall back asleep any moment. But the most amazing thing was the look of peace on his face. It was completely relaxed; no frown-lines or thought marks or anything. I almost made him seem… younger, you know?
“I don’t think it’s morning,” I guessed, teasing him just a little. It was then that I saw it, just the tiniest bit of a smile creeping on the corners of his lips. Well, that did it. I just had to kiss him. And so I did.
He moaned lightly when I pressed my lips to him but gladly parted his lips. I dragged my tongue along the outside of his lips teasingly before I delved deep inside to get that familiar taste that I had grown to love. It was hard to describe what it was exactly but it was something that was completely and wholly him.
I moaned softly as he sucked on my tongue and awakened dormant parts of me. I ran an unbandaged hand across his mostly bare chest… bare except for the bandages of course. He felt warm to my fingertips, unusual for him. I trailed my touch over the planes of his chest and just delighted in him being there with me, alive and whole.
I broke away from the kiss with much reluctance, the need for air becoming a pressing matter. He sighed softly and finally opened his eyes. For one of the first times I could ever recall, they looked like open windows rather than carefully guarded walls.
“I love you,” he said to me in a soft whisper.
I couldn’t help the shit-eating grin that appeared on my face. It was usually me that was the first to come out and say it, but this time it had been him. And in that moment he said that, I felt a bit of some of the fear and trepidation that had been building in me ease. So what if all the secrets weren’t yet known?
“Mmmm, thanks,” I responded, running a finger over his chest.
He chuckled and pinched me lightly on the ass with one of his hands. “You’re supposed to say it back.”
I yelped with the pinch but smiled nonetheless. “You already know I do. But I will say it anyways. I love… your hair,” I teased, reaching up and grabbing a piece of hair and running it through my fingers. It always surprised me how unbelievably soft his hair was compared to mine.
He shook his head at my words. “What am I going to do with you?”
I groaned. “If I wasn’t in such pain, I could think of a few things.” The meaning to my words was obvious.
“Aw, aren’t you two so cute?” Fuu’s voice startled me for a moment, causing me to look up. She was standing in the doorway with a big grin on her face as she looked down on us. And in her arms was a most welcome sight, a plate laden with food.
“How’s the head?” I asked, as I slowly extricated myself from Jin’s grasp and sat up. My own head pounded in protest, and I felt dizzy for a moment, but I ignored the pain as I tried to stretch out the kinks in my body.
Jin groaned and pulled the blanket up over his head as if he didn’t want to be seen. I don’t blame him. He had a hefty looking shiner going on his face there, though given the time it had faded some.
She smiled as she walked in, kicking the door shut behind her. “Nothing major. Hard as a rock, you know. How are you feeling? You, too, Jin.”
“My body is in pain, but I will survive,” came the muffled reply from beneath the covers.
I glanced at him and shook my head before slyly reaching over and grasping the blanket, yanking it off of him. He was lucky that he wasn’t sleeping naked otherwise Fuu would have gotten an eyeful.
“Mugen!” he protested, grasping at the blanket. “It’s cold!”
I chuckled and held the blanket hostage, refusing to let him get a hold of it. That was when it occurred to me that I might not have been in as much pain as I had originally thought. My body had a remarkable high threshold I guess. Perhaps I was up for a little action… provided I pick a position that didn’t put any strain on my arm.
Fuu just shook her head at our playfulness before setting down the tray she was carrying at the foot of the bed. I peeked and saw that it had food and drink on it. As if on cue, my stomach growled hungrily. She smiled before handing me some of the fried dumpling. Jin gave up on trying to get the blanket and sat up, looking all around for something to tie back his messy hair with. It was a pity really; I would have liked to see it down.
“You never answered me, Mugen,” Fuu continued, eyeing me as she handed Jin a tie so that he could pull back his hair.
What had she asked again? Oh, right. I waved a hand of dismissal at her. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
She nodded and accepted my answer. “Good. I have to go to work. You two stay here and get better. I’ll be back later.” She turned towards the door. “I may even bring more food. Bye.” And with that the door was opened, and she was gone.
I chuckled at her cheerful attitude and hungrily dove into the food, making sure to leave enough that Jin would be able to eat. But he had slipped into brood mode again and was staring right through the food as if it wasn’t there. I wiped the back of my mouth with my hand and scooted closer to him.
“Hey.” I nudged his uninjured side with my good shoulder. “You okay?”
He sighed and laid his head on my shoulder. “I am feeling relatively all right.”
I was sympathetic to his thoughts and reached out to trail a small finger down the side of his face. He closed his eyes and accepted the tender movement. “It was a close one… closer than before,” I commented, my mind thinking of the many other battles before.
That appeared to wake up something inside of him. He lifted his head off my shoulder and turned to look at me, dark eyes searching. Jin leaned in and kissed me, gently this time. Something soft and fluttery, which left feelings of strong love and tenderness in my heart. I couldn’t help myself when I placed a palm against the side of his face and gently rubbed my thumb across my cheek.
“Mugen…” he breathed, pulling back just a little and placing his forehead against mine. “I want you… inside of me.”
Needless to say I was a bit shocked. I was sure he was in just as much pain as I was, possibly even more. “Are you sure?” I questioned. “I mean I don’t want to hurt you…” Yet, already my mind was devising the best possible way for the both of us to be together and comfortable.
He pulled back and looked in me in the eyes again. “I need you. I need to be reminded that I still live.”
I nodded in understanding, the same worries having filled my heart before. That was something that you have to understand about dueling and battles and fighting for your life. Sometimes in the end, when you find you have won, and the enemy has fallen there was still this inherent disbelief that victory was yours, and the fear that it could have been you lying broken and battered on the floor. I comprehended him because I wanted the same.
I wanted to feel that I still lived.
To answer his unvoiced question, I leaned in and kissed him again, licking gently at his lips before I slowly probed my way inside. This was not going to be a fuck session for me, not this time. No, I planned to make love to my broody ronin.
Jin reached out with needy hands and pushed off my clothing. I complied by helping him get out of his. The need to feel skin on skin impressed itself upon me.
He shifted his body to face me more comfortable but I took it one step further, altering his position so that he straddled my lap. I wrapped an arm around him as best I could, attempting to not move my shoulder too much. I moved my legs just a bit for a better place and accidentally kicked the serving tray.
My eyes snapped open as I checked to make sure that I hadn’t spilled anything that would cost us more money. It was then that I noticed why sneaky little Fuu had smirked as she left the room. Apparently she wasn’t as innocent as we thought… the little devil.
Jin was busy running his hands over my chest and back, any part of my body that he could get hold of. I moaned and shivered with sensation as he pinched a nipple to hardness, inciting other parts of me to stiffen as well.
My lips left the tender warmth of his mouth and trailed along his chin as I leaned over and grabbed for the bottle of oil that was left sitting on the tray. I had just reached it when Jin leaned down and wrapped his tongue around a nipple. I moaned at his touch and ground my hips upward into him. He arched backwards at the touch, moaning gently. I felt his arousal poking through his clothes to brush against my belly.
Placing the bottle on the floor next to us, I rewrapped my arm around him and devoted my lips to placing tender kisses on his neck and nipping him gently. Jin whimpered at the feel of my lips, and it was the sexiest sound in the world. He ground himself down on my cock, and I groaned aloud.
I traced a finger down the curve of his spine, wishing that I could move my left arm as well. But Fuu had bound it far too tightly, which was probably for the best. He shivered at the touch, the tip of his arousal weeping slightly and leaving little trails across my stomach.
He was so beautiful, my Jin. All of that porcelain like skin, faintly glowing in the dim light of the room. I tried to ignore the ugly purplish bruises and concentrate on the soft, pristine nature of his skin. It still surprised me how untouched he seemed to be… so few scars… so few marks.
“I’m beginning to think,” he began, murmuring softly. “That only you are the one capable of doing this to me.” He reached down with a slim-fingered hand and wrapped it around my aching need. He stroked me once or twice very firmly before running the pad of his thumb over the head.
I moaned at the touch and buried my face in his neck, licking and tasting, sampling every bit that was his flavor. He smelled so natural… so very much him, that it was driving me crazy.
“Gods… I want to be inside of you so badly,” I muttered as I nipped at his throat, leaving my own little love bite on his neck. “You make me crazy.” I let go of his back and slipped my arm in between our bodies.
I grabbed his weeping hardness lightly, stroked him once before slipping down below and cradling his balls with my hands. He gasped at the touch and arched his back… so responsive as always. I moved just enough, so that I could touch him and traced a finger over his puckered entrance.
He ground down on that finger, searching for more stimulation. His reaction sent hot fire racing throughout my body. It was so much more than lust that I felt for this man, this seemingly cold ronin, who had stolen my heart.
“Make love to me, Mugen,” he gasped out before finding my lips again. He greedily devoured my mouth, running a hand through my hair with one hand as he groped for the oil with the other.
“Every time,” I responded as I shifted my hand so that he could pour the oil out on to my fingers. The slippery substance easily coated my digits, and I again reached between us to slip beneath his body and find that small puckered entrance. I circled it once with one fingertip before pressing gently inside.
He felt unbelievably warm around my finger and his inner walls clenched on me tightly. I waited a moment for his body to adjust before I began to stretch him. I was determined for him to feel the least bit of pain possible. I wanted him to feel my love… not my lust.
Jin whimpered at my touch, which only spurred me on. I added a second and then a third. As much as we’d been together, it didn’t take quite so much to stretch him as it would normally. While I worked my magic, I kissed him, deep and sure. I pressed my lips to his and swiped my tongue along the inside of his mouth. I traced the contours of his cavern with the wet muscle and moaned in delight when he returned with an eager swipe of his own tongue.
I groaned heartily when I felt oil-slicked fingers grasp my cock and start to stroke. We were beginning to develop an urgency that I hadn’t intended, but I wasn’t about to stop. We both needed it. I curled my fingers inside of him until I brushed his pleasure center. He literally melted in my arms; it was the greatest thing in the world.
Jin was moaning, too, and making these little needy noises in the back of his throat as he pressed his body to mine. He was the sexiest thing, I swear. I decided he was stretched enough and put a hand on his hip to guide him to where I wanted. He knew what was coming and helped me.
With the head of my hardness poised at his entrance, I gently released his lips long enough to whisper at him. “I love you,” I said before reclaiming his mouth and slowly pressing myself inside.
Gods! He was so hot and tight like always. I moaned long and low until I was finally completely inside him. He nipped at my lips with his teeth and wrapped his arms around me until we were as close as we could be.
I set a slow and steady pace. Jin moved with me so that we were one in our coupling. Since his arms were wrapped around my back, I let go of his hip, so that I could grasp his cock with my hand. There was still oil on my fingers, and my hand glided smoothly over his erection.
“Ummm,” he moaned as I tightened my grip and stroked him to the beat of our movements. I kissed him intently, sucking on his lips or tongue whatever was in reach at the time.
He was squeezing me tightly from the inside. It was almost more than I could take. That hot fire racing through my body was threatening to explode. I shifted my body slightly and was satisfied with the whimper of satisfaction that came from his throat. I thrust up into him a little harder now as I continued to stroke his heavily weeping cock, rubbing a thumb over the head for added pleasure.
That was all it took. Jin’s entire body seemed to shudder violently before it stopped moving entirely, the rush of sensation and pleasure all corresponding to that one spot as he came in a spurt, coating both of our chests with his seed, words unintelligible erupting from his mouth.
The rhythmic pulsing of being inside him, coupled with the breathy moans that he was emitting and the closeness of our skin and all restraint flew out of the window. I moaned my release long and loud, his name the only word to pass through my lips.
I collapsed backwards on the bed with him landing gently on top of me. I winced when I bounded a little too hard on my shoulder, but it was well worth it. I wrapped my free arm around him and rolled a little to the side, so that I could lie on my uninjured shoulder.
He purred with satisfaction and clutched at me with his hands. I tangled my hands in his hair, it having come loose once more, and pulled his head towards mine where we shared another kiss. It didn’t last long because I could already feel exhaustion tugging at my body.
I snuggled into him and sighed contentedly. I didn’t miss the light chuckle that escaped from his mouth.
“What?” I asked sleepily.
“Nothing,” he answered with a little shake of his head. “I just like it when you say my name like that.”
“Shut up,” I grumbled in response. “Go to sleep…”
He didn’t say anything else but he did obey. I had to resist the urge to chuckle when he just settled down in the bed next to me. If he had been any more awake… he might have protested to the order. However, I didn’t take any more time to dwell on that before I quickly slipped into sleep myself. Battle, injuries, and sex with Jin… there was only so much a body can take.
* * *
I couldn’t help the snicker of one who has made a great plan to escape from my lips as I closed the door behind me. I knew exactly what the two of them needed, even if they didn’t. They really were cute together, and I can’t believe that I never noticed before how exactly perfect they were for each other. The ideal balance of fire and ice was the two of them.
I walked out of the inn and headed for the small teashop, where I had found a job as a waitress. It seemed that was about the only thing I was suitable before. Not that the work was hard or anything. It was terribly boring.
And I will admit that I was jealous. I wanted so bad what Jin and Mugen had that special relationship where I truly cared for someone. I thought that I could find it in the two of them when we traveled together so long ago.
They both seemed to represent opposite sides of a spectra that I wanted. Jin, the seemingly quiet one but harboring an inherent kindness, and Mugen, the bad boy, the type of every woman’s fantasy. Too bad I didn’t realize that right under my nose they weren’t looking for someone like me, but someone like each other.
I didn’t hate them for that. How could I when it was obvious that it was meant to be. They are my friends… I have so few of those. And when Kenji had tried to kill them, what else would I do? Run away? After all the things that we’ve been through, I had far more courage than that. It was like second nature for me to run and try to stop the murderous Iyatokan. I only wish that I could have been the one to kill him for betraying me like that.
Grr! It still made me mad to think about it. I can’t believe I was so easily led astray by him. He had such pretty words, made me think all sorts of things that I am not sure whether to believe or not.
I trod into the teahouse, affectionately called the Sunflower, and immediately got to work. Coincidence in the name, even I was not sure. I didn’t stop to dwell on much else because it was a busy day.
For a few hours, I worked ceaselessly. I had my share of rude customers but for the most part, they were kind. And Anik, the man that I worked for, he was a good employer. The pay was decent for the work, and it’s not exactly like it was difficult. Take an order; fill a drink, what was there to concentrate on?
I think it was about three hours after I started that I first noticed him. He came in through the door with the same kind of presence as Mugen, but he also radiated a calm aura more like Jin. I was in the midst of serving this kind old lady some tea when I just happened to look up and see him come in.
What I saw made me drop my jaw in surprise.
He was gorgeous, and I mean it when I say gorgeous. His hair was mid-length though dark and thick. He wore it pulled back in a low ponytail so that much of his face was free to see. His face was sort of round-like, with soft angles rather than sharp ones, and he had dark, smoldering eyes that though kind hinted of something much fiercer, like those of a warrior. He was probably a good heads taller than me and built, not overtly so like Kenji, but with enough muscle that he could easily take care of himself.
This stranger was dressed in outlandish clothes that oddly enough were a combination of something Jin and Mugen would wear. He wore hakama like Jin, but a gi over it rather than a kimono or juban. He had a sheath strapped across his back that obviously contained a sword, though I could not tell what type.
He stepped into the Sunflower with an air of uncertainty as he gazed across the room searching for a decent place to sit. I was still entranced by his entrance and froze when his gaze settled on me. I swear, it was like my heart skipped a beat and I was trapped in that dark gaze. I nearly spilt the tea on the old lady!
I was the first to look away from the intent gaze and finished serving the one customer, so that I could hurry and help him. I walked up to his table a bit slowly and waited patiently as his attention moved from the entire room around him to center on me.
Again I felt trapped by those dark eyes… but it was a good kind of trapped. The kind where I wanted to throw myself into his arms and never move from that spot.
“Welcome to the Sunflower,” I said pleasantly, unhappy to note the slight tremble to my voice. “What can I get for you?”
“I will have tea to start,” he said quietly, his deep voice rich and easy on my ears. I shivered unintentionally at the sound. I could just imagine him speaking words of endearment as we lay together…
“Do I… know you?” he questioned, after peering at me thoughtfully.
I startled at the query and racked my brain. A man as beautiful as this… no, I would not remember. “I do not think so.”
“Are you sure?” he questioned, peering at me thoughtfully. “Because I feel I know you from somewhere…?”
I shook my head, that same eerie feeling beginning to creep up on me as well. “No… I would remember someone as handsome as you.” Eep! Did I say that aloud? I blushed furiously.
He smiled at me bemused. “You find me handsome?”
For some reason, I felt I could not lie to this man. I nodded slowly. “The most handsome I have ever met,” I whispered softly, color still staining my cheeks. I didn’t wait for him to respond as I turned and hurried into the kitchen to fetch a cup for him.
My heart was racing a mile a minute, and my breathing had quickened. Never before had I had such a reaction to someone. But already his very self was beginning to have effect on my mind. I wanted to know him, understand more about him. See who he was beneath the layers and be by his side. The sheer magnitude of my feelings was shocking.
I fought to push aside everything. He was a customer, and I the employee, in time he would be gone from this town, judging by his looks. He was a wanderer the same as Mugen, Jin, and I. I grabbed a cup and a fresh pot of tea and steeled myself to face him once more.
I placed the cup on the table and began to fill it, unable to meet his eyes for fear that I would not be able to look away. I bowed slightly as I turned to go.
”Would you care for anything else?”
“Perhaps… your name?” he asked. The very tone of his voice made me want to look at him. His eyes sparkled as he asked and there was no hint of mockery in his expression.
“It’s… Fuu,” I responded blushing again.
He smiled. “Wind… hmm? I like that. I am Toshiro . Would you care to take a seat?”
The offer shocked me. “I… I can’t. I’m working.” I wanted to say yes. Gods, I wanted to scream it at the top of my lungs if only to see another one of those smiles.
“Perhaps later then, when you are no longer working?” he questioned with an eyebrow raise. That only succeeded in making me blush once more.
“At sunset,” I responded. “That is when I am no longer needed.”
Toshiro smiled at that, the corner of his mouths upturning in what can only be called a kind manner. “I will be waiting then.”
If my cheeks could have gone any redder I am sure they would have. I clumsily excused myself and went back to work, the whole time my mind centered on Toshiro. He stayed for quite a while in the teahouse, but I tried not to linger around him no matter as much as I wanted to. I could feel his eyes on me whenever I was not attending to him and that made me blush as I worked.
He left a few hours before my shift was to end, and I was disappointed to see him go. I thought that would be the last of him that I would see. I assumed that he was only jesting with me, trying to get the young naïve girl to blush.
Until I stepped out the door of the teahouse at sundown and looked right into his dark eyes. He was leaning against the building across the way and seemed to be waiting patiently. He smiled at the sight of me, and my heart quickened in my chest.
It had to have been… there was no way to explain this sudden attraction… this sudden trust. There was no other way to understand. I never really believed in love at first sight until the moment that I met Toshiro.
He offered to walk me back to the inn, and perhaps buy something along the way to eat. I, of course, accepted, unable to say no to the pounding of my heart.
I hoped that I could find something meaningful there. That Toshiro would ease the lonely ache in my heart. It was an interesting hope and one that I prayed fiercely for as we walked back towards the inn.