Authors notes: This is the first in a 100 unconnected fics for Samurai Champloo, that I am writing for fanfic100. I will post them together, in batches of 25.
On the third day, when Mugen cannot move from the makeshift pallet on the ground unless he passes out from the pain, Jin realises that he is dying. Mugen coughs blood, can only lift his arms and head, but his voice is strong as ever, and he swears at Jin, as Jin brings him miso soup, the only food he can keep down. "Are you in pain?" Asks Jin softly, and then ducks sideways, dodging the ceramic bowl flung at his head. "Fucker! Of course I'm in pain!" Bellows Mugen, but though his voice is unchanged, his face is white with strain and this worries Jin far too much. He nods, and walks out of the decrepit barn they have made camp in. He has to talk to Fuu.
Fuu is subdued. Her eyes are reddened and puffy, her sleeves a darker pink from tears. Jin notes this, watches her as she searches his expression for good news she is too afraid to hope for. "Well? Will he…that idiot…will he be alright?" She smiles uncertainly at him, and Jin thinks he can smell sunflowers. "He is dying." Jin answers and looks at her as she crumbles. He is suddenly surprised to find his own eyes wet. Jin has not cried over death for many years. To begin to do so now would be inconvenient. Jin supposes that this means that they must save Mugen's life, and that thought makes him ache in a way he thought he had forgotten to.
When Fuu interrupts his meditation with half-incoherent babble about a famous healer only a village away Jin feels hope blooming bright and sharp within him. Leaving Fuu to keep an eye on Mugen seems like the worst idea he has ever had, but there is no other course of action. But he waits until he is out of sight of the barn to break into a run, long fine hair streaming out behind him, blue robes riding up to reveal his pale legs. He doesn't feel the thud of his feet on the ground.
The healer is an old, tiny man, almost bent in two. This does not come as a shock to Jin. Age and experience almost always vanquish youth and enthusiasm. He would not have trusted a young healer. They would not have seen enough death. "Master healer. Come with me." Jin's quiet monotone cuts through the clamouring of the other supplicants in the room like a razored sword. "What!" "How dare you!" "Wait your turn, boy!" Jin ignores the squawking of those around him, but he tightens his hand on his sword hilt, and the wiser few draw back. Jin never takes his eyes off the healer, who stares back with a benevolent beetle-black gaze. "Alright then, boy." The ancient man wheezes out and amid the offended shrieks Jin pulls the healer onto his back and takes off again, the spindly old man not causing a misstep in his graceful stride.
Mugen has not changed for either better or worse and Jin wishes he knew if that was a good thing. Fuu wrings her hands whilst the wizened man shuffles around and examines Mugen's enfeebled form.
"This…this can be healed." The healer finally says, and Fuu begins to weep again. Jin favours Mugen with a small, secret smile. "But, it will cost you." The healer names his price, Jin feels his arms stiffen. Fuu's jaw drops. Jin closes his eyes, and breathes silently for a second. Too many emotions are swirling through his heart and head. He needs to be cool and collected for this. "Master, please wait outside. You too." He motions at Fuu, who complies without complaint. As she ushers the old man out, Jin stares down at Mugen. At the effort the other man is using to contain his pain.
"We can't afford it." Jin says finally, and Mugen laughs harshly, trailing off into a quickly contained coughing fit. "Don' t you think I know that? Moron!" Mugen growls, a liquid edge to his voice that makes Jin deeply unhappy. Jin searches for the right thing to say, but words have never come easy to him. "Instead of you suffering…I could…" This time the words catch in his throat, but he still shifts his hand to his sword. "No! If you even think about that I will slice off your fucking knees, understand?" Snarls Mugen, his hand clutches spasmodically around his own sword. Jin lets his hand fall, and heedless of the dirty, straw strewn floor he kneels down so that he is next to Mugen, touching his side.
"To get that amount of money…I am going to do things I don't want to." Says Jin, without emotion. Mugen's hands now fasten onto his sleeves, Jin lies down next to him. Mugen laces his slightly trembling fingers through Jin's, This surprises Jin least of all. The two of them ran a fine line between sex and violence at the best of times. And even if Mugen denies this later on, this coupling is something that Jin needs, that they both need. This was always going to happen.
Mugen hisses short bursts of air through his teeth at Jin works his elegant, sword callused hands along his achingly hard dick. "Yes, harder…" He growls and Jin smiles slightly He could see Mugen's repressed urges to reach out and grab his body, but the wounds left Mugen out of control. In truth, Jin is being very, very careful, trying not to put any unnecessary pressure on Mugen's injuries.
"Stop moving." Jin says, and Mugen's dark eyes narrow. He always hated taking any sort of orders.
"Fine. You undress, though." And the fierce joyful aggression that Mugen exudes during fights is at full force. Jin pulls at the ties at his waist, slipping out of his clothes. He places his swords out of easy reach, and Mugen pushes his own away. They don't need blades for this battle. "What do you want?" Jin asks, and Mugen bares his teeth at him. Jin's pale, lean body is betraying his desire. He places his glasses atop his clothes. He doesn't need to see for this either. When Mugen motions for him to untie his hair, he rolls his eyes but does so, and black ink locks slither down his shoulders, pooling in the concave of the small of his back. "Your mouth." Grins Mugen. Jin blinks once, processing the request, and then glides down again, to lie between Mugen's parted legs. Jin can feel the heat of Mugen's sex pressed against his cheek. Mugen lets a shuddering gasp escape his mouth as Jin flicks his tongue across the crown of his dick, tasting, testing. "Stop teasing me, bastard!" Mugen groans, tangling his hands almost painfully into Jin's loose hair. Jin breaths out, just to make Mugen shiver, and then takes him deep in his mouth, wrapping one hand around the base of Mugen's dick, and the other on his left hip, leaving his own marks on the bruise mottled mass that was Mugen's body.
The act itself is messy and artless, unlike any sex Jin had ever had. This is new to him, but he just goes with it. He runs his tongue along the underside of Mugen's dick, learning the taste, the texture of the other man. Mugen grunts and thrusts down his throat, almost choking him, but even that doesn't matter. This is new, and different for him, but he likes it. Women don't swear, and pull his hair. Their bodies are not hard, rough, battle scarred. He is surprised that he likes this as much as he does.
Mugen looses his control, and bites off a yell as he comes. Jin feels his own climax brought on by Mugen, by Mugen's responses. Getting pleasure from giving pleasure is not a new thing for him, but the taste of Mugen in his mouth is new. It is not unpleasant, though.
As he goes to move away, Mugen hauls him up, ignoring his own pain and attacks his neck with his teeth, and tongue. Jin shakes with the aftershocks of pleasure as Mugen marks him as an animal would. Then Mugen lets him up, and wordlessly Jin helps him do up his pants. Jin redresses slowly, acutely aware of Mugen's still-hungry gaze on him, watching every move. "Hurry up and save my life so I can kill you." Mugen says without malice. Jin pauses in the action of pulling his hair back into its tie and nods. He leaves as silently as a ghost.
Outside, the night has come and Fuu and the healer are sharing a meal. The old man seems to be both amused and horrified by Fuu's ravenous eating. "I will get your money." Jin speaks and Fuu jumps, and then she beams at him. It has been far too long since she has looked genuinely happy. "If you don't succeed I will kill you." He says, and Fuu stops smiling. Jin rests the tip of his sword underneath the old man's chin. He does not press in, and moves it a second later. His point has been made. "I'm sure you will, young man." The healer says almost affectionately, and ambles off to begin treating Mugen.
"Stay here." He says to Fuu, and ignores her frantic demands and questions.
Jin had seen the opulent, grandiose house when he had been in town before. What had caught his eye was the storehouse, guarded by a thirty strong band of hired swordsman. He walks up, sword unsheathed, and as he makes the first slash, he reflects that this is what falling in love must be like.
Blood drips down his sword arm.