Disclaimer: I do not own Samurai Champloo. Like my last disclaimer, Shiniji Obara has a much better eye for what makes this anime work than myself, and I will not take that credit from him. As always, it's a fanfic and I earn nothing from the telling of this tale.

Jin's Quandary

Such similarities between the woman in front of me now, and the one I desire to be. Does a man have time to compare and contrast when he is in peril? I suppose, considering the outcome of one will affect the outcome of the other.

The river rushes below me, unseen for the mist. One misstep and I slide through that gaping void between the is and the isn't. The blind woman stabbing at me is less effective than the blind child who has already caused my soul to bleed.

They look vaguely similar, the today and the yesterday. I sidestep, a quick acknowledgement that pain is not always temporary, and she sighs. The yesterday sighed too. She sighed as she gently slipped the blade between my ribs and damaged my soul. The family had been dissolved, with one simple word…Jin. Short, like a whip, the sound didn't even echo in the room. Other people had tried to use my name as a weapon, only one had succeeded.

The fiery man beside her yelled in protest, voicing the agony that I was honor-bound to swallow. Watching the ranting rooster, I shadowed my heart; folding its burgeoning petals back into itself, wondering if the sun was forever gone. Glad that I was drinking tea instead of sake, I washed the bitterness down with a liquid approximating the color of my soul.

The journey was traveled in heavy silence, the ordinary day not helping or harming the mood. As we reached the crossing, the path where the road diverged, I held my breath…waiting. The yesterday shuffled feet, never making eye contact; and wished us well, a journey blessed with heartache. I turned and walked, unable to look back. I'd been given an obligation, and a second glance would break something in me: my heart, or my honor. I knew which was the greater risk, and I made the weaker choice.

A nimble dance, the two of us like inverse lovers, touching back to back instead of breast to breast. Suddenly the today is standing over the maw and I see the past and the future flicker through her eyes. Those eyes that see no better than the yesterday's heart. Does she regret the words unsaid, the actions that should have spoken louder than words; but fell on deaf minds? Does the today wish she could undo the past, one gnarled knot at a time, until the beads fall on the floor; unfettered by memories and obligations?

The owl swings with her motions, drawing my eye as I know it draws her mind. The memento of a child, the most unattainable goal the today has. The yesterday's unobtainable goal also swings as a charm, the last thoughts of a life turned away. My goal hinges on the decisions my heart and mind make as I dance with the today, over the never-ending canyon of our thoughts and desires.

Memories strangle me, causing me to weave when I should bob, and the blade comes close enough to remind me that even the blind can kill. Flashes of the yesterday running from the group, my soft footsteps uncharacteristically echoing behind. Men do not chase women; and as I dodge the nimble creature in front of me, a shadow of the other superimposes itself long enough for me to realize the sadness here is only a reflection.

The yesterday's tears were an acknowledgement of the today, just like the ones gathering on the cheek opposite me. Does she realize she's trying to kill a dream? Is she also having to make a choice? After all of the sacrifices she's made, has she finally decided for herself? And if so, where does that leave the yesterday? The questions all repeat, but in the past tense; and I wonder myself if answers would be pleasure or pain.

The today moves, stepping faster than I can counter. I let my mind wander for one fraction of an instant and she catches my weakness. Just like a woman to know the exactness when a man becomes soft. As the blade approaches, I stare fatalistically. Do I accept the fate today is handing me, or do I fight to regain my lost Yesterday?

A/N: I'm aware the second part of SC has already, but I won't get to see it until tomorrow. I hope this fic finds each of you well and happy.