A Helping Hand
by Laura Bryannan
Even Mugan had noticed.
"Something's up with the girl," he said to Jin.
"Hmmm," Jin replied.
After driving them mercilessly onward for over a month, dragging them along in her passionate search for that elusive sunflower samurai, their progress had ground to a halt. They stayed stuck in this village for a week, while Fuu disappeared every evening. Not that either of them minded, really. It was a good village to be stuck in if they had to be stuck somewhere. There was work, so there was some money to be had. It was large enough to have a good inn near a hot spring, which made Jin happy, and a good brothel, which made Mugen happy.
But it was strange that their taskmistress had become sidetracked somehow. After hearing, "You haven't forgotten your promise to me, have you?" what seemed like a hundred times a day, life almost seemed empty without her constant nagging. They had both finally become used to the continual chatter that emanated from Fuu, so it was strange to have so much quiet in their space. Neither of them felt they had the right to inquire as to her activities, so they didn't, but her uncharacteristic behavior had definitely piqued their interest at this point.
Jin was heading back to the inn late that night. He had stopped to play a game of shougi with a local after work, and it had taken longer to beat the man than he had thought it would. He took the path to the springs after deciding that, late as it was, he would bathe before going to bed. Nearing the springs, he heard a woman weeping. After a moment, he realized it was Fuu. What to do? he wondered. Should he go to her and see what the matter was or leave her alone? If it had been himself in that position, he would not have wanted anyone to know. But, he believed women were different in that respect, and girls like Fuu especially so. His genuine concern for her overrode his reclusive nature and he decided to see what was wrong.
Thankful the moon was almost full, he followed his ears and discovered her lying next to the water, curled up in a ball. She had wrapped herself in her kimono after her bath, but her hair was still down and her obi and bag were lying nearby.
"Fuu, it's me. What's wrong? Are you hurt?"
Fuu looked up at him through her tears and burst into louder sobs. "Oh, Jin…." was all she managed to say.
He sat down beside her and gathered her onto his lap. She didn't seem to be physically hurt, from what he could tell, but the tears went on and on. She buried her face in his chest and clung to him, apparently inconsolable. Jin rocked her, waiting for the tears to subside, and fter a long while, Fuu quieted. She pulled a handkerchief out of her sleeve and blew her nose.
"Jin, I'm so sorry. I've soaked your kimono," she said, in between her sniffs and hiccups.
"No matter. Can you tell me what has happened?"
"Oh no!" she wailed, "I'd be too ashamed." And the floodgates opened again.
Hmmm, Jin thought. That didn't go well. Jin had grown up with four brothers, and his busy mother hadn't had much time for her youngest son. He'd been sent to the dojo at the age of seven because there were no family obligations he needed to fulfill. Those roles were all taken by his older brothers, who were stuck minding the various enterprises his family was involved in. Jin had been fine with that situation. The contemplative life suited him well, but it had left him without any experience with females Fuu's age. He continued to rock her gently as she cried, and marveled that so many tears could come out of such a little girl.
It finally dawned on him that the wound she was suffering from was probably a wound of the heart. His anger at the unknown cad arose immediately. What could have happened? Her sadness seemed so overwhelming, he didn't think it could have been simple rejection that was the cause of it. Unrequited love brought unhappiness, yes, but Fuu's sadness seemed to stem from something greater than that. Jin slipped into a meditative state and waited, hoping the tears would subside sooner rather than later. Finally, Fuu quieted once more. This time Jin determined to stay silent and hoped she would speak.
"Jin, I've done something really stupid," she finally stated.
"Would you like to talk about it?" he asked. "It might help to share it. I'm not your brother or father. I have no reason to judge you, nor do I have any interest in doing so."
There was a long pause before Fuu took a shaky deep breath. "I met a man here in this village the day after we arrived. He's the…well, let's just say I had to pass where he works on my way to the teahouse every day. He looked so...um…well…I really liked him, OK? He acted like he liked me too. We spent every evening together and he was so charming and polite. He never tried to grab me, he never said anything crude to me. We would talk and laugh and it seemed so nice. Oh…." The tears were threatening to return. "OK, I'm just going to say it, but promise you won't tell Mugen."
"Jin, I wanted him so badly. I don't know anything about all that, but I knew I wanted to be…his, you know?" Jin nodded. "So I threw myself at him. I'm so ashamed to tell you, but I did. And then…." Her voice got wavery. "And then…well, he did it to me, and it was awful! It hurt so much! I don't understand why everyone goes on and on about sex. It's horrible and gross. And then I found out today that he lied to me and he's married! Oh Jin, I gave my virginity to someone who doesn't care for me at all. I feel like such a whore. I hate myself!" And with that, Fuu burst into another bout of tears.
Poor sweet thing. The guy is a dead man! Jin was concerned by what Fuu had told him, for all sorts of reasons, and needed to think. Yes, first off he would kill the man who had done this to her. That decision didn't require any thought at all. But the rest…. Jin was troubled by Fuu's first sexual experience. It did not seem like the way anyone should begin such an important part of life. It seemed that it might ruin things for her forever, and he became indignant at the thought.
A memory from his childhood brought itself to his attention. He had been six and had taken a bad fall from the horse he had been riding. The horse had been ill-used by his most obnoxious older brother and had a vicious temper. Jin had wanted to go home, nurse his aching behind and forget about the rest of his riding lesson, but the horse master had stopped him. "You must get back on this horse, Jin. If you go away now the problem will grow into a demon in your mind that you may choose never to battle again. You cannot let this challenge keep you from going forward. Get back on the horse now, correct your mistake, and destroy this demon before it takes hold." Jin was indeed afraid of that particular horse, but he did get back on and eventually found he could master the beast. It was a piece of advice that had served him well over the years.
Now, to apply this teaching to the present situation…Jin blushed. Should he do it? He was confident he could put Fuu on a better path, but the question was, should he? He analyzed his motivations. Was this just a convenient excuse to come on to her? No, he didn't think of Fuu that way. He honestly didn't desire her. His feelings for her were more like a big-brother than a lover. He wanted to take care of her, not bed her. His conscience clear, he pondered how he should go about it. Even talking about this with her could feel like an attack to Fuu. He did not want to do anything that would further frighten or wound her, but if he didn't act now the opportunity would be forever lost. Hopefully it was late enough that no one would come upon them.
Lost in thought, he did not realize he had been gently stroking her for some minutes, as though she were a pussycat in his lap—his hand beginning at her head and sliding along her back down to her rump, then repeating the movement. Over and over his quiet hand soothed her. Her outright sobs turned to sniffles and hiccups once more. Jin almost stopped when he noticed what he was doing, but then he changed his mind. Perhaps this was the way to go. His body had known how to begin before his brain had come to a solution and Fuu seemed to be calming down, so he decided to continue.
The gentle, loving contact brought back sweet memories for Fuu. No one had held her or stroked her like that since her mama, and it felt so comforting, so safe. This poignant thought caused the tears to renew, but they didn't last for long. It was nicer to pay attention to what Jin was doing than to sad memories of home, or the awful memories of the last two days. Jin continued to pet her, sometimes scratching gently with his nails, sometimes trailing one finger, varying his path slightly but keeping the same movement—head to tail, head to tail. Her tears had subsided again and her breathing became steady. Jin fervently hoped she had finally cried herself out.
"Mmmmmm," sighed Fuu, "that's nice, Jin. Thank you so much. I feel better now."
"I'm glad," he replied, snuggling her close. He ran his fingers through her hair, traced her ear, then trailed slowly over her neck and down her arm. His gentle fingers explored her hand for a while, then resumed the pussycat stroking of her back. Fuu was back to herself enough now to begin to wonder at Jin's behavior. It was really nice, but so strange. The ronin had never shown her the time of day before. He was always kind and polite, but ever distant. She had come to believe the mysterious man disliked her, or at least thought her the silliest person walking the earth. She didn't understand why he was being so overtly caring, but realized she trusted him completely and didn't want him to stop, as it felt soooo nice. The hurt in her heart was receding and it was enough to enjoy his touch.
Jin had lengthened his stroke at this point. Still beginning at her head, he now ran his hand down her back, along her thigh and down her calf. After some minutes, he paused to thoroughly caress one little foot, and then the other. Then, tickling on purpose, Jin smiled in the darkness as she squeaked and pulled her foot away.
"Hey," she giggled, and then stretched herself out in feline fashion. The kinds of things he had been waiting to see happen in her body were starting to happen. Her breathing was quickening and she was getting squirmy in his lap, as though she couldn't find a comfortable place to be. He wanted to speak to her now, but was concerned that it might be too soon. One wrong word and it would all be ruined. But it did seem that she was ready, so he decided to take a chance. Gathering her back up to his chest so he wouldn't have to look at her when he spoke, he began.
"Fuu, let me share some truths with you about men and women. Men are easily roused and can put their…equipment just about anywhere, in the most unlikely of places, and find release easily. For women, it is the opposite. Many men are too ignorant, too lazy or selfish to do what is necessary to give women pleasure. I would show you what a man should do to please you, to prepare you properly before he…um…does it to you, as you say. A man who will not treat you with this kind of respect is not a man you should take into your bed, Fuu. Will you let me show you?"
Fuu was dumfounded. Jin had said more to her in the last minute than he had said to her in the entire time she had known him! She honestly didn't know what he was speaking about. Wasn't 'doing it' what sex was? Fuu had been an industrious child, feeling responsible for taking care of her mother in the way children of single parents often did. She helped out in their little family business every day, never had a boyfriend and never spent time giggling with the neighborhood girls. If she had, perhaps she would have learned a thing or two, but she hadn't. She did know the special places on her body that made her feel all warm and tingly when she touched them, but she had never gone further. She had no idea there was anything more.
Fuu hesitated. A part of her tensed and felt fear, but Jin was stroking her back again and it did feel so lovely. She was very curious about what Jin had said—that he wanted to show her something that was supposed to happen before the 'doing it' part. That was the part that had hurt so much, and he didn't seem to be talking about trying that with her. All she knew was that she felt wonderfully languid, and she didn't want him to let her go or to stop touching her.
"Yes, Jin," came her voice in a whisper, "please show me."
He turned her in his lap so that she was facing outward, her back against his chest. He could feel her body bracing itself, so he began to stroke her hair, her arms—long gentle strokes as he had done before—until she relaxed once again.
As he gentled her, his thoughts turned to Rumiko. Mugen always teased him unmercifully about his lack of experience with women, but it was not the situation. He just didn't care enough about it to set Mugen straight. While it was true that the quantity of sexual experiences he'd had with women was not great, the quality had been. The men in Jin's family had kept concubines for generations. Three of the four Takeda geishas had been in the family longer than he had! They lived in a lovely little house in the best part of town, and led very privileged lives. The oldest was his grandfather's age and had survived him, the two middle ones were the favorites of his father and uncles, and the youngest, Rumiko, was there for his brothers and cousins.
Rumiko was twenty when Jin first met her at the age of thirteen. It was a rite of passage for the men in his family to visit a concubine for the first time at that age. For a boy like Jin who hungered for a woman's care and love, but never truly received it, Rumiko was like an oasis in the desert. She had a great fondness for the beautiful, grave, overly-considerate youth, and was always happy to see him when he came to the door. She taught him well. She had shown him how women's bodies worked—how to please them and ready them for intercourse. She had shown him many delicious ways a couple could do that. She had shown him things about his own body, as well—things that he would never have known felt so good unless someone had cared enough to teach him. She had. And now he wanted to share that kind of care with Fuu.
Jin let his hands roam to her breasts now. He traced the gentle curves with his fingers and swirled them around her nipples, and felt her shudder and squirm. Taking each hardened nub between thumb and forefinger, he gently tugged and twisted as Fuu moaned quietly. He played this way for a long while, fingers swirling over each entire breast and teasing her nipples as her breath got faster and more ragged. Jin's left hand remained at her breast while the other roamed lower. He let his fingers stroke her pubic hair, her thighs, her tummy. He traced along her opening and was gratified to find her dripping with her own juices.
Fuu had been feeling an itch, a hunger, a yearning growing in her lower belly for some time now, and she found it hard to sit still. She knew about that particular special place because she had touched herself there many a lonely night, dreaming about some handsome face she had seen on the road or in town. She figured Jin must be intending to do something with that spot, but what? She soon found out.
Jin drew some of her lubrication upwards and swirled it. "Oooooh," squeaked Fuu, "oh my!" Yep, that was the place, all right. His fingers caressed her for a few moments and then she felt them take up a rhythm. A finger was flicking gently over her, almost as though a butterfly's wings were beating against that most sensitive spot. His finger continued its gentle rhythm and Fuu could feel something growing inside her, getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Jin let go of her nipple with his left hand and stroked her inner thigh. He knew this was taking a bit of a chance after what she had been through, but since his goal was to erase as much of what had happened and replace it with something better, he decided to try. As his right hand continued to tease her clit, he slid the long middle finger of his left inside her. She did not tense. Good! She moaned and arched her back. Good! It appeared the sensations were overwhelming her and she began to sing the kinds of songs Jin liked to hear his lovers sing, moaning and sighing most satisfactorily. He continued to carefully work her with both hands, knowing she was very close to her climax, and then it happened.
"Ahhhhh," she screamed as the orgasm ripped through her. The finger inside could feel her body convulsing and squeezing, and he tried to touch her gently enough so that her orgasm would last as long as possible. She writhed and squirmed as her thighs clamped onto his hand and held it tight. Finally, after long luscious moments, she came back down to earth.
"Oh Jin, I never knew. Thank you so much," Fuu murmured.
"You're welcome," he replied. "Would you like to try for another?"
"Another?" she asked incredulously.
"Yes. Women can usually have more than one climax during lovemaking. This is where your sex has an advantage over mine, as men can usually manage only one."
"Mmmmmmmm," she replied, and then promptly fell asleep!
Jin chuckled. I guess it's not only men who have that problem. He slowly pulled his finger from inside her and brought it to his face. He inhaled her scent and then sucked the juices off to taste her. It would be his secret.
He hoped that what had happened wouldn't complicate things too much. There was a nice balance between the three of them and he wanted that to remain. Reaching for Fuu's things, he gathered her up in his arms and carried her to their room. Thankfully, Mugen was nowhere to be found. He tucked her into bed and then lay down on his own. His brain was racing but his body won the battle and he slipped into dreamless sleep.
Fuu was humming. "Well, I think we should get outta this town soon, you two. How about tomorrow? You haven't forgotten your promise to me, have you?"
Mugen and Jin looked at each other. "What, the dude dump ya?" Mugen teased.
"Enough!" Jin said firmly, giving him The Look.
Mugen muttered too low to hear, and went back to sharpening his sword. Something was going on here. He could feel it but he couldn't figure out what it was.
"I'm off," said Jin, and he headed out the door to go to work.
"Um…me too," said Fuu as she hurried out, catching up to Jin in front of the inn.
He looked down at her with a gentle expression. "Do you want me to take care of the one…you spoke about?"
"Oh no, Jin. He's got two little children. I wouldn't want you to take away their papa just because of that."
Jin looked at her admiringly and nodded. He was very happy to see that she was back to her old self, and his worry that she would turn her bruised heart in his direction abated. "I'll honor your wishes, then. You're a brave girl, Fuu."
She stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. "Thanks for everything last night. You helped me so much. See ya!" She smiled and ran off down the road.
"Bye," sweet one.
Mugen could see them from their room. He saw them share words and he saw the kiss. Huh? And then he'd swear on his mother's grave they were both blushing. What the hell? Something was definately going on and boy was he going to have fun making Jin tell him. He went back to sharpening his sword, but now he was whistling.