Not hearing any screams, just splashing and humming, Mugen slowed his headlong dash and crept stealthily to a fine vantage point above the spring. He was concealed, but he could clearly see the blurry outline of silky smooth ivory skin below the water. Rising tendrils of steam carried the scent of cherry blossoms to him and his annoyance was replaced by a warm pleasure that Fuu was using his gift. Mugen settled himself more comfortably, telling himself that he was guarding the woman and not peeping. A soft rustle behind him announced Jin's arrival, but one full strength death glare sent the blushing ronin back the way he came.

Soft singing brought Mugen's attention back to Fuu. Truly she had a lovely voice when it wasn't raised in an ear drum shattering screech. He leaned forward to try and catch the words and blushed in amazement to hear her singing about finding love with a man who make her heart beat faster and think naughty thoughts. It was definitely not a traditional song and he was curious as to where she had heard it. Charmed against his will Mugen leaned even further forward to hear and unfortunately place his right hand on a loose stone instead of something solid. He slid forward and off balance and, unable to stop, landed in the spring with a splash. Mugen groaned when his ass hit the rocky bottom and then yelped underwater when his sword followed to bang him squarely on the head.

He emerged from the deep end of the spring to face a woman clutching a damp towel to her chest with one hand and a bared tanto in the other. Her eyes, normally so open and warm, were narrowed into slits of fury.

"You idiot! Are you trying to scare me to death!" The tanto remained pointed towards his throat.

"I came to bail you out of whatever trouble you were getting involved in, and you should be scared. You know it's not safe for you to be here alone."

"You left to do...whatever. Should I have asked Jin to come with me? Granted, it would have embarrassed him, but his sense of duty would have made him come."

The idea of Jin standing guard and possibly observing and admiring all that exposed creamy flesh sent a blast of jealous fury through Mugen's veins. Honorable the man may be, but he was still a man and surely had the same curiosity and desires. In his jealousy, Mugen discarded his earlier idea that Jin thought of Fuu as a little sister and once again considered the man a rival.

"Put away your little stick pin, woman. I'm no threat to you," He growled through clenched teeth.

Fuu didn't care for his tone of voice and tightened her hold on the small blade. "Maybe, maybe not, but I keep it if I so choose. I won't let you control or intimidate me, Mugen. I was on my own and taking care of myself when I met the two of you."

"And doing so well, too, or don't you remember how we met in the tea house?" Mugen sneered.

Fuu flushed at the unwanted memory of her helplessness in that situation. She had grown and matured as a woman since and intended to insist that he acknowledge that. She decided to turn the tables on him.

"Were you worried about me, Mugen? Do you care for me?" She asked with a newly acquired sensual purr in her voice.

Mugen's expression flipped from sneering arrogance to incredulity to shuttered coldness.

"Of course I was worried, you little twit. Have you forgotten how many times you've been kidnapped now? At least four, I think. You're a magnet for trouble. I was just coming to get your ass and save myself the trouble of losing a night's sleep trying to find you before you got yourself killed with that smart mouth of yours."

The indignant shriek Jin had earlier predicted erupted from Fuu's mouth and she threw the tanto with stunning accuracy straight at Mugen's head. Luckily for him, the weapon was not meant to be thrown and, being inexperienced, she had misjudged the distance and it fell into the spring with a splash a foot in front of him. She realized her mistake at throwing her only weapon immediately and lunged for the shallow end of the spring in escape. The bathing sheet tangled around her legs and hampered her movements. Mugen dove for her and tackled her in the shallows, pinning her body against the rock and keeping her head above water.

Fuu spit furious curses at him and called him a few choice names he was pretty sure a well-bred woman shouldn't know. Only a wet sheet separated him from her warm flesh and the twisting and writhing of that nubile body was rubbing him in all the best places. Fuu was a quick learner and no fool. She felt the rising hardness between them and glared icily at him, daring him with her eyes to be stupid enough to try again to take her unwillingly.

Mugen experimentally ground his hips lightly between her spread thighs and watched her face intently. He smirked when a flush of arousal stained her cheeks and her eyes fluttered closed for a second. Mugen buried his face in the curve of her shoulder and licked a path from her collar bone up her throat to hover over her lips.

"Are you going to refuse me?" Mugen asked, every word brushing his lips tantalizingly against hers.

Fuu moaned and strained to meet his lips, but he kept raising his head to prevent contact. Mugen circled his hips and slid one hand up to cover a firm and hard nippled breast.

"I should," Fuu gasped. "Because you show me no respect."

"You should," Mugen agreed. "But because I'm not nearly good enough for you."

All of Fuu's anger dissipated with that soft and unexpected revelation. She relaxed completely into his embrace and molded her body to his like a second skin.

"Oh Mugen, you are so wrong," She said in her soft, sweet voice. "In your own, admittedly unique way, you have shown me that you can be as honorable and fiercely loyal as any man. I don't judge you from where you came or how you lived before, and I love you for the man you have become. I haven't regretted for one second my choice to give my body or my heart to you. The only thing I regret is that I can't make you understand that you are worthy of love, anyone's love, but it's mine I want you to take.

Mugen hung his head and trembled with suppressed emotion and need over her soft body. Gods! He was lost, lost and beguiled by her warmth, her innocence, and her trust. He still didn't believe a pirate capable of love, but he nearly choked with a killing rage every time he thought about anyone else taking and using the gift he had been given.

He groaned and reached to tear the sheet from between them, throwing the sodden fabric on the bank. Mugen wrapped Fuu's slender legs around his hips and walked with her into deeper water concealed by an overhang and sat her on a ledge that jutted out from the wall. Fuu could only hold on to the rocks around her and keep her head above water as Mugen lifted one of her legs to give a nip to the inside of her ankle and lick and bite his way up the soft skin to the knee. She mewled and writhed from the teasing, ticklish sensations. He lifted the other leg and repeated the sensual exploration until Fuu was panting Mugen's name.

Looking into her beautifully flushed face Mugen gave her not a smirk but a genuine smile that made him look younger and stunningly handsome. That one smile warmed Fuu all over and flooded her nether regions with wet heat. Keeping his eyes locked with hers, Mugen slipped two fingers into her body and used his thumb to rub slow circles against her pleasure bud. Fuu choked on a strangled scream and bucked into his hand, trying to draw him in deeper.

"Gods, Mugen, please...I need...I need.." She gasped and moaned.

"Do you want me to take you, to fill you?" Mugen asked, his voice dark and sensual.

"Yes!" Fuu shouted. "Take me, Mugen! Fill me to bursting. Drive deep enough I feel you are touching my heart."

Goaded by her unbridled passion, Mugen entered and sank to the balls in once hard thrust. Fuu keened a high note of pleasure and wrapped her legs around his trim waist. Mugen pulled her upright and easily supported her weight, giving him access to the creamy white mounds of her breasts. He suckled from one nipple to the other until both were rosy tipped and hard as pebbles. Mugen thrust faster and harder in response to Fuu's breathless demands. He covered her mouth with his, opening her lips with his tongue and delving in to tangle tongues in a devouring kiss of possession. Mugen drank her moans like fine wine and was drunk on the scent, sounds and feel of the woman in his arms.

Driving into her almost brutally, Mugen ravaged, pleasured and almost blinded Fuu with sensation until she tore her mouth from his and threw her head back to scream her fulfillment. Never in all his life had Mugen heard anything as beautiful as the shaky sobbing breaths she let loose. Her body clamped down on him in a vise grip of passion and he gave in, coming with a snarl and a shout. Shuddering and sobbing, Fuu wrapped trusting arms around his neck and pressed kisses into his throat, over his eyes and on his lips.

Mugen withdrew and carried her to the bank to wrap her in her old clothes to dry her. Unashamedly naked before her lover, Fuu dressed herself in her new kimono and admired his body as he stepped from his wet clothes to wring what water he could from them and put them back on. He seemed easier and less tense when he looked at her again and readily took the hand she extended to him, his callused hand engulfing her much smaller one. He wrapped an arm around her when she shivered a little and led her back to the tiny inn.

Jin watched them return with a tiny half smile on his face and readily agreed when Mugen asked him to dive for the pink handled tanto when he took his own bath. After Jin left Fuu cared for her hair while Mugen watched and they communicated silently with their eyes. When she had groomed and they had eaten, Mugen silently offered a hand in invitation to pull her to the futon he was lounging on. His own clothes having dried from the warmth of the fire, Mugen spooned behind Fuu and covered them both with a thin blanket. He tightened his hold on the woman in his arms and knew that would kill any man who tried to take her from him. Wonder of wonders, it seemed the gods had finally dealt the pirate a good thing in his life. Mugen vowed to fight to keep it.