A/N: Important little au for ya, because I completely redid this fic due to my disgust over how it opened – it was rushed and just plain BAD. The journal entries sucked, so yeah…hopefully this is 10,000x better. :) This fic will have lots of Japanese vocabulary since I'm trying to make it as accurate as possible, so here they are:

Hatamoto are samurai or vassals of the Shogunate.

Roju are the senior members of the Shogunate (there are usually 4 or 5) that confer on especially important matters and rotate each month.

Metsuke are officials who report to the roju and wakadoshiyori. There are five of them and are in charge of monitoring affairs of the daimyo, kuge and imperial court or any threat of rebellion. They also supervise religious affairs and control firearms.

Ometsuke are officials who report to the roju and wakadoshiyori and oversaw the affairs of the vassals of the Shogun. They were also the police force for the thousands of hatamoto and gokenin (warriors).

Based off of a rumor of 13 more episodes of Champloo – this is my take on it since it will most likely never happen. Otherwise, I DON'T own Champloo or anything…sadly.

"Through Hell and Back"

CH 1: Déjà Vu

"Jin."

The newly employed hatamoto bowed down before his roju with modesty, his knee genuflecting so that he was now sitting upon the floor mat opposite the robust elder before he willingly took the offered cup of sake. "Arigato, Kourumi-san" he murmured before bringing it to his lips.

Tokugawa gave a stiff nod in acknowledgement, his tone curt and straight to the point as he surmised, "You already know why you have been summoned to my quarters, yes?"

"I believe so…the Metsuke were far vaguer than usual in their instructions, but I suppose that this is to be expected due to our extreme level of secrecy as of late."

Tokugawa smiled at the samurai, yet it lacked all mirth. "Surely then you are slightly familiar with the Shogunate's intentions?"

"Ah, indeed I am" Jin agreed, now being it his turn to smile. "You are trying to rid Japan of the Rebels…it is why I joined the Shogunate in the first place. I derive no greater pleasure from this earth than wiping away all of the scum who wish to harm the innocent."

At this last statement Tokugawa couldn't help but chuckle. "Your viewpoint pleases me very much, Jin-san. Let me assure you that the being that I am assigning you to assassinate is beyond scum."

"I'm listening" Jin acknowledged, suddenly intrigued.

Smirking at the interest painted out across the hatamoto's gaunt features, Tokugawa then held up a worn Ukiyo-e print and tapped at it with a long, yellowed fingernail. "This" he began, "is the biggest stain on the face of this earth, my son. The little minx may appear to be sweet and docile as a lamb, yet that is all deception. You see, she escaped the Shogunate's clutches three years ago with the help of two skilled swordsmen…you, Jin, were one of them."

The hatamoto swallowed hard. "I…I do not follow, Kourumi-san. Forgive me for saying so, but surely Fuu-chan is not a threat to the Shogun!"

"No, she is not" Tokugawa agreed, "but she is Seizo's daughter, and for that matter may follow in his cursed footsteps. You know as well as I that we will not stand for Japan conforming to Christianity over Buddhism!"

Jin immediately shook his head. "I am sorry, Kourumi-san, but I will take absolutely no part in this debauchery."

"Hmph…I had a feeling you would say something like that" Tokugawa remarked, his beady eyes now flashing like hot coals as his pudgy face contorted into a sadistic smirk. "You see, my son, the Shogunate has ways of making you cooperate."

Jin's aphotic irises glinted like steel within the dim candlelight in accordance with this remark, yet he otherwise made no indication of resistance. "If I am to cooperate" he began, "what is it that I will be escaping that's so much worse than slaying a friend – a woman, at that?"

"You will know as soon as the Ometsuke return with word from the emperor" Tokugawa sternly assured him. "Other than that, you are completely free to return to your quarters."

Jin silently rose to his feet like a ruminating phantasm, his movements slow and meditative as he bestowed the roju with a deep and gracious bow in answer. "Arigato."

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A young woman of about eighteen years situated herself in front of the mirror to her sleeping quarters, the rich mahogany of her eyes shining like that of sea glass as she anxiously smoothed out the wrinkles to her kimono and smiled bashfully back at her reflection. Would this be presentable enough for her suitor? She had grown quite a bit over the years after all, so now that she no longer had the figure of a wooden plank she felt that there was truly no need to worry. Her bust had blossomed and her hips had flared out nicely, yet what pleased her most of all were how her facial features had matured. They were now demurely beautiful opposed to the childish awkwardness that she had once retained, never failing to lure in the passerby of the dusty and lonesome streets of Edo.

Groaning at her flighty thoughts, she inwardly reprimanded herself for even caring since she'd most likely turn away Ayame's suitor like all the others she had sent her way.

Ishida Ayame was the girl's best friend, confidant, and owner of the teahouse in which they currently resided. If it weren't for the older woman's kindness and empowering strength, she would most certainly still be living in the streets like she had after her rigorous journey three years ago.

Just as the young beauty reached for a small bottle of perfume a loud and piercing scream cut through the air like shattering glass, the girl's eyes widening as she vaulted up from her floor mat and rushed over into the neighboring room. "Ayame!" she called, frantically glancing about for her friend, "Ayame! Where are you!?"

There came a tremendous crash, then a weak, "No, Fuu-chan…you must stay in your quarters!"

Panicking, Fuu stubbornly ignored the warning and made haste toward the direction in which the commotion currently resided, her voice now raw with fear as she called, "Don't worry, Ayame…I'm coming!"

Just as she rounded the bend and rushed through the divider into the teahouse, a bloody and coruscating longsword was thrust menacingly beneath her chin, her eyes wide and apprehensive as their auburn depths meditatively took in the foreboding image of the scruffy assailant before her. "No" she gasped, her mouth now agape, "it's you…"

A/N: -is nervous- Yeeah, so hopefully that didn't suck too bad…did you like it? What was good and what was bad? Should I continue or just give up right now? Haha And for those who are wondering, the update for Deliverance is just around the corner. :-D I just need to finish the lemon portion and it's done!