Author's Note: The following story is a Jin/Fuu pairing one-shot fanfic (a very long one-shot), taking place sometime after Episode 11—where Jin leaves Shino. Contains some Jin/Shino implications.

If you do not like this pairing, no one is forcing you to be here and you are welcome to leave anytime you wish. Don't go whining to me about it, because frankly, I won't care. No offense to those who like Mugen/Fuu or Jin/Mugen, or Jin/Shino, or whatever.…All wonderful pairings really. But this site is poorly lacking in Jin/Fuu fics, which is a shame because there really shouldn't be any excuse for it at all.

Warning: This story is rated "Mature" for a reason! Contains lots of sexual implications/heavy lime and mild cursing. No actual lemons, but for those of you who are squeamish, don't say I didn't warn you. OOC-ness may or may not occur, and I apologize in advance if it does.

Disclaimer: All rights to Samurai Champloo belong to the gods that make up Manglobe who created it in the first place.

Playing Pretend

By Youkai Yume

It had been a mistake; a momentary lapse of weakness on my part, and perhaps a bit of insanity on hers.

I had been distressed and admittedly melancholy as of late over the tumultuous state of my emotions and the image of a young woman standing in the rain with an umbrella grasped in her hands that haunted my memory.

It had been a deathly quiet night. Not the sound of a cricket's rasp or even Mugen's loud snoring to keep my mind distracted. He had left earlier that evening in order to entertain himself in the town's brothel—given me an invite to come along.

I don't know why I didn't take up on his offer. It wasn't like I was betraying Shino in any way, and it wouldn't be the first time that I had visited a brothel since my departure from her. And yet, tonight, as her voice and her touch and her eyes invaded my mind, I couldn't bring myself to say yes...

And I should have. I should have accepted. Perhaps then I wouldn't find myself in such a precarious situation. I never meant to even touch her…Never meant for us to go that far.

It had been a mistake; a momentary lapse of weakness on my part, and perhaps a bit of insanity on hers.

She came to me on that deathly quiet night, with her irritated nags about my sulking which gradually turned into a gentle soft voice and sweet lulling whispers.

"It's alright," she had told me. "It's alright if you miss her. It's alright if you're sad."

And her small, quivering hand came up to grace my shoulder in a comforting gesture; my eyes raised to meet hers. Perhaps I had begun to grow delirious without fever. Drunk without sake…Desperate to see my deepest desire like a starving man that was desperate to find food. In that one moment, her hazel brown eyes turned a deep, dark, black in the moonlight, and her silky brown hair became ebony waves.

She uttered my name in a single, breathless syllable and I swore that it was her voice, and her lips that called out to me.

"Shino…" The name escaped my throat in a quiet whisper, and like a man possessed my lips pressed themselves against hers of their own accord. And it had been fleeting insanity all in one moment. But it had also been soft and wonderful and sweet…sweet solace.

Then she trembled under my touch and the voice that gasped my name was not as I remembered her voice to sound. The haze had lifted from my eyes and with it their illusion. She was staring at me in the dark…dark, night. I saw quivering lips and hazel depths…glowing softly in the moonlight.

It had been a mistake; a momentary lapse of weakness on my part, and perhaps a bit of insanity on hers.

"…Jin?" She called out to me again, in a gentle voice so eerily like Shino's and yet not…I was so ashamed.

"Forgive me, Fuu," I was surprised at how calmly I spoke, how steadily I stood up and moved towards the door and left her undoubtedly confused in the middle of that room.

I thought I saw sadness in those eyes.

I might have thought wrong.

I shut the door.

Several days pass without incident. Not a word had passed between us about my impulsive behavior that night and it was as if it had never happened at all. Except for the fact that Fuu couldn't seem to look at me anymore. I'm not sure if I should find that good or bad. In many ways, I am relieved because I don't think I was ready to have her innocent eyes upon mine and realize that they weren't the midnight irises that I longed for. But in some ways, I felt uneasy with the distance that had grown between us. Like a rift that I can't seem to gap.

She had reached out to comfort me that night and I had soiled the gesture by forcing my lips on her and uttering another woman's name.

Now she won't even reach out to grasp the sleeve of my kimono like she usually does for protection.

She had never told me if she accepted my apology. But I had resigned myself that what was done was done. We all continued our way as before. Fuu keeping up her usual chattering with Mugen and I…well, it wasn't as if I was talkative to begin with so my silence wasn't unusual to the group.

Eventually, the entire thing seemed as if it had been a fleeting dream that I wasn't quite sure had happened at all. Until one night, the gray clouds gathered above us and rain fell in merciless rhythm. Luckily, an elderly woman took pity on us upon seeing our state and offered her extra quest rooms for shelter.

I lay there that night, on an old futon that had undoubtedly been unused for years; my damp, black hair soaked the sheets beneath me. I listened to the rain as it fell outside. Pounding on the rooftops, pattering on the walls…rapping on bitter memories.

My ears were strained so hard at listening to it that I almost didn't notice the door of my room sliding with utmost caution, and the soft footsteps that traveled across the room to where I lay.

"Go back to your room, Fuu," I said as gently as soon as I felt her kneel beside my still form. My eyes were glued upon the wall…focusing on the cracks.

"It…It's raining pretty hard out there," she started in a quiet voice that I wasn't accustomed to hearing. "I couldn't sleep."

A sigh escaped me, and I forced myself to sit up in bed. What did she expect me to do about it? I'm no good at comfort…I could barely find comfort for myself. I turned to look at her, and I found that she was watching me intently. Her own brown locks hung loosely around her young face, the wet strands sticking to her skin.

"I…I had a feeling that you couldn't sleep either," she said.

"It'll come eventually," I told her in an equally quiet tone. "Go back to your room, Fuu," I repeated.

She chose to ignore my comments entirely and shifted slightly closer to me, her eyes fixated on her wringing fingers.

"Maybe, it's kind of presumptuous of me…but…" she looked up and her eyes met with mine. "We're friends aren't we, Jin?"

That…wasn't what I was expecting. But she was looking at me as if it was the most important question in the world and I had a feeling that she wouldn't leave this room unless I answered.


She may take my reply as anything she like. Judging from her small smile, she took it as a 'yes.'

"And…when a friend is in pain…you try to help them, right?"

She moved even closer to me then, and I found myself fascinated with a droplet of water as it trickled from her damp hair and down the pale column of her throat. My breath hitched, and the fleeting feel of her lips surfaced upon my memory.

"Fuu, I think you should go back to your—mph—"

Her lips were on mine. Her hands were in my hair, and I can feel the heat of her flushed face as she kissed me rather awkwardly in the dark. Despite that, I had never felt anything more soft and warm and intoxicating in my entire life and…oh…oh…Shino.


I tore her mouth from mine and gasped the cold air.

"Stop…Fuu, what are you—"

"Does it help?" She asked suddenly, and I was so shocked at the question and boldness and in generally so shocked at Fuu that the question didn't even register.

Help? I'd say this is the last thing that it was doing. But the only thing that managed to escape my lips was a strangled sigh as her small hands slipped beneath my haori, and I wanted to lie and say 'Yes! Yes, it helps as long as you keep touching me.'

"F-Fuu…" I rasped as her lips touched my neck. "Don't…"

"Shhhhh," she breathes against my suddenly sensitive skin and the sound soothes and frightens me all at once. "It's alright," she whispers the same words that she said to me that night. "It's alright if you miss her. It's alright if you're sad." Her hands wind themselves against my back under the silk of my kimono, and I want to give into her comfort so badly.

"It's alright to be selfish, Jin."

And gave in I did. I'll be selfish, just this once. I'll let her skin burn me and her cries wash over me as I call out her name like it was the only thing that mattered:

Shino. Shino. Shino.

The cloth is tearing and the heat is searing; but she tells me it's alright and I believe her. Even as my bloodstained hands spread against her pale moonlit flesh and I press deeper, deeper and deeper still into her writhing body.

I can feel her blunt teeth against my neck as she cries out in pain and vaguely realize that she has never been touched this way before. But that doesn't make any sense because Shino was no blushing virgin, and I forget where I am as she sobs beneath me and urges me on.

Don't stop…don't stop, it's okay, I'm alright. It only hurts a little. It's okay.

And I don't know if it's my voice or hers that's saying the words but she burns me like fire licking at parchment. Consuming. Yes, that's the word.

Before I know it it's over in a brilliant glare of white and she's there in my arms, clutching at my body and crying softly. I gather her in my arms and call out her name, only to stiffen when I realize that it wasn't exactly her name.

The lust had faded from my mind and there Fuu lay, covered in sweat and blood and shame. My shame was all over her body, which I myself had sullied with my own selfish, greedy hands.

But she pulls me back with slender legs and arms when I try to retreat and her fingers comb through my hair.

"It's alright," she whispers comfortingly and I realize quite bitterly that it was I that should be comforting her. "It's alright."

It seemed so foolish, yet I believed her.

The rules of the game were very simple.

First and foremost, we were to never speak about any of our…interludes—not to say that our affair was exactly secret. Mugen, though admittedly not the sharpest sword in the shed, wasn't oblivious to what was going on between his two traveling companions. Let's face it, Fuu and I weren't exactly quiet. Occasionally he seems leery, teasing and perhaps even a bit jealous, but doesn't really care either way. Fuu prefers that whatever happens in the dark of night should belong there, and I agree.

It makes traveling together less awkward.

Second, there should be no feelings involved, before after, and during. This means any feelings: anger, sadness, regret, affection, attachment, or love. Solace was comfort and comfort was solace. Nothing more nothing less and it couldn't be any simpler.

Third, the game can end any time if either or both of us decide to no longer play. It was always intended to be temporary. Yes, an agreement with benefits in which there are no strings attached. Good for clean breaks.

Lastly, during intercourse we could not utter each other's names. This was a rather strange request from her, but understandable when I thought about it. We can call out anyone else's name that we wish but as long as it was not each other, we were guilty of nothing. As long as I kept calling her Shino, I was in essence fucking Shino and not taking Fuu's innocence bit by bit every night.

Those were the rules. That was our agreement, and as long as these rules were followed, we could keep taking from each other until everything ends and the pain was just a dull ache from before.

And for a days and weeks and possibly months these were the rules they lived by.

Whenever her nails rake down my back I would groan and press closer to her, even when there is no space between us left. I try very hard not to kiss her when we're tangled in each other because despite the fact that I've kissed her plenty of times before, I still feel that it's too intimate and should be reserved for when we both truly mean it.

I'd call out for Shino when I come and she'll let out a shaky breath as she holds me, running her fingers gently down my spine. Comfort. Comfort. Comfort.

There were times when we had finished and I watch her pull her pink kimono back in place modestly and go back to her own futon that I wished Fuu wasn't so damn business-like in our passion. But comfort is solace and solace is comfort. Nothing more nothing less.

So I'd watch her until my own eyelids grew heavy with sleep and wonder how much of me left is there for her to burn.

The first time it dawned on me, truly dawned on me that Fuu was just an ordinary teenage girl with ordinary teenage tendencies I think I felt disconnected and a bit sick.

We were in town and the three of us had split up to ask around information on the Sunflower Samurai. What this actually means is that Mugen goes off to steal, drink, or head straight for the red light district even if it's only noon. I would usually go somewhere else to think quietly to myself and perhaps contemplate getting some sake myself. That leaves Fuu who usually by now is so irritated about good-for-nothing bodyguards and hunger that she forgets all about the Sunflower Samurai.

We had promised to meet back at the dumpling stand within two hours, but I ended up arriving about an hour late. Most likely the others weren't there. Mugen is most likely passed out somewhere…in an alley, in a pub, in a brothel.

Though I had to admit that I was a little worried about Fuu. That girl has an uncanny talent for getting herself kidnapped by the strangest characters.

However, when I arrived back at the stand, she was already there…and she was not alone.

Maybe it wouldn't have bothered me so much if one who was with her was older, uglier…or even harassing her. But he was none of these things. On the contrary, he was a boy the same age as Fuu. Not handsome, but not unattractive, and if Fuu's giggles and faint blush had anything to say about it, she definitely was not uncomfortable with his presence.

I said nothing as I approached the pair, and it took the girl a second longer than I would have liked to notice me by her side.

"Oh Jin! You're early," she commented, and my lips tightened.

"Actually, I'm late."

"Really? I guess I lost track of time," she smiled off-handedly, turning to the boy and they both promptly shared a chuckle, as if sharing some sort of secret only between them.

It irritated me. I know now why, but I suddenly felt a strong dislike for him even though he had not said one word to me and looked nothing like a bandit or carried any weapons.

"I'm sorry this is Satoru, a childhood friend of mine. I just bumped into him for the first time in seven years, can you believe that?" Fuu tittered, and I could feel my dislike for the boy grow with each second. When I did nothing but give him a hard stare he seemed to shift uncomfortably and told Fuu that he needed to get home.

Before leaving though, he had pulled Fuu into a hug which she loosely returned, smiling all the while. I wanted nothing more than to rip them apart. It made my stomach churn to see his hands on her form. But she wishes him well, and he tells her good luck and not a second later they break apart on their own.

As he runs off into the distance, Fuu is waving enthusiastically while my fist clenches tightly.

"Oh," she sighs thoughtfully, "I forgot to ask him about the Sunflower Samurai."

That night, I take her a little harder than necessary but she does not complain. She clutches at my shoulders until her knuckles are deathly white as I drive into her with a force that would surely leave us both sore in the morning. But her quiet sighs were becoming loud moans in my ear, and all I can do is fuck her harder so that she has no room to think of Satoru; only feel me above her, inside her, around her.

I feel her shudder in ecstasy beneath me and I could only watch as her usually unmarked skin reveals a pepper of bruises and bite marks where I branded her with my teeth and hands. I should have felt guilty for putting them there, but all I could really feel was smug satisfaction.

I had marked her…everywhere. Even when she gingerly pulled back on her kimono there were was still evidence along her throat. Something close to a choke escaped my lips when I realized what I had been trying to do, and when Fuu turned around to ask me if everything was okay, I lied and told her everything was fine.

In some strange way, I had wanted the boy to know that she was mine to touch. Which in essence didn't really make any sense because Satoru was not there to see us have sex in the middle of the floor. But in some logical part of my mind, if I left some part of me on Fuu, it would tell Satoru…no, not just Satoru…Mugen too, and the vendor down the street, and any other man for that matter, that this, this part of Fuu belonged to me.

Even if the part of her that smiled and laughed and gave warm tender hugs did not.

But what bothers me isn't that I don't have it. It's because somehow, I suddenly wanted it.

That was also the first time that I had not called for nor thought of Shino.

I don't know when it was that I began to notice the way her brown hair splayed across the grass, or the way she lets out a soft "oh" every time I kiss her neck. How could I ever mistake Shino's demure black eyes to Fuu's expressive, sparkling hazel?

Even in the darkest of nights, I can see them staring back at me through hooded eyelids. Always for a brief second before averting someplace else, or simply closing them away completely. I hated it when she closed them while I moved inside her. Like something awful…or possibly wonderful would happen if she looked, truly looked at me.

A part of me wanted to demand that she open them. Another part of me silently thanked her. I was not ready to see whatever was in them, nor did I think I ever would be.

Did she notice that I no longer gasped for Shino when she touched me?

Do I want her to notice?

In the weeks that followed, our nightly liaisons seemed…altered somehow. It became less and less about my missing Shino (though I admit that she is never far from my thoughts) and more about being human. It was still all about comfort, of course, but different.

I have been a wandering ronin for so long now, fought and ate and slept alone—even when I was with others. But when I reach for Fuu with eager, greedy hands and she does nothing but reach greedily back, I don't feel so isolated. It's strange that it is in the most basic, most primal of a man's desires that I could be reminded of my own humanity.

That isn't to say that this is just about sex, though largely it is. But if that were true then I would be content with my own flawed existence with common whores and prostitutes from brothels. No, it is different because it is Fuu. Fuu, who does not give herself to me because I pay her, or because she wants me for my body. She gives herself to me because she wants to, because I want her to, because she is my friend.


It is not about sex. It is the fact that when I am with her, I know that I don't just take and take and take until there is nothing left of her, but that I can give just as much back. I know I can. I know it when I see the beginnings of a smile quirk at the end of her delicate lips. She's taking from me too, and I have never been so content to let her rob as much of me as she wants.

But she does not because she still won't look at me even as I bring her to the edge and she lays there in post coital bliss, her fingers dancing across my back.

The simple gesture makes me shudder. It is a reminder that this is about me. It has always been about me. About comfort. My comfort, and mine alone.

The only thing is…I don't want it to be just about me. I want it to be about her too.

And that's dangerous and very much in violation of the rules.

I think.

She looked so happy.

It was spring; the town that we had just happened upon was decorating for a festival. Lanterns of all colors were strung among the streets, illuminating the night. People dressed in festive clothes, fine prints of fabric that one normally does not wear were adorned, and children ran around in brightly painted masks holding fans and toys in their pudgy hands. The smell of all sorts of food wafted through the air, and the distant sound of drums, laughter, and dancing could be heard in the distance.

But nothing delighted her more than the cherry blossom trees just on the outskirts of the town. She ran under them, trying to catch the petals as the rained all about her…and she looked so childlike, so carefree, so damn happy.

"Stop running, you're making me dizzy," Mugen griped, slightly drunk (a lot drunk) from all of the sake and trying to steady himself as Fuu's pink kimono seemed to blend amongst the blossoms.

She promptly ignored him and kept flouncing about as if it was the greatest thing on earth and for the life of me I couldn't seem to tear my eyes away. Beside me, Mugen was trying to coax the last drop of sake from the bottle, smashing it violently to the sakura covered ground when there was none, but I couldn't seem to take note of it either.

"It's going to be in a place just like this," She said suddenly, breathless.

"What is?" I found myself asking her, sitting on nearby bench that Mugen had already taken most of the space for passing out.

She smiled at me, her cheeks flushed pink in embarrassment but she still seemed so happy. Happy with a secret.

"Oh, it's nothing," she blushed, twiddling with her fingers. "When I was little, I always had this sort of daydream that I'd meet my prince under raining cherry blossoms." Her face turned even redder, and I found it strangely endearing. She looked like she didn't want to say anymore because it sounded so childish, but I urged her on anyway, strangely curious about what it was that Fuu daydreamed about.


"And…" she laughed, running to the base of a tree. "I'd be standing under a cherry blossom tree, just like this!" She then pulled out the pins from her hair and let it flutter free. "My hair would be loose in the breeze, and as I gaze out thoughtfully, he'll come up behind me…" her head turned back to look at me, and my breath hitched as I watched her behind clear lenses. "…and he'll tuck a blossom behind my ear, and say 'It looks much more beautiful in your hair'."

Fuu's hazel eyes seemed to glaze over at the romantic notion, and I hear Mugen snort on the bench as he came out of his alcohol-induced stupor momentarily to sneer at her.

"God that's so cheesy."

She looked like she wanted to hit him. But she ended up chuckling sheepishly, "Yeah. I guess it is."

Yes, yes it was. It was such a childish fantasy and the epitome of a fairy tale ending. The only thing missing was that she didn't say "And we'll live happily ever after."

But she looked so happy.

And that's when it hit me…how truly innocent Fuu still was. I thought that ever since that first night, I had stripped her of it slowly piece by piece. But the fact that she looks so happy talking about her childhood daydreams about meeting her prince like that, I knew that this was the part of her that was still pure. Untouched by corruption and cruel realities of life. I had not touched this part yet.

I had always felt slightly guilty after she lets me into her warmth, but this was the first time that I truly felt…dirty over it.

What right did I have to touch her? What right did I have to taint her with my desires, burden her with my sorrow, and use her for my solace? I had no right. I didn't.

And I realized something else…that she deserved that happy ending. Even if it was over romantic, she deserved someone to love and touch her with tenderness and make her as happy—even happier than she is now by just thinking about it. I was not that person. I can't be that person. I promised all of these things to somebody else already.

She turns to me and smiles; the cherry blossoms speckle her hair and kimono. Looking at her made me ache. I wanted to reach out and brush them away from her soft locks, her rough silk…her creamy skin.

But I had no right.

I didn't know the extent of my addiction towards Fuu until I tried to quit her. It's been about two weeks since I watched her under the cherry blossoms, and since then I have not come to her at all. She has said nothing about the matter nor did she initiate any contact between us.

Of course she didn't…With the exception of our first time it was always me that sought her out. I suppose she thinks I need space or that I had decided to end it between us, even though I had not given her any verbal evidence that I wanted it over.

That was rule number three.

The truth is I'm not sure if I wanted it over, despite the fact that I have not so much as touched her for days. I wasn't sure what I wanted anymore.

When the sun sets and we all go to our respective sleeping places, I grip my katana tighter than necessary and try not to focus on how much colder I grow every night that she is not with me. And it has nothing to do with the chill in the air.

Besides our sleeping arrangements, nothing seems to have changed in our group. By day she still chatters aimlessly away and complains hourly about being hungry while simultaneously bickering with Mugen. At night, she snuggles under the blankets when we have the luxury of proper bedding, or curls to her side when we sleep under the stars.

I wonder if she is upset with me, or if she even cares at all. I don't know why I feel like I prefer her upset…but perhaps it's better than her complete indifference. I…want her to care. And I shouldn't.

That's rule number two.

She doesn't seem to care. She's following the rules.

It was only a game, after all.

We managed to scrounge enough money from our oddball jobs to sleep at a proper inn. Fuu is already burrowing herself under the covers after satiating her stomach with food. There is a clinking sound from across the room and I turn my gaze to see Mugen jingling the coins in the little purse, and based on the lecherous grin that is spreading across his face he's just realized there's enough in there for visit to the brothels.

"Oi, you comin'?" He motioned, dangling the sack of coins in front of me.

I instinctively turned to Fuu at this, who had already begun to drift asleep. Mugen caught my hesitation and scoffed.

"Forget about her. After shaggin' that scrawny little bitch for so long you must be lookin' for a real lay!"

A grimace came to my features at his comment, and I suddenly felt offended that he would refer to the…arrangement that Fuu and I had with such debasing words. On top of which, it was the first time that it was mentioned and it was not between us. It was a rule. Even Fuu and I never spoke of it let alone Mugen.

I could only scowl slightly at him. Fuu shuffled a bit in bed and I could hear her mutter "jackass" under her breath.

"If you guys have so much time to go into the red light district, then why don't you spend it helping me look for the Sunflower Samurai?" She quipped, her brows furrowing even though her eyes were tightly shut.

"Be back in the morning!" Mugen called over his shoulder, stepping out of the room.

"Which means I'll have to go find you in the morning," Fuu grumbled.

I watched as the pirate peered at me on the other side of the door, his eyes questioning, his grin mocking. "Well?" he urged.

I turned back to the girl who was now facing the other wall on the futon, my chest suddenly clenched painfully the longer I stared at her.

This was for the best. I had no right. There were no strings to begin with.

"Hn," I nodded.

Taking a deep, calming breath that betrayed my troubled thoughts, I stepped out to join Mugen as our shadows blended in with the darkness. The screen door clicked behind me. I thought I heard a sigh on the other side.

I should be enjoying this. I should be letting my inhibitions go…I shouldn't be here.

By the time we had arrived at the brothel, I couldn't even bring myself to look at any of the women leering through the bars that were available, let alone choose one. So after taking what I assumed must have been the bustiest, most beautiful woman of the batch, Mugen picked for me.

When I was escorted to the private room, I finally got a good look at the woman, and was slightly surprised that Mugen didn't pick out someone with wrinkles, buckteeth, or a disproportionate body. On the contrary she was quite fair, dark eyes peering at me through heavy lashes and a white painted face with red lips.

She smiles seductively and crawls into my lap, her red lips kissing the side of neck…

It made my skin crawl.

I should be enjoying this. I should be letting my inhibitions go. I shouldn't be so fixated on the fact that she wasn't Fuu.

These were not Fuu's lips on my skin, not her hands traveling my body. It was not Fuu that was tugging at my clothes and lying spread on the futon.

I didn't want this woman. I want Fuu.

I want Fuu.

Before she could touch my lips I had stood up abruptly and pushed her off my lap. She landed on the floor with a thump and looked up at me with offended eyes.

"Hey, what's your problem?!" She snapped; her voice was shrill to my ears. I could still feel her on me…I felt sick. I needed to get out of there.

"I'm sorry," my head inclined slightly before I swiftly left. The man waiting on the other side began warning me about no refunds, despite the fact that nothing had happened. I didn't want to deal with it, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.

When I had returned to the inn, I suddenly felt a bit nervous. What would Fuu think, knowing that I couldn't go through with it just because…because I felt like I was betraying her? No, it wasn't even about betrayal…it was about my own desires. The door to our room slid open almost like a whisper.

She was asleep, some of the covers were kicked off of her form and her hair splayed all around her. Her lips were slightly parted to draw in air. I tried my best not to wake her, but it seems that tonight she was a light sleeper. Her ears caught the sound of my footsteps entering, and her eyes barely opened to rest upon mine. I think I forgot how to breathe…

"Jin?" her voice was quiet. "I thought you…"

"I didn't feel like it," I answered, surprised at how easily the words came to me.

"Oh." That was all she said before letting sleep claim her once more.

A sigh of relief escaped my lips. She wasn't going to question me…oddly a part of me was disappointed. Didn't she know that I came back for her sake? I settled myself against the wall, choosing to sit and study her instead of sleep.

Perhaps it was the way the moonlight draped over her slender body, or the way strands of her hair fell across her neck and face. She was beautiful; the full truth of it struck me then and there. I had never seen a more beguiling creature in my entire existence. I could sit here for an eternity just admiring the flutter of her eyelashes, the captivating rhythm of her breathing.

I had no right to touch her, but I couldn't help myself.

Cautiously, I crawled over to where she lay pliant; my fingers burned with the sheer want of contact. They brushed her soft brown locks away from her features…her skin was so warm. She shifted in her sleep, leaning towards my hand as it slid down her neck, down to her arm.

Tentative lips brushed against her cheek, kissing a path down her neck. I couldn't stop the shiver that wracked my body at the feel of it. Fuu let out a soft moan and her arms instinctively wound around my neck, gently holding me there.

I breathed in her scent…lilacs. She smelled like lilacs…and dumplings. I nearly chuckled at the fact that it was so Fuu. She smelled wonderful, heady, arousing. My hands were roaming her body now like a man starved. I wanted to relearn every curve, dip, and hallow of her body. Fuu sighed as I suckled on the skin at the base of her throat, her fingers winding into my hair.

"Mmmm, I thought you didn't feel…like it…" She mumbled sleepily, still caught in between the dream world and reality.

I wanted to tell her that I didn't. I wanted to tell her that I only felt like I only ever wanted anything at all was when I was with her. But I said nothing. Instead I undid the belt to her yukata and slipped my burning hands inside, hungry for every inch of her. She moaned; her eyes still closed as she let me undress her slowly.

God…she was gorgeous…gorgeous. Why didn't I ever notice this before? When her own hands unconsciously made their way under my haori I nearly came undone. A low groan tore from my throat as I hastily discarded my clothing with hopeless abandon. I thought I'd die if I didn't feel her skin against mine soon.

My mouth and tongue was everywhere, licking and tasting and biting until she was gasping for more in her sleep. Her legs fell open for me instinctively as I took her into my arms. I wanted her to open them to no other man but me. She was mine, mine, mine. My hand came down to cup her sex possessively and she softly moaned at the contact, her hazel eyes fluttering open in a haze of sleep and lust.

I want her. I want her. I've never wanted anything so desperately in my life. Does she know? Does she know that she has ruined me for all women? Even Shino?

It was slow, languid…passionate. Fuu seemed to be enjoying the relaxed pace for a change. I could see her smile sleepily as her nails lightly glided and teased my back. I missed this…how did I ever go so long without her? God, oh fuck, oh god she feels so good, so perfect as I move against her. She's so hot, so right, and warm and…

"Fuu…" her name slipped past my lips before I could stop it, and for a second I thought her hazel eyes widened as all drowsiness drained from her with the single utterance of her name. But I had little time to dwell on it for the pleasure and ecstasy coursed through my veins more powerfully than I had ever felt it. My head was thrown back as a loud moan filled the room. Hers or mine I couldn't tell.

As I gathered her against me in an attempt to prolong the moment, all I could feel was the pleasant thrum that seemed to spread throughout me. I've never felt happiness before…but I think it must feel something like this.

Fuu sighs and lets her head fall back on her pillow, looking like a woman full satiated. I felt a burst of male pride at her flushed face. I didn't want to leave her embrace. But eventually we separated, and I pulled the covers around us. I will not go back to my own bed tonight and we will not put back on our clothes. I wanted to hold her naked against me for as long as I could and she didn't protest when I curled behind her.

As I let sleep overcome me, I wondered if things would be different now. After all, there is a fine line between having sex and making love.

Tonight we had made love.

It had been wonderful, extraordinary, beautiful.

It had been terrifying.

It was around noon when I awoke; my arms felt strangely empty. I blinked back the last remnants of sleep from my eyes, squinting at the light. Odd, I was always the first to rise. Fuu was nowhere in sight, but her clothes were gone. I assumed she went to go wash up.

By the time I had dressed, she came back with a tray of food in her hands.

"Morning," she smiled, placing the tray in front of me before grabbing instantly at the food. "Itadakimasu!"

I nodded at her, strangely pleased to see that she had not pinned up her hair yet just as I had yet to tie back my own hair or put on my glasses. It almost seemed like she was comfortable enough to be casual around me, like this was how our mornings always were between the two of us. It pleased me…it shouldn't have.

She munched thoughtfully and looked about the room, frowning.

"Looks like we'll have to go find Mugen," she spoke through bites, slightly annoyed and amused at the same time.

"Probably," I grunted, picking up my own bowl and chopsticks.

There was a long silence afterward, in which I could feel mounting tension within myself. So far she had given no indication that she felt anything different from our tryst last night. Whether she was pleased that I had decided to play along a little longer or that I had touched her far beyond the lines of just 'play.'

For a moment, I was relieved that she might have forgotten my slip of the tongue.

But alas, even half-asleep it had not escaped her.

"Jin," she started, her voice was serious and I knew I was a fool to believe things would have changed. "Don't ever call my name like that again."

"…Ah," I nodded, and the rice in my throat suddenly became difficult to swallow.

It was only a temporary game after all.

And I believe that I had broken more than just one rule last night. I might have broken them all. Perhaps many times since we had started. But I did not dare tell her that. If she knew…she would end it.

And after last night I never wanted it to end. Ever.

It must be unhealthy for someone to crave something this much. I have seen men fall victim to money, power, drugs. But it can't be anything like this…this burning fire that constantly courses through my veins and makes my entire body ache with longing. It is a woman that I am addicted to. No, not even…she is a girl. A girl that whose touch makes me more greedy than any amount of money, whose kisses make me feel more powerful than any man, and whose moans are more addictive than any drug.

We've resumed our "game" as if we had never stopped.

How I crave her…how I anxiously await the coming of nightfall every single day. I pride myself in self-control, but sometimes I grow so impatient, so hungry to be inside her again that I would take her in the most unconventional of places. Against a tree, on the grass when Mugen wanders off, against the dirty wall in the back of an alley in broad daylight, where anyone can see us.

Sometimes the prospect of getting caught makes it all the more thrilling. My discipline is all but a myth when my skin meets hers; my master would have been ashamed if he saw me now.

But what truly frightens me about this addiction is not the fact that I crave her body. There are times when I collapse on top of her, completely sated yet still wanting more that she giggles as she digs her fingers through my loose hair.

It is that laughter and smile that I crave. It is the way she hums songs that I've never heard before when she walks in the sunlight. It is the way she says my name when we are talking in conversation and oh how I crave to one day hear her say it as I hold her naked against me.

I fear that I may never be able to get enough of her.

Every time we come together, I fuck her hard and fast to make sure that she doesn't know that I want to make love to her slowly and tenderly. When she is writhing beneath me I have to watch…if I close my eyes for a second I might miss something. It is all I can do to clench my teeth to keep from moaning her name repeatedly in heated whispers against her ear.

It's not enough. But it has to be.

She bites her lower lip to keep from crying out. In all the time that we have played our game, not once has she ever called out for anyone. Whose name does she wish to sob out her pleasure when I move within her? Whose face does she see beneath her closed eyes? Satoru? Shinsuke? Mugen? Or could I even dare to hope…me?

Whenever Fuu suckles a particularly sensitive spot on my neck it nearly proves to be my undoing. Whenever she smiles at me it really does prove to be my undoing. I have to keep touching her. I have to. It's not about want anymore. It's about need. I need her.

God, what's happening to me? What is she doing to me?

Why can't I stop it?

Why don't I want to stop it?

This girl…this girl is going to be the death of me.

And oh, what a glorious way to die.

Mugen and I were only her bodyguards. That's what she kept telling us anyway…or perhaps she keeps saying so to remind herself. When Sera, the blind woman in search for her son joined us, she seemed a little pleased that there was a fellow female companion around to talk to.

However, there were times when Mugen is extra leery and attentive to Sera that makes Fuu feel plain and undesirable next to the more sophisticated and graceful woman beside her. On those days, I take it upon myself to show her otherwise in the dark of night. Even though she says nothing, I know that every time she buries her head in the crook of my shoulder that she wonders if I ever look at Sera and desire her as Mugen does. If I see a closer resemblance to Shino in her than I do in Fuu.

She is jealous.

She doesn't need to be. Sera might be more similar to Shino in demeanor and elegance than made me comfortable, but it is not Sera that I think of when I kiss Fuu's neck. It is not Shino I long for when I breathe in her scent. It is Fuu, has been Fuu for a long time now. She needs to know this, but probably never will.

So I try to tell her with my body instead of with my words.

I was never one for words anyway.

We had to be much more discreet with our trysts since Sera arrived. Even though she is blind she is not deaf, nor is her sense of smell dulled in the least. If anything they must be enhanced. How can she not know? It is hard for either of us to muffle the sounds of our passion that rise involuntarily from our throat, and even if we do manage no sound, it is impossible to hide the saturated scent of sex that permeates a room after we've stained it with our ecstasy.

Sera can't see, but sometimes I feel like she sees through every inch of me, and it makes me weary of her. I don't trust the woman, even though I have no reason not to trust her.

And yes, Fuu is jealous, but she is also compassionate. She wants to help Sera find her son and she wants Sera to be safe. When we walk through the village festival and her hazel eyes look at the spinning pinwheels, the painted masks, the laughing children and then to Sera, Fuu makes a decision.

She would learn soon after that she is much too trusting.

But at that moment she made an excuse for herself and disappears into a crowd. What else could I do but follow, leaving Mugen and Sera behind? That night, I watch as Fuu stands atop that bridge and cries silently to herself. I do not touch her, but she looks at me and I know…that my just being there is enough.

And it might not matter that the next day she tells me to go with Sera and be her bodyguard instead of her own, or that Sera was really an assassin the whole entire time and was lying to us from the beginning. None of that mattered because when she stood on that bridge and looked pleadingly at me with haunting hazel eyes I knew…

Fuu, the Fuu that laughed and complained and smiled…the Fuu that I had always thought to have not a care in the world…was lonely.

She was lonely.

Mugen and I were not just her bodyguards. Fuu was not just our ward. She told me to go with Sera even though everything in her voice, her eyes, her movements said that she didn't want me to leave. Just like she was not just my means to an end. Just like how the only reason why I would ever leave Fuu was because she asked me to, not because I wanted to.

I wasn't quite there yet, but I knew I was doomed to fall in love with her, if I had not already started to.

We are getting closer and closer to Nagasaki. She knows it, and that is why she doesn't sing any cheery tunes in the early morning anymore. Mugen claims that he is glad that she doesn't. He always has been a terrible liar.

At night, as I lie beside her all I can do is stare at her while she stares at the star-speckled sky.

The trees above dapple her bare skin with dancing shadows…it hurts just to look at her.

This will all end soon.

What does she mean to me? What do I mean to her? Does it hurt her to look at me as well? It doesn't matter.

This will all end soon.

We told each other stories around the campfire. It made her happy. It made her sad. Tomorrow she will finally be able to meet her Sunflower Samurai…what then?

Mugen feigns slumber when she wanders down to the river's bank. I follow her like a man possessed. There are tears in her eyes, glistening in the moonlight…they fall like crystals down her face. I can feel every muscle of my body screaming at me to take her into my arms. I didn't have to.

She came to me instead.

Her fingers are trembling when she grasps the front of my haori and I can feel her tears burn me through the fabric as she touches her forehead to my chest, her hair tickling my nose. If there was any doubt that she was lonely before there certainly wasn't any now.

It had always been about me, about my comfort, erasing my sorrows. This was the first time that Fuu sought out me for comfort. This was it…this was the feeling of being needed by another human being. She came to me…because she needed me.

I was ready to give her the world right then and there. I was ready to promise my life to her. Wherever she goes I'll go. She'd never be lonely again…my soul belonged to her, didn't she know that? Whatever she wants, I'd gladly give it to her on a silver platter.

But all I could really do was touch her elbow with my own slender fingers and brush my lips across the crown of her head as she sobs silently against me.

And it is enough.

The sponge cake tastes like ashes in my mouth. When I swallow, it feels like cotton down my throat. The letter of farewell that she left for us both is clenched so tightly in my hand that it crinkles, and beside me all Mugen can do to keep from cursing and hitting someone was to shove down as much of the cake as possible into his mouth.

When there is nothing left but crumbs on the forgotten cloth, he begins to throw the stones that are in the purse she left us into the ocean. I stare out blankly across the blue expanse as they plop one by one into its calm waters.

If I looked out far enough, I can see a black dot in the distance floating towards that island. I imagine that it is a small little boat, and I imagine that Fuu is on it, perhaps she can see us too. Two little specks on the dock. Forlorn…not knowing what to do with ourselves now that she is gone.

'Don't follow me,' she said.

My chest hurts, and I don't think it's from eating that sponge cake too quickly. There is a man who approaches us. I can tell that he is here to deliver our end.

I never even got to tell her that I love her.

Every inch of me aches. My entire body feels like it is made out of lead; even breathing is painful. From the corner of my eye I see Mugen lying a couple of feet from me. It reminds me of when we first met and got thrown into prison. We were both beaten and lying side by side like this as well. It didn't hurt then as much as it did now.

Something cool brushes my skin with a gentleness I have never felt before. It's her…she's here, and she's alive…She notices that I am awake and tries to smile, but fails. So instead she washes my face, checks my bandages (when did they get there?), and brushes my sweat-drenched hair from my forehead.

I thought I'd never see her again. Her fingers feather across me and I want to catch her hand in mine. I want to kiss her. But I can't move.

"Fuu…" I croak out her name, but she silences me with a delicate finger.

"Shhh," she whispers, her eyes look regretfully down at me. What a sight I must have made. I feel so vulnerable…I never wanted to let her see me like this. "Don't try to talk. Just sleep okay, Jin?"

I don't want to. I don't want to close my eyes. What if she disappears the minute I do? Just like before? But she is close to pleading now and I'll do it anyway because it is Fuu that asks me and I'd do anything for her.

She finishes checking my wounds and sighs heavily. "I'm sorry," she murmurs before going over to Mugen and cleaning the pirate up.

Don't be, Fuu…Don't ever be sorry.

To be sorry means that you regret meeting us, meeting me. I could never regret that…even if I were to die right now in this worn, creaky shack out in the middle of nowhere. I will never be sorry. Not for this.

Mugen mumbles in his slumber that the cool cloth feels nice. I'm sure that if either of us mention it when he regains consciousness he will deny it vehemently.

I close my eyes but don't fall asleep. Instead I listen to her every movement, comforted to just know that she is near.

My sword is broken. So is Mugen's. Not three yards she had stood away from us. Her lips had pursed in disapproval. We ended up keeping our promise after all. We didn't kill each other, aren't you glad, Fuu?

At dinner the both of us eat like we had never seen food before. At least I could still retain my manners. Fuu did nothing but watch us; she is smiling. I try not to look at her, but whether I did or not, didn't really matter. We both knew.

Come tomorrow morning she will say her goodbyes. For good. I realize with a start that this was probably the last time that we would all sit together like this. I suddenly have the urge to slow down my eating. Prolong the meal a little while longer. But that is nearly impossible because if I don't eat quickly Mugen shall gobble up everything and there would be nothing left for Fuu or me (if she ever touches her bowl) to eat.

Mugen is sleeping outside. The old man who was looking after us went into town and won't be back until morning. She and I are alone in that small, yet suddenly much too large hut.

She is sleeping on her side…well, feigning sleep. I can tell that she is listening to me breath. She knows that I'm watching her, feel my eyes burn through her back. This time she doesn't hide. Fuu turns over to face me and our eyes meet.

"What's going to happen tomorrow, Jin?" She whispers, her voice hinting a bit of fear in them. I crawled over to her as she looks at me curiously.

"I don't know…" I reply, and she smiles at me for being honest. Is it possible to love someone this much? She lets out a breathless moan when I lean down to kiss her neck, shudders when I my lips move to suckle on her earlobe.

"J-Jin, we can't…" she protests weakly. "Your wounds…"

"I don't care."

I really don't. I need her; I'll die if I don't touch her now. This is my last chance…my absolute last chance to show her what she means to me. I can't possible convey all of my feelings for her in just one night. But it is more than I deserve and I shall certainly try.

She whimpers when my nimble fingers undo her obi, her eyes squeeze shut when they touch her burning skin.

"Look at me," I rasp, and she shakes her head and bites her lip at the demand. "Look at me," I commanded again, slipping a finger into her and her eyes flutter open then. Our gazes catch in the dark. I can see her hazel irises watching me with rapt attention, lust and excitement and fear flicker across them. Her mouth falls open as I continue to touch her, never keeping her eyes closed for too long.

I want to her to see what I'm doing to her. See what she's doing to me just by being near me. My eyes greedily drink her up as she writhes beneath my adamant hand. I tasted every inch of her. There was no part of Fuu that did not reach my tongue, my lips, my hands…

She cries out and clutches my shoulder, her fingers digging into the fabric of my haori and into my flesh as she watches me. My eyes never left hers, looking up at her perfect body as she convulses in ecstasy.

"Touch me," I groan against her, guiding her hands beneath my clothes, across my chest, down my stomach…down, down, down…

Our lips meet in a kiss, gentle and tender and intensely passionate. She can taste herself on my tongue and grips my flesh tighter. God I want her so much.

When we are finally pressed fully naked against each other and our clothes lay scattered about the floor, I let out a long, drawn out hiss of satisfaction. For a moment, all I did was hold her, study her, savoring this moment. I want to memorize every part of this girl beneath me, burn everything about her into my mind so that I'd be able to see her every time I close my eyes.

No more games…no more playing pretend. I was so very tired of pretending that this…this all meant nothing to me when in fact it meant everything.

I had broken all of the rules anyway.

I had spoken of our intimacy. I had ended our game and then willfully started it up again when I knew we shouldn't. I had thought and called for her name when I should have been calling for another. I had fallen in love with her.

The rules had been set up so that we couldn't fall in love…so that neither of us would get hurt. And now that I broke all of them, I had lost. I'd lose everything.

And I didn't care. Not now. Right now, I had everything…everything.

"Fuu…Fuu…" Her name spills from my lips like an uncontrollable prayer as I breath it across her glistening skin. A sob or a moan escapes her throat I can't tell, and she clutches me tighter, her legs wrapping around me in the most sinful…the most painful of ways.

Closer, deeper, I need more of her. The moonlight drapes over our entangled bodies, drenched with sweat and tears and each other. It is a slow dance. She touches me cautiously, gingerly, afraid that she'll hurt me if she clings to me any tighter. In return I brand her everywhere I can with course, heated, hungry hands to let her know that I won't break. Not while I'm with her.

The only way I could ever break is if she'd stop looking at me, stop kissing me and touching me.

"Fuu…" God I love saying her name. "I'll say it a thousand times over before the night is done. She shivers beneath me, arching, pressing herself closer. We could never be close enough. We need to get closer.

I watch her lips…entranced. She is trying to say something, her mouth uttering a single syllable that makes no sound. I groan loudly and move against her more urgently when I realize what she is trying…or not trying to say.

"Say it," my voice is husky with desire and she whimpers, eyes hooded and lustful. "Fuu, Fuu…it's okay, just say it. Say it…"

"Oh!" She moans, her arms wind around my neck, bringing my lips down to hers so that they may make love just as our bodies were. "I…Oh please, I can't I…"

Our movements are jerkier, the heat between us is unbearable.

"Fuu, oh…"


Yes. Yes. Finish it.

The pleasure and ecstasy is blinding, consuming.

"Jin!" She moans loudly as she digs her nails into my flesh and I bury my head into the crook of her neck. Tears stain my face, her face, her chest, our my hair. I never thought my name was anything special. But she had said it, and suddenly it sounded more beautiful than anything in the world.

I could die a happy man, right now.

I kiss her in a way only a lover could, and she lets me.

If I don't tell her now I'll never get the chance to.

"Fuu, I love you," I whisper against her lips. I feel them smile beneath mine; her hazel eyes study me with a sad expression. Her hands come up to cup my face, her fingers tracing every inch of my features. I think a part of me is dying. I've never felt so alive.

"No, you don't," she whispers back before brushing her lips softly against my own. "But thank you for saying it anyway."

Half of me expected that answer, and it is the closest thing to a confession I shall ever get from her. She is trying to make it easier for us, and I am grateful. It won't work…I know that much. But I am grateful. We are both on borrowed time. I know that. Have always known it. I try to press closer to her once more and our dance begins anew.

We'll make love the entire night and I'll revel in each moment that she ushers my name.

And it is enough. There weren't any strings attached to begin with.

Except one…just one. The red string that only she possesses and doesn't even know…attached to my heart. It is hers. She can keep it. I want no one else to have it.

In three years time I will abandon everything and search for her.

Within those three years I will spend most of my time trying to forget her, but will end up remembering her instead.

When those three years are up, there I will find her, beneath the cherry blossom trees. Her hair will be swaying loose and free in the wind and my fingers will ache to run through them, let them slide like silk through my skin.

But I will have waited three years I will be patient just a little while more. Instead I'll catch a blossom as it falls down to earth…and tuck it behind her ear. She'll turn to me, and smile, her hazel eyes just as beautiful as I remember them. I'll kiss each eye, each cheek, that dainty nose, those soft lips.

And I'll say to her, "It looks much more beautiful in your hair," and we'd be so happy.

In three years…

Until then, my love.


Author's Note: Well, this story has been in my head for a very long time now and I only decided to write it now. I don't even remember all the things that happened in Samurai Champloo anymore. Although this story was much more…risqué than my usual stuff, and even though there weren't any actual real graphic scenes I hope you all enjoyed it just the same.

Anyway, the ending implies of course that after three years Jin will have settled everything with Shino and then find Fuu to be with her. Whatever that may mean. I'll leave the ending up for you to decide. Will he find her and they live happily ever after? Would he have to win her heart all over again? Is she with another man? Will he find her with a child that he didn't know he fathered?

Lol. I'm teasing you all. NO, there will not be a sequel. I don't have time for one. This story is FINISHED. One hundred percent.

I neglected much hw for this, so please, the least any of you can do is READ AND REVIEW! Even you lurkers. YES I MEAN YOU!

Critique is welcome, but not flames. Especially if you're only going to whine about the fact that it's Jin/Fuu.

I hope this made for a good read.

Youkai Yume