AN: This chapter takes place after the episode where Jin meets and rescues Shino from the brothel. It's the first night after Jin said he might not be able to come back to Fuu and Mugen.

The rest of the story will take place one year later.

Also, this chapter is in Italics to indicate the past. It is not a formatting error! The rest will be normal font.

"word" speech

'word' thoughts

He heard her slowly approaching. Even if he didn't have heightened senses, he would have heard her. She stepped on nearly every twig and branch in the path, and cursed softly every time she stumbled in the dark.

Jin pushed his glasses up his nose and tried to continue his meditation in front of the peacefully flowing stream.


He heard her crash to the ground and called out to her, feigning surprise. "Is someone there?"

Fuu appeared from the trees, looking sheepish. "Oh, Hi Jin! I hope I'm not disturbing you."

Jin rolled his eyes, glad that the darkness and his glasses hid his expression. "Not at all. Would you like to join me?" He gestured to the ground beside him.

She beamed at him and shyly sauntered over. He noticed that she was swinging her hips more than she usually did.

'Is she...trying to be seductive?' He caught the gleam in her eye and sighed unhappily. 'This should be interesting.'

Fuu managed to sit right next to him and he swore there was no possible way for her to be any closer to him.

"So uh...meditating, huh?" She tilted her head in a way he knew she thought was cute. He did agree that she was cute, but not in that way. To him, Fuu was more like a sister with each passing day they spent together. He was growing to care deeply for her. But as a friend only.

And he could tell instinctively that Fuu was not thinking in terms of "friendship" at the moment.

"Yes Fuu, but meditation demands silence to properly work."

"Oh, sorry Jin. I'll just sit here quietly." She leaned closer to him and smiled again.

He had been trying to get her to leave, but as long as she was quiet, he would tolerate her presence. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, clearing his mind.

Fuu chose that moment to yawn loudly. He glanced over to her out of the corner of his eye and saw that she had her arms stretched over her head and she was pushing out her chest. It would have seemed innocent enough, had she not been staring at him to see if he was looking.

"I do not think that-"

She shushed him and tilted her head again, looking at him through lowered lashes. "I'm so glad you decided to come back Jin. I thought that you would leave me for that Shino woman and I was so mad at you. But now..." She lightly placed a hand on his knee.

He wasn't going to let her continue this behavior. He abruptly stood up and cleared his throat. "I'm afraid that you have the wrong impression of me."

Fuu quickly stood up as well, standing before him. "No Jin, It's okay!" She took a step closer to him. "I know you care about me, I feel the same way! You don't have to be shy around me because I...I think I love you!" He saw her leaning into him but he wasn't sure how to gracefully avoid it, so he just stood there as Fuu clumsily kissed him.

As her warm lips were pressed to his, he heard a branch snap loudly. 'Hmm. It seems Mugen has decided to follow Fuu. I wonder what he thinks of this.'


Mugen gawked at the scene in front of him. 'The Brat and Four-Eyes? What the Hell!' He suddenly found a thick branch in his hands and he viciously snapped it in half, wishing it was the Samurai's neck instead.

Not wanting to watch them make-out, he threw the branch to the ground and stormed away, back towards their campsite. He was pissed off and his ego was slightly hurt. He had been sure that the girl had liked him.

'Not that I'd ever have given her the time of day anyway!' He just wasn't used to losing a girl to anyone else.

Especially to the fish-faced wonder that is Jin. It wasn't fair. Mugen was the ladies' man, and he was ruggedly handsome. 'That bitch is crazy! Four-Eyes is probably a cold fish in the sack. I could make her scream. Not that I would anyway.'

He made it back to the camp and plopped down onto his mat. 'If they think I'm gonna wait for them to come back all sweaty and secretive, then their wrong. I could care less!'. He promptly rolled over and fell asleep.


Jin hadn't moved away from Fuu, for fear of breaking her heart and causing awkwardness between them. He just stood there, not participating in the inexperienced kiss, but not refusing her either. Eventually Fuu drew away from him, a concerned expression on her face.

"Did I...Did I do that wrong or something?" She took another step back from him, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.

"No, that was very nice."

"Then why didn't you kiss me back? Isn't that what's supposed to happen?"

"I do not have romantic feelings for you. I know you do not have them for me either."

She furrowed her brow angrily. "What do you mean? I just kissed you! I love you Jin! You're so handsome and strong and you came back to me! You left that woman and came back! How can you-" She whimpered a little as she started to cry. "How can you say that to me?"

Jin crossed the small distance between them and drew her into his arms. She buried her face against his chest.

"Please do not cry over me. I admit that I care for you, but I do not love you. I left Shino on that island because I love her. When she is free, I will go to her. But that is not for three years and will not interfere with my promise to you."

He gently pushed her back enough so he could see her face. She looked up to him with tear-filled eyes. "I think that you are connecting me to your father. We are both Samurai that you feel have abandoned you at one point. But since you have always wanted your father to return, when I did instead, I feel that you projected all your love onto me. If you look into yourself, I am positive that you will understand this."

Fuu had stopped crying and he could see her processing what he had told her. Then she sighed deeply and stepped away from him. "Why do you always have to be so logical? But I think you're right." She hung her head. "You won't tell Mugen I kissed you right? He'd never stop teasing me for throwing myself at you."

Jin didn't want to lie to her and he knew that Mugen had already witness their little tryst. "You have my word that he will not hear it from me." That was the truth, at least.

She gave him a uncertain smile. "So...Um, are we okay?"

He nodded. "Yes. Do not be embarrassed about it. It is in the past and we are always moving forward."

She laughed. "Jeez, lighten up Jin! It may have been my first kiss, but I'll get over it. Don't worry, I'm a strong girl."

"Of that, I have no doubt. Was that really your first? I am sorry you wasted it on me."

"Nah, it's okay. I figure it's like practice."

Jin was surprised she was taking it so well, but he was also proud of her. The daughter of a Samurai should be strong. "Come, let's get back to camp."


The next day, Jin was sure that Mugen would be teasing them about their late-night kiss but surprisingly, he hadn't even mentioned it.

They walked in a line, with Mugen at the front, Fuu next, and Jin at the end. He watched Mugen curiously.

The only time the sulking pirate spoke was to shout insults at Fuu for random things. He seemed almost angry. It made Jin wonder.

'Perhaps he is jealous.' The thought of Mugen being jealous of him and Fuu caused him to snort in laughter.

Both his companions glanced back at him in question and he kept his face blank.

"Are you okay Jin?" Fuu asked him, concerned. He saw Mugen dart an angry look at her before staring off in the other direction, his chin jutting out stubbornly.

"An insect flew up my nose. I am fine. Let's continue."

Fuu smiled at him then continued walking, nearly bumping right into Mugen, who had yet to start moving.

"Hey watch it bitch!"

"Well, get out of the middle of the road then!"

"Shut up, you flat-chested baby!"

"Smelly, dirty, ungrateful Pirate!"

"Well...Who would ever want to be with you?" With that Mugen finally began to stomp down the road and scowled after him, staring daggers at his back.

Jin was used to these displays, but Mugen's last comment was an odd one. When he said it, it had almost been as if he was asking himself that question instead of insulting her with it.

'Interesting indeed.'