Jin didn't love her. The best way he could think of to describe what had happened between them was the word 'accident'. It hadn't even been six months after they'd said goodbye at the crossroads when he met up with her again. He'd stopped at a small roadside inn to rest for the night, a luxury he'd rarely allowed himself considering his constant lack of funds, but that night it had been storming; making it impossible to sleep outside.

He'd ducked under the welcome banner and slid open the door, his hair and clothes dripping puddles onto the dry entryway floor. A young girl, probably ten or eleven, had hurried forward with a towel and a smile, welcoming him in and offering to take him to a room. Without a smile Jin had nodded his agreement, carefully wringing out his soaked kimono the best he could before he stepped up into the store. With his shoes left at the entrance Jin had shuffled through after the girl in his tabi socks, the damp fabric rubbing uncomfortably between his toes.

The room she brought him to wasn't the largest by far but it was big enough and seemingly comfortable. It would due just fine for the single night he planned to stay. The bath was at the end of the hall and he gratefully spent as long as he could before the steam started to make him feel dizzy. Now warm, Jin quickly dried and dressed in the inn provided yukata before he made his way back out to the front room.

The same girl came forward again, this time leading him to a table in the back corner. A quick glance showed that he could see every entrance to the room, including the one that led back into the kitchen. He nodded in approval and the girl bowed and backed away to give him time to think over his order.

He was debating over tempura udon and domburi when they came through the door. A group of six rough looking men and a single young woman. They were loud and obnoxious, though the woman looked distinctly shy and out of place in the few glances he managed to get of her through the gaps between men. One of them, probably the leader, yelled out for assistance and the young girl from before hurried out though instead of the welcoming smile she'd had for him, she showed only thinly veiled fear for the men she had to serve next.

Their order was placed for saké and dango and the girl quickly hurried away. Once she was gone the men gaffed at her obvious timidity as they took a seat around one of the larger center tables. With his vision no free of the towering men, Jin had been able to see the young woman clearly for the first time. His eyes widened only a fraction when he recognized her as Fuu. Anger filled his veins as he watched the men all but molest her as they tried to get her to 'entertain' them. Instinctively his hand went to his waist only to stifle a curse when he remembered he'd left his swords in his room.

Though he didn't necessarily need his swords to fight, he'd much rather avoid the potential damages that fighting six men barehanded might cause. He'd have only enough to pay for his meal and lodging as it was. His eyes never strayed from Fuu as the young girl came back in to take his order. His long debate forgotten, Jin simply ordered 'something quick' and the girl left again with a bewildered look on her face.

Next time she exited the kitchen was to bring saké to Fuu's table which the men instantly attacked with vigor. Drink after drink was shoved in Fuu's direction and her constant protests seemed to be weighing heavily on the leader's nerves.

"We promised you food!" He'd said. "And you promised a good time. If you don't deliver, babe, we won't either."

Fuu's reluctance was obvious as she finally accepted one of the cups and downed it in one go. The men all cheered while Jin gritted his teeth and watched Fuu steadily knock back cup after cup. A rosy flush soon took its place on her cheeks and she swayed unsteadily, blinking in mild surprise at the plate of dango that somehow appeared in front of her.

The way she wolfed down the food showed Fuu probably hadn't eaten in a while and for the first time Jin noticed just how thin her face was. It wasn't just her face either. He cursed himself for not noticing right away how her kimono seemed to be tied much tighter then it had been before or how the wide sleeves seemed even wider on her much thinned wrists. And yet, despite that, she still managed to look rather lovely; which was no doubt how she came to be targeted by such a rough bunch.

It was with surprise that Jin realized he had finished his meal, not even noticing he had gotten it let alone started eating. For a moment he felt a surge of annoyance that he'd been to distracted to enjoy his meal but that was swiftly brushed aside as the leader stood and grasped the intoxicated Fuu by her elbow. She looked up at the man with confused, dazed eyes and he just smirked while the other men whined that it wasn't fare, they wanted to go first.

It didn't take Jin even a moment to realize what it was the men were talking about.

Perhaps it was his time spent as her bodyguard that unconsciously spurred him into action or maybe it was simply the helplessness that she now seemed to carry around her. Whatever the reason, Jin had surged forward the instant the leader demanded a room; his fist connecting hard with the leader's jaw. Fuu had cried out as she was flung back from the leader's sudden release of her arm but Jin was quick on his feet and managed to catch her before she hit the ground.

The inn owner stood frozen behind the counter and Jin knew he was debating whether or not he should intervene in what could very seriously turn into a messy brawl. The owner flinched as the group each pulled out a knife, their faces angry at the interruption of their fun. Jin's mind was working fast in order to come up with a quick, effective, and virtually damage-less way to rid the inn of the disgusting men.

His salvation came in the form of a small voice. Glancing back for only a second he managed to catch the sword the small serving girl had tossed in his direction. It wasn't his weapon, but it would be more then enough. Apparently not drunk enough to realize they were outmatched, the leader cursed and replaced his knife before tossing several coins on the table as he raved about cheap whores before he spun around and left the inn, slamming the door behind him. With only a few backwards glances the rest of his men followed until the sound of thunder and Fuu's ragged breathing was all that filled the room.

Once they were gone, Jin turned to the girl and handed back the sword with a polite bow before he lifted Fuu into his arms and ventured down the hall to his room. Sliding open the door with his foot, Jin stepped inside where his eyes fell on the single futon. His eyes drifted down to the girl in his arms before he shrugged. He didn't mind giving the futon to Fuu.

She wasn't asleep as he laid her down on the soft mattress and she watched him with distant interest as he carefully arranged the blankets around her. Suddenly there was a spark of recognition in her eyes and she smiled.

"Jin…" She said as her fingers carefully traced his face; down his cheek, across his lips, and over his eyes. "I'm dreaming again."

Jin was frozen as she continued, his mind only working again after she threaded her fingers through his hair and pulled him down for a sudden, sloppy kiss.

"Fuu!" He gasped, pulling away. "What are you doing?"

Tears rimmed her eyes as she looked up at him, hurt reflecting in their deep brown depths.

"Even—." She hiccupped before continuing. "Even in my dreams you don't—don't want me."

Jin just stared as she slowly sat up, her hands sliding up his torso to trace the muscles underneath.

"Why?" She said, her voice to sad, her face so vulnerable. Jin had no idea how things had progressed after that, only that the next thing he remembered was lying on top of her, naked skin pressed against skin as she gasped his name and dug her fingers into his sweaty hair.

It wasn't until she was finally asleep that Jin allowed himself to question his sanity. She was Fuu after all, he had no business to her body; she wasn't a whore. And that was the only reason he'd stayed.

As many nights as he'd spent at a brothel with one woman or another, that night had been completely different for him. She'd been drunk, no doubts there, and he had let himself take advantage of that. Forcing his name from her kiss bruised lips as he invaded—stole— everything she had to offer. She was his now, as much as he didn't want her, and it was his duty—no, his obligation to care for her until he was certain she could care for herself.

The first rays of morning found him absently stroking her hair as he thought. It was then that she'd stirred, her eyes opening slowly, deliberately. She hadn't asked him why he was there or what they had done, just blushed prettily and apologized. She remembered everything she'd said, though at the time she'd believed it had been a dream. Slowly they'd untangled and Jin offered her privacy to dress herself though at that point it had hardly been necessary.

The rain from the night before had cleared and the sun had filtered in through the balcony door along with the soft songs of various birds. Once they were dressed, Jin led the way into the front room where he paid for his meal and room. The young girl from the night before took his money with a heavy blush as her eyes darted from him to Fuu and back again. Still, he didn't so much as blink as he offered her a polite bow and took Fuu's elbow, leading her to the front door where they slipped on their sandals and left.

She didn't know where she was going Fuu had admitted when Jin had asked. He made a small noise of acceptance before he started walking and Fuu had hurried to catch up, her small fingers grasping the sleeve of his kimono as she had done so many times before. For a moment it seemed to Jin as though they'd never separated, though the distinct absence of Mugen insured him that, indeed, they had.

For weeks the two traveled from town to town, village to village, but never once had they discussed what had happened in the inn or repeated any aspect of what they had done so abruptly at their reunion. Instead Fuu followed him faithfully, trusting him; though Jin was sure she didn't know exactly what she trusted him with.

It took just over a month before Jin had found a place he was satisfied with. The village was small but homey and there was a perfect plot of land just at the top of a hill where a modest house could be built. By then summer was growing to a close and so they had taken up residence at a local boarding house so Jin could secure the land and begin building a house. That was when Fuu had gotten sick.

The trip to the apothecary had been a nerve wracking one for Jin. He was more then concerned that the illness was his fault; caused by him dragging her around without much rest for almost six weeks. When the visit had completed Fuu had come back out of the back room. Her face was pale and tear tracks marred her cheeks; her eyes refused to look at him and he felt his heart tighten in his chest. It was at that moment he knew it really was his fault. Whatever 'it' was.

'It' was soon revealed to be a child. Fuu was pregnant and there were absolutely no doubts as to whom the child belonged to. Jin was very well aware that he had been Fuu's first and only. The weight of his responsibility was heavy on Jin's shoulders, but he carried it well. Winter came quickly that year and for the first time in many years Jin had set aside his swords in favor of a real job.

He worked at a warehouse from early in the morning to late at night before he would retire to the boarding house where Fuu was always waiting. Each day her stomach seemed to grow more and more pronounced and each day Jin realized that he needed to marry her soon, before the baby could be born with the curse of 'bastard'.

When he did finally marry her it was very near the end of her term. Seven months had passed since they had arrived at the small town and spring had come again. The ceremony was quick and uncomplicated and when Fuu cried he knew it wasn't from happiness.

The amount of money Jin had made over the last seven months was just enough to buy what he needed to build the house he had promised his, now, young wife. The friends he and Fuu had made during their stay, including a young man named Nishida who also lived at the boarding house, were all willing to help Jin build his home, even going so far as to construct a small but well built dojo on the modest property.

It wasn't quite finished by the time Fuu was ready to deliver and, despite himself, Jin paced nervously in the boarding house hallway. He wasn't sure why he was so upset, though he imagined it had some to do with Nishida's constant 'jokes' that Fuu or his child would die in the birthing room. He hadn't wanted Fuu or the responsibility of a son or daughter, but he found the idea of losing that responsibility far more upsetting then gaining it had been.

As it turned out he needn't have worried. Fuu delivered well, her months of care by Jin and the doctor strengthening her body to the level it needed to be for child birth, and their child was born a healthy, happy boy with his dark eyes and Fuu's light hair. They named him Haru.

"Because he is our spring," Fuu had said.

It had been a year since then and once again Jin was lying awake, gently stroking his wife's hair as the sun peaked through their bedroom window. He provided for his family through his dojo and the full classes keeping him busy on most days, though made sure to show Haru how much he cared for the boy. His son was Jin's pride; showing strength in his young body and heart that proved Haru would grow into a great samurai.

Fuu, however, was different for him. He cared for her, provided for her, and made love to her as any honorable husband would but, as much as he knew she loved him, he didn't love her as a man should love his wife. The sound of Haru fussing filtered in from across the hall and Fuu began to stir. Her eyes fluttered open as she turned and a light blush touched her cheeks when her eyes met his.

"Good morning," Fuu said, her voice almost a whisper. Jin 'hm'd in response. Slowly she sat up and stretched, her yukata sliding off one shoulder as she moved. His eyes found the bare skin with a lusty gaze. Regardless of his lack of love, he found his wife to be a very beautiful and desirable lover. Catching his eye, Fuu gave him a coy smile before she deliberately rolled her shoulders, bringing the fabric dangerously close to uncovering her sensitive breast.

It was with a quick movement that Jin captured her lips in a hungry but gentle kiss. Fuu giggled against his lips before she pulled back and tugged her yukata on correctly. Jin glared as she stood and she giggled again as she dropped a quick kiss onto his forehead.

"Later love," she promised and then she left the room. Climbing carefully to his feet, Jin stretched his muscles for a moment before he followed his wife into the hall. He leaned against the door to his son's room as his wife soothed the child, making gentle cooing noises that made Haru laugh before her sudden tickling caused him to squirm and squeal in glee. A small smile tugged at Jin's lips as he watched his young family.

It was true, what happened between them was an accident and Jin could admit that, while he cared for her, he didn't love her.

Not yet.

Kaliea: My first Samurai Champloo fic. It probably doesn't make much sense and Jin and Fuu are probably out of character but I think it's pretty good considering I haven't even finished the anime completely. Of course, that's the real reason why I wrote this after the anime was already over. That way I wouldn't have to worry about sounding like a complete idiot. Anyway, don't forget to review!