Yet Part Two
The day Haru started to walk Jin had gone out to the sakura tree behind the dojo and cut off a branch about two fingers thick. The next three weeks were carefully spent fashioning the stick into a wooden sword that barely ran the length of his wrist to his elbow. He wasn't quite sure of the reaction he was expecting from Fuu when Haru was presented with the gift but it wasn't the happiness and pride that she showed.
"He'll be the greatest samurai there ever was," Fuu had said. "Because his father already is."
Jin had been surprised, though not so much by her words as by the feelings they'd invoked. He'd felt proud of Fuu's faith in him. As though he could do anything just so long as she believed he could.
With Fuu's encouragement, Haru learned how to walk with his sword in hand and practiced against a small straw dummy for an hour a day. Of course to Haru it was all a game, something Fuu frequently reminded Jin when he became frustrated with his son's lack of understanding and discipline.
It wasn't as though Jin didn't realize Haru was just a child, but the fact was that Haru was his child. Shouldn't that count towards something?
"Even you had to start as a novice," Fuu had soothed more then once before. "Just give him time. He'll be cleaning the dojo floor with you before you even know it."
Though it was always said in jest, Jin never managed to work out whether he should be proud of his son or irritated that Fuu would think he could loose. To his own child no less.
It was viewed as progress when, on their first meeting, Haru had smacked Mugen in the head with his boken. The pirate had howled with a mix of indignity and pain and promptly dropped the eighteen month old boy in order to nurse his skull. Not trusting the other man with his child, Jin had hovered close enough to catch Haru before he was injured. He smirked as Mugen danced around in pain, cursing in several creative ways before Fuu had added to his pain by smacking his head again with a stern warning not to corrupt her son.
Still, despite their rocky introduction, Mugen had taken a great liking to Haru and had taken it upon himself to teach Jin's son the basics for some of his more…unusual moves. Much to Jin's annoyance, Haru actually enjoyed the lessons. However, when he wanted to bring his son's focus back to traditional martial arts, Fuu had just laughed and said she thought it was a good thing that Haru was learning so much from the two men she loved most. He wasn't quite sure what he felt upon realizing his wife loved Mugen of all people, but he was certain it wasn't complimentary.
It was on a day when Fuu was at the market and Mugen was in the dojo with Haru that Jin noticed something off about the house. It was a presence, familiar but distant; like a memory he had almost forgotten. It was with caution that Jin had stepped out of his house and onto the porch, prepared for trouble but not what he saw.
In the almost three years he had lived with Fuu, Jin had never actually forgotten about Shino but he'd never actively thought about her either. Now, with her standing almost forebodingly before him, every moment he'd spent with her came rushing back like water breaking through a dam.
He supposed that he should feel guilty and was rather surprised when he realized he didn't. He had promised her he would return and it was a promise he'd broken. He should feel shamed, disgusted, even hateful towards himself, and yet instead he only felt a strange sense of…contentment. Shino was alive and well. She hadn't been returned to brothel. She was now free to live her own life. Just as he was free to live his own.
"Shino," Jin said, inclining his head just the slightest bit. "You look well."
"I feel well," Shino replied.
Jin nodded again.
"You never came for me."
"I didn't," Jin agreed.
He was pondering his answer when Haru ran from the dojo, giggling and squealing before he slammed into his father's legs. Haru begged for his father to hide him from Mugen, who was upset that the almost two year old has smacked his legs with his boken. Jin almost smiled at his son when he saw the annoyed look on Mugen's face, before that annoyance turned to surprise until it was masked behind anger and…contempt?
Jin introduced Haru as his son before he invited the shocked Shino into his house for tea. It was only proper, he reasoned, it was a long way for her to travel only to be disappointed. They sat around the table, though Mugen had retreated to a corner with a jug of sake and a scowl, with Haru nestled on his father's folded legs so he could play with the sunflower seeds he'd been given as a snack.
The tea was warm and soothing and Shino complimented him on his taste only once before he gave the credit to his wife and she fell silent. She stayed for only an hour before she thanked Jin for his hospitality and collected her things. Jin asked if she was leaving town and she replied that she would stay in an inn for the night. Her words were soft and her eyes were suggestive as they peered up at him through thick lashes. She was inviting him to visit her.
Several feelings rushed through him at once but they weren't the feelings he'd expected.
Three years ago he would have pledged his whole self to Shino. Mind. Body. Spirit. But that was a long time ago. A different life ago.
He had a home. He had responsibilities. He had a son.
Fuu's smiling face flashed through his minds eye.
He had a wife.
He shook his head at Shino, his eyes kind but firm. He wouldn't come to her. Not that night or any night.
Shino left disappointed but accepting.
Jin watched her go and saw the shock and pain and something else on Fuu's face as Shino passed her by.
Was that fear? Fear of what?
Fuu's smile was strained as she entered the house and Jin frowned when she refused to meet his eyes. The evening went by in uncomfortable silence with Fuu busy cooking, serving, and cleaning as Mugen looked on from his corner, still scowling and drinking. Haru had drifted off in Jin's lap and he waved off Fuu's hands as she made to take the boy to bed. Instead, Jin put his son to bed on his own while Fuu headed off to the bath.
After leaving Haru's room, Jin passed Mugen in the hall. Their eyes met for only a moment before Mugen scoffed and passed by to the guest room at the end of the hall. Jin's eyes narrowed. That was almost a challenge.
His every muscle screamed for him to take out his sword and meet the challenge but he knew now wasn't the right time. Instead he followed his head and stepped out into the back where the bath house was located.
It wasn't until he was outside the door that Jin noticed it: Fuu was crying.
His brows furrowed and he opened the door to the changing room. Instead of taking off his clothes, Jin just slipped off his shoes and pulled open the door to the bath. Fuu gasped and ducked beneath the side of the barrel as she looked at him, eyes wide and rimmed in red. Jin's hands tightened to fists at the sight of her. He hated it when she cried.
"I'm sorry," Fuu apologized and Jin's eyebrow lifted in curiosity. "You love her and I've trapped you here."
Jin felt himself growing angry as he stepped further into the room.
"I'm alright now. We're alright." Fuu refused to look at him. "So if…if you want to leave—."
The kiss Jin gave her was hard and forceful. He didn't doubt her lips would be bruised in the morning but he didn't care. All he wanted was to stop those words from being said. To save them both from the pain they would cause.
Fuu gasped his name as he pulled away. Her eyes were half closed and glazed over with passion. He liked that look, he decided as his thumb gently brushed her lower lip.
He whispered her name in return before kissing her again. This time slow, gentle, loving.
Fuu whimpered, the sound half caught in her throat and suddenly the kiss wasn't slow or gentle but fast and hot. Full of passion.
She said his name again, muffled against the force of his lips.
"I'm not leaving," Jin said as the kiss abruptly ended and it took a moment before Fuu registered his words.
Fuu's mouth opened in surprise.
"Fuu," Jin said, kissing her neck, her cheek, her eyes. "I love you."
And Fuu cried as Jin shed his clothes and joined her in the water, but for some reason, he didn't mind those tears.
End Part Two
Kaliea: I really wasn't planning to continue this but then I remembered about Shino and I just can't stand loose ends so this came about. It will absolutely be the last one though. Thanks for your reviews and support!