I'm getting somewhere with this, slowly but surely. Thanks a bunch to those who reviewed~ Hopefully another chapter soon (but who knows when that will be, am i right? :D ) Enjoy the chapter!

I own nothing of Jubei-chan. Just this plot.

She took off her shoes before entering the building, carrying them in one hand. Instead of walking, she smiled as she slid her socked feet along the tiles, past the rows of cubbies for shoes and clothes, until she reached the small step that led in to the training area.

The polished wooden floor gleamed, and the sigh of moving material filled the room as the students stepped back and forth, rows of shinai striking the air.

"Men, men, men -"*

Determination rang in their voices as they kiaied and Freesia was reminded of herself as she watched from the doorway. They were young, from the looks of it, their ages ranging from eight or so to sixteen. Freesia was almost envious of the vigorous way they moved. It had been a long time since she'd moved with such purposeful action. Her hands practically itched to hold her katana. She sighed lightly, knowing that the only person she could have a decent spar with was Jiyu.

Oh those fights were definitely better than decent. Her heart stuttered at the thought. "No, they were only decent. Even if Jiyu has a lot of skill." the blonde muttered sternly, trying to keep her mind in check.

She was distracted by a sudden banging. She saw that someone in full armour was hitting the butt of their shinai against the floor.

"Yame kudasai. For those of you that have bogu, please gear up and get ready to practice some Kiri-kaeshi before we finish up. Those of you without bogu please line up, sit, watch and learn."

"Hai Sensei!"

Freesia wasn't quite sure who it was, but the teacher sounded very familiar. If only she could place that voice…

She watched for the rest of the lesson, unable to help her interest. She almost found herself a little disappointed that it finished sooner than she expected. She closed her eyes and just listened to the sounds of them removing armour, their collective breathing as they meditated and then the rustle of their uniforms as they bowed.

"Arigatou gozaimashita."

The thank-you sounded almost reverent, and then they were leaving, almost rushing towards the door but still remembering to politely bow again as they exited the room. Freesia moved to the side to make it easier for them to get out, and momentarily the room was filled with chatting and laughter before they went to the changing rooms to get out of the uniform. The teacher was the last to leave. When she saw who it was Freesia's eyes widened slightly in surprise.


The man looked momentarily taken-aback "Yes?"

"So it is you." She smiled "Its Freesia."

"Freesia." He breathed "What are you doing here?"

She thought there was something almost accusatory in his tone, but brushed it off "I came to see what was being practiced in this new dojo, and I found you!"

"But why are you back in the village?"

"I'm on leave from work." Her smile faltered, but only for a moment "So you teach Kendo now?"

"Y-yes." he blushed slightly, and she laughed. This was more like Shiro, the blonde fringe falling clumsily across his brow.

"Somehow I'm not surprised. You were very good by the end of high school."

He nodded, and she could tell that he was pleased by the compliment.

"And you, what are you doing?" He seemed a little more relaxed now.

"It would seem I have a head for business," she laughed a little "but I'm not running one or anything."

"For a moment there that kind of thought did cross my mind." Shiro smiled too, teeth flashing in a grin.

"I'll let you get changed," Freesia stepped back slightly, pony-tail bobbing "I have to get back to Sai anyway, so I'll be going. I'll come by again though, okay?"

"Is it later than you thought?" he pretended confusion, then smiled "Please do, we have practices twice a week."

She waved as she left through the door, and he waved back as she put on her shoes.

Genuinely worried about the time, she jogged back to the house.

Freesia opened the door without knocking. "Sai?" she called, wondering if perhaps he had started without her.

"Freesia? I'm in the kitchen. You're just in time." She was relieved that he didn't sound annoyed at all. As she walked in the kitchen he turned to her with a delighted smile.

"So what shall it be tonight?" A recipe book lay open on the counter in front of him and they looked through it together.

As they cooked, Sai's words were on her mind. Would Jiyu be coming? She was nervous but didn't let it show as she chatted to Sai. Her laughter flowed easily at stories of how Mikage berated him for being late with meeting deadlines and how Bantaro had taken over the family business but had run in to trouble a few times with clients because of his attitude, usually to their wives.

As she climbed in to bed that night she reflected that it had been a really nice evening. She felt glad that Sai still felt close to her; it had been so easy to bridge the gap of so many years that she marvelled at it. She could only hope it would be so easy with everyone else.

Her bed was quickly warmed by her body heat and the fabric of the duvet was soft and comforting. She realised absently that Shiro hadn't told her which day was the other one on which there was Kendo practice at the dojo. Quickly becoming drowsy after her long day (she was in no way used to waking up so early yet, even though it used to be habit), Freesia closed her eyes and fell asleep.

It was not unpleasant to find that she had again woken with the beginning of sunrise. She supposed, in part, that it almost couldn't be helped given that the bedroom window faced east. Still, if she'd known it would be a recurring thing she would have decided to wear on of those eye-mask things. Actually no, scrap that, she thought, she would rather be dead than wear one of those, unless for comical effect.

Ignoring the urge to get out of bed, she rebelled against her body, and chose to nap. Rolling away from the view of the creeping sun she shut her eyes tight and tried her best to catch up on sleep.

She woke again later, and a glance towards the digital clock on the bedside table revealed that the time was indeed much more to her liking. Feeling indolent though, she just lay there, eyes still closed, and enjoyed the warmth and comfort of the bed. She'd always been surprised at the size of it. Such a big bed had seemed so out of place in the small room, and yet Jiyu had still managed to fit everything in.

Freesia had almost drifted off to sleep again when her ears picked out the sound of laughter from down stairs. Even though her door was closed, the sound travelled easily through out the house. Muffled voices conversed for a few minutes or more and then there was the sound of a chair scraping along the floor as someone moved. There was nothing for a few moments, and Freesia had resolved to get up and check what was for breakfast when there was the sound of rapid footsteps on the stairs.

"Ah, wait!" Sai called after whoever was there and the footsteps stopped outside Freesia's room.

"Freesia's in there. She's still asleep at the moment. Boy was that a surprise for me!" Sai laughed and Freesia heard footsteps now backing slowly from her room.

Fair guess as to who that is, Freesia thought, her body now thoroughly paralyzed at the unexpected. There mightn't be a better chance than this, but as much as she willed it, her limbs refused to move. The voices were muffled again, and Freesia barely heard the sound of the front door shutting.

All of a sudden she startled in to action, jumping from bed and hurriedly throwing on clothes. Just as she was about to fling open her door, she paused. Took a breath. It was too late, and running out in disarray was hardly how she wanted to present herself. Her shoulders slumped slightly and she grabbed her hairbrush from the vanity and began to pull it through her hair in long strokes. She felt annoyed that she'd been so close but was also slightly relieved that she hadn't made a fool of herself.

Feeling more presentable, she went downstairs to a warm greeting from Sai.

*Men - the term for a direct strike to the head in/kendo. Kiaied (shouted) upon striking.

Shinai - bamboo sword.

Bogu - armour for kendo

Yame kudasai - please stop

Kiri-kashi - Striking the left and right men (head) target points in succession, practising centering, distance, and correct technique, while building spirit and stamina. (from wikipedia :D)