Author's Notes: Before we begin, I must give credit where credit is due: This piece is based on several things. Its first major inspiration is an incomplete fic posted on fanfiction(dot)net that I had read long ago and found really intriguing. It involved a love triangle that interested me quite a bit. I really wanted to know how it ended, but the story was never completed (not the version I saw, anyway); in fact, it was removed from the story archive completely. I will now take it upon myself to complete the story (at least partially, if not completely), which brings me to the second recipient of my thanks, the wonderful and talented Sarahsuke. This was often a topic of conversation for us, and even led to some amusing RPs. So, thanks Sarah! Without your inspiration and guidance, this story would never have happened. Hopefully you don't end up regretting it...

Oh, and let's not forget that Goemon and all related characters are owned by Konami, not by me. Not that any problems about that will arise, but it's best to cover my butt anyway, methinks. The title is based on the newest album by the Decemberists. If you haven't heard it yet, GO BUY IT NOW! It's awesome, and even more tragic than this piece.

Now then. Let's begin this little experiment, initially a product of boredom when the Internet was nonfunctional here for several days. I present to you, the good and bad people of the Internet, the first chapter of this story, of which there will only be one more (posted shortly after this one, hopefully the same day). Please, please, PLEASE tell me what you think if you read this. I can't emphasize how important praise and criticism alike are to this and all my other projects.

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Yae walked the lonely streets of Edo Town, her nervous, twitchy fingers intertwined behind her back. No matter how urgent the mental orders she tried to send to calm them down were, they would still continue to writhe about, a mere ten features of her shaking body that were currently rebelling against her mind. She decided to transfer them to her front, where they were commanded to smooth out her purple ninja uniform. This they did uneasily, as if scared, as if terrified of the breasts and stomach they patted and rubbed through her clothing.

Though usually calm and confident, tonight was a night that vied for the top spot in Yae's personal list of most anxious moments. She hadn't felt this nervous since first trying out for a position as an agent in the SSN, the secret organization made up of ninjas that aimed to keep the peace in Japan (a job Yae considered herself fortunate enough to call her own), or perhaps even earlier, when she realized that she would never again see her parents and wondered helplessly how she could possibly survive with only her older sister to look to for support.

Yae's eyes darted everywhere they could go, searching for any people that would make her mission even more difficult to complete. She breathed a sigh of relief as she took solace in the fact that she found none. At least there would be no unwanted distractions or staring eyes. Unfortunately for her, she knew that running into HIM would make her a complete wreck tonight. Never one to back out of a mission, however, she knew that finding him was not only necessary for its completion, but also an inevitability. Or so she hoped.

"Oy! Yae!" She recognized the voice calling out to her instantly, and stopped moving completely before lifting her head up so she could see the roof of one of the houses in front of her. His house, in fact. Though she could feel her insides churning, she couldn't help but let her lips form into a small smile. "At last...Here goes nothing...No more thinking, it's time to act!"

On the roof, a man with a red ninja garb and a yellow belt waved at the kunoichi on the ground. "Up here, Yae!" he called out once again. His blue hair, going in every direction but down, swayed lightly due to a combination of the gentle breeze and the excitement with which he waved.

Yae looked around as if unfamiliar with the area, though both she and the man addressing her knew quite well that she was more than adequately acquainted with it. She noticed an alley on the other side of the house where her target awaited her and nearly stumbled as she ran towards and into it. First bending down to give herself the boost necessary to make it to her destination, she jumped, kicking against the opposite wall and pushing herself in the direction of her goal. But rather than landing gracefully on the roof, she slammed against the edge with her chin. "Ah!" she yelped as she fell towards the ground, just barely managing to tell her unruly hands to grab the ledge in time. She squirmed and tried to get a foothold on the wall as she attempted to climb up to relatively solid ground.

"Whoa, hey, I've got you!" The man on the roof took hold of Yae's hand and pulled with all his strength, helping her move up to his level.

Yae, panting lightly but blushing so heavily she thought she must have looked more like a tomato than a woman (her now unruly green bangs adding to this image), turned her face away in shame. This should have been an extremely simple maneuver for her, and even after making the mistake of underestimating the angle at which she should have pushed off against the wall, she knew she should have been able to lift herself onto the roof without any help. It was a humiliating experience indeed, and adding to the humiliation was the fact that she could not bring herself to look into the eyes of the man who helped her as she said "Thanks, Goemon."

"No problem," he replied. "Now then, let me see your chin, it sounded like you hit it pretty hard..." He reached out towards her face, which was still turned away from him.

Yae resisted. She had been embarrassed enough, she couldn't risk him seeing any of the varying shades of red on her face, even if she did have the cloak of darkness to use to her advantage. "I-It's fine, Goemon," she said as she pushed his hand away with a notably halfhearted effort. "Really, I'll be okay..."

"Well, just let me see...Quit struggling, you're just being difficult!" Goemon finally managed to grab hold of Yae's chin and rubbed his thumb gently on her new wound. "Ah, you'll be fine."

The kunoichi shivered as the blush returned to her cheeks in full force. She turned away and mumbled, "I told you so."

"Heh, why are you shivering, Yae? My hands aren't that cold, are they?"

"N-No, it's just that...Um...Say, why do you like sitting on rooftops like this, anyway?" For the first time since arriving on the roof, Yae willingly looked at Goemon.

"Er..." Taken aback by the sudden change of topic, Goemon decided to drop the subject of Yae's chilliness and addressed her new query instead. "Well, I can see a lot more of the town this way. You know, so I can spot trouble quicker and stuff. Plus it's nice and peaceful up here, and I can get a better look at the stars. See?" Goemon pointed at some of the small white lights in the blackened sky.

"Yeah...They're pretty. I guess I haven't really taken the time to notice that recently..." Yae mumbled as she scooted a little closer to her friend. She could feel the edges of her lips twitching as they curved upward to form a smile.

"Well, you should. It'll help you relax. I mean, you don't exactly have the easiest job in the world, right?"

Yae stretched and yawned. She could feel her chest heaving and her heart pounding, and she could hear her voice starting to crack. "Mm-hm. It's tough work...Ah, h-hey what are you--?!"

Goemon's hands had somehow managed to arrive at Yae's shoulders, where they were rubbing and kneading gently. They stopped at her outburst, which had taken several seconds to occur. "Heh, sorry. I just thought I could help you relax a bit." He pulled his hands back, not the least bit decomposed.

"Aww, that's sweet of you. Well, if you insist..." Yae grinned wider as she moved even closer to Goemon and leaned back against him. "...I'll take you up on your offer."

Goemon nodded and resumed the massage, while Yae sighed happily and closed her eyes. Now that the few road bumps in the beginning had been overcome, things were now proceeding quite smoothly. She thought that nothing could ruin this moment, and that she would have achieved her ultimate goal before she knew it.

"Mmm, thanks so much, Goemon." Yae shifted a bit so as to position her sorest muscles under Goemon's hands. "Say, um...Goemon. I was looking for you tonight because I...well, because I really, really need to talk to you about something..."

"Oh yeah? What did you need to talk about, Yae?" Goemon moved his hands off of Yae's shoulders and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

"Mmph..." Yae moved her newly massaged shoulders as she tried to reposition them in the most comfortable position she could manage before taking a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh. "Well, you see, I...Uh, that is, well, I, um...Er, Goemon, I, I..." She gulped. Suddenly things weren't going so well for her.

And things became even worse as a third voice joined the duo. "Goemon! Hey, Goemon!" It was a female voice, soft as silk and sweet as honey, and it came from the ground just in front of Goemon's house.

"Eh? Hold on a second, Yae." Goemon moved to the edge of the roof and peered down. "Hey, Omitsu!" he said, more excitedly than Yae had seen him at any point that night.

Omitsu, the beautiful, unassuming waitress in the red kimono, backed up just enough to see the man she was looking for. "Hi, Goemon! Um, can you come down here? I need to talk to you about something, and it's really important..." Yae thought she heard a hushed squeak from Omitsu's general direction, but later assumed that it was simply a mouse.

The kunoichi's stomach churned even faster, so much so that she was beginning to feel queasy. She peeked over the edge of the roof as well, as one of her greatest fears was now realized: another person was present.

"Hmm? Who's that with you?" Omitsu squinted upwards and then smiled and waved emphatically. "Oh, good evening, Yae! It's nice to see you!"

"Y-Yeah, likewise...Heh heh..." Yae's chuckle trailed off as she groaned and looked away ashamedly. According to Goemon, he and Omitsu had been friends ever since childhood, and this would hopefully prevent her from getting in the way of the unusually agitated kunoichi completing her mission and fulfilling what she hoped was her destiny.

Goemon, however, all but forgot about Yae and jumped off the roof, landing flat on both feet next to a blushing Omitsu. "So, let's go inside, it's pretty cold out here. Yeah, that should work..."

He took a few steps towards his door before Omitsu put a hand on his shoulder. "W-Wait...Are you sure you're okay with just leaving Yae like that?"

"Huh? What are you--Oh, right." He moved back out towards the street and looked up at Yae. "Sorry Yae, I've gotta go. I'll talk to you later."

"Oh, um, it's fine. I'll just..." But before Yae could even finish her sentence, Goemon and Omitsu were already inside the house, where they could neither hear nor be heard anymore. Her eyes glazed over, her chest heaving, her temple grasped in her hands, all Yae could do was let out an indignant "Argh!" Everybody who knew Yae knew that she was most definitely an unpleasant person after experiencing failure.

---

Omitsu sat at the edge of Goemon's bed, rubbing her hands together in an outward expression of agitated thought. Goemon took a seat next to her and sent the smile he reserved exclusively for good friends her way. "So, what's on your mind?" he asked.

Omitsu took one look at Goemon's benevolent expression and sighed happily. She was one of only a special few that had ever seen this side of him, and she knew it and was extremely proud of it. But even with this inspiration, "You're the greatest, Goemon" was all she could bring herself to say, all she could think of at that moment to describe her feelings.

"Heh, well, duh," was all Goemon could say as an immediate response. "Was that all you wanted to talk about? That doesn't seem that important..."

"B-But it is! It really is!" Omitsu's face was growing progressively redder, but she never took her eyes off of her friend. Her words ran together feverishly, almost indistinctly. "I mean, you've done so much for Japan...and for me..."

"W-Well, yeah...I mean, you're a really good friend, and I always help out my friends..."

"Is that all, Goemon? I could've sworn you were doing more than just being chivalrous..." Omitsu reached out and lightly stroked his cheek. "Of course, your dedication to chivalry is something I find very, very attractive."

It was now Goemon's turn to blush. "H-Huh? What are you doing, Omitsu?" The "thump-thump" of his heartbeat quickly became a "thump-thump-thump-thump" as he stared into the large, glossy brown eyes of the waitress. He sniffed at the air. "...Omitsu, have you been drinking?"

The lovely lady simply covered her mouth with an oversized sleeve and giggled softly before batting her eyelashes flirtatiously at her hero. After a moment's silence, she gave an answer that could be more easily understood. "I'm drunk on love, Goemon. Oh, and a sip of sake, of course. Or two. Or five. But who's keeping track?"

Goemon, however, had not heard the last part. "L-Love?" Though he had often dreamed of this night becoming a reality, he was completely taken aback by this sudden revelation and thought he would collapse as the room and his head began spinning. Of course, in his favorite dreams, Yae had also confessed her undying love to him at the same time, and all three of them had engaged in a wild night of passionate lovemaking. But even so, this was definitely not an unfavorable turn of events for him.

"Mm-hm, that's right," Omitsu said, snapping Goemon back to the here and now. She leaned in close, her eyes only half-open and her lips slightly apart. "You've always been there for me, and I want to return the favor."

Goemon blinked. There was no doubt about it, Omitsu was most definitely drunk. He had known her long enough to know that her usual shy self was incapable of such openness. "Uh...Thanks? I mean, I'd love having you here with me."

Omitsu scooted a little closer and leaned in further. "You'll always be there to protect me, won't you? You'd stay by my side until the end of time and follow me to the ends of the earth, right?" She leaned in even closer, her head cocked slightly to the side so as to keep their noses from bumping and preventing further closeness.

"Oh yeah, you'd better believe it. Whatever you want, babe." Goemon grinned before closing the gap between their lips in what was undoubtedly one of his proudest moments.

"Mmm..." Omitsu backed away slowly only after letting him hold her with his lips for an extended moment. "Very nice. But I bet you could do better." She wrapped her arms around his neck and fell back on the bed, pulling him on top of her as they locked lips once more in a passionate show of powerful emotion. Goemon's greatest wish was finally coming true.