AN: my first mushishi fanfiction! :D Haven't finished the series yet, but I'm already in love with it.

That night, before the rosy fingers of dawn had broken through the curtains of darkness Ginko had a dream. Such a dream it was that Ginko cried. It was so powerful a dream, that the mushi that usually surrounded Ginko stopped bustling about for a moment in respect for the mushi master's distress.

And it began like this:

He was in a dark room, with a woman whose face he could not see. They sat before a window and the moonlight cast shadows on her face that he did not dare see past. She would always chuckle at him, as if he had made an amusing remark, and tip-toe porcelain fingers along the sides of his face. Something about her made him heavy with grief- an emotion he had not felt in a long while.

"If you want me to, I'll tell you a story." She always spoke like she had secret meanings behind her words, whispers sliding in and out of her syllables like shadows. But it was intriguing and Ginko had always felt so compelled to reply so that he could hear her voice again.

So Ginko would crane his head to ask, "… Is it a good story?"

" It's the noblest story ever told. It's about you and about me. You're more important than you think you see, to have such a tale told about you."

"About me?"

She would bend down to kiss the tip of his nose before continuing, for he was lying on her lap.

" Yes it's not complete yet though, because the hero is still on his journey today."

" What kind of journey?" Ginko was already on a journey of his own, but this was in a time before he had known. Here the dream would continue without him, and Ginko seemed to watch his body from afar, cradled in the woman's lap respond.

" A sad and hard journey. But it's a happy ending, I promise."

"… Did the hero cry?"

" He shed many tears. But he left them where he lost them and continued on his journey regardless." The woman would trace tears on his face, and Ginko felt them despite being far in another corner of the room. The butterfly feeling of her traced tears made him shiver.

" Heroes don't cry. They're smart and loved and beautiful. They don't cry." Ginko remembered how much he had loathed the white hair and green eyes he had been endowed with in the beginning.

"… Yes they do. They might be all that you say they are but they can't see it for themselves. Many heroes feel
small and lost and ugly. They cry and hurt as much as any body else, but they still must journey on."

" Sounds like a bad story to me."

She would pause here, as if she knew something was going to happen. Ginko felt something tug at him, and he found himself in her lap again, right when the moonlight seemed to shift the shadows away from her face. The woman would smile and Ginko would hear these words before returning back to consciousness.

" It always seems like a bad story in the beginning, when you haven't seen the happy ending."

Awakening in the forest with the feel of her butterfly tears on his cheek, Ginko opened his eyes to the bleary morning with only one name on his lips: Ringo.

Ringo was a girl that he had encountered at the very beginning of his journey to exist. Ginko believed in nothing but the flow of the world and he was sure that it had brought him to her doorstep by fate. If he was meant to come this way, he would go.

But he was younger back then, and naive. When Ginko was crossing a bridge in a storm, the river had swept the bridge away, carrying Ginko with its rough current to the shores of an unknown land. He was washed up on the shores, and Ginko wandered the mountains for days in search of water and food before collapsing on a road.

The feel of a foot prodding into his side had woken him abruptly. Ginko looked up, eyes clouded from lack of nourishment, to see a young girl carrying a bucket of apples kicking his sides, ruining his already dirty white shirt.

He tried to paw her foot off. When he was younger, he still had the capacity to feel annoyance and had croaked out in his dehydrated voice: " Hey... you.. stop that."

The girl ignored him- kicking him again, this time replying with words that Ginko couldn't hear. His ears were ringing. " What .. did you say?"She sighed and put down her bucket of apples, before untying a pouch that was strapped to her waist. She slid an arm around his neck and held a gourd to his lips. It was water. He could smell he drank in large gulps, supported by the girl's slender frame.

Ginko felt himself come back to consciousness and turned his head to take a good look at the stranger who had helped him. She was so kind. So Ginko blinked slowly with his one green eye, about to utter words of gratitude before the world began to spin again. His head landed on the girl's shoulder and Ginko felt his mind dimming again with fatigue. He had felt her chest heave with a heavy sigh then. He remembered being supported by her as she looped his arm around her shoulder, and uttering these words instead of a proper thank you:

" You smell.. like apples."

continued in chapter two ...