Jigen felt someone watching him. He had the feeling that the person had been there a while, yet had not made a move. Keeping his breath steady, Jigen opened his eyes just enough to attempt to see the figure without making it obvious that he was awake. Though he saw no more than a blur, the other person was closer than he had suspected. The beat of his heart quickened as he prepared to grab onto his gun.

"Relax, Jigen," said a quiet voice.

Jigen sat himself against the wall, heaving a sigh of annoyance. "What were you doing?"

"I was watching you."

Jigen frowned. "What for?" Through the statuesque posture Goemon always had, he seemed troubled. Jigen could only imagine why Goemon would go to him.

Goemon lowered his eyes, letting go of a bit of the stiffness of his shoulders. "When I left my clan to join you, I left many things behind. At many times, I have felt that I may be doing wrong, yet I know that I was doing no better in servicing those people."

Jigen nodded, keeping his bleary eyes in Goemon's direction. Now that he knew that there was no intruder, exhaustion from the day's earlier events were hitting him full-force.

"Even in helping to commit these crimes, in dedicating my time and my being to Lupin, I never had the intention of absolving myself of my duties to my ancestors. I know now that I have risked dishonoring my line involuntarily. I must correct my errors before it is too late."

Jigen rolled his eyes. Goemon displayed the dedication the samurai had in hammering in a naïve sense of honor, which was about all Jigen could say about it. Even after all they had gone through, Goemon had changed very little. "So you have more of your samurai stuff to do. That's great and all, but why are you telling me?"

Goemon hesitated visibly. "Yes, I can understand why you would think that. Lupin had helped me protect my honor before. I am indebted to him, so much so that I fear I cannot repay it in this life. However, this is one case in which he cannot be of use to me."

"Then why me?" Jigen growled, wishing he would get to the point.

"You are the only person I know whose virtue I trust."

Jigen laughed. "Nice to know you think so highly of my virtue. Spit it out already."

Wordlessly, Goemon's stolid face grew closer to Jigen's until their lips touched. Jigen flipped to the side, glaring at Goemon.

"What the hell!"

Goemon looked like he had expected the reaction. He nearly had. "I have been watching you, trying to assess the best way to approach courtship. I thought this was it." He closed his eyes for a moment, wishing not to evoke the wrath of his ancestors. "What am I to do, Jigen?"

"Courtship?" Jigen's mouth hung open listlessly. He had yet to figure out what exactly was happening. Nothing seemed to match up. Had Lupin put him up to this? Of course. Jigen was going to punch him so hard…

"I have no experience with such things," Goemon admitted, looking half-deflated. "I need… guidance."

Jigen had seen him looking at dames before. He had always figured the reason Goemon didn't do anything was because of his honor or whatever. It was because he didn't know how? Relaxing, Jigen sat back down. "What's so hard about it? You find a decent-looking broad, buy her a drink, and if you're lucky, she invites you in."

Goemon nodded, holding a firm gaze. "How foolish I have been. Courtship is pure, it is something beyond humanity. I must come with an offering, just as I would to a god."

"Yeah, sure," Jigen mumbled, grabbing his blanket to get his sleep.

After what was sure to have only been a short doze, Jigen had that darkness creep over him again, pulling him away from the comfort of his dreams. Careless from his earlier exasperation, he opened his eyes and was met with a bottle of gin. Sitting up once more, he saw that it was held by one Goemon Ishikawa who he thought he had gotten to go away.

"You could have just said thank you," Jigen said, taking the bottle anyway. A little gin would ease his frustrations with his frequently irritating partner in crime.

"Then, does this mean that you accept?" Goemon asked with a hopeful glint to his eyes.

Jigen stopped mid-tug at the lid of the bottle. "… Huh?"

Goemon leaned forward, lowering his guard. "You accept my offer of courtship?"

Shaky hands placed the bottle carefully on the ground. "I don't know where you got the idea that I was-"

"Please!" Goemon dropped his hands onto Jigen's shoulders, pulling himself closer. "You are the only one that can help!"

Jigen hands fussed to slap Goemon's away from the fastening of his pants. "What the fuck? Get away from me!"

"I did everything you told me to!" Goemon sounded desperate now as he tried to make Jigen's body respond to him.

Jigen flung a solid kick to Goemon's gut, giving him just enough time to grab the neck of his gin and leave. Behind him, he could hear Goemon say, "Jigen, I am an Ishikawa; I must produce an heir!"

Goemon must have been more fucked up than he'd imagined, Jigen thought as he poured his elixir of choice down his throat. Perhaps he was wrong in assuming that Goemon hadn't changed, that he had kept his traditional sense of honor. A man of honor would never use such a silly excuse to try and bed another man. Cringing, Jigen wondered if he should have first warned Lupin, but then he smiled. If Goemon wanted to see just how scary Lupin could get, that was his choice.

Goemon sat amidst the grass and boulders, the warm morning breeze pulling back his hair. He looked down at the sword laid before him with an even stare. He had foolishly misplaced his trust, yet there was no return. He could never find another to produce an heir with without betraying the man he owed his life to. The only thing he could do was to absolve himself of his debt and to finish his bloodline with what honor he could. When he was reincarnated as whatever blood-betrayers became, and only then, would he allow himself to weep.