Why, of all people, do you stir my heart? You play it like a harp, and the tune is so beautiful to me. Yet I can only weep when I hear it…

He was doing it again. Pushing her away when all she wanted to do was help. The idiot vagrant had gotten himself wounded yet again, and as she tried to tend to the wound he shied away. For a moment she saw what could only be described as a look of fear in his expression. Fear of what, she wasn't quite sure, but it faded rapidly as curses and insults were slung her way.

Can you not spare one moment of sensitivity? One kind word to let me know that these feelings aren't a lost cause?

"I said I'm fine girly. Just leave me alone and go bother someone else." His steely gaze bore into her soft brown eyes for a moment, unreadable and dangerous. A shiver went up her spine, but as he turned away anger seemed to get the best of her. She didn't want to yell at him. It never made things better. But the words and shouts rushed past her lips like a flood, and she felt herself drowning in the bitterness of them.

No, that would be too easy. So I'll take your hateful words, and all your anger. And to hide my own breaking heart, I'll fling them back at you. Perhaps, one day, I'll say them enough, so they'll become true…

Of course he retorted. Why would she think any differently? They were always so predictable in this furious dance of theirs. The anger mounted, the shouts growing louder, the words more spiteful. Of course, Fuu surprised the wild haired criminal. For the first time since he'd known her, she gave up on the argument. She simply cut off her speech and stood, walking out, her head bowed slightly and shoulders slumped. It took a moment, but soon realization hit him like a blow to the stomach. She wasn't giving up on the argument. She was giving up on him.

Who am I trying to fool? Myself? You? How could that be? You have no idea of the feelings that really reside in this cracked heart. I'll never lose this longing just as I'll never lose my uselessness. How am I supposed to melt the heart of a man who holds nothing for me but contempt?

The thought of that disturbed him more then it should have. More then he'd ever admit to, at least out loud. How could one girl anger him so much one minute, and then make him feel like nothing but trash the next, simply by walking away? His rough hand passed through the unkempt hair on his now aching head. It took a moment, but he soon realized the only way to stop this aching that had grown in his head, and strangely enough in his chest as well, was to apologize. Normally the mere thought of uttering those words to anyone would make the criminal gag, but he found himself wanting to say them more then anything. How could he have let this little slip of a girl clutch onto his heart with such a vice grip without him even noticing?

So I'll continue to take your anger, and all of your spite. I'll return your hate, as false as mine is. I'll allow myself to suffer, allow my heart to break.

It didn't take him long to find her. She was curled up near the abandoned house they had made their current residence in, her face resting on her hands as the soft grass formed her bed for the night. As he approached, he saw not only that she was asleep, but that thin trails, silvery in the moonlight, cut a path from her eyes and down her cheeks. Guilt crept in quickly, and for the first time in quite a while Mugen wasn't sure what to do. After a moment's pause, he moved over to her, silent as he seated himself beside her curled-up form. His rough hand passed gently over her cheek, moving the strands of hair there away. "Why do you put up with me, girly…?"

"Because you're worth it…" He nearly jumped as a voice answered him, and his eyes darted to the small girls face. But her eyes were still closed, and her breathing still even. She was speaking in her sleep…His heart clenched at her words, and slowly he lowered himself down beside her. His tanned arms wrapped around her waist, drawing her gently against his chest. His face buried gently in her hair, and a soft sigh escaped him as he took in her scent.

"This don't change nothing, girly." He murmured softly, knowing that his words likely wouldn't reach her in her dreams. "I'm still gonna be a jerk to you…No matter how I feel. And I'll keep acting this way until you finally hate me…Until you finally find someone else." He hesitated a moment, before he gently pressed his lips to her cheek.

"You'll find someone whose good enough for you…Unlike me…And when you do, I'll let my heart break. Because you're worth it…" His eyes closed, and he held her close as he slowly drifted off to sleep. This would be the first, and the last time he held her. And he'd be sure to wake up and leave before she saw him…Despite the fact he wanted to hold her and never let go. Perhaps in his own sleep he didn't notice, or perhaps he did, as a pair of small, gentle arms wrapped around his neck, and an equally small and gentle girl buried herself against his chest.