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Mugen knows he is dreaming because although Jin is standing before him, he isn’t frowning. Jin’s expressions don’t change too frequently in the first place, but they become arranged into a much more displeased collection whenever Mugen is around. There are just some people you will never get along with. Jin isn’t frowning, but he isn’t really smiling either. He tucks his hair behind his ear, in that coy way some girls flirt to expose a bit of their face, usually angled on their best side. He isn’t wearing his old man outfits either, stiff turtlenecks and tweed sweaters - so old fashioned. Jin is wearing something looser, and it exposes more of his neck, which is pale from being covered up tastefully. His collarbones are just as Mugen remembers then from that time Jin forgets his shirt from after his shower and walks quickly from between the bathroom and his room to fetch it without anyone seeing him, but Mugen sees him because the living room couch has perfect view into the hallway to their rooms. Jin is opening his mouth and is saying, Mugen, you don’t mind do you? Mugen has no idea what he means. You don’t mind, do you? Nah, Mugen says, reaching out. 

He opens his eyes and Fuu’s elbow is thrown over his chest. She’s lying dressed to go outside and scrunching her fingers through his hair, as if his perpetual messy mop needed any more disorganization. “Sure took you long enough to wake up,” she says. 

“I don’t have anywhere to go,” he says. Her arm feels heavy against his body but he doesn’t move to push her away or to tell her to get out of his room, where no doubt he has his porno magazines lying around and dirty boxers three days old. Jin complains about the musk from his room from the hallway, so he’s pretty sure it doesn’t smell too pretty either. She doesn’t move either, pressed against his side with her back to the wall, and her hands continue moving mindlessly through his hair. “Don’t you?”

Fuu opens her mouth to answer but Mugen is shifting to get more comfortable and the ratty sheets are tangled in his legs and making him feel trapped. “Ugh, you pervert, you’ve got morning wood,” she says, making a disgusted face. “Did you know porn can ruin your brain? It could make you impotent.” 

“Want to test that?” Mugen asks. He puts his right hand right up on her hip where he can feel the curve of her breast from where it starts above her stomach. He’s leering at her, but he leers at everybody. Fuu sighs and takes her hand out of his hair. 

“She had class at nine-thirty this morning,” Jin says when Mugen finally emerges with his stomach aching for food. Fuu is taking a shower. It is eleven-o-five. Even if he subtracts the time they spent lying around and letting the sweat dry off their backs, he still went for a long time. Mugen suspects he can last so long with Fuu because she complains at him during the whole thing. It doesn’t get him soft but when he’s arguing back he can’t stay at full mast all the time. The coffee at the seat that is designated as his spot is lukewarm. He swallows half of it in front of Jin, who has probably already read the morning paper but is pretending to read it again just for show. 

“I didn’t know you cared so much about her schedule,” Mugen says. 

Jin’s expression wrinkles. “It’s not so much that I care about her academic wellbeing, but I can’t stand people who don’t take things seriously. I know she can be a serious girl, but you make her...not serious.” 

Mugen grins at him, a mouthful of crooked teeth from a childhood that couldn’t afford braces or the second thought about his dental appearance. “Too bad I’m so fun! All work and no play make Jin a dull boy.”

“Speaking of work, when will you finally get up and go get a job?” They split the rent for the apartment three ways, but most months are usually split two, with Fuu and Jin paying Mugen’s share. Mugen’s promise to pay them back becomes as regular monthly as Fuu’s frantic trips to get sanitary pads, because she never remembers to stock up before. Fuu comes out of the bathroom, a billow of steam behind her. She only has one class today so she’s dressed in short shorts and a t-shirt to stay in. When she comes up behind him, Mugen grabs her and she leans down just as he angles up and kisses her along her jawline.

“Ugh,” Fuu says, voicing her displeasure again. “Shave sometime, would ya?” She takes what is left of her breakfast at the table and goes out to the balcony to finish it, closing the sliding door behind her. Jin shakes out the paper and starts to read the front page story for the third time. 


Jin takes a lot of temp jobs, which fits him because he’s qualified and has no trouble getting jobs, but he is easily disillusioned so he loses interest in companies and offices fairly quickly. His paperwork is getting processed for his next job so he has time to go grocery shopping with Fuu. Mugen says he is too busy to help cart groceries back, but they both know he is at the local drugstore with some lottery tickets scraped together from the spare change they leave lying around the table and watching for the numbers being drawn with the rest of the old men in the neighborhood. Fuu prefers shopping with Jin anyway; when she does, Jin doesn’t haggle with her on who has to push the cart and doesn’t argue with her on her grocery choices. Jin can’t cook to save his life so he trusts Fuu to buy what they need. Mugen can cook but his meals are so sparse so they live mostly on what Fuu can put together. 

When they walk down the cereal aisle, they pass a woman who gives them a very long look before going past them without saying a word. “Hasn’t she been in our apartment?” Fuu asks, turning around to keep staring at the woman. 

“Yes,” Jin says. “I believe she was the one who kept us up all night.” 

“Oh yes,” Fuu agrees. “The Screamer.” Mugen had stumbled in one night, agitated as all hell, saying he had a girl in the hallway but he couldn’t remember if he’d bought condoms last and she had told him about all the nasty stuff she’d let him do to her except she refused to do it all without protection. He was actually out but he was near frothing at the mouth so Jin gave him some of his, which was the great mistake of the week. Fuu had crawled into Jin’s bed, Jin’s room at the very end of the hall and the furthest from Mugen’s room, covering her ears with her pillow. Together, they lay in the dark as the girl screamed about being Mugen’s wife. They never saw her again, but Fuu enforced a system that Mugen was to send a warning when he brought girls home so she could stay with a friend on campus and avoid another sleepless night. They turn the corner, Fuu’s head still turned around her shoulder, and she walks right into someone.

“I’m so sorry,” she says, returning her attention back to the present. The man she runs into is holding a cheap six pack of beer and doesn’t look that affronted, but he does leer at her. 

“No problem, co-ed,” he says. “That your boyfriend?”

Fuu draws closer to Jin and grabs his arm. “Yes,” she says. 

The man looks at Jin, who stares back with an unforgiving steadiness. “Nice,” the man says, and pushes past Fuu to be on his way. His hand swings back as if to propel him further forward.

“Don’t think about it,” Jin says.

The man’s hand swings up, just missing Fuu’s backside, and swings away with the rest of the body. Fuu hangs onto him for the rest of the trip and even after they’ve paid and are walking home. Mugen comments on it when they come back and Fuu ignores him, only they separate to unpack the groceries. 


“Where’s Fuu?” Mugen asks one evening. 

“On a date,” Jin says. He’s cooking curry from a packet but even Mugen knows from the smell it’s going badly. “She said she met him after her shift at the hospital cafe and caught him trying to steal some prescription strength painkillers. He says they’re for his mother because they’re too poor to get drugstore brand for her arthritis. She didn’t rat on him so she’s going on a date with him.”

Mugen laughs, which is more of a hoarse choke. Fuu frequently comments about how he can make laughing sound like a chore. “Fuu’s not rich enough to have a sugar baby. She wouldn’t be riding my ass for my share of the rent all the time if she was.” Jin doesn’t answer and continues to stir the muck he’s managed to conjure up in the little saucepan on the stove.

“Oh quit that,” Mugen says, reaching over and turning off the stove. His hand brushes against Jin’s waist and stays there. “You know it’s going to suck no matter how much you try and fix it.” He sucks Jin off then and there, but against  the counter instead of the stove because Jin doesn’t want to risk accidentally turning on the stove when he presses his back up against the dials. They do this infrequently, usually when Mugen’s list of girls can’t come at the last minute and when Jin comes home alone after losing his target who plays hard to get. They’re pretty sure Fuu has some idea but she never asks about it. 

They hear Fuu come home later, Jin smoking a rare cigarette out of Mugen’s bedroom window right on the fire escape. “Jin, you forgot to throw out your experiment,” she calls. When no one answers, she goes to her room and shuts her door. The sounds of crickets and the occasional passing car ease into the room from the open window. The air smells vaguely like smoke. 

“You don't mind, do you?” Jin asks, though more to be polite. He taps the ash onto the fire escape.

Mugen says, “Nah.”