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Only a fool would believe that things could stay the same.

And Fuu knew she wasn't a fool. Not any more. Not after all they'd been through. All they'd taught her...

Her face scrunched up into a scowl, and she stared determinedly out to sea, chewing on her lower lip.

She wasn't a fool.

They'd risked so much for her, everything, absolutely everything, and for what? So she could make sure the last thing her father heard from her lips was poison.

What would they think of her, if they knew? Or did they know anyway? That would explain why things were different, why they felt so far away. She'd been right, that night around the fire, the last night she was truly happy, when the moonlight danced on the river and she'd dared to think, perhaps...

Fuu sighed a tight, fluttering sigh, and watched the surf break over driftwood at the bottom of the cliff.

She understood. They should know she understood. They should be angry. They should know she would let them be angry.

But they treated her like a fool, even now.


Jin pulled his gi back over his shoulders, covering up his still-flushed skin. He sat up straight and combed his fingers through his hair, scraping it back into its ponytail. His eyes were closed, trapping uncomfortable emotions firmly inside.

Mugen, fidgeting around behind him, cleared his throat and made some revolting sort of snorting noise as he dispensed with the mucus in his nose. Jin shuddered. To think he'd just... with that...

And he'd do it again in the blink of an eye.

"Thanks," said Mugen, gruffly. An unexpected habit, but Jin found it impossibly endearing.

"You're getting better," Jin said.

"What d'you mean, 'getting better', you bastard! You saying I'm a lousy lay?!" Jin could imagine the indignance on Mugen's stupid face. He found himself smiling, just a little.

"Your wounds," he said, patiently. "Your wounds are getting better."

"Oh." Mugen stilled, and in a few moments he settled himself backwards into Jin, spine-to-spine, muscle-to-muscle, the back of his head tilting onto Jin's shoulder.

Jin's eyes stayed firmly shut.

"You too," Mugen said. "You don't scar much, huh?"

"No. I am fortunate in that regard."

Silence fell, wrapping itself around them like wire, holding them tight.

Mugen's shoulders relaxed into Jin's back, his arms falling loose at his sides. His hand landed so close to Jin's that Jin could feel the warmth radiating from Mugen's skin. A bare inch and their fingers would touch.

"I wonder where she goes all day," Mugen thought aloud.

"The sea," Jin said. "The old man said she spends a lot of time by the sea."

Mugen snorted. "Dangerous. Knowing her she'll just fall in, or get attacked by giant squid."

"Giant squid do not exist," said Jin. His thumb twisted around Mugen's; he didn't know who had moved first.

"Fucking do. Don't talk bullshit about things you don't know."

"Have you ever seen one?"

"Seen it, killed it, ate it."

Jin couldn't suppress a laugh. Mugen's shoulders shook a little; he was laughing too.

"In that case she is indeed in grave danger," Jin said, and Mugen laughed again.

Jin finally dared to open his eyes and watched the shadows on the wall, as his fingers twined too tightly around Mugen's.

"Someone should look after her," Jin said.

"Yeah," said Mugen.


Fu knelt at the side of her father's grave, and talked to him like she'd longed to do when he was alive. She changed the flowers and lit a candle, then rested on her heels and watched the flame as it flickered in the breeze.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I should have got here sooner. Or not at all. I should have said..." The tears spilled down her cheeks, betraying all her promises to herself that this time she wouldn't cry. "... I should have said what I felt underneath, what I feel now, I should have told you that I love you, even when I hated you I loved you. Can you understand that? And now..."

She sniffed, and scrubbed the tears roughly from her face. "I don't know what to do. You see, I hitched up with these two men, because I didn't have the courage to come here by myself. They nearly died because of me. And now they're almost better, and it'll be time for them to go soon, and the old man says I should go too. He says you'd want me to live a good life, and... I love them both. They don't see me that way, not at all, but. They must like me, because I mean, they didn't have to follow, but they did, and now..."

Fuu paused, retrieving a handkerchief from the folds of her kimono, and blew her nose. "They don't like me that way," she continued, with an unconscious glance at her cleavage. "They're men of the world, they'd never be interested in someone like me. I don't want them to think any of what we did was wasted, but... I came all this way searching for something, and I think perhaps I lost more than I found."

She looked up at the shack, and beyond, down the hillside to the village that nestled in the valley below, sprinkled with crosses and shrouded in fear, even now.

"I think if you were alive, you would understand that," she said.


"You ever had two at once?"

Jin stopped for a moment, palm flat on the small of Mugen's back. "Two...?"

"Ever though what it would be like to fuck her, too?"

Jin closed his eyes. "No, and no. You sick pervert."

Jin's hips thrust him deep into Mugen's body of their own accord, and his cock twitched. Jin hissed in breath.

"Dick says different," said Mugen, and Jin just knew there would be a leering grin on his face.

"Don't be ridiculous," Jin said. But of course, Mugen was right. He'd thought it lots of times. He'd thought it when she had a fever and he'd tended her, laying cool wet cloths on her forehead, willing the unhealthy flush to leave her cheeks and the flutter of sickness to leave her breath. He'd thought it when she bathed in the lake near Nagasaki, when he and Mugen had watched her from the woods; Mugen making sly remarks about her lack of breasts while Jin convinced himself that he was standing guard.

And yes, he'd thought about the other thing, too, since this thing with Mugen started. He'd thought about the contrast between her pale skin and Mugen's dark tones; he'd imagined the soft curves of her belly pressing into the smooth planes and angles between Mugen's hips; he'd imagined all three of them in a sensual, writhing tangle, soft and hard and smooth and rough and wet and-

Jin came helplessly, deep inside the tight heat of Mugen's body.

"Dick says different," Mugen repeated, and guided Jin's trembling hand down to his cock.


The sun was warm on Fuu's back; the sea was cool, splashing over her feet. She wondered vaguely how far she'd walked.

She'd missed walking. For six weeks now she'd been still, waiting. Waiting for them to wake up, waiting for them to get well enough to leave. Waiting for the dull ache beneath her ribs to ease and fade.

It felt good to move again.

Momo-san scampered around in the sand, pausing occasionally to pick things up, and then again to bury them. Once (to his intense indignation) he was drenched by a rogue wave, sending him scampering back to the warmth of Fuu's kimono. She grumbled a little about the wet fur against her skin, but the little creature was shivering and more scared than he'd let on, so she just took him out, dried him off a bit and then popped him back to warm through.

She found herself smiling.

It was good to move.


Mugen lounged against the door frame, picking at his teeth with a bit of stick and watching the horizon. Jin barely contained his annoyance, trying his best to lose himself in the wet, rasping slide of stone on blade. Almost meditation. But not quite close enough.

"Shit," Mugen announced.

Jin's eyes flicked his way again with cold annoyance. Being whipped with stripped vines wasn't as distracting as Mugen, and Jin could speak from experience.

They'd been cooped up in this room too long.

He said nothing, trying once again to focus on the smooth, even movements of his sharpening stone.

"Shit," Mugen repeated.

Jin sighed, and straightened his back, stilling in his work. A mistake: the pause was evidently enough for Mugen to push right in and complete the intrusion on Jin's fragile peace.

"She's been gone for hours. It's nearly sunset."

"Yes," Jin agreed. "It will be getting dark soon."

"Shit," Mugen muttered, his tone more subdued, as if Jin had confirmed his worst fears.

Jin rolled his shoulders, wishing the tendon on his neck would pop and stop making his whole arm tense up. The muscles were still horrifyingly weak. The walls were closing in on him; the room was cramped and messy with the detritus of living. Everything smelt male and somehow sordid.

"I'm hungry," Mugen whined.

Jin ran a long, slender fingertip along the blade of his sword. Cold. Sharp. He got to his feet and sheathed his sword, slotting it easily into its old place at his side.

"Where the fuck is she?"

"I don't know," said Jin. "I'm going to practice. Clear up this mess. It's disgusting."

Jin made his way downstairs and out into the sunlight, tuning out Mugen's indignant cursing as he went. He found a sheltered spot at the side of the house, began his katas.


It was almost dark by the time Fuu got back. Her legs were aching in a pleasant sort of way, and her stomach was rumbling in an insistent sort of way, and she felt as if, for the first time since they came here, she might sleep properly. She made out a dark shape against the side of the cabin. Two dark shapes. Mugen and Jin. She could see the outline of Jin's sword, casting a lean shadow along the side of the shack. They must be fighting.

She broke into a run, eager to berate them for fighting each other, just like old times.... But as she came closer she realised things weren't quite as they seemed. She slowed to a cautious walk.

Jin's sword fell to the ground with a soft thud.

She was about to scream his name, but stopped herself just in time.

He wasn't hurt.

They weren't fighting.

Jin had Mugen pressed up against the wall, but they weren't fighting.

Their heads were close together. She could make out Mugen's voice, but not his words. His fingers fluttered through Jin's hair.

She was too close, before she'd even realised she hadn't stopped walking.

They kissed, harsh, male, grinding kisses, and Jin's hand was between their bodies, moving like...

"Jin? Mugen?"

The words out before she could tame them, heads were turning, horror on Jin's face, surprise on Mugen's. Her cheeks flushed, her mind clouded with confusion and burning lust, and for some reason she wanted to scream.

"Fuu," said Jin, like a moan.

"You-" But the words wouldn't come; the world was too complicated for words.

Fuu ran.


The next day, when Jin woke, he heard Fuu outside, talking to the old man. Her voice drifted through the open window, her gentle tones punctuated with the occasional bossy command. She was relinquishing her inheritance, Jin realised. Asking the old man to seal up the shack and tend her father's grave, and use the small amount of money her father had kept in a chest to help the poor people in the village.

She was leaving, and that meant he and Mugen would be leaving too.

"I thought she'd want to stay longer," said Mugen.

Jin didn't answer.

Mugen rolled over onto his back. He raised one hand to block out the sun that seeped through the gaps in the roof.

"Did she say where she's going?"


"You going too?"

"I... there's some things I have to do," said Jin. "Alone."

"Me too," said Mugen, just a little too quickly.

"It's for the best," said Jin.

Mugen didn't argue.


"Momo-san? Momo-san, where did you go?"

Fuu scanned the trees and bushes around her, but there was no sign of the squirrel. It was difficult at this time of year: the leaves had started to fall and that usually meant that her furry companion acquired an acute obsession with nuts. More often than not she'd find him sitting under a walnut tree, his little cheeks stuffed full and bulging, just like Mugen after he'd pigged out on cake...

The breath hitched in her throat, tears threatening alarmingly quickly. She let out a long sigh, and leaned back against the nearest tree. It had been months now, two long months since they parted at the crossroads, and it was about time she got over them. She must remember the plan. Make her own way in the world, become a big success, then let them hear of it from towns a million miles away. By the time she saw them again she'd be important and impressive. Or perhaps she'd be making a humble living in a small town, teaching the children, perhaps, or a nurse, she might be a nurse...

She remembered something Mugen had said once, about how he liked girls in uniforms, and she blushed furiously just at the memory.

Something caught her eye as she scanned the forest floor for signs of her companion. There was a flower clinging to the hem of her kimono. She picked it up and twirled the stem thoughtfully between her fingers.

She'd be strong. She'd never need to be rescued ever again. In fact, one day she'd rescue them. Perhaps if Jin got captured by a horde of nymphs, or sirens, or something like that, and Mugen wouldn't care, because he'd be hypnotised by their breasts, and she would race to the rescue...

Yes. The next time she saw them it would all be different. She would be different. No bodyguards required.

The flower lay limp in her palm. She caressed the wet petals softly, knowing that they would tear if she were too rough. Not that it mattered: the flower was already dead, of course. But still, with a brush of her thumb she scattered pollen, let the cool breeze carry it and make it hope.

There was a rustle in the leaves above, and with a shriek and a flurry of fur and tiny claws, Momo-san returned to her. He sat on her shoulder, nibbling at a large walnut held between his forepaws.

"Ah, so you're back then," said Fuu, barely concealing her relief and delight. "Just as well, it's getting late."

She tickled him gently between his ears, and was turning back to the path when she heard the scream.


Fuu edged a little closer to the clearing, hiding herself as best she could among the scrubby bushes that formed its boundary. She knew that scream. She'd heard it too many times before. Not the screamer, but the scream.

The girl was in the centre of the clearing, so close that Fuu could make out the pattern of storks on her kimono. Five men had ranged themselves about her, each more arrogant and ugly than the last.

The screaming had stopped for now. The woman cowered on her knees, prostrate in front of those men who didn't deserve to so much as look at her. She was pale and beautiful, long legs, tucked up under her slender body. Fuu wondered if the earrings that gleamed through wisps of polished-dark hair were real jade. It seemed plausible, she looked very well-bred. Noble, even.

Fuu watched carefully, and waited, and tried to form a plan. The smallest of the men was twice her size, and the swords they carried were cruel, rough things that promised a deadly tang of rust. She could never beat them in a fight. If only she could think of something clever. There was no reason why brain power couldn't make up for brute strength or sword-skill.

The men were talking. They were too far away to hear properly, and their dialect was thick, but Fuu quickly realised there was a disagreement going on. Jewels or sweet, pale flesh, which first? Two different sorts of greed at war.

If she had been in that woman's position, she'd be looking for an opening; the moment when the fight hit the place where they'd almost forgotten she was there, and then she'd run. The woman wasn't bound. All she needed was a chance...

That's it! A diversion. She, Fuu, could cause a diversion.

Resolute, Fuu stood tall and opened her mouth to yell-

-only to be caught by a strong, brown arm around her middle, a strong, brown hand clamped over her mouth. She struggled violently, getting a good kick in to her assailant's shin. He swore, and something chimed in her head; she bit down hard on the fleshy palm of his hand, elbowed his ribs and turned on him.


"You bit me!"

"What are you-"

The woman screamed again, and Fuu remembered what Mugen had interrupted. Ignoring the questions and an odd elation that surged through her head, Fuu ran into the clearing.

The men all turned to look, even the one who had been busy cutting the woman's kimono from one shoulder, and Fuu took a deep breath and yelled "run!" as loudly as she could. But the woman didn't move. She knelt there on the ground, whimpering, staring at Fuu as if she was an apparition.

The men advanced on Fuu steadily, gleefully, stalking her down with nothing but malice on their grubby faces.

Fuu gulped, and hoped Mugen wasn't too pissed off with her for biting him.

"Can we help you?" said the meanest, ugliest of the mean ugly men.

"It's not safe for a little thing like you out in these woods," said another.

"Looks like we've got two to play with now," said a third.

"Run!" Fuu yelled, and this time the woman got to her feet and stumbled towards the other side of the clearing. Too late, Fuu realised one of the five wasn't paying attention to her; he'd turned back to the woman the minute Fuu had yelled, and he caught her easily in half a dozen loping strides.

Fuu's heart sank and she would have swallowed her pride and called for Mugen, had she not at that moment seen another figure darting from the trees.

"Jin?" she said, incredulously.

Jin's sword flashed; the woman was free again, and as the men with Fuu turned to see the cause of their comrade's unholy screams, Mugen barrelled out of the woods and tore into them like a hurricane. It was all over in a few moments, and Fuu stood gasping, furious and thrilled and exhilarated all at once.

"How can I thank you?" The woman was asking Jin, holding onto his hand for much longer than simple gratitude required, in Fuu's opinion.

"No need," said Jin, but he bowed graciously just the same. He did, however, drop her hand.

"What the fuck are you here for?" Mugen said, stepping over the pile of bodies at his feet and advancing rapidly on Jin.

"I suspect, the same as you," said Jin, and the two of them exchanged a puzzling sort of look.

"You can explain everything later," said Fuu. She smiled kindly at the woman, and put an arm around her shoulders. "Let's get you home, eh?"

The woman smiled back. "Thank you," she said. "If you hadn't come along I don't know what might have happened."

"I do," said Fuu. "That's why I had to stop it."

And if Mugen and Jin exchanged an odd sort of look when she said that, and if it looked a bit like pride, she certainly wasn't going to notice it at all.


It was dark by the time they'd delivered the woman back to the safety of her home and husband. She explained, in hushed, guilty tones, that she wanted to keep things quiet. Her husband had told her so many times not to venture to the village by herself, that she should send a servant. She had been foolish. She pressed money into Fuu's hand and bid her to be careful. She pressed her own hand into Jin's, and thanked him.

She pretty much ignored Mugen, which Fuu thought was a little ungrateful, but then Mugen often seemed to have that effect on people. He seemed too busy picking at a scab on his elbow to care much, anyway.

All of which left the three of them standing in the road, coins clinking thickly in Fuu's palm.

"Well," said Fuu.

"Indeed," said Jin.

"What?" said Mugen.

Jin sighed.

"There's enough here for dinner," said Fuu. "Maybe a bed for the night, too. If Mugen doesn't stuff himself too much."

"I came through this way yesterday," said Jin. "There's a village a mile or so down the road with a passable inn."

"I'll eat what I fuckin' want," said Mugen.

Fuu tried to glare at him, but she couldn't help smiling. It felt so comfortable. Familiar.

And it couldn't hurt, just for one night.

Could it?


"So where have you two been?" Fuu asked, when she'd started on her third helping of rice and the sake had brought a pleasant glow to her cheeks.

"Here and there," said Jin.

"Around," said Mugen.

"Really? That's interesting."

"More fish," said Mugen.

"You were very brave today," said Jin.

"I did what I had to do," said Fuu, sitting up a little taller. "Anyone would have done the same."

The corner of Jin's mouth twitched up into a tiny hint of a smile. "Not anyone," he said.

Mugen was busy stuffing unagi into his mouth, but there was something on his face she thought might have been a smile, too.

Or perhaps he'd got a bone stuck in his teeth.

"Last time I saw you, you were headed in different directions," said Fuu. "So how come-"

"Co-incidence," said Jin.

"Just walking," said Mugen. "Needed to get away from someone."

Jin arched an eyebrow. "Someone?"

Mugen's grin was broad and leery. He waved his chopsticks in Jin's direction. "Turns out she was married," he said.

Fuu couldn't help but think that Mugen enjoyed every word.

Jin gave Mugen exactly the disgusted sort of look Fuu expected. Mugen seemed to enjoy that, too.

There was an intensity between them, something sparking, alive.

Fuu's spirits sank like a stone. She didn't belong here. She was just in the way.

She pushed her rice bowl away and let out a sigh, forcing herself to smile. "Well, I'm stuffed," she announced. "I'm going to bed. And you'd better not wake me up when you come upstairs." She lifted her nose into the air. "And be discreet. I don't want my reputation ruined just because we can't afford separate rooms."

She managed to maintain her dignity (apart from stumbling a little over the corner of the table) as she got up and walked away.

Jin and Mugen stared at the half-eaten bowl of rice she'd left, then at each other, and then at the bowl again.

"Shit," said Mugen.

And under the table his banded ankle wrapped just a little tighter around Jin's.


Jin lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, letting complications settle back into his life one at a time, layer upon layer, and wondering vaguely why he didn't mind. Why he was able so easily to give up the simple, focused life he'd led the past couple of months.

Although in some ways, things were simpler now.

At least while they were all three of them in the same room, he didn't need to worry what he'd do if the two of them really did walk away in opposite directions. Relying on Mugen to follow Fuu was dangerous, enough. At this moment, in this time, Jin could reach out and touch them both, if he had the courage so to do, and that gave him a strength of mind and warmth of feeling that terrified and soothed him all at once.

He drifted into sleep on that thought. Dreams were almost-forming in his mind, shadows and half-conceived images, when something dragged him back awake.

The shape to his right was no longer curled in rest, dark hair spilling across the pillow, shining glossy in the moonlight.

Fuu was sitting, crying softly, her forehead on her knees, shoulders shaking.


She straightened quickly, guiltily, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, but she was fighting a losing battle: the tears still came.

Jin blinked a few times. He could barely remember Fuu crying, and never like this. "What's the matter?"

She shook her head, still rubbing at her eyes.


Mugen stirred, glaring at both of them over one naked shoulder. "Trying to fuckin' sleep, here."

"I'm sorry," mumbled Fuu. "I can't... I'm sorry." She tried to get to her feet, stumbled in the blankets and crumpled back onto the futon in a heap. She looked up at Jin, and for a moment he thought she was going to howl, or scream, or collapse into a sobbing mess right in front of him. But she didn't.

She looked up at him with huge, wet eyes, and laughed.

"Fuckin' insane woman," Mugen said, and he was right, and Jin found himself scooping Fuu up into his arms and kissing her hair, and holding her so tight she squeaked. His mind clouded with feelings he really didn't want to name.

To his surprise, Fuu nestled into his chest and let herself be held. Jin stroked her back gently, marvelling at how tiny and warm she felt, and was intensely aware of Mugen's startled expression.

Startled, and something else. Maybe.

"I'm fine," Fuu said, pushing him away at last. "I don't know what came over me."

"Nightmare," said Mugen. "You were talking in your sleep."

"I don't talk in my sleep," said Fuu.

"Fucking do," said Mugen.

She looked to Jin for back up, but he couldn't oblige. "He's right."

"A lot?" Her voice sounded a little small and frail. Jin wanted to hold her again.

"Occasionally," he said.

"You never say anything that makes sense," said Mugen. "You were rattling on about your father."

She fiddled with the edge of her blanket. "Oh."

"Do you regret finding him?" asked Jin.

She shook her head. "I just wish... I wish I hadn't... I wish I'd been more..."

"I understand," said Jin.

"I don't," said Mugen.

Jin glared at him, but he took no notice.

"You think you should have been nicer to him, is that it?" Mugen said.

Fuu nodded. A tendril of hair curled around her ear; Jin itched to touch it.

"That's bullshit," said Mugen. "You were right the first time. You should have hit him."

"Mugen!" Fuu exclaimed, and then, quietly, "he was so small and weak."

"The bastard deserved it. He left you, didn't he? Ran off to save his own skinny neck."

"He left us behind so we wouldn't be hurt," Fuu said. "He was trying to save us."

"You didn't know that," said Mugen. "How were you supposed to know? Did he tell you? Did he tell your mother, even?"

Fuu glared at Mugen, but Mugen just shrugged.

"Mugen's right," Jin said. "You didn't know."

"'Sides," said Mugen gruffly. "If he'd known you at all, he'd have known you'd follow him."

Fuu stared at him, her knuckles gripping tight to the blanket.

"You regret that you didn't tell your father that you loved him," Jin said. "You think he died believing that you only sought revenge. That you were angry with him."


"If I were to die as he did," Jin continued, "I should find it a comfort to know that my daughter was so courageous and passionate as to do such a thing. I would feel assured of her survival. I would know that, whatever my failings, she had not forgotten me. I think that would be more than I should deserve."

There was a pause, and then Fuu said, "you really think so?"

Jin nodded, and hope swam in Fuu's eyes. She flung herself at him, filling his arms and making his chest ache, and Jin wanted... Jin wanted, and he leapt from the cliff to the stream and tilted up her chin and kissed her.

She kissed back softly, instantly, as if she wasn't surprised at all.

Jin sensed movement behind Fuu, Mugen, oh no, Mugen. Jin could taste his anger, he was about to run, or possibly reach for his sword. But Fuu flung out an arm and grabbed him by one bony ankle. Mugen, caught unusually off balance, landed in a sprawling heap between them.

"I won't get in the way," Mugen muttered, struggling to get up.

Fuu looked up at Jin. He could still taste her; sweet, intoxicating. "Kiss him."


"Like that day, outside the shack. Kiss him."

Jin was about to ask why, but he caught the look in her eye, familiar mischief. He grasped Mugen's hair and tugged him up close.

"What the fu-"

Jin kissed him.

Jin's blood fired; Mugen wriggled around, protesting at first, until Jin's tongue plunged into his mouth. Then he surged up, his fingers clenching around Jin's ponytail, stripping his hair tie off in one stinging move.

"Oh," Fuu said, a catch of breath. Mugen turned his attention to her, stealing a hard, bruising kiss, hand fisting in Jin's hair.

"Is this what you want?" Mugen said, voice deep and breathless.

Jin held his breath and watched Fuu's face.

"Yes," she whispered, no hesitation. "Of course it is, idiot."

Mugen looked at Jin and the unspoken question and answer passed between them, too. As if Mugen needed to ask. Mugen, alone of the three of them, had known this all along.

Mugen kissed Fuu again and she reached for Jin, pulled him close, breaking off to kiss him, then Mugen again, then Jin, until it all got mixed up together in an orgy of tongues and hunger and lips and breath.

She was shy, just a little, enough to blush prettily when Mugen bared her breasts, but not enough to even try to stop him. She wanted this, wanted them. Both of them. Jin couldn't bring himself to question it; her desire was genuine and his was burning him from the inside out, and Mugen was working between them, breaking down barriers with simple need and hunger. It felt right. Whole. Complete.

Mugen cradled her in one strong arm, licking and sucking at her breast while Jin gently removed her clothes. He tasted the skin of her belly, her knee, her thighs. He let her soft moans fill his head, and drowned in them. Her tiny fingers tangled in his hair as he stroked between her legs. She was soft, wet, responsive. Mugen's fingers twisted around his, snaking inside her. They touched her together. Tasted her together. Kept touching and tasting until she shook with pleasure in their arms.

And then there was a problem.

Jin glared at Mugen, and Mugen glared at Jin, and Fuu sighed deeply.

"You're not going to fight about this, are you?" she said.

Mugen's gaze grew steely. Jin wondered briefly if he should let it go.

Did it really matter, who had her first?

Well, it clearly mattered to Mugen. And therefore...

"My purse," Fuu said. "Behind you, Mugen, on the table."

Mugen wrenched his stare away with some reluctance, and squinted around the room. "What for?"

"Just give me the purse."

Mugen found the soft leather pouch and placed it Fuu's hand. She delved inside and produced a coin.

A smile tilted Jin's lips.

"Call," she said, and tossed the coin, catching it neatly on the back of her hand, clamping her palm over it.

"What-" said Mugen.

"Tails," said Jin.

"Heads," Mugen said, quickly, as if he'd meant to all along.

Fuu peeked under her hand. "Tails," she said, the sweetest blush painting her cheeks pink. "Jin gets me first."

"Hey!" Mugen protested. "You cheated last time! How the fuck-"

"Sore loser," Jin muttered.

Mugen plunged for him, wrestling him backwards across Fuu's legs. Fuu shrieked, trying to wriggle her way between them. They rolled across the futon, Jin acutely aware of Mugen's erection pressing hard into his thigh, while Fuu's exquisitely soft breasts pressed into his back, and then his side, and then someone was kissing him, Fuu, then Mugen, and then somehow Mugen wasn't trying to strangle him any more, he was licking his ear and rocking against him, and Fuu was climbing over him, and he was slipping inside her so easily, just a few short thrusts before she pulled away again.

They rolled around some more, and at some point Jin realised that the cock pressing into his back was wet, and maybe... or....

But he'd never know for sure, and Mugen would never know, and Fuu would never tell them.

She was quite possibly the cleverest woman alive.

That night, the lovemaking, the whispered conversations, the hushed laugher, fused together into a cluster of passion for Jin. He treasured small flashes of feeling, images that would be with him forever: the look on Fuu's face as she came with Mugen buried deep inside her; the wickedness of her smile as she guided Jin's cock into Mugen's body; the slick of Mugen's tongue as he licked Jin and Fuu together where they joined.

The warmth of soft and hard; the taste of man and woman; the pleasure of something Jin could finally call trust.

The morning sun found them exhausted, a tangle of limbs and bodies. Fuu and Mugen slept, snoring and mumbling, while Jin let the sight of them warm through him, smiling helplessly.

And a whole new journey had begun.