Sara’s Songby Laura Bryannan
This story takes place after episode 20. Spoilers for that episode and episode 21 as well.
The first time I woke up I was too weak to even open my eyes. I smelled something awful and prayed it wasn’t me rotting in some kind of hell, and then I passed out again.
The second time I woke up my body was hurting so much I figured I had to be alive. I opened my eyes and could see that the smell was from fish—I was in a shack somewhere surrounded by dead fish. I felt profound relief and was out again.
The third time I woke up I was conscious enough to remember the events that landed me here, wherever here was, and I wept. For the first time since I was a child, I wept. The pain was so overwhelming, I didn’t know if I could bear it, but mercifully I passed out again and my heart was saved for the moment.
When I woke up again I was feeling more myself, thank god. I must have lost a lot of blood to feel as weak as I did, but I found that I could move somewhat, so I methodically checked myself out. Nothing seemed to be broken, the slashes in my arm and thigh had been stitched. I lay there thinking; I need to get back to see if Fuu is all right. Is he still alive? My heart clenched. I couldn’t think about him just yet. If I started crying again I would never forgive myself. Better to turn my mind to something safe, something comforting, and save the painful memories for later when I felt stronger.
I remembered our time in Aki, a pleasant dream in what seemed like the distant past. Fuu spying on us that night, yes, that would be a good place to start. I almost smiled to think about it. The next day I had brought home dinner for all of us and was sitting at the table eating when she walked in. She stopped in the doorway and her breath caught when she saw me. She seemed stuck—her eyes wide, mouth open as though she had something to say, but nothing was coming out.
“Fuu-chan, come eat. I bought enough for us all,” I said, with as neutral an expression as I could manage.
“Um…OK,” she replied, blushing profusely, and sat down. Fuu’s never been one to turn down food and she didn’t disappoint me this time. She ate but was still quite agitated, so I waited to see what she had to say for herself. Finally, after finishing most of her dinner, she spoke.
“Jin, I’m sorry for snooping on you guys last night,” she began.
“Did we wake you up?” I asked, even though I didn’t believe that was the case.
“Well…um…not really. I wanted to see, so I stayed awake. I’m sorry. Are you angry?” she asked, peering up at me from underneath her bangs. I was glad she was willing to be honest.
“No, Fuu. I’m not angry. I found it…arousing,” I admitted.
Her eyes got big. “R-Really?” she stammered.
I nodded. It was true. I became aware of her when I entered him for the first time that night. He moaned and I heard a quiet gasp from across the room. It took me a few moments to get over my surprise and my curiosity as to why she was awake, but then I just let myself go with it. I found it quite exciting, for it felt as though everything I did to him I was doing to her as well. Every time he vocalized, she would pant, sigh or gasp in response. It was quite amazing, and I was inspired to wrench as much noise out of him as I could. The entire experience was immensely satisfying, and I smiled as I remembered it.
“Next time, don’t be sneaky. It will be all right,” I gently admonished.
“Well, Mugen didn’t think you’d be willing to let me watch.”
this was Mugen’s idea?” I asked, glad to be getting at
more of the truth.
”Oh no! It was mine. He just told me he...well...that I might see something if I stayed awake. But I won’t do it again, I promise! It scared me too much.”
“Scared you?” I looked at her curiously. It wasn’t what I expected her to say. She blushed and looked down again, nodding. She didn’t say anything more, but playing the scene back in my mind I could see how someone as innocent as she might feel overwhelmed by what she had witnessed.
“I thought you were hurting him,” she whispered. “He told me you weren’t.”
“Oh, I see. Passion and pain can sound very similar. Are you all right now?” I asked. She looked at me and smiled, nodded, then began to nibble on her dinner again. She still seemed worked up, though, stewing about something. I didn’t feel comfortable sitting there waiting for her to speak since I had finished eating, so I decided I should move along and let her deal with it. If there were something more she wanted to say to me, perhaps getting up would goad her into saying it. It worked.
I looked at her and she blushed. “Yes, Fuu?”
“Can I kiss you again?”
Oh dear! That was a surprise. She looked at me so hopefully and sweetly, I didn’t want to do anything to hurt her, but it just couldn’t be. I sat back down and reached out to stroke her cheek.
“Fuu, I won’t do it behind his back. I’d be happy to kiss you. I enjoyed kissing you that day. But only if he knows, all right?” She seemed fine with that, thank god. I breathed an inner sigh of relief. And then, speak of the devil, he walked in.
“Food!” he exclaimed happily, flopping down across from me and digging in in his usual repulsive way. I’ve learned it’s best not to watch. I can’t be disgusted by what I don’t see, although sometimes listening is just as bad. When he had finished every last remaining bite of food and let out a satisfied belch, Fuu clearly decided it was time.
“Mugen, can I kiss Jin please?”
My jaw dropped on the floor as he grinned, his eyes widening. He turned to me and I shrugged my shoulders. He eyed her and she was looking back with a very hopeful expression.
“Sure, what the hell? Me first, though.” He held his arm out to her and, giggling, she scooted over. They embraced and I found myself in a strange place. I’d never seen him kiss anyone before, and it was quite an erotic sight, but I’ll admit my heart was wounded just a little to see him with her that way.
I’d never asked him about their relations together. I just assumed that, knowing Mugen, they had some kind of sexual relationship. That knowledge had not bothered me in the slightest, but facing the two of them was different and I was surprised at my struggle with it. When they broke the kiss they were both a little breathless, giving each other the sweetest looks. It made me smile to see them. Then she turned to me, and the look in her eyes was so predatory, I do believe I gulped in response. I must have because Mugen burst out laughing.
“Well, come on then,” I said to her while giving him the evil eye. I put her on the table in front of me and we were just about the same height. But before I had a chance to think, she pounced, throwing her arms around my shoulders and swooping in on me just like Mugen does. Well, well, she’s got her teacher’s moves down pat! We launched into this searing kiss, but a searing kiss from Fuu is still so wonderfully different from a searing kiss from Mugen, it’s quite another kind of pleasure.
It’s very nice to kiss someone who isn’t always invading my mouth. Fuu and I play as equals when we kiss, it seems, and it is quite lovely. She lets me wander into her mouth sometimes and I let her do the same. Our tongues danced together in the most delicious way, tasting, searching and exploring each other. I found it hard to keep my hands off her, as it seemed natural to want to pull her towards me and…well…take things farther, I guess.
Yes, it’s very nice to kiss Fuu, and even without opium I found myself getting a little lost in it. I was mostly trying to match what she was doing, and respond to what she was initiating. It was her show, and I was sitting back and enjoying it, so to speak. Every time there was a natural pause I expected her to pull away, but she didn’t! She continued and continued and I got more and more aroused. I was very glad she was sitting on the table and not in my lap, as I had no ‘doshi on tying me down. The bulk of my erection was under the table, thankfully, as I didn’t need him seeing it either.
It became clear after a while that she was not going to stop, so I decided it was time to wrap things up. Nice as it was, it was still very strange to do it in front of Mugen. Then I felt the table wobble and I opened my eyes. Mugen was standing in the middle, poking her bottom with his big toe.
“Hey you,” he said to her, “my turn.”
She sighed and let me gently push her back. She smiled a silly dreamy smile at me and I suppose my smile back to her was just as silly.
“I stopped you guys just in time, I think. Oooch over, babe,” he said, sitting next to her and shoving her aside with his hips. He grabbed me under the arms and pulled me off my knees and onto my back, as I stared at him incredulously but didn’t fight him.
He’s figured out the most efficient way to get to me is up the leg of my hakama, and that’s where his hand went. He lay on his side next to me and we kissed while he touched me, stroking, tracing my length, teasing me in the most lovely way. It felt wonderful, but it was so strange. I couldn’t remember him doing that before. He’d always used his mouth in the past, never his hands.
“Um…you guys?” a small voice piped up.
Mugen broke our kiss and smiled at me in such a lusty manner, I shuddered, moaning as he did something particularly nice inside my hakama.
“Fuu, we’re gonna do it right here,” he announced. “Stay or go, either way is cool by me.”
Then he kissed me again. I knew he intended to fuck me, and you’d think I’d rather he not do that in front of her, but I honestly didn’t care at that point. As it turned out, she left before things got too steamy, although I didn’t really notice until later. My seme pride was secretly glad, however, and perhaps it was better that she didn’t see how we christened the table.
It was the last time we made love. I found myself dwelling on every little detail, grateful that the memories felt sweet and not hurtful. God, I missed him so much! I lingered there for a long while, unwilling to take my mind forward in time. It took all my resolve to face the rest.
Could I think about Sara? I felt my entire body clench at the idea. I will forever associate that name with pain. From practically the moment she entered our lives, I was in pain. At first I found Mugen’s behavior bemusing, and I was proud of the compassion he showed her. But it became quickly clear that he was interested, deeply interested, and that confused me. He wouldn’t take a hint either. A sword hilt in the cheek and a geta over the head did nothing to knock any sense into him. Here he was with not one, but two lovers, and yet he was so clearly lusting over her, both Fuu and I were completely dumbfounded by it.
I had suspicions about her from the beginning. Things didn’t add up. Those two men who harassed her, threatening to break her hand…something about the exchange didn’t seem believable to me. Mugen was able to chase them off so easily. Unfortunately, I passed the worry off as simple jealousy, something I continued to do every time I noticed other things that bothered me. And Mugen, whose instincts were usually so accurate, seemed oblivious to these problems. I had come to trust his intuitions, so I continued to chalk up my worries to my own struggles and didn’t follow through as I should have. My mistake.
As we traveled together I became more and more miserable and so did Fuu, although she put a brave face on it all. Her obvious fondness for Sara astounded me, as I knew how she was struggling with Mugen’s out of control lust. Did he ever consummate that lust? No, he did not, but that didn’t matter. It was the lust itself, and his inability to keep it private that bothered me so much. I thought things were good between us and yet it was clearly not enough to keep his eyes from wandering elsewhere.
It did not bode well for any kind of relationship with him. And, of course, once I had that realization I berated myself for believing there was a potential future for us at all. I felt more foolish than I had ever felt in my entire life, and became more and more angry that I had given my heart to this boy, this child, this fucking brat who couldn’t understand the concept of loyalty if it bit him on the ass. Not good. Not good at all.
I found it hard to be in his presence. I maintained my civility, but contrived to be unavailable. It wasn’t difficult, as we were traveling so much of the time. We hadn’t been intimate since we left Aki. Once Fuu met Yuri and Mugen and I learned just whom we were hunting for, we all felt like it was time to get back to real life. We hit the road and it was only a few days later that we met Sara.
It took a little while before he even noticed we weren’t being sexual, and that was an insult in itself. But eventually he would be very blatant and stare at me for long periods of time. I would simply not acknowledge him. The idea of being with him was not at all appealing, I was too upset to want it.
When we took rooms at the spa, it was the beginning of the end. I knew there was no way to avoid him, so I could only play it by ear and hope for the best. He came in after his bath and waltzed around in a towel while I studiously focused on polishing my sword. I could feel him eyeing me, but I refused to look at him.
He started chattering. “Well, this is the first time I've seen a woman with no break in her armor. I like her more and more,” he enthused.
I wondered just what I was supposed to do with such a statement. I thought I might be able to bring up some of my concerns with him and began to speak when Fuu opened the door and apologized to him. He didn’t seem to understand why she said it and I certainly didn’t. The moment felt lost, however, it was hopeless to try to talk any sense into him. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he dropped the towel and turned to face me.
“We can finally get it on tonight. You up for that?” he asked, leering.
I looked at him and saw he was obviously up for it. I was not. I found it amazing that he could say what he just said about Sara and still expect me to respond to his advances. The only way to avoid a confrontation was to leave, so I got up and walked to the door.
“Hey! Where are you going?”
“Privy,” I lied, and exited the room, sighing in relief. I did not return that night, and I succeeded in avoiding him most of the next day.
But now comes the most painful part to remember. Seeing Fuu so upset at the street fair the next evening was very heartbreaking, although I now know I was mistaken about why she was upset. I felt hurt by his behavior, yes. But it made me incredibly angry to see how he was affecting Fuu. It hardened my resolve to keep my distance from him, despite the confused glances he sent my way all night.
When Fuu made her declaration, and asked me to go with Sara, I didn’t have to think about it. I said yes for two reasons. One, I needed to get away from him. I couldn’t bear to be near him any longer, it hurt too much. And, two, I didn’t trust Sara at all by that point. Chalking up my misgivings to jealousy was not flying anymore. I couldn’t shake the feeling he’d end up between her legs with a knife in his back.
Divide and conquer, one of the oldest battle strategies known. She did her work well, and we were truly divided. At first, it was only emotionally, but Sara playing on Fuu’s tender sympathies to separate us physically was the final blow. It alerted my suspicions and I decided it would be best to get her away from the two of them. Whatever danger she presented to us, I felt confident I could and should handle it myself.
He managed to corner me after our meal together, however, dragging me off to a secluded spot near the spring. He was clearly upset and I knew I was in for it. I just didn’t realize how in for it I was until it was too late.
“What the fuck are you doing, Jin?” he demanded to know. “Are you really leaving?”
“Yes. I’ll honor Fuu’s request and go with Sara.” I turned to walk back but he grabbed my arm and spun me around.
“I don’t understand. Why are you guys so pissed at me? What did I do wrong?” he yelled. I simply stared at him. He grabbed his hair in both hands and let out a howl of frustration. “Why are you being such a shit? I’ve been good, I haven’t fucked her. You’ve got no right to be pissed at me. You owe me an explanation.”
“My anger is with myself, not you. I owe you nothing,” I stated firmly.
“Fuck that!” he insisted. “I thought we had something. You’ve been avoiding me for weeks. You telling me you don’t want me anymore?”
“That’s correct,” I said, although I tried to say it gently.
His eyes got big and he backed away a few steps, staggering. He blinked, shaking his head. “I don’t believe you,” he whispered, walking up to me.
If he had lunged, I would have been prepared, but he moved so slowly I let my guard down. In a flash, he kicked my feet out from under me and I fell hard on my ass, with one arm lodged behind my back, as it turned out. He was on top of me before I could get my bearings, one knee on my shoulder and the other grinding into my thighs. He lowered his mouth to mine and got past my clenched teeth by giving my nipple a painful twist. I gasped and his tongue was inside, and my body responded. Godammit, my body responded. I tried to wrench away, but he dug his knees into me harder until I realized I was truly stuck. I stopped struggling and lay there, trying to be as passive as I could while his tongue explored my mouth. Then I could feel him groping me, and I knew I was already erect. He raised his head with a triumphant gleam in his eye.
“You say you don’t want me, but you’ve got a hard-on and all I’ve done is kiss you. You’re a fucking liar!” he spat. I closed my eyes and turned my head aside. I was not going to get into a discussion with him about it. He growled again. “You said you loved me. I guess I know what that was worth. Nothing but shit.”
“It’s not my own feelings I’m concerned about,” I countered, facing him again. Had he forgotten he never returned the sentiment?
“You mean you don’t know how I feel? Are you really that fucking stupid?” He was starting to sound hysterical. “Everything we’ve been through together and you can just turn it off like nothing happened? You expecting me to get down on my knees and beg you to stAAAy?”
His voice cracked with emotion and I could see his horror at that flash across his face, and then the rage. He panted a few times, his eyes wild, then he punched me in the solar plexus, right where he knew it would hurt the worst. I doubled up in pain, gasping for breath. I couldn’t believe he’d done it! He got off me, and I curled up into a ball, then felt another searing pain. The fucker kicked me in the ass! I lay there inwardly cursing, hoping he hadn’t broken my tailbone, then heard him stomp off. It took a while before I could move, the pain was so great.
By the time I could stand up my heart felt heavier than it had ever felt in my life. My anger had been successful at keeping my feelings at bay until that point, but now they were right in my face. He was correct, of course. I did still want him. I missed him horribly. My heart missed him and my body did too, but there was no use crying over spilt sake. I made my decision and I would abide by it.
When we faced each other to say our goodbyes later I tried to get it over with as quickly as possible. Mugen wouldn’t look me in the eye and was being pointedly gross, so that made it easier. I could hear Fuu wailing about something as we got some distance away, but I had to harden my heart to that as well. It was over and that was that. The only thing that kept me sane was the tiny hope that the fates would be kind and bring us back together again as they had in the past.
The sadness wouldn’t go away, though. It wasn’t until Sara showed her true colors to me that I woke up from that malaise. She was lethal, I discovered, and I knew I wasn’t going to beat her on that bridge.
I put my life in god’s hands, dropped us both in the water and found myself here. It brought small satisfaction to know I was right about her, especially considering I did nothing about it when we were all together. I believed she was still alive, so I knew I had to gather my strength and find my way back, to find out what happened to her and fight her again if necessary. I prayed Mugen and Fuu were both all right—that they were far away by now, out of her reach. I decided it was time to try to get up and see what my body could do.
“Well, look who’s awake,” a wheezy voice called out. He identified himself as the man who saved my life and I had no cause to disbelieve him. He looked like a fisherman. He looked as though he would smell like a fisherman, as well. He toyed with me in strange ways but, in the end, I was very grateful for his care and his teaching. Johnny. Hmmm. I wonder who he really was?
He pointed me in the right direction, and I am hobbling forward as best I can. I find myself making childish prayers to the powers that be. If you bring them back to me I’ll never do an evil thing ever again. I don’t care if it’s ludicrous, I need to believe I haven’t lost them forever.
Can I forgive him? If I get him back again I will find a way. I can only pray I’ll have the chance. And maybe, if I am truly fortunate, he’ll forgive me as well.
I’ll keep praying….
to be continued