Wanderings, VI

by Laura Bryannan

OK, so I’m totally nuts. I asked Jin to make love with me even though I knew he’d say no. Even though I knew he should say no. But I couldn’t help it. Two months under the same roof and I was going insane. I could have sworn he was looking at me differently since we got back together. He never had eyes for anyone but Mugen before, but now…it seemed like maybe he was interested. I wasn’t sure. At dinner that night the wondering got too hard. He was looking so fine in that shade of red—even more than he usually did—I couldn’t stand it anymore. So I said it and then immediately regretted it.

Make love with you?” he asked, looking very surprised and not particularly pleased. I was horrified.

Ack,” I moaned, my face in my hands. “Forget I asked. Just forget it!”

I’m glad you asked, Fuu,” he said softly.

I looked up at him, and he was smiling at me. I freaked. “You are?”

He nodded. “This is a conversation we need to have, don’t you think? We’re attracted to each other and we should discuss it,” he stated calmly, even though he was kind of blushing. I was so flustered it took me a minute before I even heard what he said. But I quickly played it back in my mind and, yes, he had said it. He said he was attracted to me! I couldn’t believe it! I started to feel a little less mortified. Maybe I wasn’t so crazy after all.

You’re really attracted to me?” I had to hear him say it again.

Yes Fuu, I am. But I’m not ready to act on those feelings yet. I’m not ready to give up hope that he’ll return to us. Are you?” I shook my head and said no. I tried to look calm and serious even though I wanted to jump up and down and scream, ‘he likes me, he likes me!’ I was so happy it was hard to pay attention when he kept talking. “I’d like to think of the two of us together as the only good thing about our never seeing him again. Until we’re ready to stop waiting, I would prefer to be good. What do you think?”

I agree. But…well…do you really think he’d be upset if he returned and found us together? He was always willing to share you with me when he was around.” I couldn’t stop pushing, I guess.

After what we put him through over Sara…well…what I put him though over Sara when he wasn’t even unfaithful…yes, I do believe he’d be upset. I would be upset, so that’s the only thing I have to go on. Let’s be good for now, all right?”

But how long should we wait?” I asked, as we got up to head home.

When we’ve given up hope of ever seeing him again and the despair gets too great, we’ll discuss it at that point,” he replied. It sounded like his mind was made up. We didn’t talk all the way home, but when we went inside the house I turned to him.

Will you kiss me?” I asked. Where I got the courage to say it, I have no idea.

His eyes went wide, and he sighed. “No, Fuu. As the saying goes, I fear one would not be enough and two would be too many.” He held out his arms, though, and beckoned me to him. “A hug instead?” he asked. I leapt at the chance and happily cuddled against him, although I was disappointed to notice that I could smell the fabric of his new kimono more than his usual sandalwood self. He kissed the top of my head, then let me go and turned away. “Goodnight Fuu,” he said, unrolling his futon. I took the hint, said goodnight and went into my room.

Lying in bed, I wondered how I got myself into such a situation. I couldn’t put my finger on it, really. All I know is that somewhere along our journey, I started looking at Jin differently. I started out with this total crush on Mugen and ended up feeling in love with both of them by the time we all parted. And now that it was just Jin and me…well I was practically obsessed with him.

I would get up in the morning and always find the fire going nicely and water boiling. He’d be out back doing his workout and I’d have a quick wash and then start fixing something for us to eat for breakfast. I always wanted to have my stuff mostly done before he got back inside, so I could sit and eat and peek at him as he got ready for work. He would sit by the fire, strip to the waist…yum…wash up and shave.

Jin is a thin man, but his body is totally sculpted and hard. Seeing his chest…those arms, oh I loved watching him shave! He had this little ritual he did every time. First he’d arrange everything in front of himself—his razor, his whetstone, his soap, a bowl of water and a towel on his lap—then he’d hone his razor, soap himself up and do it without even looking. When he was done he’d check himself out in the reflection of his razor and go after anything he missed, but he hardly ever missed anything. He looked so handsome when you could see his beard coming in, I poked him about it once.

Why don’t you let it grow, Jin? You look really good that way. Even Mugen thought so,” I said, figuring that would get his attention. It did. He turned to me, looking puzzled.

Only old men wear beards,” he stated. And then, after a pause, he continued, “You and Mugen talked about…my beard?” He looked doubtful, and I nodded.

Only once. That time you were sick after we met Okuru. You hadn’t shaved and we both thought you looked really…um…manly.” I was too embarrassed to say how much we’d gone on and on about how hot he’d looked, but we sure had. “Mugen was jealous because he couldn’t grow a good one like you. Besides, I’m not talking about a long, old man beard, but a sexy, short one,” I added. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, but looked pleased anyway.

So we would hang out and chat at bit while he finished eating and then we would walk downtown together to go to work. For me, that meant chopping and slicing and peeling and stirring and tending everything in Kanna’s kitchen at the teahouse. She was a really fun lady, maybe ten years older than me, and she was the cook. I was the prep person, so I did all the crap stuff and she did all the fun stuff, but that was OK, because I liked her a lot and learned so much from her.

Jin and I had decided I should knock two years off my age, in hopes to account for my tiny, beardless self, so everyone at work thought Fukashi was thirteen. I was so busy all day the time just flew by. The girls who waited on customers there were lots of fun. They ignored me at first, but eventually I got to know them all, and even considered a few of them to be friends. It was weird, because I never had girlfriends when I was a girl. I was too busy helping mama in our little sewing shop. And then, after she got sick, well….

Strangely enough, I made a few friends on our journey, particularly in Aki because we stayed there so long. Anyway, the girls at the teahouse were all either my own age or a little older, so it was both exciting and wonderful to have them tease and flirt with me, thinking I was a guy when I wasn’t. And since I was the only guy my age who worked there, that merited some attention. It made my job lots more fun, that’s for sure!

After work I would walk home, and Jin would usually show up soon after. We’d head out to the back yard and he’d help me practice with my sword. It was the funniest thing. We were out there every evening and we started drawing a crowd. First it was the next-door neighbor, an older man from China, Wei-san. He’d hang over the fence and watch us every day. And then our across the street neighbor, Shuiyu-san, would wander into Wei-san’s yard and watch with him. We’d work out and they would chat. A few more neighbors began to congregate after the second or third week, I guess, and then Wei-san asked Jin if he could join us and Jin said yes, so he did.

Well, to make a long story short, after a few months it became a regular thing in our neighborhood for folks to hang out around our house at sunset. We had to move the class to the front yard because there were too many people joining us to fit in the back yard anymore. The neighborhood people would all be talking to each other, men arguing, women with babies, young folks giggling and gossiping, little kids running around yelling. I think it was just a convenient excuse to all say hi to each other every day. It was fun. We knew our relationship was the source of a certain amount of gossip—folks who believed we had a bushido thing going—but it didn’t seem to keep them from coming around.

The group doing the forms with Jin and me was never constant. It could range from ten to twenty people, I’d say, on any given evening. There was a core group practically every day though, Wei-san being one of them. He and Jin got on great, and I could tell that Jin really enjoyed having someone he could talk weapons and fighting styles and all that stuff with. For an old guy, he could really move, too. Anyway, the ages of our class members ranged from men Wei-san’s age, in their fifties or sixties, all the way down to this ten year old street kid. They were from everywhere too, just like everyone we met in Ryukyu.

I loved learning how to use my wakazashi. I loved learning from Jin. He was such a good teacher—always clear about what I was supposed to be doing, always patient with my mistakes. I would get embarrassed and want to quit, and he would be sweet but firm about my continuing. It was even more amazing to watch him teach other people. He was so obviously in his element, it was almost as if he were a different person. He seemed so comfortable and confident. It seemed so natural for him. I didn’t know why it was surprising to me, but it was.

I found myself getting jealous of the other students sometimes, when he would praise them or pay attention to them. Especially if they were women. Yup, there were a few women who usually showed up. There was this one who was really pretty, so she made me really nervous. It was obvious she was totally gaga over Jin. Made me want to smack her. Eventually people stopped calling him Wakana-sai and just called him Shinshi or Sensei, depending on where they were from.

Well, we’d go through the forms for an hour or so, and then we’d do some socializing before I’d disappear inside to take my bath. Jin almost always went to the bathhouse downtown after class, but I couldn’t do that, unfortunately. I had to do my tubbing at home, or I’d blow my cover. We splurged on a rain barrel that lived in the backyard though, and that helped a lot. Usually, the only water we had to lug from the well downtown was for cooking and drinking. We could use our rainwater for everything else. The wooden tub inside was large enough for me to sit in, thankfully. I missed being able to soak in a big one, but such was my fate. So if I wanted to take a bath I usually did it then, while he was downtown with Wei-san and the other men.

He was finally mine, all mine, when he returned from the bathhouse. Sometimes he’d bring dinner home from one of the teahouses. Other times we cooked something. It just depended on how lazy we were feeling. It was always my favorite part of the day. We would sit by the fire and talk or doodle. Jin usually had something funny or interesting to share about Soong-ojiisan’s never-ending life saga. Of course, we were both glad it was never-ending, because Jin really enjoyed the job.

The girls at work were always doing crazy things that made me laugh, and he’d shake his head at my stories about them as well. I’d never met Soong-ojiisan, but I knew what he looked like because I watched Jin draw a series of portraits of him. He also drew pictures of Soong-san, and Soong-san’s maid, cook, wife and three children. I did know what Soong-san and his family looked like, and their pictures were amazingly accurate. It got me to thinking, but it took me a week to get up the guts to ask.

Would you draw a portrait of…him?” I held my breath. His head jerked around and he looked at me intently, then his eyebrows came up and I could practically see his brain thinking, well, why not? His eyes closed and he stroked his chin for a few moments. Then he looked at me again.

I could try, I suppose,” he said quietly. He looked back at the paper and closed his eyes once more. Then he dipped his brush in the ink and, in just a few minutes, drew Mugen from the shoulders up. Just to see it happen took my breath away. When he sat back, it looked so much like him there were tears in my eyes. It was a semi-profile, with Mugen looking down, off to the side. Jin drew him with such a sweet expression too; one of my favorite Mugen faces. It must have been one of Jin’s too, I realized, or he wouldn’t have drawn it.

Ohhhh Jin,” I breathed, “it’s beautiful. I miss him so much!”

He sighed. “I do too,” he whispered. He ripped the picture out from the roll and put it up on the mantel. “He’ll help us be good,” he said with a little smile, then he turned to me and I blushed, I just knew it.

I need all the help I can get,” I admitted.

His eyes widened and he cleared his throat. “Yes,” was all he said. “Well, I should get to bed,” he hinted, and I got up to head to my room. He hugged me the way he usually did. It was the only time I spent in his arms, so I treasured it. He always let me go more quickly than I hoped he would. We’d whisper goodnight to each other and go to our lonely beds in our lonely, separate rooms. I didn’t always go right to sleep, of course. Sometimes I was just too worked up about him to sleep, and needed to take care of…things first. I found myself dreaming about what it would be like to do it with him. Unfortunately, that meant facing some stuff in my life that I didn’t like to think about, namely Seiji.

Seiji, the first and only man I ever had sex with, one horrible time. I can’t even say he made love to me, because he didn’t. Even though I know now he was just a lousy lover—he didn’t make me ready properly and that’s why it hurt so much—that time sure left a bad impression on me. It was the main reason I didn’t push Mugen to do more than we did when we were together. Mugen was so much bigger than Seiji it was scary to think of him inside me, even if I was ready. Seiji hurt a lot. How could someone Mugen’s size not hurt more?

But then there was that afternoon after Mugen killed Sara. I walked in on them and Mugen’s hand was inside Jin’s hakama. All my questions about Jin were answered when Mugen invited me to join them. I’d only seen him in his not-erect state before, and I’d never been so close to his body. I could tell he wasn’t as big around as Mugen, but he was longer, which made me smile. Everything about Jin was long, it seemed. I couldn’t help myself when I felt him getting ready to cum. I just had to take it. I hungered for him in this way I couldn’t figure out. Getting my face so near to him, the exotic sweetness of his scent there, and his taste…I’ll never forget it.

So as the months went by, I would lay in bed listening to Jin in the next room and think about him. I would touch myself and fantasize about him. His size didn’t seem as frightening to me as Mugen’s did. The idea of actually doing it with a man started to seem exciting instead of scary, especially if the man was Jin. I’d start where my actual experience with him left off, and imagine what it might have happened if I hadn’t fallen asleep after my orgasm.

I remembered how he curled around Mugen that night I watched them, and put myself in Mugen’s position. It would be so sweet to lie in his arms like that and kiss him. I love kissing Jin. Actually, now that I think about it, I know when I first started falling for him. It was that day we all smoked opium together, and I watched Mugen kiss him, and then I got to kiss him too. And then they both got naked in front of me. I was done for after that, let me tell you. I don’t think I have ever recovered from that day.

Of course, in my fantasies everything feels wonderful and it’s all so romantic. Unfortunately, after I’ve had my fun, my practical self remembers—I thought it would be that way with Seiji too. But the longer Jin and I lived together, the easier it became to forget that part. I just had this super crush on him. It got bigger and bigger as a few more months went by and still no Mugen. I could tell Jin was thinking about me too. I could just feel it. It was so exciting it made me feel guilty sometimes. I’d have traitorous thoughts about Mugen never returning and immediately feel horrible about it. It was so confusing. It was awfully hard to have Jin so close, to be so intimate with him every day, yet feel like I couldn’t touch him or have any more of him than that little hug before bed. I was good, I’ll have you know. I didn’t humiliate myself beyond that time at dinner but, oh, it was hard!

And then Yunta came through for me. She was one of the servers at the teahouse I worked at. She was fifteen and really fun. She was usually the one who thought to include me when the girls were doing stuff after work. So, of course, I really appreciated that. She was a native-born Ryukyuian, and that intrigued me a lot, I’ll admit. She even wore clothes with triangle designs like Mugen used to wear. You could almost always tell the native folk by those triangle designs on their clothes or things.

To be honest, you could usually tell where anyone was from by how they were dressed. Us Japanese folk wore kimono and hakama and such. The Chinese people wore tunic-type tops and loose pants, even the women, although I would often see fine ladies (and some whores too) wearing traditional cheongsam. The Ryukyuians wore lose-flowing shirts and tight shorts or pants, usually with some kind of triangle design on them. Anyway, one day Yunta came into the kitchen and threw a little bit of something wrapped in silk onto the table I was chopping at.

Would you look at this! Some jerk left me a hunk of dirt as a tip,” she complained. I took a look inside, as she had already loosened the string. I immediately freaked. It was opium! I wanted it really, really bad.

This is opium, Yunta,” I informed her. “I smoked it once with my cousin. It’s lots of fun. Do you want to try it?” She wasn’t the one I wanted to share it with, but it was hers after all. She said she didn’t want to. Hooray! “Could I buy it from you?” I asked, and I actually crossed my fingers behind my back.

Oh, I wouldn’t hear of it. Just take it. You can buy me lunch tomorrow, OK?” she winked, and I immediately agreed. I couldn’t believe my luck! I stuck it in my sleeve and felt so excited. I hoped Jin would want to smoke it with me. It brought back such good feelings from before, it felt like something good might happen again. Boy was I right! I pulled it out after dinner that night. His eyes got big and his jaw dropped.

Fuu! Where did you get that?” he gasped.

One of the girls at the teahouse got it as a tip. She gave it to me. Amazing, huh?” He nodded with this hungry-looking smile on his face. My heart soared. I could tell he wanted to do it too. “Can we smoke it?” I asked.

He nodded and got up to go find his pipe. It wasn’t a whole lot as it turned out, but it was enough to make me feel really nice. It looked like Jin was happy too. Once we finished smoking, we got into what we called The Box. Folks gave us stuff in return for training with Jin, and The Box was Wei-san’s contribution, as he was a carpenter by trade. It was the neatest thing. Just a frame big enough to fit a single futon, with short walls on three sides and four legs which made it tall enough to store stuff underneath. The futon was on slats, and the walls around it were comfy to lean against, much better than sitting on the floor.

Anyway, we sat in there just staring at the fire for a long time, our shoulders close but not touching. We didn’t talk, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable. It was really nice. Then I don’t know exactly how it happened, but we turned to each other at the same time. He had this little smile on his face that looked so yummy, I think I might have squeaked or something, and then he pulled me closer and we started kissing.

Oh, it was so wonderful! Mugen’s kisses took my breath away—he was always so intense and forceful—but Jin’s kisses make me melt on the spot. He’s gentle and playful when he kisses me, and he lets me kiss him back, which I really love. So we kissed and kissed, sliding down on the futon so that he was lying next to me, but sort of on top of me too. He had his thigh tucked in between my own, and it was so hard to keep from rubbing myself against him. His weight on me was so nice, so right.

I could feel his fingers trailing around my ear and neck, which made me all shivery. Then his hand slid down to my butt and he grabbed it and pulled my hips closer into his own. It just all felt so good, I couldn’t stop moaning. Every little sound he let escape was like a lick you-know-where. The noises he made were making me so horny I couldn’t stand it. We’d been doing this sweet grind against each other for a while when it dawned on me. I couldn’t feel him. Even though all the layers of clothes we were wearing I figured I should have been able to feel his erection, but there was nothing.

And then I remembered what he’d said that day by the stream: a man’s equipment didn’t work on opium. My heart sank. Sure enough, after a little while longer, he slid his arms around me and flipped onto his back with me on top of him. I giggled, even though I was bummed, and sat up on his belly. He smiled back at me, and rested his hands on my knees.

We should stop this, Fuu,” he said quietly.

I sighed. I wasn’t going down without a fight. “OK,” I pouted, “but just one more kiss,” lowering my face to his. He smiled and allowed it, and I could feel his hands caressing my backside. It felt very nice. I kept hoping he might move his fingers…you know, a little down and in, but he didn’t. I sighed again, and reluctantly backed away.

Thank you for sharing your opium with me,” he said, as I finally got off him.

You’re very welcome,” I smiled. Despite my raging horniness, I was floating on cloud nine. I got my bedtime hug and practically ran into my room so I could…um…spend some time with myself. As I lay there, I wondered if he was doing the same. It made me even hornier to think he might be. Oh dear, I was one messed up gal!

So the next few months after our second opium encounter were kind of hard for me. I had hoped after all that making out, Jin would finally decide it was time to stop waiting and turn to me, but he didn’t. He was still kind and sweet, and I could tell he was still watching me, but that’s as far as it went. I wanted him more and more, and felt more and more guilty about it because I was getting so jealous of Mugen. There were still times when I hoped he wouldn’t come back to us. I felt horrible about it. The thing that set it off again was the scar. I saw the scar on Jin’s arm one time when he was shaving, freaked out and just lost it.

What’s that on your arm?” I practically shrieked, coming over to get a better look. I saw his hand move to it before his eyes did and watched his fingers caress it. My heart wrenched.

Um…I asked Mugen to cut it there the day before we parted,” he said, finally looking at it. The second he said the word cut my tummy got wonky. He asked Mugen to cut him?!? From far away it looked like the mark had been inked on, but as I got closer, I could see it was a cut…or had been a cut at one point. It was Mugen’s sideways loops, raised up near his inner elbow, and the black line that looked like ink was embedded into his skin somehow.

It made me shudder to see it, and it made me amazingly, intensely jealous as well. I had noticed that Jin had his hand in his sleeve a lot since we found each other again—something I had never seen him do while we were on our journey. Now I understood what was going on. He was doing it right then as we talked, absent-mindedly stroking it with his fingers.

I cut him with my name too,” he finally added, looking all dreamy and wistful. Oh, it just galled me to no end. How come I didn’t merit a mark? I hated everything about it—what it meant about them, and that they both had one and I didn’t.

And then, one night after I wandered into my room to go to bed, I sat in the dark along the back wall and peeked out the door at him. I saw him take off his hakama, fold them, and set them next to his futon. Then he did the same with his kimono. Jin always slept in his juban. But instead of lying down I saw him walk over to where we had Mugen’s old gi hanging on the wall. He’d asked me if I would leave it out, and I was fine with that.

He picked it up and held it to his face, obviously inhaling what was left of Mugen’s scent. He had his back to me, so I couldn’t see his face, but I could tell by the way he slowly sank to his knees how his heart was hurting. He hugged it to his chest and his head came down as he curled into a ball around it in his lap. There was no mistaking the longing he was feeling. Everything in his posture screamed it. It made me wish I’d ripped the thing to shreds or, at least, kept it all to myself and never shared it with him.

It felt as if I was competing with a ghost. It was clear Jin was not ready to stop waiting for Mugen. And it wasn’t like I was either…really. In my weaker moments I wondered if it would be so bad if he never came back to us. Most of the time, if I was really honest with myself, I missed him something awful. I did want him back, and not just for my sake but for Jin’s too. He seemed to get a little bit sadder every week that went by with no sign of him. I honestly didn’t believe I could fill the hole Mugen left in his heart, as much as I wished I could. So I really did want us all back together again, but sometimes it seemed like an impossible dream.

And, in the meantime, there was Jin. Jin when I woke up, Jin when we trained after work, Jin all to myself at night. In so many ways, his growing melancholy just made me want him even more. I wanted to snuggle him and kiss him and make it all better.

So I got stupid, I guess. I was getting more and more obsessed with my nearly virginal state, and feeling really ready to do something about it. And then, with my mind on such things all the time, I found myself thinking about Mugen and Jin doing it. I realized I was afraid of someone Mugen’s size going where it was supposed to go, and yet I knew Jin had been taking him where it wasn’t supposed to go and the whole idea made me disturbingly horny. How did he do it? Mugen put his finger inside me there once and it felt really weird. I couldn’t see how anything bigger would be anything but horrible. Can you believe it? I asked him about it, that’s how stupid I was getting.

Jin, after how bad it was my first time, I was always afraid of Mugen…um…you know, and me. It still feels scary. How did you ever manage to…um…get him inside you?” Yup, I actually asked him.

He looked at me with this helpless expression. “I’m sorry to learn you feel frightened about sex, Fuu, but…” he shook his head and was actually blushing. “I don’t believe I can discuss this with you,” he continued. “To tell you how it happened…I cannot be so forthright with you. It is too intimate a matter.” He looked so genuinely concerned he was letting me down, I felt bad. I was just being naughty. I figured if I couldn’t actually have sex with him, I could at least talk sex with him. He was in earnest when he continued, though:

Honestly Fuu, you shouldn’t worry about such things. Women’s bodies…well, they birth babies after all. When the time comes, with the right preparation, it will be fine.” He was blushing even more, but he was being so sweet I just wanted to hug him to death. I was really touched by his concern.

Thank you, Jin,” I said. “You’ve made me feel better. I appreciate your help.” He looked at me gratefully and then jumped up and headed out to the privy. That was my clue that the audience with m’lord was over for the evening. I knew he’d come in and start his bedtime routine, so I went ahead and started my own, hoping I’d have better luck next time.

So my life went on in a similar crazy pattern. I realized it was almost six months since Jin and I bumped into each other. I couldn’t believe it. It was a good thing my job kept me so busy or else I would have probably gone quietly insane. The girls there were the best diversion from my crush on him, so I was very grateful, especially for Yunta. She was such a fun person to know. I really liked her a lot. She was always bringing in something yummy to share with everyone, and she’d often bring in stuff just for us.

Give this to Shinshi, Wakana-sai,” she would say, even though I knew it was really for me. It was so sweet! It helped so much to have friends. And I must say, after listening to them all giggle and gossip every day, I began to realize that my feelings for Jin were totally normal. They were always going on about the latest crushes in their own lives, so why shouldn’t I have one too? I stopped feeling so bad about it and started doing stupid things again.

One morning I made sure I wasn’t quite done dressing when he came inside from doing his kata. He walked in the door and stopped short, his mouth open. OK, so nothing was showing but my bare shoulders, but it felt so deliciously naughty to do it, I couldn’t stop myself. I quickly pulled my kimono up, apologizing, and he visibly relaxed and we got on with our day.

About a week later I tried it in the evening this time. I was just in my juban when he got back from the bathhouse. I was having happy fantasies of him walking in, seeing my luscious self and sweeping me off my feet into bed. Oh well. It didn’t happen. All it did was make him uncomfortable and we had an awkward night because of it. You’d think a girl would get a clue, eh? Nope.

Then came the fateful night. Maybe if he had said something before—if he had asked me why I was acting so stupid—I could have stopped myself, but I honestly don’t know. Anyway, I cringe to admit that the last time I played this game I was waiting for him to come home from the bathhouse in my juban again. Untied this time. Oh, I don’t know what’s wrong with me! He opened the door and I turned to him, making sure it was parted all the way down, just a little bit. I saw desire flicker across his face for a moment. But then, to my horror, came the scowl.

Fuu,” he said forcefully. “I am not a eunuch. Please stop treating me like one.”

And with that, he turned on his heel and walked out the door. I totally freaked out. I stayed up as long as I could manage waiting for him to come home, but he never did. When I woke up the next morning, I was still alone.

to be continued