Of Nights

Wounds

It was quiet here, much like the nights of my childhood at the dojo. All would be asleep except for me, listening to the other's breathing, waiting for exhaustion to claim me. Peace would reign in those after-hours of the night. One would have never suspected what violence would erupt when daylight broke the next day.

I roll onto my side, grimacing from the pain that my new wounds bring. New wounds, old wounds, always a cycle of pain and healing. I know this to be true. I look out into the dim twilight where my two companions are sleeping for even now, after everything, constant surveillance of the area is wise. Hmph, they are snoring in unison, really. The girl murmurs in her sleep; a tiny frown visits her face.

What I would give to make her worries go away. Turning on my back, wincing again, I view the stars shining down on us.

Fuu. I sigh. I owe her everything. My…my life, my sword, everything. I remember that day, that moment in fighting Kariya in which I told him, I told her, that I had a reason, a reason to fight, to protect. In all my days of loneliness and seclusion I have found nothing that gave me more joy. These days of living with Fuu and Mugen, they are more meaningful to me than all the years of the dojo.

"Hey…Jin…What are you doing up?"

Fuu, rubbing her eyes and yawning in an unladylike way, crawls over to me sleepily and I am hit with memories of her tenderly treating Mugen and I after the final fight. She still has not lost the pallor of her skin and the faint bags under her eyes from the long nights of tending to us.

"Hn, I am looking at the stars."

She sits there next to me and is content to let the silence stay between us. The sky is so full of stars tonight. The sky is so full.

"Fuu."

She blinks as if awakening from deep thought and turns to look at me. With the starlight on her face she looks so young and pure and nothing like the strong fiery woman I know her to be.

"We are splitting up after tonight, aren't we?"

Surprised, she looks searchingly into my face and then furtively rests her gaze on the sleeping form of Mugen.

"Yes."

"May I ask why?"

A silence. She turns her face away from me and looks out into the dark horizon. Silence. But I sit up, slowly and patient for her answer, for I know the complexities of silence and I know Fuu.

"…Because…well because the journey's over. Because we finished what we set out to do and I don't need to keep you guys any more. Because…well…"

She hugs her legs to her torso. I know this gesture, I know she wishes to say something but doesn't know how. I look up at the sky. Oh, the stars are so bright tonight.

"Because you love him?"

Abruptly, Fuu looks at me, her big brown eyes searching mine, scared, embarrassed.

A sigh. "Yes." A soft whisper. "Yes, I love him."

And she looks at me with all the confusion and despair a lovesick fifteen-year-old girl can possess. I do not know how to help her. If only I could, if only I knew how to end her hurt, to heal her as she did me. My hand then seems to take on a life of its own and I watch in mild horror has it begins to pat Fuu's shoulder in what I can only hope is a soothing manner. Aghast at my own presumption I choke on any words that might have been said.

But it is enough. She smiles softly and her confusion slowly slips away from her expression.

"Jin." A smile. A nod.

As I lay back down I listen to her breathing as it steadies out and begins the rhythmic sounds of sleep. But something is different. Something has changed. I only hear the soft snore of the girl.


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