Why is it that, in hindsight, one can see things so clearly? Why didn’t we speak of our plans when we were together? I’ve asked myself this question over and over again, and have found no adequate answer. We were all in agreement we would separate, even though we never discussed it. I felt it was the right thing to do, as well. It was time to stop putting the two of them in danger any further due to my actions at the dojo.
That man. I won’t even dignify him to offer his name. He was a relative…on my father’s side, of course. I even met him once, although I didn’t recognize him until he told me who he was. I will probably never understand what kind of leverage he had on Master Enshirou to cause him to do what he did, but he was obviously a very powerful person. Why should the government care about me? Master was gone and so was I; they could do with the dojo as they chose.
And why he had orders to kill Fuu and her father was a mystery as well. Was her father that much of a threat? The entire situation made no sense at all. But, it was clear I was the main target, so I knew I needed to go my own way, if only to keep the two of them safe. I tried not to pay attention to how much the decision hurt—how much I didn’t want to leave them—but I was quite unsuccessful at that.
After we parted, I immediately took a boat back to the main island and headed to Nagasaki. I wanted to get to a city large enough to get lost in, so I could continue to gain my strength back without worrying about further assassination attempts. It would also be easier to find work in such a place. I believed Mugen would do the same. I hoped Mugen would do the same. I believed he’d want to be somewhere he could hide and heal and work, the same as me. And, once his body was strong and he had money in hand, he’d head to the first brothel he could find and enjoy his freedom from us in his typical fashion.
I had a fleeting urge to stop by our tree before I left, for old time’s sake, but decided not to. It seemed an exercise in futility and self-abuse, so I talked myself out of it. I certainly didn’t think he’d be there. It was so close to Fuu’s house, I didn’t believe he’d haunt anywhere she might find him. Well, perhaps that was not completely true. There was another reason I chose not to go.
I thought it highly probable Fuu would return to her father’s house after we parted. In the weeks Mugen and I were healing, she was a busy girl. There was a constant stream of sympathizers and curiosity-seekers for her to attend to—all bearing food, flowers and tales of her father. It seemed that everyone who had cared for him was now interested in taking care of her. I was heartened to see it, and hoped she had finally found a community she could settle into where she could be safe and loved.
So, to be honest, I didn’t return to our tree for two reasons: one, if he was going to avoid the spot it would be pointless to go; and two, what if I returned and found him, but he was there with her? If I’d discovered they made plans to continue on together without me, it would have been very hard to handle, so I decided I was better off not knowing at all. I decided if he had wanted to be with me, he would have said something about it before we parted. Since he didn’t, I made my way to Nagasaki on my own.
The money Fuu hid in my belongings was a big help. It was such a relief to find it. And, of course, there was the sword. I still can’t quite accept the grace of her gift, even now. It’s hard to believe anyone could care so much, or understand so much. I’ve never received anything so necessary, so important or so humbling as Fuu’s gift of her father’s katana. It helped heal me. It helped me feel strong again. I had honestly been heartsick about losing my own, and did not know how I was going to replace it.
Her father’s katana felt good in my hands. I liked the heft of it, the balance of it—very similar to my own. But I would still need many more hours of training to truly understand it. I had only just returned to doing my kata days before we parted—a frightening experience, considering how little I could do and how much it hurt to do it—so I knew I had a long way to go before I was anywhere near my old level of ability.
Adjusting to life without my glasses was a struggle as well. I could no longer make out details at a distance. I had not been wearing them long, but they helped so much I’d gotten used to being able to see clearly and felt at a real disadvantage now.
I was still living at the dojo when it became obvious I needed them. Master told me the funds were available—that there had been money set aside by my father in case of emergencies. He helped me locate an artisan and we had them commissioned. I didn’t handle the process myself, so I had no real idea what they cost or how to go about replacing them. They arrived one day shortly before The Disaster, and I had been grateful for them ever since. I wasn’t sure if I was going to use Fuu’s money to buy a new pair, or if it would even be enough, but there was nothing to be done until I reached Nagasaki.
I made it there without incident, thankfully. The first thing I did was to head to the red-light district. Gambling dens, opium dens, brothels…these kinds of establishments usually require bouncers. It took half a day, but I finally landed a position at a brothel. It catered to a wealthy clientele and was in a slightly better part of town than where I began my search. My body wasn’t actually up to fighting with anyone, but I wasn’t going to tell my employer that. I wanted to save what was left of the money Fuu gave me for new glasses or emergencies, so that meant earning more.
The job threw me off my natural rhythms, as I didn’t begin working until late afternoon and had to be there until early the next morning. It took a week before I got used to staying up so late. It was also quite dull, with little use for my services, which was good for my healing process but made it hard to distract myself from the sadness I felt. The gangster who owned the place was reasonably sane, and the madam was kind. The girls were all interesting, each in their own way, although I never got to know any of them…professionally.
“You want your pay in girls or money?” my employer asked.
“Money,” I replied, and he looked surprised. “Will that be a problem?” I was concerned by his response.
“Nah, it’s just that most want the free pussy,” he laughed. “Money it is. If you want to buy a girl, I’ll tell Ume to give you a discount. How ‘bout that?”
“Um…thank you.” I thought it best to be polite even though I doubted I’d take him up on his offer.
And thus I began my new life. I missed my old one very much, of course. And since there was little for me to do each night but sit there and watch the men come and go, there was little to keep my mind off of how much I ached for them or how alone I felt. I kept finding my right hand up my sleeve, touching the scar on my arm. I would do it without even thinking about it. It felt reassuring, and it made me feel close to him, as though I were still his. I wondered about his mark—whether he regretted doing it or not. I wanted to believe he was receiving the same kind of comfort from his as I was from mine.
I spent each evening remembering our journey. I started at the beginning but, for me, the journey really began in Hamamatsu. I’d been feeling lost after Shino was gone. It had been so long since I lay with a woman, I’d forgotten how delicate and soft they were, but the experience itself had been bittersweet. I hadn’t planned on being intimate with her, but when she was so forward with me I decided not to argue.
I certainly found her attractive, but it made me sad to make love to her. She was older than I, and yet so inexperienced. It broke my heart to think of her submitting to sex when she clearly didn’t know a thing about it. A courtesan, she was not. There was nothing of the playfulness and initiative I had come to expect making love with Rumiko. She lay there trembling as I touched her, cuddled into my shoulder, and she wept after she came. I do believe it may have been the first orgasm of her life. I didn’t enter her until after she quieted, and then I stayed with her—rocking against her, touching her—until she had another one. Perhaps it would have been a more satisfying experience if it hadn’t made me so heartsick.
Arranging her rescue and carrying it off felt very good. I was also very moved by Mugen’s behavior throughout the entire affair—that he gave me his money without a second thought, no questions asked. I was so surprised and grateful, it made me reconsider my negative assessment of his character. And then, when he and Fuu showed up with my swords and he helped us escape, my admiration increased even further.
Perhaps that is why the rest of it happened. I honestly cannot say for certain. But I fell ill the next night and lay abed longer than usual the morning after. He woke me up with the sounds he made masturbating, and the rest is history, as they say. I watched that morning, and the next and the next, when he caught me at it. And once he challenged me, all thoughts of Shino were completely gone from my mind.
After our initial sexplay the following morning, things changed immediately between us. We spent the rest of that day and the next circling each other like two duelists looking for an opening. Neither of us found one. Neither of us approached the other. I caught him watching me and he caught me doing the same, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I waited. Since I had never even considered that Mugen could be the receptive type, I had not been plotting or thinking about him at all. I did not find him attractive. I admired his skills and was glad to have him at my back in a fight, but I actually found him repulsive in many ways. So we were both waiting, and I was content with that.
The following morning I was returning from doing my kata and, since I was soaking wet from the endless rain, I went back to our room to dry off. I opened the door and there he was! Wearing his pants and shirt, lying on his side, propped up on his elbow. I believe I actually gasped. My body went hot and shaky, and I had to lean against the door for a moment to regain my composure.
I took a deep breath, walked over and knelt next to him. He watched me, but said nothing. I reached out and stroked the most available ass cheek through his pants and he closed his eyes. I marveled at the eloquence in that simple gesture. He was letting me know I could do as I wished. I was completely dumfounded! Continuing to explore with my right hand while my left reached around to untie his pants, I grabbed the waist and he lifted his hips off the futon so I could remove them. Yes indeed, he was most definately letting me know I could do as I wished. I tried to keep my breathing steady, but I’m sure it gave me away.
And then I had the first of what would become many, many heart-rending experiences interacting with Mugen. The scars. I saw the scars on his ass and shook my head in amazement. The six horizontal ones looked old, but the three vertical ones…they were pretty new, and so erotic! I blushed as I looked at them, hoping he couldn’t see, and immediately wondered what kind of person would do something like that to anyone, let alone him. I traced them, smoothed them…let my hands get to know his ass. But as I reached upwards, something caught my eye and my breath caught in my throat.
I pushed his shirt up in the back, found more scars, and my blood ran cold. These were even older than the ones on his ass, and there were so many. I quickly counted…eleven lash marks! I had never met anyone who had suffered such things before, and it hurt my heart greatly. He was still just a kid, so what could he have done so young to merit this kind of punishment? It was horrifying, but so intriguing. It took me a little while to recover from it all.
I continued to stroke him, enjoying how luscious his ass was. It was so nicely formed and well muscled, considering how thin he was, I felt jealous. He lowered his head to the futon and shifted his position slightly to make his backside more available to me, and I had to smile. I was so surprised he was behaving like this—seductive, submissive—when I had honestly believed him completely seme. I hadn’t even questioned it before now and I still didn’t quite believe it, but intended to continue and see what happened.
Since he appeared willing, I decided to go ahead and try him out. I took my clothes off, spreading them out on the floor so they would dry, then got the oil from my sharpening kit, making a mental note to go purchase something less costly than sandalwood to use if we were going to keep this up.
As I knelt next to him, he raised his knees slightly and made room for me, and I smiled again. He was surprising me at every turn! I poured a little oil in my palm and dipped my fingers in it, reaching for his ass. When I teased around the opening he began to purr. Mugen really makes this sound like he’s purring, I’ve come to know, but that was the first time I’d ever heard it. It’s this raspy kind of noise he does in his throat when he exhales, and purring is honestly the best way to describe it.
So I teased him for a while just to hear him make that amazing sound, and then I slid one finger inside. Wham! My heart took another hit! I was met with absolutely no resistance from his body at all. I tried two fingers and felt yet another blow to the chest. I had never in my life encountered anyone whose ass was…to put it delicately…as available as Mugen’s was. I knew he’d spent time in prison but it felt like it had been this way for a long time. Someone had busted him open long ago.
My heart couldn’t take it. It felt like the guy was nailing me right and left! He hadn’t touched me once, but it felt as though he’d been landing some very effective blows, and I was emotionally reeling. It made me angry. I kept trying to fall into my pattern—my old comfortable pattern of distancing and ritualizing, and he kept grabbing at me! He kept clawing at my heart, and I didn’t like it one bit.
I worked my fingers inside him and my mind began to wander. Two, three…he pushed into them so wantonly I was taken aback. He was getting louder now too, moaning and sighing when I teased his prostate. It was so arousing to watch him undulate at my hand, I couldn’t help but wonder just what he could take. I started having fantasies of working my fist inside him. It felt as though I could get it in there with a little patience. I had a realization that, if I did it, he would be mine—it would break him and turn him into some kind malleable thing I could do with as I pleased and then toss aside in my usual fashion.
Looking back now, I’m ashamed to see how much I was objectifying him then. He wasn’t much more than a toy to me that morning, or perhaps a scientific experiment: action A produces this response, but action B produces that one…interesting; and if I do this, what will happen? My anger at feeling emotionally battered by him didn’t help my attitude. I wasn’t above trying to give him a little battering in return.
Thankfully, however, something that had been growing inside me since the beginning of our journey began to fight back. I didn’t want to break him. I didn’t want to watch myself do that to another person ever again. It was unsettling to be pulled out of my familiar seme persona, but it felt exhilarating as well. I felt so alive that morning; I didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize that feeling. I remember watching the old me give way to this new aspect of myself when I was startled by his voice.
“Jin? You OK?” he asked quietly.
I blinked and looked at him. I hadn’t even noticed that he’d turned and was staring at me, looking somewhat apprehensive, almost as though he knew what I was thinking. “Forgive me,” I replied. “I was daydreaming.”
He cocked an eyebrow and looked as though he might speak, but then shrugged his shoulders slightly and lay back down again. I pulled my fingers out and oiled myself up. I thought I’d begin traditionally and go from there. Grabbing him by the hips, I lifted him to his knees and slowly eased myself inside. He pushed back with a deep moan, and we began. I was pleasantly surprised. For all his…openness, he was quite snug inside. Good bowel habits, I could hear Master Zhang say, and I shook my head to rid it of such un-erotic thoughts.
I slowly stroked into him, completely mesmerized by the sight of his body responding to me. He stretched himself out like a big cat, and the play of muscles in his back and shoulders was so alluring. I couldn’t keep my hands off him. There is something about Mugen’s skin, the color, the texture—my hands are always craving contact. I continued to thrust lazily, enjoying the feel of him around me, when he began to show signs of impatience. I wasn’t giving him everything and he clearly knew it, pushing back into me enough I had to dance out of his way to maintain control. He started growling and I almost laughed out loud. I eventually decided to oblige him. I pulled out, and then slowly pushed myself all the way inside this time.
“Ohhhhh shiiiiuuhhhhhh,” he sang, and melted on the spot. I knelt, caught him on the way down and he collapsed in my lap. I curled myself over him, lay my head on his back and slid my arms around his chest, enjoying how it felt to hold him. We breathed together for a little while but then he began to squirm, so I lifted his hips off my thighs and backed out as he whimpered a protest. Flipping him over, I immediately thrust back inside, pulling his hips into my lap again.
My gaze traveled upward, and I got another shock when I saw his face. I couldn’t believe the way he looked…like a child, almost angelic in his expression. I had never seen him look so innocent and sweet before. I now know that the only time Mugen looks innocent and sweet is after he’s been fucked for a while but, at the time, I was amazed and a little taken aback. I remember thinking how old is this guy? He looked like a kid!
Hooking my arms under his knees, I lifted him up so I could move more freely, giving him everything but still keeping the pace slow and gentle. I was starting to feel very aroused at this point, but didn’t want to cum yet. It was too amazing to have him in this position, and I was in no hurry to conclude matters. So I just fucked him, fucked him and fucked him some more.
His hands were continually moving: first they were clutching the futon, then they moved to his hair, then he hugged himself for a while. His arms came up and he covered his face, and his mouth sought the knuckle of his forefinger and he chewed on it a bit. His hands went everywhere but where I thought they’d go. I kept expecting to have to battle him to keep them off himself but I never had to. I found that interesting indeed. He was whimpering again, so I wondered what he would do next.
“Will you kiss me?” he asked. I winced. I didn’t want to. He opened his eyes and must have seen the look on my face, because he sighed. “You always take this long to cum or are you just showing off?”
“Showing off to whom?” I replied. He rolled his eyes. I set his hips down on the futon and started leaning in, bending him in half, so that I was thrusting downward instead of forward. Oh, first times! The noises Mugen makes when I take him like that are nothing short of amazing. They are completely unintelligible and animalistic, but oh, so satisfying to listen to. It was the first time I’d experienced feeling as though I were literally pushing the sounds out of his throat with my thrusts, and the sense of power over him was heady indeed. I’d raise up a few inches and then push back in, letting the weight of my body do most of the work, grinding myself deep and shoving my pubic bone into that sweet spot behind his balls. He was moaning and making these other unrepeatable sounds, and then I saw him trying to speak.
“D-don’t stop…please don’t s-stop,” he managed. I didn’t. I was ready. I reached for him, and got in a few strokes before I felt his hand stop me. “No…just go!” he ordered. Hmmm, all right. If he didn’t want me to jack him off it was fine with me.
I let him have it, moving faster but just as deep, and did what felt best to me for a while. But then I was amazed to feel his legs tensing and his ass clenching me. He threw his arms over his face, arched his back and started cumming, laughing and moaning at the same time. I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t touched him, and he hadn’t touched himself either. I’d never seen anyone do that before, but it did wonderful things for my own state of arousal. I put all my focus on the pleasure overwhelming me and let it happen. Oh, it was very, very good. I remember it feeling so amazingly sweet to cum inside his body again.
Hovering over him with my eyes closed, catching my breath, my guard was down. I felt his hands grab my head, and before I could stop him he was kissing me. I cursed myself for letting go of his legs after my orgasm, for I felt them locked around my waist and could not push away. But I didn’t struggle for long. It felt nice. I ended up settling myself on top of his chest and letting him kiss me for a long time. He was very good at it. I was coming to the realization that the men who had kissed me in the past were not. There was a part of my mind that didn’t think I should be letting him ravish my mouth the way he was, but I ignored it. It was just too delicious, and I was willing to continue until he ended it. When he finally pushed me away, he looked at me with a serious expression.
“Next time, take off your fucking glasses,” he demanded.
Next time? I thought, smiling to myself. “Next time, take a bath,” I retorted. Although, I’ll admit he did seem clean, he just smelled of old sweat. I couldn’t figure that one out. We gave each other the evil eye for a few moments and then I pushed against his legs and he let me go. I stood up and stretched, feeling very pleased and satisfied with the entire experience.
“Suck you off for ten mon.” A squeaky voice startled me out of my reverie. I turned to see a scruffy, gangly child, no older than twelve, standing next to me.
“No thank you,” I replied.
“Uh, OK, I asked too much. You’re new. How’d you know? For two?” he tried again. I shook my head. “Oh come on! I can do it real good, and I cost less than the girls.” His hands were on his hips and he was clearly confident about his skills. He reminded me of someone, right down to the tousled hair.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Daiyu,” he replied.
“Do you live here, Daiyu?” I was curious.
“Used to. My ma used to work here, but she’s dead now. They let me hang around and make money if I want. Ume and the others are nice.”
“How about this?” I began. “I’m hungry. I’ll give you two mon, and if you go get me some dango I’ll share them with you.” He thought about it for a second then held out his hand. I gave him the money and he took off running. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again, but he actually returned shortly with a handful of skewers. I could tell by his greasy face he’d helped himself to at least one, but decided not to mention it. I gave him more and he gulped them down greedily. Yes, he most definitely reminded me of someone, and I couldn’t help but smile. We shared our meal in silence and then he jumped up.
“Oh boy, that guy almost always wants me. Thanks for the food. See ya, mister!” And off he went.
I got to know Daiyu fairly well in the time I worked at that brothel. He was only eleven, as it turned out, which broke my heart. I couldn’t help but care about him, seeing him as a variation of Mugen as a boy. He was living on the streets, sharing shelter with other children like himself wherever they could find it. If he was still at the brothel when it closed, I would let him come back to my room and sleep there. I wasn’t surprised he showed up at closing time more and more often as the weeks went by, so we fell into a comfortable pattern of companionship. And when he realized I was not going to take him up on his continued offers of cheap sex, he stopped propositioning me, which I was grateful for.
My days fell into an easy rhythm. I’d get up and head to the local greensward to do my kata. If Daiyu was with me he’d do them too…or least try to. He could follow along with my warm-ups, but I usually lost him soon after and he would sit down and watch until I was through. Then we would head to the bathhouse for a soak and get something to eat. After a few weeks I found myself wandering over to the port area of town every day after breakfast. It wasn’t far from my room, and I found it comforting to sit there and watch the ships coming and going. This is where I usually lost Daiyu. He’d sit with me for an hour or so and then get restless.
“Why do you come here every day, Jin?” he asked once.
I didn’t honestly know the answer to that question. “It reminds me of an old friend, I suppose,” was my reply, and I reached inside my sleeve to touch the scar on my arm.
“Well, I’m bored. See ya later, K?” And off he’d run. I would sit there most days until it was time to get a late lunch and head to the brothel. Sometimes I would spend an hour or so before work walking the red-light district, hoping I might bump into him. Every time I passed an establishment that sounded like there was a fight going on, I’d always take a look to see if he was in the middle of it. He never was.
“You ever see a man with prison tattoos on his wrists and ankles, you tell me right away, all right?” I told Daiyu. He agreed, and even though he did report back with news of a few such men, I could tell by the descriptions it wasn’t him.
So as the weeks went by I fended off the propositions at work and tried to save some money. No one could figure out why I wasn’t visiting the girls or the boys, so I knew I was the hot topic of gossip there. At first, my body wasn’t up to the activity and I didn’t want anyone to learn how weak I truly was. Later, as my strength returned, it didn’t feel right to do so, as I had gotten to know them all too well. The girls were sweet and felt like sisters (or mothers, in some cases) to me. The boys were too young to spark my interest. Fucking children is not to my taste. I got teased, but it was gentle and in good fun. It was strange to be surrounded by so many females after living in the dojo so long. I was glad I’d had those months with Fuu to get used to it somewhat.
“What a waste of man flesh,” was a typical sigh, and I’d smack them on the behind with my katana and send them on their way, giggling, to their next client.
As my body got stronger and I could do more, I began to train Daiyu after I finished my kata, showing him some basic fighting techniques. His own style was rough and tumble, obviously self-taught, but he picked up the new ideas quickly and became a pretty good little sparring partner before long. I almost felt happy at times. I enjoyed the new community I belonged to and actually had moments when I didn’t think of Mugen and Fuu anymore. Part of me felt sad about that when I noticed it, but the other part was proud of myself. I needed to move on, and I was finally doing so.
But then discontent began to brew inside me. After a month of staring at the ocean every day an idea arrived. At first I dismissed it, but it continued to grow and pester me. I was getting pulled to leave. Those ships were calling me.
Instead of watching from a distance, I started walking the piers, and chatted with the seamen there as they worked. Each ship was bound for somewhere different, each arriving from somewhere distant and mysterious. It sparked my imagination, and I found myself dreaming of far away places with strange-sounding names. The following day I was doing my usual rounds when I saw a ship I had never seen before docked at the southernmost pier. Something pulled me to learn more.
“Where did you arrive from?” I asked one of the men unloading boxes.
“Matsumae, on the northern island,” he replied with a smile, but not stopping in his work.
“Where will you be going?”
“Ryukyu and beyond,” was his reply and I got a chill in my bones.
“When will you be leaving? Do you take passengers?” I couldn’t believe I was even asking, and my heart was pounding in my chest. He jerked his head toward the ship, indicating I should speak with the important-looking man on the deck. I learned he was the first officer, discovered they did take passengers, and that they would be sailing in three days time. I knew I was going to be on it!
Making arrangements to leave the brothel was a sad affair, and I was worried about Daiyu. He was not happy I was going, and I was not happy about leaving him there. I briefly considered bringing him with me, but decided against it in the end. I wasn’t in a position to become a father figure to anyone, even someone who needed it as desperately as he did. I took Ume aside and gave her one of my ryu, asking her to save it for him and to keep an eye on him as well. She nodded and agreed to with a wink. I’m sure she thought I was fucking him, but I didn’t care.
I went down to the docks and watched “my” ship every day before it sailed. I had absolutely no idea why I wanted to leave Japan, especially since I was happy in my new position and felt comfortable with the people I worked with, but the pull was so strong I couldn’t deny it. Then I had a realization: leaving Japan would probably put me out of the reach of other assassins. Once this dawned on me, I had no further doubts about heading for Ryukyu. The day before I was to leave, Daiyu and I were standing there again.
“I’m gonna be a pirate one day,” he declared. “Then I’ll come find you!”
I didn’t doubt it one bit. “I am going to Ryukyu,” I told him. “When you grow up a little more and become a pirate, I hope you do come and find me.” I smiled down at him and his lower lip began to quiver. He shot me a quick, almost pleading, glance and then turned tail and ran away. I hoped he’d show up at my room later that night so I could say goodbye to him properly.
I turned back to the ship and tried unsuccessfully to calm myself down. I had never been on a sea voyage before, so I felt like a child, I was so excited. Lost in my dreams I almost didn’t hear it at first.
“Jin! Jiiiiiin!” called a familiar voice, and I froze in shock, then immediately turned around to scan the crowd for its owner, cursing my blurry eyesight.
to be continued