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Jin lets Mugen touch him in the night, when they've gone two days between villages and longer between women who will succumb to Mugen's...charms. He was half asleep the first time, or so he likes to tell himself.

The hand gripped his hip like a sword hilt at first, softening only slowly. Snuck down over his thigh and the curve of his ass. Mugen was so quiet, it took whole minutes for the soft rasp of his breath to tell Jin that he was jerking off.

He's done it twice since then, and each time, Jin has feigned sleep, not knowing what else to do. He sees the look in Mugen's eyes, and thinks it will happen again tonight. Jin doesn't know what he'll do yet, but he knows what he wants to do.


The night is darker in the country. Once their fire burns out, Jin can't see his hand in front of his face, can't see the bundle of blankets that is Mugen, bedded down close to him. Can see nothing but the occasional firefly. They wink on and off overhead, and he hears the subtle rasp of cloth as Mugen moves behind him.

Hand on his hip, daring to push aside cloth this time and touch his bare skin. Why not? He has "slept" though the last three encounters. A hard, rough hand touches his inner thigh, and he shivers. Rolls onto his back.

Mugen freezes for just a moment, hand pressing harder into his flesh. Then the pressure eases, and the hand strokes up over his hip, fingers skating across his stomach, up to his chest. Back down slowly, slowly, and Jin spreads his legs.

Mugen leans over him, closer and closer until he can feel warm breath on his skin. He wonders if Mugen will kiss him. That wouldn't be right. That wouldn't be...what this is.

But their lips are almost touching now. Mugen has untied the binding around Jin's waist, and fabric falls loose on either side of him, exposing his body from neck to thigh.

One last warm brush of air across his lips.

"You're awake, aren't you?" Mugen whispers. "You've been awake all along."


"Bastard," Mugen mutters. A hand closes around his throat, and he jumps. No light to see it coming, and he was so concentrated on the hand on his stomach that he heard no warning movement.

But he can almost hear Mugen's grin.

"Oh, well." The hand at his neck tightens a fraction. "Guess you got no objections then, right?"

He shakes his head, knowing Mugen will feel it. He wants to build the fire up and see Mugen's wild eyes, the jerky movements of his body that somehow translate into grace. All he can do is feel as Mugen moves to straddle him.

He feel Mugen's naked body against his. He feels himself start to harden. He feels Mugen bend low again, spikes of his hair brushing Jin's forehead.

"Haven't you got anything to say? Even now?" Mugen asks.

Jin shifts under him, one hand coming to rest on his thigh. "Are you going to kiss me?"

There is a slight hesitation, a faint intake of breath.

"No," Mugen mutters, finally. "Of course not. I'm not a goddamn homo, y'know."

"I see." Jin reaches up and winds his hand in Mugen's hair, pulling him down sharply.

Too sharply. Their lips meet hard, teeth clicking, noses bumping. He has to hold on for a few seconds while Mugen struggles, but that doesn't last long. Jin sees no advantage in pointing out that one kiss, at this point, is not going to make Mugen anything he isn't already.

He sees even less advantage in thinking about what he's just done, and how it will change things later. Maybe it won't matter. Maybe Mugen will continue to prove as capable of denial as he has so far. Jin can't decide whether that's a reassuring thought or not. It's been a long time since he last knew what he really wanted.

Mugen's hand presses his shoulder into the ground, and he can feel the uneven dirt under the thin blanket he lies on. He teases at the lips crushed against his until they part. The hand on his neck loosens, and Mugen's tongue shoves into his mouth. Mugen kisses like he's hungry for it.

"Fuck," Mugen says, when they part. The word is a quiet explosion across Jin's mouth.

"We don't have any lubricant."

It's a perfectly reasonable answer. True, as well. Jin doesn't understand why Mugen is now slumped over him, snorting and gasping with laughter against his neck, but he's not objecting.

He runs a hand down Mugen's back. Muscles shift under his hand as Mugen straightens up once again.

"You're fucking crazy, you know that?"

No more so than you, he could say. Instead, he reaches out blindly for Mugen's chest, trails his fingers down the center until he finds the hot cock standing up against his stomach.

"Fuck," Mugen says again, softer this time.

It seems pointless to restate their lack of supplies on that front, so Jin concentrates instead on the hard heat in his hand. He strokes it slowly once and then again, thumb smoothing up the vein on the underside. Mugen grabs his arm, fingers digging deep into muscle. Jin notes it. He likes to know where his bruises come from.

The hand is suddenly gone from his throat, and Mugen moves back until he's sitting over Jin's hips, until their cocks line up. Jin's knuckles brush his own cock, and he gasps.

Mugen chuckles. "You like that?" he asks, voice low, a shade above a whisper.

Jin nods, knowing it's too dark to see the gesture. He brushes himself again, deliberately, holds back his gasp this time, and lets it out when Mugen's palm slides up his shaft. Fingers curl around him, and then around his hand, still on Mugen's cock.

The air is chilling his skin, and when Mugen lies down over him, it's like a thick, hot, breathing blanket covering him. He wraps an arm around Mugen's back and doesn't want to let go.

It's easy after that. Jin starts to lose himself in the slide and thrust, the occasional scrape of Mugen's calluses against the sensitive skin of his cock. It's nothing like fighting him.

Mugen is still all raw power and violence not even close to contained, but the fierce joy Jin always sees when they fight is both softer and more predatory, more possessive. Mugen fights to fight, no other purpose. This isn't that simple.

Jin lets his fingers glide down cool skin, feels Mugen shudder as they dip between his cheeks.

"Don't," Mugen says, hips moving against his. "I don't do that shit."

"No?" He slides his fingers lower and touches skin that's so hot it feels on fire to his chilled fingers, faintly damp with sweat.

Mugen's hand clenches on his arm, but he doesn't answer.

Jin withdraws his fingers slowly, running them along Mugen's back, up his neck. He feels Mugen relax. His fingers draw slow patterns across broad shoulders, finally sliding up the side of his face, across his lips, along the crease where they meet. Mugen opens his mouth and sucks them in without hesitation. This, apparently, he does.

Moist heat, slick, smooth suction. Mugen's tongue flicks over his fingertips and makes him gasp. His thumb presses against faint stubble on Mugen's cheek, and he leans up, kisses him around his fingers, sloppy and wet.

Mugen grunts softly, nips at his fingers as he withdraws them, and then goes back to working their cocks, forcing the movement of Jin's hand with his own, faster than he wants it.

It makes him rush a little, slicked fingers sliding quickly between Mugen's cheeks again, one fingertip pressing against his opening. He feels his whole body stiffen.

"Fucking hell," Mugen hisses. "I told you--"

Jin knows he doesn't have to make this a struggle. They could both get off on what Mugen's doing easily--so easily--but he can't stop himself. It's always a struggle between them.

When he pushes the tip of one finger inside, the grip on his arm tightens to the point where it finally registers as pain.

Mugen says his name in a snarled whisper, but he's pushing back onto his finger anyway, head lowered so far that his hair tickles Jin's chest.

It's the heat gripping his finger and his own imagination that makes him come first, even as he tries to hold on just a few more seconds. Mugen's breath and his own pulse are all he hears, drowning out the sounds he's making against his will. Mugen's hand smears his come over both of them, and Mugen is panting against his mouth as much as kissing him as he comes seconds later.

Mugen rolls away from him. "Don't ever fucking do that again without asking me."

Jin considers that as he wipes himself clean with a handful of grass.

"So it's all right if I ask first?"

Silence. He thinks Mugen must be asleep already, and then he hears the grudging answer.


Maybe is good enough for now. He reaches out to rest his hand across his swords and closes his eyes.


Mugen watches him all the next day, but it's different now. He is less secretive about it, more sure. Jin watches him back.

He's not surprised Fuu notices, only that it takes her so long.

"What's with you guys today?" She stops in the middle of the dusty road with her hands on her hips and looks between them. "Did something happen last night?"

Mugen turns an odd shade of red and keeps walking without a word.

"Nothing unusual happened," Jin says.

"Looks unusual to me."

Her face clouds over when he makes no reply, half pout, half glare. She hates it when he doesn't answer her.

Jin takes advantage of his longer stride and catches up with Mugen. He's not embarrassed, and he's certainly not afraid of her pout. It's simply none of her business.

"Stupid girl," Mugen mutters.

Jin says nothing. He doesn't think Fuu is any stupider than her traveling companions, but Mugen is unlikely to welcome that observation. There's no point in starting an argument.

"I saw your arm this morning." Mugen looks over at him and then away. "Hurts?"


It's not one bruise, but five. Blue edging into green. They ache a little even when he's not touching them, and he finds himself touching them more often than not.

"I didn't mean to..."

The apology, if that's what it is, is unexpected. Jin is unsure how to respond. Other people's minds and emotions baffle him, and he's found he's far more likely to step wrong with words than with swords.

"I didn't mind," he says, finally.

Mugen doesn't reply, but his walk is easier after that. After a few more minutes of silence and watching road dust billow up their legs with every step, he reaches over and touches Jin's arm.

Jin lets him press on it. It is proof and maybe a promise, of a sort they can both accept. It does hurt, but in Jin's experience, there is little in life that doesn't.