Spring During Fall
Sighing, he looked over at her. The late afternoon sun falling on her soft, now slightly tanned skin, made her seem to glow. She was the most beautiful person he'd ever met, in body as well as spirit. Too bad she'd never notice how he felt about her. She was single-minded in her pursuit of the sunflower samurai.
Hearing the dried leaves crackling loudly under their feet he looked around the clearing they were entering. The forest was beautiful this time of year, almost ethereal. It was amazing to see, death all around, magnificent, wondrous in its own way. Come spring, the magic of rebirth would happen and be just as awe-inspiring. People, he firmly believed, were like the seasons of the year, resilient. Looking at the lifeless leaves on the ground, he admired and respected them. They did not fight and rail at their inevitable, inescapable destiny. Accepting their demise, they fell quietly to the ground, resigned to their fate. Mother Nature was not sad as she watched her children fall, she knew that come spring, they would all be reborn and welcomed back into her fold. She would nurture them, nourish and provide what they needed to grow strong, delighting in her precious, fleeting time with them, all the while prepared for the next winter.
Fuu was like the leaves. She took what life handed her and went on, not wasting her time ranting; not protesting to the indomitable fates for all that had befallen her. She had no parents, no home, no money or food most times, but still she was one of the happiest, most optimistic people he had ever known. That was one of the many things that he loved about her.
Watching her from the corner of his eye, he saw her kneeling on the ground, smiling and playing in the crunching leaves with Momo, as if she hadn't a care in the world. He felt his heart swell as warmth rushed through his body, just watching her reassured him that everything was going to turn out okay.
He knew his companions would never leave him be if they knew what he was thinking. They thought him uneducated, rough and he preferred it that way. Anyone who’d ever know about his more intelligent, poetic side had used it against him. He wouldn’t have survived on Ryukyu if the others had known he’d been educated. Smiling he thought back to the lonely, older woman he’d encountered one day when he’d been trying to elude the harsh realities of his life. She’d wanted, needed companionship and had taken him under her wing, teaching him as she’d taught her own son so many years before, inadvertently providing the escape he had sought. After she had passed on, he’d had no one to read the thought provoking poetry with, no one to share enlightened discussions of various literature with. He’d secreted away that part of himself, hiding it in order to survive the chaos, the uncertainty of his young existence.
Shaking his head to clear it of the disturbing thoughts intruding on the peace of this moment he made a decision.
Walking over to the edge of the now dimly lit clearing, he heard the sound of water, rushing on its journey to meet the ocean. As an idea formed in his mind Mugen smiled.
"Hey Fuu," he called to her, "come here a minute. There's something I want to show ya."
He saw their other companion raise his eyebrows at this, pressing his lips tightly together and saying nothing.
"What is it, Mugen?" she asked him curiously as she gracefully got to her feet among the crackling of the dead leaves.
"Just come on, it's a surprise."
Turning he grinned, hearing her grumblings as she walked over. He grabbed her arm softly in his well worn palm and gently started pulling her toward the gurgling rush of the water.
Out of sight of the disapproving ronin he let his smile grow even wider. It was now or never.
"Do you hear that?"
The sounds of the water were quite plain now. She looked off the side of the path as recognition dawned, joy at his discovery washing over her features.
"Look over here," he murmured, pulling her behind a tree. Wrapping his arms around her slight figure, he pressed their bodies flush together, glorying in the warmth of her delicate form, and lowered his head swiftly, giving her no time to protest. A faint sigh slipped unconsciously from him as he felt her soft, pliable lips under his. They were as warm and supple as he had imagined. Running his rough, callused hand through her silky hair, he pulled away, looking down at her nervously, almost afraid to see what her reaction would be. Either way though, he decided resolutely, it would be a relief to finally know what her feelings were.
Catching sight of her expression, his lips broke into a triumphant smile. She looked stunned... but happy.
Raising her hand she brushed her fingertips lightly across her slightly reddened lips and smiled.
He watched, caught off guard, as she slowly leaned forward, her lips brushing against his ear, sending immediate waves of electricity through his body, making him shiver.
"What took you so long?" she whispered, turning to the path, tossing him a coquettish smile as she went to find the stream.
Although it was fall, Mugen mused to himself, taking a step to follow her, this was definitely the spring of their relationship.