Imagine the usual disclaimers. These are not my characters. This is not my series. (I wish.)
The premise: Post-series, Yatsuha the shinobi undercover investigator finds Mugen again. They hook up.
On a Skewer
After a few months, Mugen notices that he and Yatsuha are still traveling together. But, hey, the nookie is good, the fights are good, plus it's a nice cushy deal on both sides, so, Mugen thinks, why not? One hot afternoon they arrive at the kind of boring middle-sized town where Yatsuha always, but always, claims she has to check in with the local Shogunate officials, get her messages, see whether there’s a job waiting for her. Yeah, sure. Whatever.
Mugen stretches, pops his shoulder joints, and looks around for trouble, or something else to entertain him. As she goes into the Super Sekrit Shogunate Office (heh, that's a good one, Mugen thinks), Yatsuha says, “Here’s some money. Don’t spend it on junk food; there’s a shinobi retirement dinner we have to go to tonight.”
Mugen spits in the dirt. She’s pretty, and the sex is real nice, and the fighting is almost better, but . . . damn. She could let him carry the money bag sometimes, couldn’t she?
Women, Mugen thinks. Only thing they have on their minds is hanging onto the damn money. And checking in with the Shogunate and finding samurai who smell like sunflowers and useless crap like that. There's a word for it, the way women's minds work. Jin would have known it; he used to know dumbass things like long words and the history of swordmaking and--and--and politics.
Mugen yawns. Since she mentioned food, he supposes that it might be time for a snack after all. Mochi? Nah, too sweet. He’s in the mood for something salty. Like, maybe . . .
Mmmmyeah. Kabayaki. That’ll hit the spot.
Mugen ambles up and down the street, checking out the eel guys. And a couple of eel ladies, whaddya know, the world is changing all around him. The ladies aren’t much to look at, though, and the best smells are coming from . . . oh, yeah, that eel shack over there. Yes, sir.
He slouches over to the fine-smelling eel shack. There’s nobody at the counter, but the shack must be open for business, because the grill is sizzling and he can see the eels darting around in their tub of water. Nice fat ones, yum. The whole shack smells damn fine, so somebody here knows how to cook, that’s for sure, and Mugen really doesn’t have anything all that urgent to do, so he figures he might as well wait until the eel guy comes back from taking a piss or whatever.
So Mugen waits for a while, drumming his fingers on the counter and idly scratching. He’s got his eye on the eel he wants, the big one with the stripe down its back, and he can almost taste it already, so why's it taking so long for the eel guy to piss? Or whatever. Mugen thumps on the counter, being reasonably civil about it; far be it from him to interrupt the eel guy if he’s doing something . . . well, you know. Must be boring as hell to be an eel guy, ne? Up before daylight, stuck behind the counter until way after dark, eel grease all over everything and not in the happy places, either.
Somewhere behind the shack, Mugen gradually realizes, there's a low-toned, musical woman’s voice carrying on an unbroken stream of . . . well, if that was Yatsuha and she was talking to him like that, even in that soft sexy feminine voice, he would call it nagging and walk away for good, right then and there. And that’s only if he felt polite.
“—because the last three catering orders were wrong, darling, not terribly wrong or anything, but still, customers do want exactly what they’ve ordered, and I know you understand that as well as I do, because you’re usually so precise and careful. That’s why I love you, you know. But, honestly, I need you to pay more attention when you write down messages, because of course I can’t be in two places at the same time, and if you don’t like to haggle with the fishermen there’s no one to do it except me, now, is there? We can’t afford to lose good customers out of simple carelessness, and even though it isn’t like you to be careless, I’m not sure where your mind is these days, because darling, really, I’m not even convinced that you’re listening to me right—“
The eel guy ducks out from behind the rough curtain. His woman continues without a pause, where are you going and I think we need to have this talk now, darling, and I know you hear me, darling (an edge creeping into the sweet voice there, Mugen thinks). The eel guy is tall and skinny and his hair is tied up in a stupid-looking cloth. And he’s wearing—
Oh, hell, yeah, Mugen thinks, and he starts to laugh. The world is definitely changing all around him. Considering the eel guy’s eyeglasses and pissy expression, Mugen says, “Jin, you are so whipped.”
Only Yatsuha chooses exactly that moment to emerge from the Super Sekrit Shogunate Office, and the next thing Mugen knows, she’s taking the money out of his hand and saying, “Kabayaki? You don’t need kabayaki at this time of the afternoon, for heaven’s sake. You’ll fill up on grease and then belch all through the retirement dinner, and I have enough trouble explaining you to the rest of the squad as it is.”
Just before Yatsuha marches Mugen away, Jin says, “And it would seem that I’m not the only one.”