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The Tiger and the Wren

Chapter Text

 

Him

Present

He wasn’t sure of the precise moment she had stood out from the other kunoichi. The moment she had awoken desires buried so deep, he thought they were dead. It was more of a flutter of circumstances that formed a whole picture. Now he found he had a hard time keeping his thoughts and eyes from her, she was more than distracting, and Shingen looked forward to it.

Ren stood in the courtyard below, shooting archery with Sasuke. Cherry blossoms fluttered on the warm spring air. Her bow was odd. It seemed to be extremely short with extra strings and some sort of pulley system. Her accuracy was nothing short of astounding.

Ren’s short white-blonde hair ruffled in the light breeze, Shingen had honestly never seen a woman wear her hair that short. It fluffed in sharp spikes from the top of her head, the back was shaved almost to the skin. The top she wore was sleeveless and tight, leaving nothing to the imagination. Straps wrapped around her breasts that seemed to both separate and lift them in an eye-catching manner. There was no feminine jiggle of flesh from her chest as she moved. Her arms were corded with long, lithe muscle. The dark floral hakama fluttered in the wind outlining the sensual curve of her hips. She wore it slung low, like a man’s. Shingen could see her abdomen muscles flex as she took another shot, she was poetry in motion.

Ren laughed at a comment Sasuke made, and Shingen felt his heart constrict.

Jealousy?

He turned the feeling over examining it. She wasn’t his to be jealous over. Mentally he shook the feeling off as she took another twenty paces back from the target. They had already been at an extreme range. Shingen looked on with interest taking another bite of his sweet bun.

Ren flashed a hand signal at Sasuke, two arrows hit the center of the target, she then walked backward rapidly firing three more to join them.

Sasuke laughed. Shingen raised an eyebrow at the rare sound from the man.

Money exchanged hands. More friendly banter. She stepped back farther then turned and fired toward the balcony, the bolt sank into the wooden railing inches from his cup.

“Lord Shingen, are you enjoying the show?” There was not an ounce of fealty obedience in this one. His lips spread in a wolfish grin.

“My Lady Ren, how could I not stop to worship such a magnificent performance from the Goddess of the hunt? As always, you are a feast for my eyes.”

She laughed, running a black-gloved hand through her spikey locks.

“Would you like to join us?”

Would he? Looking over her lithe form in that attire, he had a different appetite then archery this beautiful spring morning. That swath of bare skin between where her top ended just below her breasts and where the Hakama was tied, several inches below her navel, was beyond distracting. Shingen cleared his throat, returning his gaze to her sharp-featured face.

“I will simply enjoy the glorious view.” He pulled the bolt from the wood, dropping it to the ground for her.

Yuki joined him on the balcony, “She’s an odd one. Aren’t you afraid? She could have hit you.”

“My dear Yuki,” Shingen flashed him a languid smile. “If she intended to hit me, I would already be dead."

 

Her

 

“Ren, he’s watching you again.”

Violet eyes rolled under snowy lashes, “believe me, Sasuke, I’m aware. If the man’s lustful gaze burned any hotter, I’d be on fire.”

Sasuke’s lip twitched in what for him was a grin. “I know you have the hots for him, just fuck him already and get it out of your system. I’ve never seen you pine this long over a guy.”

Ren took another shot, muscles flexing. She laughed, “And then what? Sorry, My Lord have to head back to the future now, it was amazing getting to screw my history class hero.” She more than had the hots for him, Ren mused. She had long admired his historical figure, respected his social plans in a feudal era, the way Kai was run before it was taken from him was commendable. His elite kunoichi and the fact that he even employed women for that purpose was nothing short of amazing for the time period. And now because of Sasuke and his damn nerdy science, they were in that time period. She was working for her hero, and christ if she didn’t have a crush on the devastatingly attractive man. Not that she could ever act on her feelings. When they arrived through the wormhole two years ago, Sasuke had calculated it would take four years until the next time rift opened to take them home. They were separated briefly upon arrival in the Sengoku period. After an incident on the battlefield, Sasuke became Kenshin’s ninja.

She was recruited by Chiyome, Shingen’s head kunoichi.

The work was honestly about the same as what she was accustomed to. Information gathering, assassination, seduction when necessary. It amazed her how little spy work had really changed in five hundred years. Her hand to hand combat training was significantly better than what was available now, which was likely what caught Chiyome’s eye.

“Let’s make this a little more challenging, shall we?” She walked back twenty paces through the fluttering cherry blossoms. The gardens really were quite lovely at this time of year.

“A bet? I bet you can’t hit the center five times from this distance.”

“You do realize you are betting against a bow you made for me?” She smirked, lining up the shot. “Sasuke, are you saying your craftsmanship is less than stellar?”

“I’m saying I think you’re distracted by a redhead with some sweet buns.”

She flipped him the finger and took the shot. Two bolts soared to the target, thunking solidly into the center. She walked backward quickly, firing off three more.

“Obviously, I’m not that distracted, pay up Nerdboy.”

Sasuke laughed, money exchanged hands.

“Seriously though Ren, we are here for two more years minimum. Why not have a roll with the Tiger of Kai? Rumor has it his nodachi is impressive.” Another lip twitch smile from her best friend.

“You heard that or experienced it for yourself?” She smirked, nocking another arrow.

Turning, she fired the arrow at Shingen with intent to startle.

“Lord Shingen, are you enjoying the show?” The infuriating man not only did not flinch, but he graced her with one of his panty wetting smiles.

“My Lady Ren, how could I not stop to worship such a magnificent performance from the Goddess of the hunt? As always, you are a feast for my eyes.”

She ran her hand through her hair, covering a blush, damn the man for doing that to her. She inwardly laughed at herself. Years of training and this man breaks through it with a few smooth words and a smile that could melt steel.

“Would you like to join us?” She felt his gaze lick hotly over her. She stood tall, inviting him to enjoy the view. Hells, she’d love to spar with him again. It got her wet just thinking about it. Even better if he did it topless. An image of a sweaty Shingen in just a hakama flitted through her imagination. Ren licked her lips, looking upward to the balcony three stories above the courtyard. Shingen had shoulders for miles, he’s a challenge worth taking on, it was a shame he rarely hit the training ring these days.

“I will simply enjoy the glorious view.” He dropped her bolt back to her…Ren let out a sigh, what a shame he had such a promiscuous reputation, otherwise she’d climb that mountain and stake her claim. Ah well, it was better not to mix work with pleasure, and technically, he was her boss.

 

Him

Approximately 2 years ago

The kunoichi entered his room, taking a knee before him. Glancing up, he was surprised it wasn’t Chiyome. This one was dressed not in fancy kimono or temple garb meant to blend in like his other mitsumoto but in tightly fitted dark garments. Her long black hair was tied back in a tail…no he realized with another glance, that was a well-crafted wig.

“Your report.”

She was efficient and to the point, almost militant, her voice clear. He vaguely remembered Chiyome speaking to him about an impressive new recruit. She wanted to use this person to train the others in combat. He listened to the report, his brush continuing to flow across the page.

Shingen paused, lifting the soft bristles from parchment.

“What is your name?” He asked, interrupting the conclusion of her report.

“My Lord?” She looked up, startled.

He raised his head to see eyes so blue they were violet. She was wearing makeup to make those eyes look more almond-shaped, to color her lashes black.

“Remove your wig.”

She unpinned the black wig sliding it from her short platinum blonde hair. She ran a gloved hand through the spikes self-consciously.

Blonde, he could see why she chose the wig to blend in.

“Your name? Or shall I just call you, princess?” Shingen put his best sensual purr into his voice with the intent to disarm her.

She shifted.

“Ren, my Lord”

“Wren? Like the little brown bird?” A smile tugged his lips. “That hardly seems fitting for a beauty such as yourself.”

“Ren for the lotus flower.” Her eyes met his, there was steel in her gaze. She was bold. Far bolder than he was accustomed to, Shingen was intrigued.

“Chiyome has spoken highly of you, Ren. Where did you say you were from?” He stood walking around the desk to sit on the tatami mat near her.

“I did not say.” Her eyes flicked to the side, warily following his movement. He offered her a cup of tea.

“Please relax, sit with me a while.” He sipped his tea, studying her. Her skin was pale white, he could see under the carefully done black makeup her lashes and eyebrows were just as blond as her hair.

“You are not Japanese?”

“I am half, my mother was Japanese, my father was from the west.” She shifted, allowing herself to relax slightly.

“And you arrived with the ninja Sasuke.” He eyed her, watching her expressions, what she said, and what was left unsaid.

“He has been a friend since childhood, we were traveling together when we ended up in Uesugi lands.”

“Oh, you are not a couple?” Shingen raised an eyebrow. He already knew they were not, but he couldn’t resist getting a rise out of her.

“Is my personal life that fascinating to you, my Lord?”

Oh, the delicious sass, how unexpected.

“I am only checking the availability of the sweet angel I have found in my midst.” He turned on the charm, smiling warmly at the blonde. He placed his now empty cup down, resting his hands on his thighs. Her eyes flicked to his hands, she shifted again almost imperceivably.

“Indeed.” He saw the trace of a smile on her lips.

“And are you…available?” The question was blunt, but he was interested.

She rose to stand before him. His face was at the level of her taut stomach, every line of her was lithe, muscled, trained to the point of perfection. He wanted to slide his hands over the delicious swell of her hip, cup her bottom, and bring her to his lips, drinking in her sweet nectar and listen to her song. He gazed up at her, grey eyes smoldering.

“My Lord Shingen, may I speak freely?” The light made her eyes appear to shift from the deep violet to a hot magenta.

He smiled, oozing sensuality, “Yes, of course, Goddess mine.”

“The Tiger of Kai will find no prey here. I suggest he prowl elsewhere if he seeks bedwarmer tonight.”

“Perhaps the Tiger seeks a Tigress tonight.” He stood, towering over her. His kimono gaped, showing an enticing view of his bare chest nearly to his navel. Ren’s breath hitched, she averted her eyes to somewhere over his left shoulder.

“My Lord, I am your blade, not your sheath. You would do well to remember that.”

He studied her unyielding eyes, she couldn’t meet his gaze, her hands were clenched in fists behind her back. Her nostrils flared, she tensed. His lips curled in a sensual smile, he’d give this lotus time to bloom.

“If there is nothing else you require, my Lord, I will depart.” She took a step back, bowing to him politely.

He refilled his tea, allowing her to wait.

“Ren, is there a reason things must be so formal between us?”

“Two, My Lord.” Her eyes were riveted to the door. He walked around her, slowly sipping his tea.

“The first?”

“Your reputation for promiscuity proceeds you, My Lord. I was never good at sharing.”

He chuckled softly.

“And the second?” She moved to the door, sliding it open, her back to him.

“Since you’ve lost Kai, you rule like a man writing his last will and testament, I don’t fuck dead men.”

Ren slid the door shut behind her.

Her

 

She moved quickly down the hall, turning a corner, then leaned against the wall with a gasp. To hell with that man, why did he have to be so damned good looking, and that sweet musky scent …christ, was he just putting out pheromones? She slid down the wall pressing her forehead to her knees. Why did she feel the need to sass him like that? He was literally her superior in this time. Great job there, Ren, looking to just be put to death or what? She forcibly slowed down her breathing, trying not to hyperventilate.

Three weeks, she’d been in this freaking time period for three weeks with four years to go. Maybe longer.

Her knowledge of what was to come was always at war with what was happening now. She ran a gloved hand through her short hair, mussing it. Fuck, she’d left her wig in his room. Dammit, she’s been in the spy game for more than fifteen years, how did he fluster her to this level?

“Ren?” Sasuke slid down next to her “Hey, are you alright?”

“Yea, I’m fine, thanks.“ she took a deep breath and gave him her best rough-neck smile. “Want to go spar with me?”

“I’ve already been beaten by Kenshin twice this morning. He keeps leaping out and surprise attacking me to “hone my skills”.”

“Sounds like a dick move…is there a reason you stay with this guy?”

“Is there a reason you stay under Shingen.”

She paused. “Because choices are limited and this one isn’t that terrible, I respect his ideas.” They leaned against each other in comforting silence for a moment.

“Come on, I’ll take it easy on you.” She stood and offered him a hand.

“I’m sorry I got you into this mess Ren, I didn’t know we’d get stuck in the past.” She gave his shoulders a squeeze.

“It’s ok, at least we have each other, right? I’ll teach you some moves, we’ll make it through.”

 

Him

He gripped the cup tightly in his fist as the door slid closed. Ren’s comment was unexpected, unforeseen, but brutally honest. The truth from her stung in a way that surprised him and made him grudgingly respect her more for speaking her mind. What else had she noticed? It was true he was simply looking to ascertain if she was interested in some “no strings attached” fun. He found it interesting her answer wasn’t so much “no” as it was, “only exclusively’”. And the dead men comment…no one knew of his illness, and lately, it had been in remission what had she seen? Worse, what had she heard? He frowned. He would hate to think he’d become that easy to decipher. Shingen moved to his desk to finish his current batch of missives, but his mind was already distracted. What if it wasn’t that he was becoming transparent as much as she was just that observant. He made a note to speak to Chiyome about her new recruit and what types of missions to send her on. Let’s see how sharp his new blade was.

Chapter Text

Her

She pinned herself into the shadow of the roof, waiting on Sasuke to return. Ren had already collected the information Shingen desired. He hadn’t specified that he wanted the target eliminated, so she had left the man drugged in his room at the inn. She arranged things to look like he had a pleasurable evening that he couldn’t remember. Sasuke appeared soundlessly at her left and nodded.

They ran along the rooftops no louder than shadows, leaping from one building to the next in the moonless night. She dropped first beyond the garden wall then, after scanning the area, let out a warbling wren birdsong. He landed silently next to her. Quietly Sauke followed her through the maze of paths back to where their horses were tied. She threw him a haori from her saddlebags and put one on herself, covering her dark clothes. They started off at a brisk trot heading out of town to spend the night in the woods. They would return home in the morning.

 

Sasuke started a small campfire while Ren tended to their horses. The weather was slanting toward summer warmth, but the evenings still had some bite to them. It was well after midnight, neither of them was sleepy after the adrenaline rush of a mission. He reclined against a log, inviting her next to him. Ren curled herself comfortably against his side, resting her head in the crook of his shoulder. His arm around her.

“Well, we are surviving this.” She nuzzled into her friend’s chest, she’d always felt safe with him. In a way, she was happy they had this chance to spend time together after being apart for so many years. You didn’t get to have friends or family as an agent. Any ties could be used against you. It was the one part of the job she was never good at, she missed people and craved the comfort of touch.

Sasuke brushed Ren’s short bangs to the side, placing a chaste kiss on her forehead. “If I was going to fall through time, I’m glad it is with you.”

“Why is that?” She chuckled, her hand slid around his waist.

“I think Kenshin would have killed me by now.” He groaned.

“Pfffttttt, you are doing fine. I’ll have you trained to leetness in no time. In the meanwhile, your inventions will keep you safe, keep using those ground spikes and smoke bombs.” Ren teased without mercy, ruffling his brown hair.

“Well, I don’t have the advantage of already being a super spy like you.” His lip twitched in a small grin.

“You don’t have to carry the memories that go along with it, either.” She was suddenly solemn.

Sasuke quietly stroked her shoulder, watching the sparks from the fire dance upward. He let the silence stretch out between them, just comfortable to hold her again like they had when they were children.

“How do you do it?” He asked softly. “How do you live with it afterward?”

“The first one was the hardest. After that, I learned to just build a wall inside myself, a separate entity. She is the one who kills, she bears the burden. It gets locked deep inside me. I’m not sure how healthy that is,” Ren shrugged “But it keeps me sane. On the whole, I only do it when ordered or when all other options are exhausted. To be fair, they are always bad people that have done bad things. I’m not indiscriminate.”

He nodded. “I’m not sure I could do it, Ren.”

“Hopefully, you’ll never have to.” She snuggled closer to his chest, he hugged her tight. “Let’s get some sleep Nerdboy, dawn will be here soon.”

 

Him

Shingen reviewed the intelligence from Ren’s latest mission. Her attention to detail was incredible. Not only would she return with the information requested, but she would notate every little aspect that could contribute to his needs. She anticipated him. Fifteen missions and she was like an extension of himself, it was slightly unnerving. He noted there was not a single kill, she was in and out like a shadow. She had been in his service for less than six months. Shingen still couldn’t find any background information on her, it’s like she descended from the heavens. He smiled, maybe she did, his guardian angel.

He moved out onto the balcony overlooking the gardens, the leaves were just starting to turn. Reds and golds dotted the garden in a bright show of color. Ren was there with Sasuke. It appeared she was training him. Her laughter rang like bells, a smile tugged at Shingen’s lips. She demonstrated a disarm move to Sasuke, then let him try it on her. He came in hesitantly, and she flipped him over her back. The warlord smirked. Ren picked her friend up and brushed him off, she hugged him. Shingen quirked a brow, such public displays were unusual, did she successfully lie to him? Were they indeed lovers? She demonstrated again encouraging Sasuke, and this time he completed the move successfully.

She clapped, and they moved on to what looked like springing from tree to tree in a merry chase across the gardens. He noted the branches she walked didn’t so much as tremble. Where did she train? Whose ninja was she before she came to him? He stepped back inside, sipping his medicinal tea, the colder weather brought an uncomfortable shortness of breath. He’d hoped this new concoction would stave off the inevitable bouts of pneumonia.

 

“Lord Shingen, I think you should see this.” Chiyome had stepped into his room. He paused in his writing.

“Drills with the kunoichi? I’m certain you can-“

“Kenshin just challenged Ren to a duel.”

Shingen immediately rose, running a large hand through his auburn hair. It had been a few weeks since he had seen Ren, he knew she had just started classes recently in the dojo. He grabbed his sword off the display rack, the last thing he needed was Kenshin injuring one of his kunoichi. He couldn’t even imagine why Kenshin would notice a woman let alone challenge one.

They reached the dojo doors, a crowd was swelling, and the bout had already started. Kenshin was at least using a practice blade, but it was still steel. Ren was armed with two dull tanto blades. They circled; watchers lined the walls with more people arriving to gawk.

Shingen pushed his way to the front, seeing him, the crowd parted. So far, Ren was dodging Kenshin’s blows, she simply wasn’t there when the blade came in. Their speed seemed surprisingly equal. Shingen caught the eye of Sasuke across the room, his lip twitched in what may have been a grin, and he shrugged.

A clang of metal, she had blocked using both her blades, spinning in close and moving behind him.

“First hit.” Her voice echoed in the room. She let the flat of her knife slide against his ribs as she passed him, her movements like the wind.

Kenshin’s mismatched eyes widened slightly in surprise, a feral grin spread his lips.

He moved faster.

They spun together in a dizzying dance, two blonde ice warriors all hard edges and steel. There was something poetically beautiful in the movements, but a lump rose in Shingen’s throat. 

Ren was treating it as a practice bout, Kenshin as always was in for the kill.

She would keep out of his reach then close fast, standing practically on his toes while he swung to hit her. Shingen knew sparring sessions with Kenshin were painful, he didn’t pull his shots. Meanwhile, Ren was using only the flat of her practice blades, calling what the shot would be had they been edged. She simply slid the weapon along the body, she pulled her strikes, barely touching.

Kenshin landed a hard hit to her left shoulder, she grunted, the auburn-haired warlord flinched. Another hard shot came in on her thigh, Ren stumbled mid-spin.

Kenshin’s feral grin grew wider, eyes glazed in battle lust.

His Vassals cheered.

Shingen stepped forward, “Kenshin, that’s enough, please don’t damage my kunoichi, I remind you this is a bout, not a battle.”

Sasuke shook his head from across the room. Ren’s eyes flared in warning. She stepped out of Kenshin’s range, taking a moment to center herself. Then she dropped her blades, they hit the floor with a dull thunk.

“Do you yield already?” Kenshin looked disappointed.

“No Lord Kenshin, I’m just evening the fight.” There was a blur of motion from Ren, the speed from the small woman more than matched the blonde warlord. He swung, but she was no longer there. Shingen watched as she stepped in tight, her hands fisted with a knuckle out. She caught up his sword arm, striking it hard.

His hand sprang open, dropping the sword. Ren turned slightly, the next hit coming in at his opposite shoulder, his left arm straightened. She backed up two paces and bowed low before him.

“It was an honor to have you as an opponent to demonstrate this technique, Lord Kenshin.” Her tone was completely respectful. Kenshin stared down at his open hand, it appeared he couldn’t move his fingers.

Shingen’s lip curled upward, realizing what she had done. He had read of this technique of hitting points on the body to shut down movement but had never seen it in action. He nodded to her in appreciation.

She didn’t fight to kill.

His grey eyes studied Ren, she wiped her face off with a hand towel.

How was an assassin not a killer?

Sasuke stood, leading a stunned Kenshin from the room. Ren ignored the onlookers and formed her students back into pairs to practice the technique.

He decided this lesson was worth watching.

 

Her

“Unarmed combat? What a ridiculous concept for war.” Kenshin had wandered into the dojo during the kunoichi training. Inwardly Ren sighed. The man was an insane woman-hater, she really did her best to avoid him. Ren corrected the stance of one of her students, ignoring the blonde warlord. She demonstrated a disarm movement, arching her body upward.

“That would never work in a real fight, woman.” Kenshin snorted from the sidelines. Ren glanced at Sasuke. He shrugged unhelpfully.

Dammit man, control your Lord.

She paused, collecting her thoughts, then restarted her discussion on unarmed self-defense against an armed aggressor.

Another derisive snort from the blond warlord. She’d had enough.

“Lord Kenshin, is there some expertise you’d like to share to help improve the class?” Her eyes flared to magenta; her stance widened.

Battle lust shone in those mismatched eyes, he recognized a challenge when he saw one, even if it was from a female.

“Let’s duel to see what technique is appropriate.” Kenshin challenged, drawing his sword. Ren paused, she had tended to Sasuke’s wounds from his Lord. She knew the man didn’t understand the difference between practice and the real thing.

“Lord Kenshin, with all due respect, this is my class you are interrupting for your pleasure.”

“You are in my dojo.”

Ren sighed, gesturing for her students to move to the walls.

“Very well, practice blades only. Leave your live steel in its sheath.”

He selected a blade from the wall, she picked up her two short knives, rolled her shoulders, and flexed her feet.

I better move fast, or Sasuke will be tending my bruises tonight . She glanced at her best friend, he raised an eyebrow.

Right then. Inwardly Ren grimaced as more people began to arrive. This was no longer a private little practice session. She didn’t want her full range of skills on display like this. She circled Kenshin studying him.

A flash of auburn hair caught the corner of her eye as Shingen pushed to the front of the now large gathering.

Well, …it couldn’t hurt to showboat a little bit…for her Lord, he should be aware of what he has.

Ren rolled up onto the balls of her feet then back down. She swung the practice tanto getting used to the weight and balance. Then the dance began.

In these moments, she ran on pure instinct and reaction, her body loose and flowing. Energy ran through her, she didn’t so much think as react. Her unconscious mind would always pick up her opponent’s next move, and her body naturally spun to counter it. There was no thought needed, her body was trained to the point where she ran purely on intuition and trusted that implicitly. 

Confidently, she caught Kenshin’s blade turning it, she slid the flat of the knife against his side. That cut would have slowed him down, disabled the left side, and made him tired with blood loss. She spun behind him, another touch to the right shoulder blade, that strike would have slowed his sword arm, making his blade heavier. She danced out of reach.

They clashed together then apart, like waves against a shore. Neither one making much headway with the other. Kenshin did not acknowledge the light hits for what they were. Then she miscalculated, taking a hard blow to the shoulder, the shock left her thigh open, another hit. That bastard wasn’t holding back, those were full speed hits. She backed off, enough was enough. She heard Shingen’s intake of breath, his request to Kenshin. Her mind was already focusing all the noise in the room down to one point. Whiteness coated her consciousness. She felt like she was floating, this was the energy she relished.

Her blades hit the floor.

“Do you yield already?” Kenshin’s inquiry was the annoying buzzing of bees.

Her response was automatic, the moves had already happened in her mind. The entire world slowed down to a crawl as she launched herself forward, it took an eternity to reach him. The points she needed to strike were outlined targets in her eyes. The first strike was between the ulna and radius striking the nerve line of his forearm. She hit hard enough to disable his grip for the next ten minutes. His hand sprang open, releasing his sword. She moved, striking his opposite shoulder, deadening his arm. His sword clunked against the wooden floor. Two steps back. Time sped back up, noise roared into her consciousness. She bowed respectfully before Kenshin. But her eyes slid to Shingen, it was his approval she desired. His commendation. She wanted him to know exactly how sharp a tool he now possessed.

Shingen nodded his appreciation to her. A subtle smile curled his lip.

Chapter Text

Her

“Do you find there are not enough balconies that you must take to the rooftops?”

Ren turned, surprised to see Shingen walking along the ridge of the roof toward her. He now sat in on her kunoichi classes regularly, but this was the first time he was seeking her out alone. She chuckled softly.

“Good evening, my Lord.” The day had been warm for fall, and that warmth still echoed off the tiled roof. Ren straddled the roof ridgeline in her sleeveless training top and loose hakama. She had been gazing at the stars, but now it seemed an even more handsome view was gracing her vision.

“May I join you, Ren? I’ve brought sake.”

She smirked, patting the spot next to her, “Drunkenness on a rooftop, what could possibly go wrong, my Lord?”

“Just Shingen tonight.” He passed her a small ceramic cup, she held it out, and he poured for her. Then poured one for himself. She sipped the sake, he brought the good stuff out. Briefly, she wondered what he was up to.

“It’s a beautiful night, I was just stargazing. The stars aren’t this clear where I’m from.” She settled back, enjoying the drink. He fished out a small bundle and laid it between them. It was full of sweets.

“And where might that be?” He took a sip gazing upward.

“Far away from here.” She glanced at him, “What about you, what brings you to my rooftop domain?”

“I saw a beautiful woman gazing longingly at the stars and figured she could use some company.”

He slid a little on the steep roof. Ren’s hand shot out, catching him by the forearm. She eyed him with concern. “Come, I’ll sit on your balcony if you like. You are too big for me to carry you off the roof.” Ren scooped up his offerings and extended her hand to him for balance. A few minutes later, they were on the balcony connected to his room, gazing up at an almost full moon.

She poured for him, then he took the flask and poured for her. Ren smiled, studying the handsome warlord. She didn’t think it possible, but he looked even more attractive by the cool light of the moon. Her eyes slid from him to his offering of pastries. She popped one into her mouth, enjoying the sweet burst of flavor, then washed it down with another sip of sake.

They sat and drank in silence for some time. Ren’s mind felt pleasantly numb. It was unusual that she drank, her occupation what it was, it was rare she could relax. She was giving herself tonight off. She was in a safe place, her Lord was safe, and she was off duty. She stood, swaying a bit to lean against the railing. She shivered in the crisp fall night, the sleeveless top no longer appropriate.

Shingen moved behind her, resting his arms on the rail, framing her body with his. His chest was a breath away from her back, heat radiating from him.

“Better? You looked cold.” His low baritone thrummed through her.

“Yea, you feel nice.” She finished off her cup and set it on the rail leaning back against him. He rested his chin on her shoulder, refilling her cup.

“Are you trying to get me drunk, Shingen?” She laughed, taking another drink.

“It’s nice to see you relaxed, you are always so on duty.” His warm breath tickled along her neck.

“I’m not.” She grinned. This was delicious sake. He passed her another fruit topped pastry.

“You are.” His lips brushed her neck as he spoke. She wasn’t sure if it was accidental.

“Can I ask a personal question, my goddess?”

“Sure, if I can ask one in return?” A grin tugged at her lip.

He brought one hand up, feathering his fingers through her silky hair. “Why do you wear this glorious hair so short? In this light, it looks like it was spun from moonbeams and magic.”

“I’ve had to change my appearance often, wigs are easier to fit over short hair. People remember blonde hair too readily for me to easily blend in. In hand to hand combat, long hair is a vanity I can’t afford.” She took another sip. “My turn?”

He nodded, covering her hand on the railing warmly with his own.

“Why did you really come to the rooftop tonight?”

“The mystery of you fascinates me. My network of mitsumono can give me no information about your background, so I must come to the source. I like to know who I have in my employ, no matter how gifted she is.”

“So the sake is to loosen my tongue?” she teased.

“No, the sake was an expensive gift to me. I was saving it for a special occasion.”

“What might the occasion be?” Ren turned in his arms to face the warlord, it was a mistake. His stormy grey eyes reflected the moonlight hypnotizing her.

“I’m hoping for a new friendship.” Shingen leaned closer, the heat from his body pleasantly radiating over her skin.

“Just friendship?” She could feel the ghost of his breath on her lips, he slid past to whisper in her ear, his cheek gently brushing hers.

“You’ve gotten ahead of me on questions, little bird, I believe it’s my turn.” His warm baritone was making her melt.

“So, ask.” She let her breath tickle along his collarbone, her lips lightly brushed his neck. If he wanted to play seduction games, she’d dance that dance.

“Why is a woman as beautiful as you a Kunoichi? You could easily have any man you desired.” His inquiry was a whisper, warm lips traced along her ear. She closed the distance between them, pressing her lithe body to his.

“Perhaps I hadn’t found a man worth desiring until now.” She inhaled, breathing in his intoxicating scent, that sweet masculine musk that was solely him.

“Have you found a man you desire?” Shingen nuzzled the short silken hair behind her ear.

“Why are you still single as a warlord, as stunningly attractive as you are? Shouldn’t you be busy making heirs?” She purred, interested in seeing him squirm out of this answer.

He leaned back, studying her. “You don’t pull your punches.”

She finished her drink, “You started this game.” She let the desire fill her eyes, her fingertips traced his cheek. “What are you looking for, Shingen?”

 

Him

He studied her sharp features, the moonlight illuminated her skin, making it look pearlescent. Her eyes were amethysts. He came seeking her out with good sake, hoping to convince her to warm his bed tonight. What he found was an equal engaging him in a flirtatious dance of wits. He actually found it refreshingly intriguing. He gazed into her violet depths, getting lost in the desire he saw there.

“What are you looking for, Shingen?” Her fingertips were cool on his cheek.

What indeed?

He let out a low sensual chuckle and leaned back, letting the refreshing night air clear his head. Ren held her cup out to be refilled, she’d had quite a bit, he wondered at her tolerance. He poured, she smiled.

“Wait here.” He stepped into his room, fetching his haori and returned enfolding her in it warmly. She tilted her head curiously when he wrapped her in it. Then he sat down with his back against the wall, inviting her to join him. She slid down the wall next to him, her hip just brushing his own.

“You know, typically, my mitsumono are an information web. I can’t help but notice your training seems to be…more.”

She rolled her shoulders, taking another sip, her finger traced the rim of the cup.

“I do what I must to survive. I’ve always strived to be the best version of myself, and I take my duties seriously.”

“Is that what I am to you, a duty?” he gave her a smile that said he wanted to be more than that. A pretty blush rose on her cheeks.

“Well…no you, no job.” She raised her cup to him in a half salute and downed the contents.

“You do realize protection detail for me typically isn’t part of the job unless it’s assigned. I can handle myself.”

“Maybe I feel you are worth protecting.” She rested her cheek on her knees, gazing at him with slightly unfocused eyes.

“You barely know me. You’ve been here just over 6 months.” He countered, “and half that time, you were away on missions.”

“Bringing you back spectacularly detailed intel.” She slurred, holding her cup out. He grinned, filling it halfway.

“Indeed. About that-“ Shingen couldn’t keep the genuine smile off his face, Ren’s ear tips were red, she was adorable. He was finding this far more entertaining than a late-night screw.

“Hmmm?”

“How is it you know exactly what I’d be looking for? The precise details. Everything in your reports is what I would have been examining had I been present.”

“I am amazing, and you are welcome.” Her eyes were sliding half-closed, she leaned against him her head on his shoulder. “How about less work talk more sexy seducing? Because you are, by far, the hottest guy that has ever come on to me, and I’d like to enjoy this as long as I’m here.”

He put his arm around her with a chuckle, bringing her into the warmth of his side. Ren nuzzled sweetly against his chest. He kissed her forehead gently, noticing her eyes had slipped closed. He carefully took the cup from her relaxed hand, setting it on the ground.

“How about we just watch the moon and enjoy each other’s company,” Shingen said softly. Within minutes she was asleep against him.

 

Her

Ren woke, surrounded by Shingen’s scent. She sat up fast, alarmed. Her head felt like someone put an axe through it. Holy hell, what had she done? She was alone in the futon, his haori was still wrapped around her.

“Good morning, little bird.” Shingen glanced at her from his desk, he paused in his letter-writing long enough to give her a bemused smile.

She was in his bed.

Her face flamed red as she tried to recall the previous night. They were flirting and then… Did she sleep with him? She’d remember if she did …wouldn’t she? What the hell was in the sake? Wait…she was still dressed so-

Soft laughter interrupted her frenetic thoughts.

“Ren, my most beautiful blade, as fun as it would be to tease you… I simply tucked you into my bed for the night after you had a bit much to drink, and I slept on some cushions.”

She rolled her eyes falling back into the bed. “I’m so embarrassed, I’m sorry, my Lord.”

“My goddess, I had a lovely evening with you. If you’d ever like to grace me again with your heavenly favor, it would be welcome.” He let out a soft chuckle, “Perhaps with less sake and more “sexy seducing” next time.”

OMG, I said that. 

Ren wanted to crawl into a hole and “kervanish” as Sasuke would say.

“Well then, thank you for the loan of your bed.” She stood up, brushing herself off, trying to reclaim some of her dignity. Ren neatly folded his haori leaving it on his futon. “And the warm haori. I enjoyed your company, as well. I should ahhh…go attend to my duties.”

Shingen tried unsuccessfully to hide his smile. “Have a good day, Ren.”

“You too, Shingen…um…my Lord.” She bowed awkwardly and left.

Chapter Text

Her

“Please tell me you are joking.” Ren studied the many-layered formal kimono, there was no way she could effectively fight in that let alone be able to defend him. Shingen gave her a sharp glance.

My Lord.” The sarcasm dripped from the enforced title.

“The visiting warlord is an ally of the Uesugi clan, there will be a feast held tomorrow evening. No live steel will be allowed in the hall. My mitsumono will be serving, Chiyome has informed me that you are skilled in fan dancing. You will pose as my concubine and be the evening entertainment. “

The evening entertainment?... His concubine…? Her face heated to a searing red.

“Lord Shingen, with all due respect, should the need arise, I won’t be able to defend you wearing such an elaborate kimono.”

“I am aware of that Ren, this is very short notice that he has given, and it would be rude to refuse him. The women I typically use for these types of situations are currently out on missions. It’s very unusual that he is traveling in this snowy weather, but we are obligated to play host.

She flicked a decoration on the elaborate black wig sullenly. This was all extremely reminiscent of when her mother’s family forced her to learn cultural “lady” skills as a child. “Why can’t I swap places with one of the servers?”

“Because this is a display of power. Who possesses the most wealth, influence, the best food, and the most beautiful women. This lord is traveling with three of his concubines, and I will need to display at least one.”

“This is ridiculous, why me?”

Shingen stood before her brushing her cheek gently with the back of his hand, she looked up into his storm grey eyes.

“You are, by far, the most exquisitely beautiful. You move like the wind and will be an enchanting centerpiece for the evening’s festivities.”

She smothered a low growl at his ineffective flattery. “I am not something for you to put on display, Shingen.”

“Tomorrow night, you are. I suggest you prepare yourself. I have assigned two mitsumono to help you dress. Again, there is no live steel allowed in the hall, no daggers, swords, or knives, so please do not wear any.”

She picked up the expensive kimono, bundling all of its layers over one arm, and set the decorative wig on top.

“I see. May I be excused, my Lord, I’ll need to go practice.”

He nodded, returning to his desk.

 

Ren was furious, how dare he use her in such a manner. A centerpiece like she was some kind of table decoration. Plans had already started forming in her head. Oh, she would put a show on for him, alright.

He had provided two pale-colored paper ladies fans to match the kimono. She headed into town to purchase a pair of folding tessen. If he wanted entertainment, she was happy to give it to him, her way.

Sasuke caught up to her in the weapon’s shop. Sometimes she swore he was psychic.

“Ren, hello, so I heard about the feast tomorrow.” He was attempting a light casual tone, she snorted.

“Mmm hmmm.” Ren snapped a fan open, testing its weight, the steel ribbing gave it a nice heft.

“And, I’ve heard the part Lord Shingen is asking you to play.”

“Asking me? Really? Do I have a choice in this?” She poked Sasuke in the ribs with the closed fan, he grunted.

“No, you don’t. Look Ren, historically, these things are all just a power play. Look pretty for the evening, do a traditional dance, and you’re done. Think of it like a mission, an assignment.”

“Then why did he choose me to play his concubine out of all the women that could?”

Sasuke coughed.

“Wishful thinking?” His lip twitched, and he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. She rapped his shoulder smartly with the tessen. Hmmm, this one did have a nice weight.

She purchased two gold fans painted with red suns. Across the street, a flash of crimson caught her eye.

Sasuke followed her out of the store. An upscale kimono shop had beautifully embroidered designs in the window. The foremost was a tiger.

“Ren, don’t do it. He gave you what he wants you to wear.” She eyed the kimono, it was flame red silk with a detailed tiger embroidered in gold. It wrapped prowling from the left shoulder to the right hip, it was perfect. She didn’t have anything else to spend her wages on. She purchased the garment.

“Ren please, can’t you just be a good girl?” his voice was pleading, concerned. “We’ve barely been here nine months. The last thing I want to see is you dismissed from service.”

“Unlikely.” She smirked at her best friend.

“What do you plan to do?” Sasuke studied her as she wrapped up her purchases, slinging them over one shoulder. They trudged through the light snow back to the castle.

“Are you attending Kenshin tomorrow night?”

“Yes…” his eyebrow raised slightly.

“I guess you’ll see my performance then.”

 

Him

Ren took her place behind him, the pale bronze-colored silk of her kimono shimmered in the light. The Takeda mon was emblazoned across her shoulder. He paused a moment, taking pleasure in seeing her draped in his colors. She kept her eyes demurely down, covering the vivid violet. Ren’s traditional makeup had been flawlessly done. He found he missed seeing the blush that frequently rose to her cheeks when he was near her.

He leaned back, whispering to her softly.

“My goddess, you look enchanting. Thank you for doing this for me.”

A brief look of surprise crossed her face. She brought up a pale fan fluttering it coquettishly, covering her face.

The night was, as he said it would be, a display of power. Dinner was extremely formal. Kenshin sat at the center of the long table with Shingen to one side with Ren and the visiting warlord to the other with his three attractive young concubines.

The three young ladies were currently performing for the room while the meal was being served. One was playing while one sang and the third danced. It was all extremely lovely, very traditional. Ren raised her fan yawning behind it, Shingen glanced at her with a smirk. Her eyes shifted to Kenshin.

“Why doesn’t he need a concubine?” She whispered, tilting her fan.

“He’s a known woman-hater, it gets him a pass.”

She raised her fan and rolled her eyes at Shingen, “Seems fair.” He covered a laugh by taking another drink of sake. Shingen eyed the bold crimson of her lips, he had the desire to see the color smeared in passion, parted lips gasping. He glanced forward at the insipid display before him, it was finally done. Polite clapping followed.

Desserts were being served when it was announced the Lady Ren would perform. Shingen stood, helping her to her feet and leading her to the center of the room. He returned to his seat, taking a bite of a sweet bean bun. Kenshin looked like he was about to die of boredom. Shingen poured for him, at least the sake may keep him awake.

Soft drumming started, Ren moved gracefully through the steps of the traditional fan dance. He did well choosing her for this evening, he mused. Each step was taken with absolute precision, the fans seemed to twirl and float of their own volition as if there was a breeze that only she could feel. She moved around the room, keeping her eyes demurely lowered. The decorations in her elaborate black wig glittered in the lantern light.

“Takeda, I had no idea you had such a lovely and talented concubine, what a fortunate man you are.” The visiting warlord complemented. Kenshin yawned in open boredom.

“I do indeed consider her a gift from the heavens themselves.” Shingen smiled.

The drum beat changed, tempo increasing. Ren spun around the stage in a whirl of pale silk and fluttering fans. It wasn’t as fast as Shingen knew she could move, but it did look artistically beautiful.

The drum beat faster. Her movements became less posed more frantic. This was not a traditional dance? Her feet tapped hard on the wood of the floor. She tossed the pale fans high up into the air and literally spun out of her robes, letting the pale silk flutter to the ground. There was a collective gasp. The drumming stopped; a silence descended on the hall.

She bowed in the puddle of pale silk, an under kimono of crimson now revealed. Her forehead pressed to the wood floor. Arms stretched out before her in supplication to Shingen.

He took a sip from the small ceramic cup, his eyes glued to her stilled form.

Slowly she rose, her violet eyes locked on him, the look was feral, untamed, far too bold for a woman, and he loved it. She pulled golden fans from a thin obi sash, snapping them out with a crisp thwack. He recognized the sound of metal ribbing…tessen…she was playing with fire. The gold fans were decorated with the traditional red sun disc. Over that, he could see she painted prowling golden tigers. A sensual smile tugged his lips upward. The drumming started. She swayed to him, it looked nothing like the grounded steps of the traditional dance. This was floating. This was the silent steps of one who lives and breathes stealth. This was Ren displaying who she was and calling him out for his decisions. Shingen’s breath hitched. She snapped a fan closed, running the edge of it in a long line from where his kimono always draped open far too wide to just under his chin. She tilted his chin up, leaning closer.

He could feel the breeze from the second fan gently fluttering, cooling his heated flesh. The look in her dark violet eyes was pure seduction, she desired him with a heat that set his soul on fire. Ren leaned in closer, he could smell the spice of her skin, her breath was warm on his lips, he slid his eyes closed to accept her kiss.

The fan snapped open next to his cheek, his eyes flew open in surprise. She spun away from him, pausing only to bring both fans downward in such a way that only he could see a suggestive roll of her hip. The seductive look was replaced by pure mirth, she was toying with him. A throaty laugh left his lips unbidden. He could see why she was so successful in her missions, making a man feel like that with a glance. She winked and turned.

A golden tiger prowled on the back of her kimono sweeping from shoulder to the sensual curve of her hip. Shingen’s mouth went dry, and his cock rose to press inconveniently against his kimono. He casually pulled his haori over his lap to cover his extreme interest. Damn the woman, if she wanted his attention, she had it. It was obvious she wanted to chastise him for putting her on display, and she certainly managed it in such a way that only he knew her wrath. She moved into a kata. Oh, the dance was still extremely graceful and borderline traditional, but he recognized fighting moves when he saw them. The pace of the drums picked up… Kenshin no longer looked bored. His mismatched eyes were riveted on Ren.

“Shingen is she…?”

“Shhhh, just enjoy the performance.” Shingen wasn’t about to take his eyes off this lovely goddess for a moment.

The way she moved, it was indeed like she had a ghostly opponent. She told the story of a heroic battle in dance. Gold flashed in the light, her steps floated, the snap of the fans was crisply in time with the drums. Her body arched and swayed in a way that made her look positively boneless, a spirit, the flickering of fire. The moves she displayed were indeed impressive, he wondered where she learned to fight with tessen, it was apparent Ren was accustomed to the right-handed fan having an edge as she tended to block and turn with the left. She mesmerized him, and the dance was over far too quickly, she ended as she began, bowing to her Lord. He felt so many things as he gazed down at her prostrate form. Pride, curiosity, amazement, awe, and yes, lust. She may just be playing his concubine tonight, but he desired to have her. He clapped, the applause from the room was deafening. She rose, bowing politely. Then picking up the bundle of formal silk, she returned to her spot behind her lord.

Shingen looked her over, the red silk kimono was slit for easy movement. Not only could she fight in it, but she was also armed. One more emotion emerged for her. Admiration.

Chapter Text

Her

 

The night wore on, and the sake flowed freely. Ren was careful not to imbibe keeping her mind clear, ever watching the room for danger. She kept track of who was pouring for Shingen, where the bottle had come from. She may be playing his concubine tonight, but she was still his blade, she took the position seriously.

The bottle next to her sake cup was filled with water. She pretended to be pleasantly tipsy, giggling appropriately, using her paper fan to mask her expressions. The tessen were still folded, tucked snuggly in her obi. She felt far more secure having them on her. The room was starting to clear out as it got late. Kenshin was drinking poor Sasuke under the table. Shingen turned swaying slightly, a faint blush coloring his handsome cheeks. His eyes were dark with desire.

“Shall we retire, my goddess?” His voice was low, pure silk on her ears. Ren didn’t know how one man could hold such sexual magnetism. They certainly didn’t cover that aspect of him in her history classes.

He stood, wobbling slightly, Ren eyed him. Was he more intoxicated then she thought? She rose to steady him. He put his arm around her shoulders, enfolding her in his warmth. Ren pointed him toward the door and the chilly winter night air.

Shingen stumbled a few times on the walk back to his rooms, he leaned heavier on her after they left the hall. Ren chuckled; he was a bit more drunk then she had thought. His fingers drew slow circles on her shoulder as they moved down the hall. His body pressed hotly to hers. He was heavy as hell, Ren paused a moment propping him against a wall. He sloppily tried to kiss her, she deftly dodged his drunken advances.

“Easy there, Tiger. None of that. I’m going to get you to your rooms and tuck you in to sleep it off.” She grinned, put one arm around his waist, propping him up against her side, and moved forward.

“My goddess, you say no, but those beautiful moonlit eyes of yours always tell me yes.” His low voice thrummed through her, she felt her nipples stand against her silk kimono. Damn traitorous body. She shoved open the door to his room, manhandling him into it.

“My eyes are liars, just like your silver tongue.” She maneuvered his heavy form into his futon, dropping him into the thick mattress. He pulled her down onto his chest.

“Your exhibition was the most beautiful thing my eyes have seen, dance with me tonight, sweet goddess mine. Let me taste your heavenly gifts.” Ren dodged another kiss, his grey eyes were warm, inviting. He nuzzled into her neck below the line of white makeup, lapping at her flesh, his lips hot against her skin.

“Shingen, you are drunk. Let me up before you make an error, we both regret come morning.” She tried to roll off of him. He brought one large hand gently to her lower back, pressing her to his body. His soft grey eyes searched hers.

“Ren, I desire you.” His voice was earnest. “Seeing you draped in the colors of my house and then seeing you wear the tiger for my pleasure was more intoxicating than all the sake in the hall. Stay the night with me?”

His eyes looked clear, his tone was honest. Ren hesitated, was he acting drunker than he was?

His hand came up to cup her cheek, she leaned into his touch, overwhelmed by his addictively masculine scent. Her eyes slid closed a moment, enjoying his warmth. Ren’s resolve wavered. She felt the hard press of him swelling against her belly. Apparently, he hadn’t had enough alcohol to affect that.

Ren chuckled, pressing a tender kiss to Shingen’s cheek.

“Ask me again when you are sober Tiger, tonight you sleep alone.” He released her, letting her rise.

“My goddess, for as hot as your body burns for me, your demeanor is as cool as the pale moonlight.”

“It has to be to resist the most attractive man I’ve ever laid eyes on,” Ren replied softly. She pulled the blankets up over him, tucking him into his bed. “Get some sleep Shingen, I’ll check on you in the morning.” She left silently, sliding the door closed behind her.

 

Him

He heard the door slide shut, the silence of the room was oppressive after the warm sounds of her aroused, panting breath. He closed his eyes in frustration, she had denied him again. Shingen’s blood pounded hotly, he could hear his own heart racing. There would still be mitsumono in the hall, it would be easy enough for him to acquire a bedmate to ease his needs. His mind went back to her dance. That teasing roll of her hip moving the snug silk of her scarlet kimono; the movement she showed only to him, inviting him, teasing him. He didn’t want just any woman tonight, he hungered for her. Anyone else would be unsatisfying. His erection twitched against his stomach, tenting the blankets. He moved his hand down, stroking the warm satin skin. That desirous look in her eyes, he imagined her here, crawling over him, the neckline of her kimono gaping to display the curve of her beautifully pale breasts, those crimson lips sliding down over his throbbing cock. His hands moved to feather through her short white-blonde hair. Shingen tipped his head back with a sigh, stroking lightly from tip to root, wet with precum.

She bobbed her head on him, tongue stroking lightly on sensitive flesh. He caught her gaze, saw her hips sway as she took him deep into her mouth. How wet was she? Did her nether lips slide with that seductive sway coating her in nectar? He pulled her forward, claiming her mouth, thrusting his cock deep into her heated core. He smeared her crimson lipstick marring her looks into a passionate perfection. Her violet eyes held desire only for him.

His hand moved faster, he grunted softly into the silence of his room.

The scarlet silk slid against his thighs. His hands moved to her obi, slowly untying it, revealing all of her to him. Ren leaned forward, her breasts rubbing erotically against his broad chest. He cupped her breasts, leaning forward to run his tongue over her peaked nipples. Shingen nuzzled between them breathing in the enticing spice of her flesh. Then he slid his hands back down to squeeze her sensually curved hips, thrusting into her. Her gasps and small moans echoing in his room.

Ren leaned forward. Her teeth grazed his neck, sucking lightly, he captured her lips, his tongue sliding against hers in sync with his manhood aching for release. He cupped her bottom, squeezing, feeling her well-trained muscles flexing as she rode him. She tensed around him. He could feel the delicious flutter of her along his length. Her song was so sweet.

A low moan ripped through the room, he spilled wetly across his stomach, the seed spurting onto his kimono. He rolled to one side, the dream images vanishing like mist. His head was clear, bereft of the pleasant daze of alcohol.

Shingen sighed into the cold, empty room. He removed his kimono, wiping his torso off with it and tossing it to one side. He curled up alone, longing for the warmth of her body next to his. He could still smell the faint spice of her scent against his skin. He remembered the heat of her pressed against him. Shingen clenched his hands, desiring to feel her pale flesh. He would have her in his bed if it took every seductive skill he had at his disposal, she couldn’t resist him forever.

Chapter Text

Her

“Rough mission?” Sasuke eyed the bruise on Ren’s cheekbone, another was visible through her kimono collar, her gait was stiff as she walked down the hall. It had been a few weeks since they’d seen each other.

“I’ve had better.” She gave him a half-grin and a wink. “How goes your training under Kenshin?”

“I’m managing to avoid him more regularly, it helps that these cold months keep people indoors.” He lifted the hem of his top. “Look, for the first time in my scientific lifestyle, I have abs!”

Ren laughed, giving him a half hug as they walked down the hall, he noticed her bandaged hand and squinted at her.

“I’m fine. Honestly, my mark had two extremely well-trained shinobi in his employ. I took my lumps, but gave as good as I got.” She gave him a quick reassuring kiss on the cheek, then turned the corner.

Speaking of abs…

Her face pressed into the heated flesh of Shingen’s bare chest, the edge of his kimono caressed her cheek, unconsciously she inhaled deeply. Ren hadn’t realized how much she had missed the sweet musk of his scent. Coming to her senses, she stumbled backward, Shingen caught her in his long arms holding her against him until she had regained her balance. She felt the heat rise to her cheeks. His hands caressed warmly down her back.

“My Goddess, if you are favoring mere mortals with kisses from your divine lips today, I’ll have the next one.” Holy cats! His voice was like buttered caramel, she gazed upward, his mirth filled grey eyes smoldered, her knees went weak.

Dammit, girl pull yourself together!

“My Lord, I apologize.” She started to bow, her eyes shifting away from his burning gaze to the ground. Her heart threatened to beat its way out of her chest.

“Unnecessary, “ Shingen cupped her chin, lifting her gaze back to his. A thumb traced the edge of her bruise with concern, then continued to teasingly brush over her lower lip. “You are, as always, a pleasure to bump into Ren.” The tiger glinted in his eyes at the double entendre. He took her hand, playfully kissing the tips of her fingers. Her face burned red. With a smile, he nodded in greeting to Sasuke and continued on down the hall.

Ren gasped.

“Woah,” Sasuke’s lip twitched in a grin “I knew there was some unresolved sexual tension between you two, but I feel like I need a cold shower after that exchange. Is he always so-“

“Every damn time.”

“And you haven’t-“

“No.” Ren swallowed audibly. Sasuke peered at her flushed face then glanced down the hall.

“Ren…I’m straight, and I’d hit that, what are you waiting for? He’s obviously into you.”

She sighed, shaking herself off. “He’s my boss.”

“I don’t think that’s an issue for him.” Ren smacked her friend’s shoulder.

“Uggg, I need a soak. My body is one big bruise. I’ll catch up to you later, ok?”

Sasuke gave her a lip twitch smile and sauntered off down the hall.

 

It was rare Ren used the onsen as she was one of the few females at the castle with leave to make use of it. It was cold, but still, the light dusting of snow melted far before the edge of the water. Ren had tied a small tag to a scarf at the entrance, announcing the hot spring was in use by her then dropped her towel near the edge, sinking her naked bruised body into the steaming medicinal waters.

It had been a long time since she had taken a beating like that, and it was a sharp reminder to keep her skills honed. She had been sent to Oshu to ferret out some information, on her way out, she encountered two extremely well-trained Shinobi who appeared to be brothers. She was happy she escaped with her skin intact if varying shades of purple. At least she gave as good as she got, the dark-haired one had stayed at range, but the flirty blonde he called “Gen” was definitely hurting as much as she was. She turned to face the edge of the pool, laying her bruised cheek against the cool stone. Everything just ached, it was probably for the best she didn’t have a mirror. At least the wound on her hand was shallow, it was the only cut she took. She let her mind drift in the rising steam of the onsen, her eyes sliding closed.

Familiar steps came close, her eyes snapped back open.

“Hello Ren, mind if I join you? Sasuke said you were going for a soak and would like some company.”

Shingen…damn, you Sasuke. You are going to wish Kenshin had killed you.

She flitted her eyes to the side, her breasts were pressed to the wall, her back faced him.

“I left a scarf indicating I was using the onsen.”

“I saw,” He chuckled. “Was it not an invitation?”

She turned a little more to look at him. Shingen stood on the other side of the natural pool, wearing only a small towel around his narrow hips. Her eyes traveled upward slowly, every line of his body was perfectly sculpted from his muscled abdomen to his smooth broad chest to shoulders so vast she felt like she’d swoon. Ren had never seen a more magnificent specimen of a male. If he were from her time, he would be a model and not one that needed the aid of photoshop. She let her eyes wander appreciatively back downward. He smiled, dropping the towel to slide into the steaming water.

Yes, …everything was perfect. Whelp, there’s more fuel for that fantasy…

Ren averted her eyes, her face glowing red. “Just stay to your side.”

Him

He saw the bruises on her face from the last mission and winced internally. He knew the twins she ran up against. That she survived, was a testament to her skill. When Sasuke mentioned to him she was going to soak, Shingen picked up a container of salve to give her to help with the bruising. Seeing her in the onsen, he was sorry he sent her. The white flesh of her back was mottled in all shades of pain like she had either taken a beating or fallen hard. He realized by the way she covered herself, she was unused to casual nudity.

“I’m sorry I sent you.” His voice was sincere, he saw her eyes flash in surprise.

“Was the information I retrieved not what you desired?”

“It wasn’t worth the damage to your pearlescent skin, my angel. Are you ok? I brought you some salve to help with the pain and bruising.”

“Thank you, my Lord. That is very thoughtful of you.” To his surprise, she turned to face him, sinking down into the water. Her arms crossed over her bare chest. An angry blackened bruise striped across her shoulder to her collarbone on the left side, it looks like someone struck her there then it bounced off catching her cheek.

“Just Shingen, please.” He requested softly, “Would you tell me what happened?”

“I got cocky.” A self-deprecating laugh slipped from her lips. “I haven’t run up against anyone else here to match my skills, the other shinobi I’ve run into were sloppy or lacking in discipline, these two weren’t.”

Shingen listened quietly, watching the emotions play freely across her face. She was different today, unguarded. Possibly from fatigue. He found it very human of her, alluring, different than the self-assured cold demeanor she usually projected.

“I had just left the castle with the intel when the dark-haired shinobi started flinging kunai at me, he stayed at range the entire time. I never had a chance to bring out my bow because the blonde immediately closed at melee. We were evenly matched and disarmed each other as soon as he closed. The fight turned into unarmed combat with his brother flinging missiles at me. Thank goodness I was faster, he only managed a graze on my hand.” She gave a small shrug, wincing imperceivably at the roll of her shoulders. He found himself wanting to reach out to her to comfort her but knew she wouldn’t allow it in her current state of undress.

“The dark-haired man called him “Gen”. We beat on each other for some time, I gave as good as I got. I managed to knock him out, and I ran for it.” She paused and then added, “I would prefer not to be sent there again without backup.”

“Understood, again, I apologize for putting you in that position. I did not know they would both be present.”

Ren raised an eyebrow. “But you were aware at least one would be present? A warning would have been nice.”

“My goddess, I knew you could handle it, I have faith in you.”

She splashed him, “Ass.”

Shingen blinked at the unexpected sass then gave her a wolfish grin.

“Next time, warn me.” She smiled, it was radiant, and he felt his heart thump loud against his ribs.

“I promise.” He moved forward to sit by her and saw her eyes widen in panic. Shingen raised his hands.

“Just, keep to your side, mixed bathing isn’t really done by non-couples where I’m from.”

“We could change that.” Her eyes lit warily at his grin. “My angel, I would love to couple with you. "

“Pfffft!” Her laughter made him smile. “You and your silver tongue, do you ever stop flirting?”

“If you desired me to, I would stop. But I don’t think you do.”

“Guilty.” She rolled her eyes, then turned back around, giving him a view of her back to where the water lapped at her narrow waist. Another bruise started there and wrapped down under the water. His lips briefly tightened at the amount of pain she must be in.

“Ren, why don’t we go back to your room and I’ll help you with the salve? I use it when I’m injured. It will actually help more than the heat of the springs.”

She nodded, “would you close your eyes?”

“Hmmm?” He tilted his head.

“So, I can get out, would you please close your eyes?” The tips of her ears were scarlet, it had nothing to do with the heat of the springs. He smiled at how adorable she was.

“My eyes are closed.” He heard her leave the water, imagined it running off her flesh, pooling around her. Soft fabric rustled as she wrapped herself in the full towel.

“I’ll be in my room, thank you.”

Shingen waited until he could no longer hear her footsteps, then opening his eyes, he climbed out of the springs. He picked up the jar of salve and went to retrieve his kimono. He could have just given it to her, but the damage was so extreme she would never be able to reach all of it on her own.

Tell yourself that old man.

This was not just an excuse to touch her, he wanted to help her.

mmmhmmmm

He slid on his kimono…maybe he should just stop by and give her the salve, he could send a maid by to help her apply it. Yes, that is what he should do. He started walking toward her room with decisive strides.

 

He tapped on the door.

“Ren, it’s Shingen.”

“Come in.”

His breath hitched as he entered the room, and all thoughts of simply handing her the salve disappeared like smoke. She kneeled on her futon, her bare back to him. Her sleeping kimono was belted around her waist, but she had slid both arms out and merely held the cloth up to her chest. He had just seen her fully naked in the onsen, and yet this was far more intimate. He took a deep breath steeling himself. He was here to help her.

“I appreciate you helping me. I won’t lie, I’m very sore. It’s been a long time since I’ve been hurt this badly.” Her soft voice was hesitantly vulnerable.

Shingen kneeled behind her scooping some of the salve from the jar, he warmed it in his hands before spreading it gently onto her purpled flesh. Her skin was softer than he had imagined. He leaned in, rubbing the salve into the wound on her shoulder then moving lower down her back. His hands were gentle, reverent on her. The fact she was even letting him touch her so intimately surprised him.

“I saw one lower, near your waist?”

“Hmmm, yes, he hit me in the hip with a log.” She fidgeted a bit then opened the front of her kimono, dropping the fabric to display her purpled hip. He moved his hands over it, and she sighed in pleasure.

A smile tugged at his lips. He leaned in closer, letting his natural warmth roll over her. His hands continued to rub salve into her abused skin, but at this point, it was more of an excuse to touch her.

He slid both hands down her back, Ren let out a rumbling purr that ended in a moan. Then covered her mouth in embarrassment, her skin flushing to red.

“It appears I have discovered a tigress.” Shingen let his lips graze the nape of her neck, he couldn’t resist. The spice scent of her flesh was enticing. She turned her head toward him, snowy lashes fluttering to her cheeks.

“It just felt really good.” She admitted. The blush on her cheeks was beyond charming. He slid an arm around her cupping her chin.

“Let me see that cheek.” He caressed some salve over the bruise on her face. Her violet eyes caught his, he paused. There was desire in the depths of her eyes. She leaned back into his chest. He brought both arms around her in a warm embrace. His lips nuzzled into the back of her neck. He nipped her gently, suckling on tender flesh. Her breath came in short hot pants.

“Shingen, we shouldn’t.”

He grinned against her neck.

“You don’t want me to hold you?” he asked softly.

“I do, it feels nice.”

“Do you want me to kiss you?” his lips trailed against softly on her neck, nibbling at the uninjured flesh.

“I’m too hurt to make this enjoyable.”

He chuckled against her cheek. “I am enjoying you.”

She let out a frustrated little snort, he grinned wider. “You are adorable.” Shingen ruffled her short hair. “How could I not enjoy being close to you?”

She rolled her eyes. “Alright, I thank you for your help, I can get the ones in the front.”

“Or you could allow me to?”

Her

His hands, she was melting into the warmth of them. Everywhere he touched her, it tingled. Ren told herself it was just the medicinal salve, but her heart beating so fast in her chest told a different story. Her body still hurt, but now a different kind of ache was overlaying that. It was not a small effort to lean away from him, sliding her arms back into the sleeves of her kimono. She turned slightly with a wince and brushed her lips softly against his cheek.

“I really appreciate it thank you, I should get some rest.” She tried not to look him in the eye, Ren knew she’d lose her resolve if she did. It was already slipping. Every breath was full of his scent, his warmth, her body was screaming for him. She was holding onto her moral ground by her fingernails and slipping fast.

“It will only take a moment.” His eyes caught hers, concern and tenderness swirled in the soft grey. She was lost. Wordlessly she moved the cloth to the side, exposing the length of her left leg, the bruising on her thigh wrapping around down to her ankle. Shingen warmed the salve again in his hands, then slid them down over her muscled leg. She bit her lip holding back a moan, her eyes sliding closed. She rested her forehead to his shoulder. He made her feel too good to care anymore, the pain was replaced with his warmth. Her entire world focused down to the heat of his hands stroking over her calf, massaging the salve into her skin. Her breath came out in a long shaky sigh. Then to her surprise, he slid the kimono back over her leg, covering her. Shingen’s lips pressed warmly to her forehead.

“Get some rest, little bird. I’ll leave this with you.” He laid the jar next to her futon and stood. Her body hummed in protest at the loss of his warmth.

She let herself slide down into the bed, he leaned forward wrapping her warmly in the covers.

“Sweet dreams, my goddess.”

Him

Shingen slid the door to her room closed, then rested his forehead against it. It was no small effort to leave her, every fiber of his being screamed in desire for the pale-haired beauty. The soft sweet noises she made as his hands stroked over her flesh only stoked the fires within him. He wanted more than just to share her bed, the intimacy, the closeness he found himself just desiring her company. His heart thudded painfully in his chest. He clenched his fist, turning to stride down the hallways toward his rooms. The cold air hit his lungs, and they seized; a wracking painful cough started from deep within his chest. He leaned against the wall fighting for air, then stumbled the short distance to his chambers. He didn’t want anyone to see him like this. The winter cold always aggravated his condition. Once in his room, he crumbled to the ground gasping for air, his skin going clammy. Blood flecked spittle came up with each wracking cough. After long moments he laid exhausted on the floor. This was the sharp reminder of why he couldn’t have more than a casual relation with any woman. He turned to stare at the ceiling, waiting for his breathing to return to normal. He clawed himself up, starting a pot of the medicinal tea to help loosen his lungs.

It would be spring soon, his health was always better in the warmer weather. He just had to endure.

Chapter Text

Her

Ren balanced a tray of tea on her hip and knocked on the door. It had been over two weeks since she saw the warlord, and Ren wanted to thank him for the salve. She saw some gooey sweets in town and thought he would enjoy them.

“My Lord? It’s Ren.” She heard a low moan and some shuffling from the room. She waited a minute…it was midday. The hallway was freezing, but she expected nothing less for mid-February.

“Shingen?”

A low moan. He couldn’t still be asleep? Was he hurt?

“Shingen, I’m coming in.”

She slid the door open. Shingen was curled in the corner. The room was freezing, but he was soaked in sweat, his skin pale. A wracking cough took him and he doubled over, his head pressing to the floor.

“My Lord!” Ren closed the door, setting the tea by it. She ran to him, pressing a hand to his forehead, he was burning up.

“My Angel,” he croaked out. “Have you come to take me? I am not finished yet, I need more time to-" another wracking wet cough interrupted his rambling. Ren propped him up against the wall.

“Just stay here, no one is taking you anywhere.” She lit the brazier to get his room warmed back up and then poured him some tea placing the cup in his hand. “Drink this.”

He stared at the cup for long moments before raising it to his lips. Ren busied herself in his room, finding a washbasin and a towel. Gently she wiped him down, smoothing his sweat-slicked auburn hair out of his eyes.

“Shingen, why didn’t you call for someone if you are this sick?” She refilled his tea. He was breathing more comfortably. She pressed her ear to his chest, he sounded congested. His kimono stunk of old sweat. “Uggg, let’s get you out of this.”

She stood again, going through his things to find a fresh kimono. Ren returned to his side, taking the now empty cup, his red eyes peered up at her.

“Ren?” His voice sounded clearer. She untied his kimono, sliding the damp cloth off his shoulders.

“Shhhh, it’s going to be alright. I’ve got you.”

He started coughing again, she held him through it. His hands went to his mouth, coming away flecked with blood.

“Oh, Shingen.” Her eyes misted. She wiped his hands off on the towel, cleaned him up and redressed him in the clean kimono. The room was starting to warm up. “Come on, let’s get you back in bed.”

“I thought…” he cleared his throat, “you’d never ask, my angel.” He let her wrangle his substantial body into a sitting position on his futon, pillows stacked behind him.

“You…” She smiled tenderly at him, tucking the blankets around him. She refilled his tea, placing the cup in his hand. “When was the last time you ate?”

He shrugged, his eyes rolling unfocused.

“Alright, I’m going to send for your doctor and get you some broth from the kitchens ok?” She stood to leave, he reached out, grabbing her hand.

“Please don’t leave me.” A whispered plea, his eyes were bloodshot.

“Shingen, I promise I’ll come back.”

“Promise?” He sounded so weak.

“I’ll always come back to you.”

Him

The fever dreams and the wracking bloody cough felt like it had been going on for an eternity, he was so hot. His lungs squeezed painfully, his throat was on fire. Distantly he could hear a crashing noise. Then gentle hands lifted him, he rolled his eyes open.

The light behind her made a halo of her white-blond hair. An angel had come to take him from this world. He faded in and out of consciousness, tea was pressed to his hands. She was undressing him, was this a dream? The tea made his throat feel better. A cool cloth wiped over his body, it felt blissful. The angel then wrapped him in soft, dry warmth, he was back in his bed somehow. She pressed another cup of tea into his hands. She said something, her voice was so sweet. He realized it was Ren, his little bird, his heart felt light. She turned to leave.

No…

No, please stay.

Don’t leave.

“Please don’t leave me.” He didn’t recognize his own voice; it was a pleading croak.

“I’ll always come back to you.” The Angel promised him, he drifted out.


A warm bowl was pressed to his hands, small hands covered his.

“Drink.” He obeyed the concerned voice. A cool hand pressed to his forehead. “We need to get that fever down,” she muttered.

 

There were noises, footsteps, the room was brighter.

“Give him this every few hours mixed with tea. That should keep his lungs clear and his fever down.” A man’s voice…then the angel spoke, he couldn’t hear what she said, but her voice was so dulcet he could listen to it for an eternity. The low murmur of talking went on for a while, then he heard the door slide shut. The room darkened.

 

The cough rattled his bones, it was never going to end. Small hands soothed him, he felt himself being propped up against something soft, a cup of warm liquid was held to his lips. He drank, he slept.

 

The room was warm, a pleasant smell of broth and rice porridge wafted through it. Shingen opened his eyes, gazing upward. He was in Ren’s arms, propped up against her chest. Her hands rested on top of his blankets. She was asleep.

Shingen studied her a moment, there were shadows under her eyes darkening her pale skin. Her hair was mussed, fluffing up at odd angles. Soft lips were slightly parted; he reached up, cupping her cheek. Violet eyes opened slowly, gazing down at him.

“You’re awake, how are you feeling?” Her hand went to his forehead, he ached at the tender concern in her smile. This was not a look a kunoichi had for her Lord, this was the gaze of a lover. His thumb traced her lower lip.

“Better…how long has it been?” His voice was rough from disuse.

“A few days, your healer should be by this afternoon to check on you.” She straightened out of his caress, carefully sliding from behind him and replacing the warmth of her body with some cushions. “Can I convince you to eat something? While you are awake.”

She handed him a warm bowl of porridge from the brazier, her hands covering his.

“Can you manage?” Again, the concern, he found it difficult to look away. Her eyes were like the summer sky at twilight, that magical time when the world pauses in silence before the golden light of the sun arrives.

“Shingen?” She lifted the spoon to him. He took it from her, bringing the warm food to his mouth. Satisfied, she stood and busied herself at his desk.

“Have you been here the whole time?” His voice grew stronger.

“Well someone has to look after silly warlords who don’t ask for help.” Paper ripped, ceramic tinked. She turned and smiled at him. “Finish that, and we’ll get some tea into you to keep those lungs clear.”

“You knew?” He asked between bites.

“I’ve always known, hush, and eat. Don’t waste your strength on questions that don’t matter.”

Shingen smiled at her chastisement, it amused him that she sounded like a caring wife.

Ren took the empty bowl from his hands, replacing it with a cup of tea. She sat before him, watching him drink. 

“Thank you.” He handed the cup back to her, she refilled it placing it by his side. “Why did you stay? I have healers.”

“You asked me to, so I did.” She brushed his thick hair back from his forehead, “get some rest. I have some things I need to attend to now that your fever has broken. I’ll be back to check on you in the afternoon.” Her lips lightly touched his forehead, and she left.

Shingen starred at the door as it slid closed. His mind slowly working through what had just happened. She cared for him, more then what was expected as his mitsumono. Lust did not hold that level of commitment, he sighed. His feelings were conflicted, it was too much to consider. Shingen’s eyes slid closed, and he drifted back to sleep.

Her

Ren padded silently down the hall, she was relieved he was finally awake and looking better. She was concerned that history had changed so much that his demise date or cause may also have changed. More then once, during the last few days as she listened to the rattle of his breath or held him while he coughed up blood, she was concerned he would not make it. Ren chewed her lip. She needed a bath, fresh clothes, and a nap. She stripped as soon as she entered her small room, dropping her clothes to the floor and stepping behind a screen to wash.

A tap at the door.

“Ren, it’s Sasuke, I’m coming in.”

Ren continued to bathe.

“Hey, I’m just washing up I’ll be out in a moment.” She heard the clink of ceramic.

“I brought us food.”

She wrapped her sleeping kimono around her still damp body, toweling off her hair as she stepped from behind the screen.

“Is it pizza? Because I would give my left arm for a deep-dish pie right now.”

He let out a laugh, his mouth twitching upwards in a small smile.

“Unfortunately, no, but maybe I’ll see what we can do about that in the future.”

She leaned down, kissing his cheek in greeting. Sasuke returned the friendly kiss and gestured for her to sit. 

Rice, broth and broiled fish with root vegetables for two lay spread on her small table. She picked up her chopsticks to dig in.

“Thank you, this looks amazing.” She said around a mouthful of fish.

“I heard you’ve been taking care of your boss, so I figured you could use a break.” He picked up a bowl of broth sipping the fragrant, steaming liquid.

“Mmmm yeah, it looked like pneumonia complications from whatever the issue is with his lungs. I don’t have enough medical knowledge to treat it, all my expertise is in first aid and patching up bullet holes.” She shoveled in two large mouthfuls of rice, nodding in appreciation. She’d neglected herself taking care of her lord. 

“Unfortunately, my Ph.D. was not in a medical field. And my knowledge of history is no help. Historical documents were either vague or conflicting. The Tokugawa tried to claim a single sniper of theirs killed him in his camp, but medical documentation shows that he had frequent chest illness over his life and that he may have finally succumbed to pneumonia in the end.”

“Not on my watch,” Ren growled fiercely, eyes down on her food.

Sasuke raised his brow. "Ren, have you developed actual feelings for-"

“Don’t start Sasuke I’m merely looking out for his health, leaders can’t lead alone.”

“Mmmhmm.” He didn’t look like he believed her.

Ren wasn’t sure she believed herself.

Him

A few days later, Shingen was at his desk with Ren before him. She was back in her usual snug-fitting dark clothing just returned from teaching a class in the dojo. Her blonde hair was damp, clinging flatly to her scalp. Wet March snow dusted her shoulders. She must have come straight to him upon receiving his summons. His kunoichi took a knee before him.

“My Lord?”

He paused his brush, looking up.

“I wanted to thank you, Ren. If there is anything you would like as compensation for your service, please ask.” Shingen graced her with a warm smile.

“Your health is reward enough, my Lord.” She was formal again with him today, appropriate for their rank. He found he missed the lighthearted comradery.

“I also ask that you not speak of it to others.” His tone was soft but commanding.

“Of course, Lord Shingen, I comprehend the morale issues that could cause.”

He nodded, he expected nothing less of a blade this sharp. He put his conflicted thoughts to rest. This was just Ren, his most lovely blade, anything else he saw must have been imagined, a fevered dream, a side effect of the medication.

He nodded to her in dismissal.

Chapter Text

It was barely dawn. The sun was but a line of rose coloring on the horizon, a light spring breeze whispered through the newly budded cherry blossoms. Shingen was awake. He wandered down to the dojo seeking to train with no prying eyes present. It was finally warm enough that his chest didn’t ache in the morning. He had stayed confined to his room in the cold months long enough. It wouldn’t do to be challenged by Kenshin only for him to see him become winded if his illness flared again. Shingen turned the corner to an unexpected but welcome sight.

A single lantern lit the dark room casting her long shadow across the polished wood floor. She was doing a kata, her slow, graceful movements an echo of her whirlwind fighting style. Her clothes were loose. A pale-colored hakama with a hip-length kimono belted at her waist. Now that he thought of it, he rarely saw her in women’s clothing. Her preference always seemed to be for men’s garments.

Shingen leaned against the doorframe lost in the poetry of her movement. The way her shadow danced across the floor, her hair spun to silver in the pale lantern light. Ren’s eyes were closed in meditation, she really did look like an ethereal spirit.

“You are welcome to join me unless you prefer to lurk.”

Shingen’s cheeks colored, he was suddenly thankful to be draped in shadows.

“I wouldn’t want to interrupt.” His soft baritone echoed in the tranquility of the large room.

Ren opened her eyes and gave him a smile that made his breath catch. Her hand beckoned him forward, his feet obeyed.

He fell into place beside her, copying her slow, deliberate movements. Shingen could feel her energy being pushed with each step. An aura of tranquility filled the dojo.

The sun rose, coloring the room with its blushing light. The two of them moved in silence, time seemed to stand still for him. He had trained hundreds of times in this room but never felt such a sense of harmonic peace.

“Would you like to do some floor stretches with me?” Her voice was almost startling after the hour of silence. He nodded, opening his eyes.

“Certainly, lead me, and I will follow.” She sat facing him and reached for his hands. He enfolded hers in his. Ren leaned far back, stretching her ribs and her spine. He gazed at the beautiful lines of her abdomen as her kimono lifted. Then she leaned forward to allow him the same.

“Do you want to spar with me?” He couldn’t believe he was asking her. He came here to work out alone, and yet this had been the most pleasurable exercise he’d had in months.

“If you are up for it, I am,” she grinned. A twinkle in those violet eyes. “Half speed or full?”

“Ladies choice.”

“Full, let’s see what you’ve got, Tiger.” She stood, her eyes swept over him “You’ve got more than enough reach on me without your nodachi, I’ll never get near you if you use that monster. How about tanto or unarmed?”

“I’m afraid you’ll have me at a disadvantage at both.” He grinned, preening a bit at her compliment.

“That is why you are the brains, and I’m your blade, my Lord.” Ren teased. She took two sets of wooden knives off the wall, handing him a pair. They were balanced a bit on the heavy side.

“Any rules you’d like to lay down before we get started?” he rolled his broad shoulders.

“Sure, this is touch not hit, I wouldn’t want to bruise up that gorgeous body of yours.” Ren winked.

“Likewise.”

She started slow, he did indeed have quite the reach on her, and he was far more careful then Kenshin about letting her spin in close. She managed a few light touches on his arms and hands all moves that, if they were true, would have slowed him down or disabled him. He had yet to land a hit on her, frustratingly it seemed to always just miss. She was faster, lighter on her feet, she did indeed move like a shadow or the wind.

“Can I ask you something personal? Since you are my blade.” They kept moving a feint, a spin then back out to re-access

“Yes?” She wasn’t even winded.

“I note most of your moves are to disable, have you killed?”

“When necessary.” She moved past him. He felt the flat of the tanto ghost past the side of his neck. A kill shot.

“How many?” She was young, it was unlikely her skills were used in battle.

“I never kept count past the first one.” She paused, accessing him. “You are leading before your strikes, your left side is open bring your guard up.”

Shingen grinned, always the teacher. He adjusted his stance, bringing up his left. “More than fifty?”

“Yes,” she came in close he rolled low catching her across the back of the thigh. She nodded her appreciation.

“More than one hundred?”

“It’s likely. I’ve been doing this a touch over fifteen years.” She circled, looking for an opening. Shingen was surprised, she didn’t look old enough to have been a blade for so long.

“But by your style, you prefer not to kill? Every move you make seeks to immobilize.”

“Life is sacred.”

She swept his leg, he evaded.

“An interesting answer from an assassin.”

“Is that what I am? A blade can be used for many things.” Her breath whooshed sharply as she dodged his long reach.

“What if I think you are an amazing woman, I would like to know better?”

She grinned, magenta flecks flashing in her violet eyes.

“Would you?” Her light top had worked loose he could see the curve of her unbound breasts sway with her movements through the gap in the neckline.

“Eyes up here, Tiger.” She rapped the flat of her blade across his knuckles. Just hard enough to startle him.

He stepped back, raising his arms, his thoughts scattered.

“I need a moment.” Shingen removed his kimono using it to wipe the sweat off his face and neck, this was the most exercise he’d had in months. He turned his back to her lifting the ladle out of a water bucket to get a drink.

Her

“I need a moment.” Shingen stripped off his top, and Ren felt her mouth go dry. She got a full view of his hard, beautifully chiseled torso before he turned to get a drink. His back was every bit as impressive. Muscle rippling as he lifted the ladle from the water bucket. She wanted to run her hands over the vast expanse of his shoulders. His hakama was slung low on his hips displaying a delicious V of muscle leading down to his-

“Ren?” One eyebrow was raised, a sensual grin played on his lips. Mussed auburn hair, glistening skin, he looked like a pinup model.

“Hmmm?” Oh cripes, he caught her ogling. His grin spread wider.

“Would you like a more hands-on view? It could be arranged for my loveliest blade.” His voice was a purr that made her nipples peak against her light kimono top. His hot gaze went to her chest, then settled back on her eyes.

She shook herself off. She wasn’t the first kunoichi employed by Shingen that he’d wanted to take to his bed, she likely wouldn’t be the last. She wouldn’t give him that. Professionalism, she swallowed hard, that shirtless hunk of man-candy is the boss.

“I’m good thanks, are you ready to continue?”

A predatory glint flittered into his eyes; his muscles rolled hypnotically as he prowled toward her.

Ren could see why he was named the Tiger of Kai, his presence alone was daunting. She took a step back and then another trying to put space between them. Those storm grey eyes grew dark. Her gaze moved to his chest, down his rippling torso. She riveted in place, her back to the wall.

He pressed against her, wooden blade lightly against her throat. Shingen leaned down, his warm breath caressing her ear.

“I wouldn’t expect a kunoichi of your expertise to get distracted by a scenic view.” He rumbled in that toe-curling baritone. Ren felt herself get wet with desire. Snowy lashes fluttered, shading the look of lust in her violet eyes. He trailed the tip of the blade to the side, then down her shoulder in a light caress.

“Normally, I wouldn’t, my Lord.” She couldn’t look him in the eyes, a blush rode high on her sharp cheekbones. Her voice choked out in a whisper, “but I admit I find you particularly attractive.”

“Oh?” His lips moved to hover over hers. “Is there anything you’d like to do about that?” The heat rolled off his bare skin, all she could smell was him. Shingen filled all her senses, she was drowning in his crush of masculinity.

Her eyes refocused on his. The look in those grey eyes was pure lust, he thought her conquered. Ren’s spine stiffened. She pulled herself back together.

“Just enjoying the view, Lord Shingen, like any healthy woman would. Would you like to continue sparring, or are you done for the day?” Her training finally kicked in, her demeanor cooled.

Frustration flashed hotly across his face. He searched for words. Then he leaned back, the manipulative smile slid into place.

“We can continue.” He took a step back.

The dance was different now, more like foreplay, full of suggestive touches and warm breaths. Shingen let her get close, practically inviting her in with obvious openings in his guard. Ren let herself be lured. She felt the heat of his skin, smelled his masculine scent. Her touches were more like caresses, she relished the feel of him even in this context.

Suddenly he moved at her hard and fast. She jumped toward his shoulder to spring off of him. Dropping the wooden blades, he easily caught her in the air.  One hand on her ribcage, his other large hand wrapping around her upper thigh. Shingen’s thumb accidentally brushed against a warm wetness through her hakama. He spun her off his back, then turned to face her.

A feral grin split his face, he slowly licked off his thumb, his eyes holding hers.

Ren bit back a moan.

“Do I excite you, little bird?” He teased. She dropped her weapons since he was unarmed.

“I think you know the answer to that.”

She swung a kick out, sweeping his legs, he toppled backward but not before those long arms had grabbed her, taking her down with him.

Ren landed straddling his hips, she could feel he desired to have her there.

“Ren...” Shingen cupped her cheek, those magnificent abs curling as he sat up. Her hand was on his bare chest; lips parted, eyes dilated. The sweet musk of him surrounded her. The gap didn’t seem so far anymore between kunoichi and Lord. Between man and woman. Ren leaned forward, tasting his lips.

She expected fierce, but he was gentle. She expected him to take, but all he did was give. His hands came up to cradle her, he worshipped her with his mouth moving over her flesh reverently. His lips languidly moved from hers to taste the salt of her neck. Then he nuzzled her collarbone his breath hot down the neckline of her kimono. He returned again to her lips, and she moaned softly against him, submitting. She let herself be worshipped, falling into the heat of his passion, surrendering to hers. His hands stroked down her back, holding her pressed to him. Shingen cupped her hips rolling his body against hers, she felt the deliciously hard press of him through the thin fabric of their clothes. Her hands slid over his bare shoulders twining into his thick auburn hair, she deepened the kiss, molding her body to his. The heat of his flesh melted her into him. Ren arched her hips against him, and he gasped into her mouth. She knew how wet she was, she wanted him inside her, claiming her, now, here. Nothing else existed or mattered in that moment. Her mind hummed in desire for him.

Footsteps sounded on the wooden floor, a low, embarrassed cough echoed in the large room.

“My Lord Shingen, the neighboring Daimyō has arrived early. He waits to speak to you in the hall.”

Shingen closed his eyes, resting his forehead against Ren’s. He took a deep breath, she panted against him.

“I’ll be there in a moment, please have one of the maids bring him refreshments.” The vassal bowed and left.

He stroked a thumb over her cheek. “My apologies goddess, duty calls.”

Her head cleared, what did she almost do? Hastily she stood leaving the warmth of his lap, a blush rose.

“Of course, do you need me to attend you?”

He stood, towering over her. His fingers stroked back her short, sweat-damp hair. She tried to straighten her clothing, her hard nipples still peeked through the thin fabric. His eyes lingered, burning hotly.

“No, I don’t want anyone else seeing you as magnificent as this.” His hand traced down her cheek. “Thank you for the workout, Ren.” He stood, grabbing his kimono, and with long strides, was gone.

Chapter Text

Him

Shingen went to her room as soon as the meeting with the Daimyō was complete. 

His thoughts were monopolized by her. The scent of her skin, her arousal, still clung to him. Shingen had barely made it through the meeting. The flush of her cheeks, the heated pants of her breath against his flesh. The way he could see her nipples pressing against the fabric of her kimono, the sweet sounds she made. She pressed her heat to him, a few moments more, and they would have been as one. Ren almost took him on the cold wood of the dojo floor, and he would have rejoiced in her passion. Her unexpected forwardness had left him aching for more.

Her room was empty. Shingen groaned in frustration, banging a fist against the doorframe.

He walked by the dojo with no success, the gardens, Sasuke’s room, the kitchens. Finally, by sheer luck, he passed her in the hall late in the afternoon.

“My Lord,” she bowed low.

Dammit, were they back to formalities again?

“Ren, I thought perhaps we could, discuss, what happened this morning? Would you come to my chambers?” He leaned against the wall, framing her in his arms. She ducked under, putting space between them.

“It was an error in judgment on my part, Lord Shingen.” She bowed low, “I overstepped the boundaries of our relationship, I apologize.” Ren turned and left.

Shingen rolled his broad shoulders, closing his eyes. He knew she was attracted to him. It had been over a year since she arrived in his service. How was it that he continued to fail to progress in their relationship? This latest rejection stung, he could still taste her warmth, her desire. His mind kept going back to her over these last long months. He’d stopped seeking out other women because fantasies of being with her would flit through his mind during the act. And it was an act, he was going through the motions to satisfy his needs, but it never satisfied his desires. He clenched his fist, moving back to his rooms. What exactly did she want from him? His time was limited on this earth. He needed to get his lands back for his people. He didn’t have time for a wife and children only to leave them when his illness took him down. He frowned. She knew about his illness, is that what stopped her? He ran a hand through his hair as he entered his room, sliding the door closed. He leaned against the wall, sitting on the floor. There was a time he was attracted to her the way he was attracted to all women, they were beautiful soft loving creatures, the comfort of their arms was addictive, a distraction from his life. He had always treated any of his lovers with respect if detachment. Why was she different? He wanted more from her, but he wasn’t sure what that more was. Did he want her only because she resisted? Maybe he just needed a good bedding, it had been months. His sexual frustration at not having her had him stressed to the point of hiding in his chambers, masturbating like a young boy. He let out a short, derisive bark of a laugh. He needed to get this back under control, he’d go into town tonight and seek out some comfort. Those violet eyes haunted him. He blinked. He just needed to keep it professional with her, it’s obviously what she wanted. There were plenty of women that were willing, why chase the one that was not? He rose, moving to his desk. He had work to get done, he would settle out his needs tonight. He pulled a bottle of sake from the shelf and poured himself a cup while he worked. The usual pleasant numbness from the alcohol wasn’t enough to keep his thoughts from her.

 

Red-light District

He held his cup steady for her to pour, “I desire for you to have a drink with me, the sake always tastes better with a beautiful woman.” He had noticed those deep violet eyes the moment he had entered the room. There was only one person he knew with eyes like that, and all the traditional makeup in Japan wasn’t going to cover that beauty. It was rare to see her in women’s clothing, she looked stunning, elegantly feminine. She was easily beautiful enough to rival the most popular Oiran this expensive establishment had. He wasn’t expecting to find her here tonight seeing as he was here trying to drown out sensual thoughts of her, who was he to ignore fate? His desires made him reckless, tonight he didn’t care.

“With apologies, my lord, let me summon one of the more experienced Oiran for your pleasure, I am but an apprentice.” Her voice was soft and sweet. Her eyes lowered demurely. With the traditional white makeup, it was difficult for Shingen to tell if a blush colored those high cheeks.

“Please sit, you are by far the loveliest here. Being in your presence would be like sitting next to an angel.”

“My lord, I assure you, I have other tasks tonight, let me find one for your pleasure.”

He took the sake bottle from her hands and handed her a cup.

“Sit, little bird.”

Ren’s eyes flashed in surprise up to his, the dark violet briefly alarmed before her usual cool mask slid into place.

He studied those familiar violet eyes. She kneeled before him.

“Closer little bird.” The violet ran to magenta. He could feel Ren’s agitation radiating off her. She rearranged her kimono, moving closer to him. He leaned in, “I have exactly who I desire tonight, I did come here looking for company what a pleasure it is to find yours.” He brushed hot lips along the curve of her ear. He had been drinking before he arrived, the sake made him bolder, more demanding. It had stolen his reason away and left him with only a base desire.

She snapped her fan open, covering their faces.

“Just what the hell do you think you are doing? You know I am stationed here to work tonight.”

He smiled smoothly, “Perhaps we should move to a more private room where you can properly lavish me with your fervent whispers.” She bared her teeth in a snarl at him from behind the fan. Mmmmm, she was a tigress. He let out a long low chuckle. She averted her eyes in frustration. His gaze moved hotly over her. Ren’s kimono was draped to display the sensual curve of her neck. His eyes followed the graceful line down to see her nipples pressed hard to the delicate silk of the garment. Shingen licked his lips.

“As my lord requires.” She stood bowing to him then gracefully led him to one of the private rooms, sliding the shoji door closed.

“I don’t know what game you are playing at-“

His lips were on hers, hot, demanding, cutting off any words she might have said. Her hands came to his broad chest, his to her lower back pressing her tight to him. She melted into his kiss for a moment, hands moving up into his hair. Shingen pressed himself hard against her thigh, his leg parting hers. His desire demanding to continue what they had started that morning. With a frustrated moan, she pulled away.

“Shingen…no” He could taste her in his mouth, warm, sweet he wanted more. He wanted to lick every bit of her flesh to make her cry out in passion, to hear his little bird sing. His heart beat fast in his chest.

“You don’t mean that? After this morning’s little display, we both know your desires.” His hands stroked down her arm. He could feel the electricity between them.

“I do. There are plenty of women here willing to bed you. The Tiger of Kai is quite popular from what I’ve heard.” There was a flash of pain and jealousy in her eyes, even as the words left her lipstick smeared lips.

“I could give you a firsthand experience.” Shingen teased, he kissed along her jaw. Her eyes slid closed.

“Shingen, you know why I am here tonight, and it isn’t for sex.” Ren groaned out, her hands fisting in his kimono. 

“Is sex completely off the table?” His grey eyes were full of sensual mirth.

“Yes.”

“So, a futon is still permissible? Excellent, I do find tables a bit hard.” He purred, catching her up in his arms, her obi was unknotted in one skilled tug. Ren rolled her eyes, giving up on trying to hold her robes closed. 

“There are so many women you have to entertain you.” She reasoned.

“And only one unattainable one I desire.” He whispered against her lips.

“Perhaps you desire me only because I am unattainable.” Violet eyes looked into his stormy grey.

“Forbidden fruit is so delectably sweet.” He kissed the corner of her mouth, “I’ve seen it in your eyes, the way you move, you desire me as well. Why is it, I wonder, you hold back?”

“I am not interested in being one of many.” She stepped back, he stepped forward, crowding her against the wall, an arm resting above them.

“What if I told you that all I can think about in the last few months, is you. I am no longer interested in others.”

She smirked, “I’d say you are a liar.”

“Am I?” He gave her a serious look. Shingen brushed his thumb along her lower lip, all he could think of lately was her. He had stopped seeing all his usual women, declined invitations for play from his favored mitsumono.

“Shingen, please don’t do this. I can’t sleep with you.” Ren’s breath hitched, he pressed closer, his warm chest against hers. Her violet eyes were dark with passion, her body responded beautifully to his touch.

“Oh, my sweet little bird, we won’t be sleeping.” He moved to kiss her again, she turned her head.

“I know you’re dying.” She choked on the words, pressing herself as flat to the wall, Shingen was stunned.

He straightened. “What do you know?”

“I know enough, you’ve used me this last year because you know I’m the best blade in your arsenal. You have me for another three years,”

“And then?”

“And then I go home.”

Shingen frowned.

“What do you know of my illness?” he sat down heavily, raking a hand through his auburn hair.

 “I am honored to serve you, my Lord. I will keep your secrets.” She pulled the heavy wig from her head, running a hand through short blond spikes. Ren moved with practiced silence to a washbasin, removing her makeup. She turned her back to him, sliding out of the heavy decorative kimono, beneath it was the snug dark kunoichi garments. She moved to him, wiping her lipstick from his face with a damp cloth.

“Ren…” His hand cupped her hip.

“My Lord,” she gazed down at him, laying the cloth to the side. “if I could be casual with you, I would have warmed your bed at your first invitation.” He studied the truth in those violet eyes. “I can’t be casual. I won’t share you, and I won’t let my heart be ripped out when we part.”

He cupped her jaw, bringing her down slowly into his lap, his grey eyes hypnotic.

“Ren…” The first kiss was to her cheek, she closed her eyes “You are the most beautiful, fiercest woman, how could I not dream of having you by my side?”

“My Lord, under you is not by your side.” He grinned against her skin. He loved how clever she was.

“Shingen, use my name tonight. I want to hear it on your lips.” His fingers lightly traced her cheek, she trembled. The second kiss he placed on her collarbone. He slid a hand gently down her side, fingers barely feathering along the curve of her breast, to her ribs, coming to rest on the curve of her hip. Ren breathed out a shaky breath.

“Shingen.” The name was a whisper of longing, he traced his thumb over her lips, she took it into her mouth, sucking lightly. Her eyes grew darker, she released his thumb, holding his grey gaze. “If you do this, I will not let you go.”

“Little bird, I never want you to.”

Ren turned in his lap, kissing him fiercely. 

 

Her

She saw him as soon as he stepped into the room. Tall, broad frame, auburn hair, every woman there gravitated toward him. She was stationed here tonight as a server to gather information. It was just her luck this was the red-light establishment he chose for his pleasures that night. She frowned, shifting the tray of sake to better balance it, looks like she had made the right decision this morning. The Tiger of Kai still prowled castle town. She felt a sharp pain in her chest and quickly brushed the feeling aside.

Ren lowered her head, trying to move past him undetected. At least the fancy kimono and full makeup should throw him off, he shouldn’t recognize her.

He took her arm with a pleasant compliment, leading her to a low table. Dammit. She kept her eyes downcast, the unusual color of them would give her away. She never thought she’d miss wearing colored contacts quite this much. 

He held his cup steady for her to pour, “I desire for you to have a drink with me, the sake always tastes better with a beautiful woman.” His smooth voice made her body react in the most delicious ways, this wasn’t the time, and he wasn’t the man. She told herself to calm down.

“With apologies, my lord, let me summon one of the more experienced Oiran for your pleasure, I am but an apprentice.” She pitched her voice soft and sweet, still hoping he wouldn’t recognize her, her posture demure. The thought of fetching a whore for him grated her nerves. She could still taste the warmth of him from the passionate mishap this morning.

“Please sit, you are by far the loveliest here. Being in your presence would be like sitting next to an angel.” Did he call every woman his angel? She felt a little raw.

“My lord, I assure you, I have other tasks tonight, let me find one for your pleasure.” All the women who would have him here and he takes her arm. She tried to slip away.

He took the sake bottle from her hands and handed her a cup.

“Sit, little bird.”

His pet name for her...violet eyes met grey, her surprise naked on her face for a split second before she recovered. He already knew? Did he know she was stationed here tonight? Had he come looking for just her? Hope flared in her chest, she kneeled before him.

“Closer little bird.” She could already feel the heat coming off his body, he had been drinking before he arrived. She rearranged her kimono, moving closer to him, thankful that the heavy white makeup hid her blush. He leaned in, “I have exactly who I desire tonight, I did come here looking for company what a pleasure it is to find yours.” He brushed hot lips along the curve of her ear.

She snapped her fan open, covering their faces.

“Just what the hell do you think you are doing?” She hissed. “You know I am stationed here to work tonight.”

He smiled smoothly, “Perhaps we should move to a more private room where you can properly lavish me with your fervent whispers.” She bared her teeth in a snarl at him from behind the fan. His chuckle was long and low, Ren felt her nipples harden, brushing the silk of her formal kimono. Damn him.

“As my lord requires.” Shingen you fucking prick, what are you up to? She stood bowing to him then gracefully led him to one of the private rooms, sliding the shoji door closed.

“I don’t know what game you are playing at-“ She turned angrily.

His lips were on hers, hot, demanding, cutting off any more words she might have said. He tasted of sake and sinful choices. Her hands came to his broad chest, his to her lower back pressing her tight to him. She melted into his kiss for a second time that day, hands moving up into his hair. She had dreamed of this, of having him, of letting herself be overwhelmed by this devastatingly powerful, handsome man. Ren could feel the length of him hard against her thigh. With a frustrated moan, she pulled away. 

“Shingen…” Her lipstick was on his flesh, her eyes were drawn to it. That erotic smear of crimson on his full sensual lips. She shook her head, filing the image away for later use. “No.”

“You don’t mean that? After this morning’s little display, we both know your desires.” His hands stroked down her arm, sending warm tingles over her flesh. Her mind flashed to him, licking the taste of her off of his thumb, she shook her head.

“I do, there are plenty of women here willing to bed you. The Tiger of Kai is quite popular from what I’ve heard.” And oh, had she heard! He must have slept with every attractive prostitute in this place, and they were all happy to gossip about how amazing he was in bed and what a big thick cock he had. Nodachi indeed.

“I could give you a firsthand experience.” He kissed along her jaw. Her eyes slid closed.

“Shingen, you know why I am here tonight, and it isn’t for sex.” Ren groaned out, her hands fisting in his kimono. Where were all her seduction skills now? Why couldn’t she be impartial to him?

“Is sex completely off the table?” His grey eyes were full of a sensual mirth that was irresistibly alluring.

“Yes.” Ren attempted to resist; her body was not cooperating.

“So, a futon is still permissible? Excellent, I do find tables a bit hard” His purr was addictive. Shingen caught her up again, somehow her obi tie had come undone, and her layered robes were slipping. 

Ren rolled her eyes, giving up on trying to hold her robes closed. 

“There are so many women you have to entertain you.” She needed to resist this.

“And only one unattainable one I desire.” He whispered against her lips.

“Perhaps you desire me only because I am unattainable.” Violet eyes looked into his stormy grey.

“Forbidden fruit is so delectably sweet.” He kissed the corner of her mouth “I’ve seen it in your eyes, the way you move, you desire me as well. Why is it, I wonder, you hold back?”

“I am not interested in being one of many.” She stepped back, he stepped forward, crowding her against the wall, an arm resting above them.

“What if I told you that all I can think about in the last few months, is you. I am no longer interested in others.”

She smirked, “I’d say you are a liar.”

“Am I?” His grey eyes were serious. Shingen brushed his thumb along her lower lip. Ren studied his features; something had shifted he was no longer teasing.

“Shingen, please don’t do this. I can’t sleep with you.” Ren’s breath hitched, he pressed closer, his warm chest against hers. He smelled so enticing. Briefly, she imagined him covering her with his scent, moving inside her. Her body clenched.

Ugggg, Pull it together, Ren.

“Oh, my sweet little bird, we won’t be sleeping.” He moved to kiss her again, she turned her head.

“I know you’re dying.” Ren threw the statement up like a barrier, choking on the words. She pressed herself as flat to the wall as she could in an effort not to touch him, not to feel the electricity between them.

He straightened. “What do you know?”

“I know enough, you’ve used me this last year because you know I’m the best blade in your arsenal. You have me for another three years,”

“And then?”

“And then I go home.” Five hundred years in the future, so far from where we are now.

Shingen frowned.

“What do you know of my illness?” he sat down heavily, raking a hand through his auburn hair.

I know you’ll die from it far too young. 

“I am honored to serve you, my Lord. I will keep your secrets.” She pulled the heavy wig from her head, running a hand through short blond spikes. Ren moved with practiced silence to a washbasin, removing her makeup. She turned her back to him, sliding out of the heavy decorative kimono, beneath it she wore snug dark kunoichi garments. She moved to him, wiping her lipstick from his face with a damp cloth. It was an effort not to kiss those full sensual lips.

“Ren…” His large warm hand cradled her hip.

“My Lord,” Ren gazed down at him, her eyes soft with unspoken emotion. She laid the cloth to his side. “if I could be casual with you, I would have warmed your bed at your first invitation.” He studied the truth in her violet eyes. “I can’t be casual. I won’t share you, and I won’t let my heart be ripped out when we part.”

He cupped her jaw, bringing her down slowly into his lap, his grey eyes hypnotic.

“Ren…” The first kiss was to her cheek, she closed her eyes. He was warm, his scent was arousing, deliciously masculine, she let him persuade her into his lap. “You are the most beautiful, fiercest woman, how could I not dream of having you by my side?”

“My Lord, under you is not by your side.” She felt his grin against her flesh.

“Shingen, use my name tonight. I want to hear it on your lips.” His fingers lightly traced her cheek, she trembled. The second kiss he placed on her collarbone. He slid a hand gently down her side, fingers barely feathering along the curve of her breast, to her ribs coming to rest on the curve of her hip. Ren breathed out a shaky breath.

“Shingen.” The name was a whisper of longing, he traced his calloused thumb over her lips, she took it into her mouth, sucking lightly. Her eyes grew dark. She held his grey gaze, releasing his thumb. “If you do this, I will not let you go.”

“Little bird, I never want you to.”

Ren turned in his lap, kissing him fiercely. His hand cradled the back of her head, and she let herself drown in that kiss that she had wanted for so long. She would do it, she would give herself to him.

Then the little voice of reason spoke up in the back of her mind.

I did come here looking for company what a pleasure it is to find yours.

He didn’t know she would be here tonight.

It was all lies to get her in his bed, she was just one of many.

No.

Just his usual manipulative lies.

Ren pushed against his chest.

“No.”

He stopped kissing her, his eyes looking to hers in confusion.

“I can’t do this, I’m sorry, I can’t be one of your women.”

“Ren you’re not just-“

“I am your blade, not your sheath.” She repeated the words to him as much as to herself. To remind herself of her duty. “It would be best if you thought of me that way.” Her eyes teared up, she blinked it back.

“Ren, I genuinely care for you. I’m not suggesting this as a one-night tryst.” He continued to hold her. His eyes searching hers.

“Did you know I was stationed here tonight?”

“No, it was a pleasant surprise.” As the words left his mouth, the realization dawned in his eyes.

“But you did come here to fuck.” She stood, he held her hands.

“My Lord, let me go.” Her voice was ice, she shook one hand loose.

“Ren, please listen, I couldn’t get you out of my mind. Your rejection stung.”

“Please stop talking, you are only making this worse. I am aware of what motivated you to come here. Let me go now.” She glared down at his hand, trying to pull away from his grip.

“Ren,” his voice pleaded.

She brought her knuckle down hard on the nerve just below his wrist, making his hand spring open and tingle. Before another word could be said, she slipped out the back door and into the night.

Chapter Text

Her

 

Ren moved quickly through the streets, tears blurring her vision. Damn him to fucking hell for confusing her emotions like this. She ran a gloved hand through her blond spikes. And damn her for falling for him.

She could still feel the warmth of him on her skin, the taste of his kiss, the sheer electricity that passed through them both anytime they touched. She’d never felt this deeply for anyone. It was too much. She reminded herself that she would be gone in a few years and he wouldn’t last much longer than that. The date of his death forever loomed heavily in her mind. It frustrated her that it wasn’t anything she could protect him against, while the cause of his illness was obscured by time his date of death from it was not. She could guard him against a blade or bolt; she couldn’t rescue him from a mystery ailment. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she turned into an alley with three rough-looking men.

“Well, what have we here, boys? It looks like a little late-night entertainment.”

Ronin

Ren’s hand went for her tanto, everything was left back at the brothel. She had exited so fast after her argument with Shingen she only had the clothes on her back.

“She looks like a boy with that hair.”

“It’s not like you’ve never fucked a boy.” Grating drunken laughter. Ren backed up, one slid behind her.

She sighed, glancing upward. The buildings were too far apart for her to parkour her way up. She held her hands out with a disarming smile, turning to place her back to the wall.

“Look boys, this gal has had a rough night, and I’m in a sour mood. I don’t want to hurt you, let’s just say we go our separate ways and you just forget you ever saw me.”

“I’ve got a better idea, how about you give each of us a turn in your sweet little manko and then we’ll think about letting you go.” He pulled a tanto out of his waistband, another drew a sword.

Ren pinched the bridge of her nose, a rage rising within her. This wasn’t the feeling she enjoyed, this was the cold deadness of necessity. The separation of the killer from herself. Her eyes flared to magenta; ice filled her veins. “Last chance.” Her voice was flat, a smarter man would have heeded the warning in it.

The first ronin advanced on her.

A wave of red washed over her, time slowed to a crawl. She stepped in, grasping his wrist, breaking it with a twist. A palm strike to the nose sent shards of bone into his brain. He dropped, she spun, moving like an eerily deadly shadow.

She was chest to chest with the second ronin, his sword was useless at this distance, she struck his throat, collapsing his trachea, he hit his knees, suffocating, breath wheezing. Her hands twisted his head with a sickening crack. The third was three steps away, still drawing his weapon. She kicked high, breaking his jaw, a spray of blood and teeth hit the wall. He went down hard on his side before her, begging, his eyes fearful. Time sped back up, she gazed impassively down at him, she saw herself reflected in those terror-stricken orbs. The cold, dead eyes of an assassin.

“Oni!” he warbled out fearfully. Yes, yes, she was. An icy smile curved on her lips; her next strike crushed his throat.

 

 

Shingen moved over her like a feral creature of lust, all rippling muscle and passion heated flesh. She pulled him to her, drowning in his kisses, giving him her breath and taking his. His lips were smeared crimson with her lipstick, storm grey eyes dark with passion. Her breasts rubbed against his broad muscled chest. His large hands pressed to her back, she was gasping. He filled her, surrounded her in his sweet musky scent. She gave everything of herself to him surrendering, she was his. His hips pressed to hers, muscles flexing as he drove into her. She relished in his strength, wrapping her legs around his hips, running her nails down his back. He gasped her name.

This Tiger was hers.

Ren sat up, panting for breath in her cold room. Her mind scrambled to catch up. She could still taste him, feel his heat on her flesh. The apex of her thighs was soaked in a slick heat, feminine flesh twitching in denial. She flopped back down onto her bedding, the room was suddenly too large, too empty. The entire world was pressing down on her, and she couldn’t breathe. She clawed at the covers, turning her face into them.

Ren could still smell a hint of his sweet musk on her clothes. She couldn’t stay here.

The kunoichi moved silently down the hall, pausing at the door to Shingen’s room. Her hand pressed to the frame. She could enter, he would accept her no questions asked. She knew his desire to bed her was that strong. Ren could have one hot sexy night with the most attractive man she’d ever laid eyes on. Would that get the desire for him out of her system? Feh, not likely, she knew it ran deeper than that.

She paused.

What if he hadn’t returned?

What if he was still seeking pleasures in the red-light district? An image of his long, strong limbs entwined with a faceless woman seared her thoughts. What then? Could she handle knowing that she mattered so little that he did stay out after she left him? She pressed her forehead to the door, rattling it softly. Why did she do this to herself? Once she had him, she’d never be able to go back to just being his blade. She blew out a long sigh, it was uncharacteristically loud in the silence of the dark hall.

“Ren?” His voice was a deep whisper directly on the other side of the door. It rattled and started to move. Ren was gone like a shadow in the twilight hours; she couldn’t face him right now.

 

Ren ended up at the door of her best friend. She tapped twice, then slid it open. The kunoichi padded silently to Sasuke’s futon, slipping in next to him. He rolled over, pulling her back to his chest, draping one arm around her waist. 

“Ren? What’s wrong?” His voice was rough with sleep, he fumbled for his glasses. She stilled his hand, bringing it back under the covers.

“Just dreams, I don’t want to be alone tonight.” He was warm and familiar, she felt safe. She needed to feel safe.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Did she?

Sasuke’s breath was warm against her neck. He gave her a small hug. “You know I’m always here for you if you need me.”

“I know.” She closed her eyes, she could still taste the heat of Shingen’s kiss, see that erotic crimson smear of her lipstick on his lips. She took in a deep breath and let it out shakily.

“I kissed Shingen today… twice.”

Sasuke stilled but said nothing.

“First, in the dojo, we were interrupted, I thought I came to my senses. Then tonight, I was stationed in the red-light district to listen for information. He came to the brothel I was at, I thought he knew I was assigned there. We were in a private room, and he was so passionately demanding. I desired him, I thought he came looking just for me.” She paused; her breath hitched. “But he didn’t know I’d be there, he was just prowling and found me.”

Sasuke rubbed her arm, trying to comfort her.

“Sasuke, I can’t be that with him. I care too much and he doesn’t care enough. If I give in, I’m just another conquest.”

“You’ve been casual in your affairs before, what’s different this time?” His voice was soft in the quiet of the room.

“I don’t want to be casual with Shingen, I want him, all of him. But I know whether it’s by his inevitable death in a few years or us leaving to go back through the time rift, I’ll have to say goodbye.” Tears slipped down her cheeks. “I don’t want to start something that is already destined to end tragically.”

He held her close and let her cry it out until sleep claimed them both.

 

 

Him

 

It had been two days since the red-light district, she had been actively avoiding him. Shingen pulled rank, summoning Ren to him. Her clothes and weapons from the brothel lay on his desk, she had left without them. The auburn-haired man ran through his mind what he wanted to say to her. This was so incredibly awkward; he couldn’t remember ever being so flustered around the fairer sex. He needed to put some distance between them. There was a knock on his door.

“Come.”

The door slid open, Ren stepped into his room. She was in a pale lavender women’s kimono, the color only highlighted her beautiful eyes. Her blonde hair was swept back from her face tied with a band of fabric that matched the kimono. A delicate perfume tickled his senses, he breathed it in, honey and wisteria. The longing in him was a painful ache.

She was lovely, demure, feminine, his heart railed against his chest. Someone he wanted to hold close and treasure. It just made this harder.

“Ren, thank you for coming.”

“Yes, my Lord.” Internally he winced at her flat tone. He missed her warmth.

“Would you like some tea?”

“No, thank you, my Lord.” Ren kneeled formally before him. Her back rigid, her eyes trained to the floor. Shingen decided to stay sitting at his desk, perhaps the distance would make this easier.

“I’ve brought the items you left behind.” He gestured to her belongings.

She nodded, “Thank you.”

“Ren, I’m sorry. I’ve overstepped and made you uncomfortable. That was never my intention, perhaps I read the situation wrong.”

“My Lord, there is no need to apologize, mistakes were made on both sides.” Her eyes met his, there was an intense solemn sadness in those violet depths. “I’ve asked you to be someone you are not. I am sorry for any misunderstandings between us.”

He nodded. “Are you still comfortable being my blade?”

“Always, my Lord, for as long as you desire to use me.”

That surprised him, her level of professional detachment.

“Would you be more comfortable being stationed apart from me for a while?” He startled himself by asking that question. Shingen had planned to send her out to the far reaches of Japan for a few months so that he could cool his head and refocus. But here he was, asking her opinion on being sent out. What the hell was he doing? He had never asked his mitsumono’s view of where he sent them.

Her violet eyes gazed pensively into his for long minutes. Ren’s face was a mask of serenity. Gone was the fiery kunoichi who left him at the brothel two days ago. There wasn’t a trace of anguish to her, just cool professionalism.

“If that is where my Lord most needs me, then that is where I shall go.”

“I think it may be for the best.” He rustled through some papers on his desk, mostly to keep his hands busy so he wouldn’t reach out to her…again. He couldn’t give her what she wanted, he obviously needed to let her go. “I’m going to send you to live in Azuchi, in the castle town. You’ll be given a stipend. Basically, just listen for information regarding Nobunaga and the local warlords aligned to him and report via courier back to me.”

Ren nodded her comprehension. “I have a request, my Lord.”

“Go on.”

“Please assign Sasuke as my courier? So that I can see him? I would miss him if I am gone that long.” 

Shingen’s chest suddenly ached painfully, he thought it was his illness acting up. He nodded, “I will do that for you.”

“I will encrypt my correspondence. I’ll leave the key with you before I depart.”

He nodded again, the silence awkward. Beautiful, eloquent phrases lived and died in his mind, never escaping his lips.

“My Lord Shingen,” She paused, waiting until he looked up. Finally, he did. Those violet eyes were so serious in her sharp-featured face, he wanted to take it all back, to ask her to stay. No, dammit this distance was needed. He had to get over this infatuation with her. “It is an honor to serve you.”

She picked up her belongings and left. He didn’t see her again for six months.

Chapter Text

Her

Ren had been in Azuchi for a few days, set up in a small apartment above a soba shop. The spring air was scented with newly bloomed flowers. She was out in the market, picking up some groceries when a man bumped into her. She lost her balance, packages tumbling to the ground, he caught her arm, pulling her back up. 

“Careful there, Kitten.” A sparkling blue eye twinkled at her. She gave him a warm smile.

“Thank you,” Ren leaned over to get her tumbled groceries, he stopped to help her pick them up. 

“Mmm, it looks like you are making a delicious meal.” His smile was a bit contagious. Ren took in the double swords, the mon on his cloak and his eye patch. She knew exactly who he was, it almost felt unfair how much she knew about him. Almost. But that is what the information game was all about.

“I am, but you know I always make too much for one person, would you like to join me for dinner?” She let a warm allure flow into her violet eyes, she batted snowy lashes at him. Ren was aware of how exotic she looked, Japanese…but not. He returned her smile with a wolfish grin. She let a sweet, girlish blush rise to her cheeks.

“As it turns out, I am free today, I would love to accept your invitation.” He nodded to her, “Date Masamune.”

“Tsukimi, I’m new in town, so it’s nice to meet a friendly face.”

“New! Well then,“ He took her packages from her bundling them into one sack and slinging them over his shoulder, “Let’s give you the grand tour.” He held his hand out to her. She slid her small hand into his, smiling coquettishly. 

“I would really love that.” Her voice held sweetness, her eyes innocent. She gave him a wink. 

After the tour, she brought Masamune back to her small apartment. They made dinner together, and he was beyond fun to cook with. He would feed her tidbits of food, slide in behind her, his lithe, muscular frame pressed to her back while she stirred pots. She traced small touches, a hand on his arm, a finger across the shoulders, seducing him slowly. The evening was full of flirtatious words and heated glances.

Ren took him to her bed that night, he was an exciting lover, adventurous. She made love to him like he was the only man in the world capable of ever pleasing her. She made all the right noises, all the perfect movements, everything that would hook a man and leave him begging for more.

When she closed her eyes, it was auburn hair she saw and smoky grey eyes. It was broad shoulders and that sweet musky scent that drove her to distraction. It was Shingen she made love to in that small apartment, not Masamune. It would always be Shingen.

Two days later, she had a job as a maid in Azuchi castle. Everything else was simplistically easy. No one expected the new maid to be a spy, especially not one sleeping with Masamune. Ren was aware the one-eyed warlord took his pleasures with whoever caught his eye. She worked hard to be his favorite lay.

Masamune was loose-tongued with his pillow talk, he liked his sex rough and usually wanted to chat afterward. Sometimes he just wanted to rest his head in her lap and talk about his day. She sat and listened like a good lover. Collecting all that information and sending it back to Shingen in her reports. She evaluated the other warlords, the rest weren’t worth fucking for information. Ren was careful to steer clear of Mitsuhide, he and she were cut from the same cloth. She recognized what he was the first time their eyes met. The games he would play with her would be risky and likely get her ensnared. Ren kept up her innocent façade and ghosted him with all the skill she possessed.

Nobunaga was a different story, she observed him and realized her body type wasn’t what he typically desired. Ren spent two months stuffing herself with carbs and sweets, rounding out her athletic lines. This weight was going to be hellish to get back off. She let her blond hair grow out until it almost brushed her jawline in an adorable bob. She padded her kimono slightly, making her appear even more curved, her waist smaller. Finally, she caught Nobunaga’s eye. He invited her to the Tenshu for weeks of sleepless nights. The real information gathering now began. He was more challenging. She had to immerse herself in the role she had created. She submitted to him to first earn his trust, and then his love. But when he took her to his bed, it wasn’t the devil king that she let claim her body, her song was never for him. Only the Tiger of Kai had her heart.

 

Him

The six months had crawled by, every day he missed her a little more. Fall had come by again, painting the landscape in reds and golds. His chest had been giving him issues, and he sipped a medicinal tea to try and clear it. Shingen mused over the last half-year. He had expected her to live in the castle town and report back what she saw and heard, but that is not what happened.

The regular reports he received via Sasuke were astonishingly detailed. From weapon supplies to the number of soldiers, down to financial capabilities, she had sent every lick of possible information all carefully encrypted with a code she had left for him.

She kneeled before him now, her hair was longer, and she had gained some weight rounding out her curves, making her appear softer, more feminine. Her violet eyes were trained to the floor, as she reported.

“These reports have been exemplary, excellent job Ren.”

“Thank you, my Lord, unfortunately, it is unlikely I could return. I left under some duress with the excuse that my mother was ill.” Shingen cocked his head curiously.

“May I ask how you got such detailed intelligence?”

“Pillow talk, my Lord, Date Masamune was an exceptionally easy target and well informed. However, if he puts it together that I am your spy, he will likely try to kill me on sight.” Her voice was flat, professional.

Shingen raised an eyebrow, “you became his lover?”

“As I said, my Lord, he was the easiest target to procure inside information once I took a maid position within the keep.” Her eyes didn’t meet his. She refused all of his advances because he was too promiscuous, but then she took an enemy lover during a mission to procure information. He pictured Date with his hands on her ivory skin, a bitter taste crept into his mouth.

“And the information you’ve sent in the last six weeks?” Shingen rested his hand on the scrolls, he had never seen such detailed work, it was literally like peering into the Devil King’s mind.

“Nobunaga’s latest plans for unification detailed by region, my Lord. It is all clearly outlined in my written report.”

“He allowed a maid to sit in on war councils?” Shingen knew the answer, for some reason he needed to twist the knife in his chest and hear her say it.

“No, my Lord.”

Shingen shifted uncomfortably, gesturing for her to elaborate.

“Nobunaga does not sleep well at night and prefers female companionship to pass the time. He enjoyed talking strategy with me over games of Go.

“Were you also his lover?” Shingen frowned, feeling the jealousy burn, something else the devil king had stolen from him. He ran a hand over his face, what was he thinking, she was never his.

“Irrelevant, my Lord. You have the information you requested.” Her eyes focused over his shoulder. No emotion showed.

He lowered his voice, he had never questioned a kunoichi like this, why was he like this? Why couldn’t he stop prodding? Every word scraped against his nerves. “Were you his lover?”

“He was more difficult, my Lord. Nobunaga is a suspicious man, and he prefers his women soft. I will lose the weight and be back in fighting shape in a month.” Ren avoided his question. She had taken two of his enemies to bed yet still refused him.

“Ren did you-“

Shingen.” Her voice cut. The use of his name without title made him pause. Ren’s eyes were a hot, angry magenta boring into his own. “I did what I had to for the mission you assigned to me. I played a part; it was nothing more. It is inappropriate to grill me for explicit details on how the information was acquired. You have the intel. It is more than adequate for your needs to retake Kai, are you not satisfied?”

He nodded, his cheeks colored slightly at his embarrassing personal slip and her need to correct him.

He cleared his throat. “It’s good to have you back Ren, I missed seeing my most lovely blade.” He changed his tone back to the usual suaveness, his congenial mask sliding into place, hiding the hurt. 

“I know you did, My Lord.” She took a deep breath and gave him a sincere smile. “May I be excused, Lord Shingen? I’m rather exhausted.”

“Take a few days off my little bird, congratulations on a job well done.” He smiled, relaxing once more, then a thought crossed his mind. 

“Ren?”

She paused at the door.

“What was the duress you spoke of? You weren’t injured, were you?”

“Oh, Masamune had become increasingly unhappy that Nobu had “stolen” his favorite new toy. Neither were willing to share and the situation was getting tense, so it was time for me to depart. I misjudged their degree of interest in me.” Her back was to him, she spoke casually, but her body language was rigid.

“I see, would Nobunaga also have you killed if he discovered you were one of my mitsumono?”

Ren’s violet eyes flashed a playful look at him over her shoulder, “Don’t be ridiculous Shingen, he would demand me back.” She passed through the door, silently sliding it closed.

He cradled his head in his hand, six months had not doused the flames that burned in his heart for her. He thought this was lust, that absence would be the cure. That burying himself in other women would be the cure…it was not. She was who he wanted.

Chapter Text

Him

The next time he saw Ren, her hair was shorn short again into the familiar spikes. He had braved the chilly weather and the tightness in his chest to stop by the dojo during her class. Ren was drilling mitsumono on hand to hand combat. He paused in appreciation. Her students moved with the same grace and skill as their teacher. He already saw her dropping the weight quickly, stripping her body back to its lithe, muscular state. He would sit on the balcony in the morning, watching her run tirelessly through the snowy gardens, lapping it for well over an hour before heading to teach her class. Her dedication was admirable. The winter months flew by. He passed over the distant missions that could have been assigned to her. He didn’t want her that far from him again, he didn’t want her in another man’s bed regardless if it was for a mission. Shingen invited her to play strategy games with him, to speak to him about different academic topics. He was pleasantly surprised that she was well acquainted with the teachings of Sun Tzu, and they would sometimes hold debates until the late hours of the evening. When she had time, they would take their meals together. They had formed an easy friendship that warmed his heart. He was careful not to broach anything more. His desire for her still burned, he just kept it carefully concealed when she was near, or so he thought.

 

This morning he enjoyed tea and sweet buns on the balcony. It had been two years since Ren’s arrival, and spring was scenting the warm air with cherry blossoms. Ren and Sasuke were below shooting archery in the garden courtyard. He wished he had the platonic closeness Sasuke enjoyed with her instead of the constant longing in his heart. After a witty exchange with her, Shingen dropped her arrow back to the ground. He stepped inside his quarters with a trace of sadness. Yuki followed him in.

“Lord Shingen, with the information you’ve received, we should be ready to move out soon. It’s time for the war to begin. It’s time we got Kai back.”

Shingen nodded, “I’ll speak to Kenshin tomorrow and form the war council.” He took another bite of the sweet bun, but the taste was ash in his mouth.

 

Her

Ren ran her hand over the bow before sliding it into the leather case over her shoulder. She picked up her arrows, placing them in the quiver strapped to her thigh.

Her eyes glanced up to the empty balcony

It’s better this way. Kunoichi and Lord

It was more than a simple crush. She knew she loved him, and that she could never have him to herself. This wouldn’t end well. He’d likely just get his taste of her and casually move on anyway. Like he always does with his women. She blew out a sigh.

Sasuke side-eyed her. “Did you need me to go tell him you like him? Maybe pass him a note?”

“Dear Shingen, Come get me while my juicy thighs are still thick, much love Ren.” Sasuke teased in a high-pitched voice. He darted away when she moved to smack him. “Too slow there, miss booty. Looks like you’ve still got too much konpeitō in your jiggle.” Sasuke sprinted across the garden tossing a handful of ground spikes behind him. She leaped to the trees, quickly overtaking him and tackling him to the ground. 

“I believe this calls for tickle torture!” she feathered her fingers over his ribs. He curled himself up into a ball, squealing. She cackled, “Oh, how the mighty ninja Sasuke was brought low!” 

 

A month had gone by, Ren had finally trimmed off her excess weight from Azuchi. That had taken longer than she thought, and she blamed it on her newfound craving for sweets. Ren knew a war was looming. Shingen wanted Kai back, she had given him the intel to accomplish it. It was predawn in the dojo. Ren had lit a single lantern, then slowly started going through her kata. Her eyes closed, she heard his familiar footsteps approach. She could smell the enticing scent of his skin when he leaned on the doorframe, watching her.

“It’s early.” Ren opened her eyes. She stood on one leg extending her other leg and arm outward in a long stretch.

“It is.” He agreed. She glanced at him, his hair was mussed, dark shadows ringed his eyes. He watched her peacefully. Ren continued, letting him enjoy the view.

“Can’t sleep?” She raised her arms toward the ceiling, then swept back toward the floor. Every line was beautiful.

“Not really, my goddess.” He sounded so tired.

“Come talk to me, Shingen.” She smiled, beckoning him forward. He looked like he had been up all night. Ren frowned a moment in concern then put her back to the wall taking a seat, gesturing for him to sit between her thighs. Shingen raised a brow. “Sit.”

He sat down. Ren slowly worked the stiff muscles of his lower back, moving up toward his shoulders. He leaned forward, grunting softly.

“Talk to me.”

“I’ve been coordinating the retaking of Kai. It’s a lot, little bird, I don’t want to burden you.”

“Shingen, if you can’t trust me, who can you trust? I’m not skilled in large scale military strategy, but I’m happy to listen if you need a sounding board or just someone to lean on.” Ren stood; he was too tall for her to properly reach his shoulders while sitting. She could feel him slowly relaxing. 

He smiled, “I’ve always trusted you, Ren, my most lovely blade.”

She leaned an elbow into a particularly hard knot, massaging it out. 

“This is the part where you string your eloquent words together.” That got her a small smile. She continued working the warlord over until his muscles were loose again, but no words came. Ren sat back down behind him. Shingen slid down onto the floor, resting his head in her lap.

“Can we just sit like this a while?” His voice was a soft request, from friend to friend. Ren ran her fingers through his auburn hair, heart squeezing at his sadness. 

“As long as you desire Tiger, I’m here for you.” Ren continued stroking his hair, Shingen pressed a kiss to her thigh then closed his eyes. His breathing evened out in minutes, and he slept.

Him

They walked together through the fields and down into the woods past the castle town. It was her suggestion to clear his head. He felt a little guilty that he had used her for a pillow for three hours. She only woke him when men started arriving for a class. He still remembered the faint blush on her cheeks. Something inside him was pleased he could even affect her that way. He took her hand as they walked, she didn’t press him to speak this time. Ren had changed into her snug dark clothes, she was armed with her tanto and the strange bow. His lip quirked; she was always on duty. Always unnecessarily guarding him.

“You know, I realized… I don’t know much about you.” He traced his thumb along the inside of her palm in slow circles. Ren chuckled and seemed to bite back a retort.

“What would you like to know?” She picked her way noiselessly over some rocks then turned to assist him.

“Do you have family?”

“Mmm no, they have all passed. I just have Sasuke.”

“No siblings?”

“My mother died when I was young, I was an only child. We lived in Japan but my father…traveled…a lot. He was killed when I was sixteen. Sasuke was always there for me like a brother, but he went away to school at seventeen, and I was recruited to the…to be a kunoichi.”

He noticed the pauses and change of words, filing that information away for later.

“Recruited by whom?” Shingen studied her profile, her eyes seemed distant.

“A friend…no, associate…of my father’s came to fetch me shortly after his death. I was moved to the west so it would be years until I saw Sasuke again. They had promised to see I was cared for in the event of his…” She trailed off.

“You and Sasuke never were together?” He tried to change the subject and the question slipped out, mentally he winced. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t pry.”

“No, it’s ok, Shingen, it’s as I’ve said he’s like a brother. I always made sure to see him when I was visiting Japan. I’m affectionate toward him, but I don’t have intimate feelings for him. We were never like that. He’s no one for you to be jealous over.”

A faint pink colored Shingen’s cheeks. Ren looked up at him, smiling gently. She gave his hand a squeeze.

“What did your father do?”

“He was an agent, a spy, similar to me. He was the one who taught me…one day he didn’t come home.” Shingen glanced down at her, her violet eyes were glassy with tears. He stopped, and held her in his arms a moment, she didn’t resist. “You know, that is something I like about here. Where I am from if you are a spy, having a family is a liability. Most of us don’t have friends either. We move from place to place changing names changing identities, we are shadows in the world not a part of it. I went where I was told to go, did what I was told to do. Here I still have missions but it feels a little closer, a little more like home, people care about each other. I feel like I’m treated like a person, not a tool.”

Shingen paused a moment, then dared to press a kiss to her forehead. “I missed you terribly while you were gone.” His voice was soft, no flowery words, just the simple truth.

“I missed you too.” She put her arms around his waist resting her head on his broad chest. It felt comforting having her so close again.

“I’m sorry I grilled you about your mission when you returned,” He paused then admitted, “I was envious of them, they had what I desired.”

“I was always trained to do whatever was necessary to complete the mission. Who do you think I held in my mind so that I could even do that? They never really had me, they had a woman named Tsukimi who has a sick mother in northern Japan. You had nothing to be jealous over.”

He closed his eyes, resting his chin on the top of her head. “You thought of me?”

“Shingen, it’s always been you.”

She suddenly tensed. “We have company.” Her voice was steel as she whispered the information to him. “I’ve got three archers in the trees at your back at about 50 paces. Do you see anything on your side? Keep it casual." She kissed along his cheek, sliding her hand closer to her bow case, flipping open the catch.

“I don’t see anyone.” He nuzzled her neck, gazing into the trees.

“Kiss me and spin me slow to face that direction.” He did as he was told, too tense to enjoy the feel of her lips on his again. 

“There’s five in the grass and two more in the trees.” She whispered against his lips. “Tiger, when I tell you, I’m gonna need you to hit the ground and stay flat until I take care of the archers in the trees. If they come in melee before I finish the range, I need you to handle it.”

She pulled back her violet eyes gazing into his. From a distance, he was sure they looked like lovers. Her eyes were full of steel. She leaned forward, kissing him, leaving Shingen breathless.

“For luck,” a wink, “hit the ground.”

He never even saw her pull the bow from the case or knock the black-bladed arrow from her thigh quiver. The string thrummed as he pressed to the ground. Two fired off in rapid succession. Two shadows fell from the trees. She had already spun firing off three more in a breath. Shingen looked up, five hooded men rushed them from the front. Three from behind. 

“Dammit, take the three.” She commanded, putting her back to his as he stood. Her bow thrummed, now there were four.

He drew his nodachi, taking a stance, waiting for them to get closer. She pulled her tanto.

He sliced downward in one swath cleaving the three attackers. He continued the motion, turning to see if Ren needed help. She had already closed. Three of the attackers lay prone but not dead on the ground. She knocked out the fourth one as he watched. A small blade whistled by from their flank, five more attackers jumped up from the grass, charging. The blade nicked his arm, Ren turned seeing the blood. 

“My Lord, stay behind me.” Her whole demeanor had changed, her magenta eyes were ice. She charged.

Her speed was breathtaking. She wasn’t disabling anymore. She threw her tanto into the eye of the man who wounded Shingen. Her off-hand knife was buried into a throat of the next. The rest of the unarmed movements were too fast to see. Each strike was fatal, not a motion was wasted. There was no fancy twirling, there was an economy to the slaughter that was impressively terrifying. Ren scanned their surroundings, then pulled her blades from the dead men, wiping them off on their clothes. She dropped to one knee, cutting the throats of three of the men she disabled. The fourth man she stuck her hand in his mouth, digging something out, then slapped him hard.

He moaned. She hit him again, his eyes rolled. “I will keep you alive if you tell me what I need, every moment you remain silent will be pain.” He bit down.

“Oh no sunshine, that option is already off the table. The Oni owns your soul now.” Her voice was frost. She pulled a length of cord from her pouch, tying him face down. Her knee rested on the back of his neck.

Shingen scanned the area, all was silent. 

She took up his bound hand, sliding the point of her knife under the nail. He screamed.

“Who sent you.” The man went silent.

She shoved the knife under the next nail. He screamed louder.

“I will be rewarded in the afterlife!”

“Fuck, I hate zealots.” She looked up at Shingen. “Any idea who sent these idiots to kill you?”

There was nothing in her eyes that was recognizable, her face was a mask of ice. Shingen tore his eyes from her and looked to the man. 

“No.”

“I don’t want you to see this, would you please keep a lookout of the area for me? Over there.” She nodded to a tree twenty paces away. She turned back to the man slicing his kimono open. She leaned forward whispering, he started whimpering. Cold eyes flashed back to Shingen, “Go.”

The screaming seemed to go on for far longer than it should of until the man started to talk. Shingen shifted uncomfortably. This was different than battle, different than her stated beliefs. He glanced over, she was still kneeling on his neck, his hands bled, skin flayed. It appeared she was cutting into his ribcage, pulling out red matter.

Shingen looked away, swallowing hard. He had misjudged her, she was a killer.

The assassin walked up to him cleaning her hands on a scrap of cloth, then she dropped it to the ground, this was not the woman who had held him and kissed him a short time ago.

“Ikkō-ikki, seems like they may give you some issues in the future. This group was acting independently.”

Shingen studied her eyes, it was like Ren wasn’t behind them. The woman’s eyes fell to the cut on his shoulder, she blinked a few times, and the soft violet he was familiar with came back.

“Oh, you’re hurt, let me tend that.” She gently pushed him down to kneel so that she could reach his shoulder.

“It’s nothing, just a shallow cut.” He was shocked by her abrupt shift in demeanor.

 She took a few items out of her bag, cleaned the wound, checked it for toxins, and then bandaged him up.

“Let’s get back home?” She squeezed his hand, helping him up. “That nodachi swing was impressive.”

 Shingen nodded, still in shock.

What exactly just happened back there?

“Ren, what just happened to you?” he asked softly, “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine, Shingen, it’s just a mission. Let’s get you back to the castle.”

 

She had escorted him to his rooms then left to get cleaned up. He sat down, contemplating what he had witnessed. He’d really never seen her in action before.

She just took out over a dozen men, alone. He blinked, letting that information process through. And then tortured information out of one in a brutally efficient way. She even knew to swab out the cyanide tablet.

Who did she become when she killed?

There were times he honestly thought she was a spirit descended from the heavens to watch over him.

The Oni owns your soul now

He shivered, he needed to speak to Sasuke.

 

“Sasuke, it’s Shingen. May I have a moment?”

“Come.”

Shingen slid the door open, the ninja gestured him in, sitting by a small kitchen hearth at the center of the room. He appeared to be making smoke bombs.

“I’ll get right to the point. Ren and I were attacked today while walking in the woods nearby.”

“Is she ok?” Sasuke started to rise, the older man placed a hand on his shoulder. “She’s fine, not a scratch on her. But it is the first time I’ve seen her kill.”

Sasuke glanced at his bandaged arm and nodded.

“You’ve been on missions with her.”

“Yes, she’s killed, so I haven’t had to,” Sasuke admitted. Shingen blinked,

“I’ve only ever seen her use disabling moves.”

“She only kills when necessary, and it seems she’s compartmented part of herself to handle the emotional stress of it. I imagine if you got cut she went into kill mode? It happened on one of our missions as well. I got a minor injury, and she just slaughtered every opponent in the area within seconds.”

“Is she dangerous?” Shingen asked in a low voice.

“Are your soldiers dangerous? Of course, she is if you are on the wrong end of her attack. You’ve seen her other side Lord Shingen, she’s a teacher, she’s a healer, she’s our friend. She’s not just a killer.”

“So that coldness is how she protects herself from it.” Shingen nodded to himself.

“You’ve killed on the battlefield, Lord Shingen, I’m sure you’ve rationalized the loss of life to make it easier to bear. Her entire existence has been based in that since she was sixteen. You see her as a skilled woman, they saw her only as a finely-honed weapon. She’s still human, she had to find some way to cope.” Sasuke finished tying off a small package.

“Thank you for your insight Sasuke.”

The younger man nodded. “It’s better for her here, you know? You’ve gifted her a sense of family she never had where we are from.”

Shingen gave him a small smile and exited the room.

 

Chapter Text

Him

Weeks rolled by, and Shingen was too busy with war council meetings and reports to even see Ren more than in passing. The warmth of early summer kept his struggles with his illness to a minimum. His healer had sent him a new powdered mixture that seemed to be effective with keeping his lungs clear. The information Ren provided allowed him to start skirmishes along border areas, slowly claiming back land until they were poised to retake Kai. It was all he wanted, and it was happening with very little loss of life due to the intelligence he received from her time in Azuchi. 

Shingen paused in writing his missives, the lantern burning low at his desk. He remembered her say she discussed strategy with Nobunaga into the night. Is that how she was able to target key areas? He had never really discussed Kai with her at all, just casually. How had she known what maneuvers to suggest in her mission notes? Typically, Kunoichi were used in the shadows, not on the battlefield, subterfuge not being considered honorable combat. However, she was something more than that. His mind drifted to her swiftness when she guarded him. He set the brush down, resting his head in one hand. How could he think of putting her in danger to guard him in battle? How could he not? Shingen rubbed his brow, an ache from strain settling in his forehead. It was late into the evening, well after sunset when a knock came.

“Lord Shingen, it’s Ren. I saw your light on.”

“Come.”

Ren balanced a tray on her hip, sliding open the door. He set what he was working on aside to give her his full attention.

“I know it’s a bit late for visiting, but I thought you could use a break.” She smiled at him warmly, setting tea and his favorite sweets on his desk. “I picked these up in town for you today.”

She was wearing his gift. A pale women’s kimono emblazoned with the Takeda mon. Plum blossoms decorated the silk of the gossamer fabric. 

“My Angel is here to rescue me from a mountain of work, offering a sweet treat,” he winked at her. “And some pastries.”

“Oh, Shingen!” Her blush was exquisitely lovely. It was hard for him to reconcile that this was the same woman that killed over a dozen men in a field a few weeks before. A shadow passed over his eyes.

Ren studied him. “I know you are busy, I’ll be going.”

He noticed there were two cups placed with the tea service. “No, please. It’s been so long since we’ve had time to talk. Sit and share this with me.” She smiled, settling herself on the tatami mat. He moved from behind the desk sitting beside her. He breathed deep, the delicate scent of honey and wisteria perfume filled his senses, so different than the usual oiled steel and leather undertones she usually smelled of. Shingen could still detect that addictive spice scent that always clung to her skin.

She finished whisking the tea and handed him a cup.

“You look lovely tonight, like a goddess of spring.” His eyes gazed into hers. Snowy lashes fluttered over darkening violet eyes. A smile teased at her lips.

She eyed the mound of paperwork on his desk. “Is there anything I can help you with?” Shingen took a bite of the glazed pastry chewing thoughtfully.

“There is. But the request is an unusual one.”

She cocked an eyebrow at him, sipping her tea.

“We are riding into battle shortly to reclaim Kai, your information has proven invaluable.”

Ren nodded, she took the last bite of a gooey treat and licked off her fingers. Shingen paused, watching her, his thoughts scattered for the moment. She glanced at him and grinned.

“Apologies, please continue.” She didn’t sound very apologetic, inwardly he smirked.

“I want you to come with me.”

Ren looked surprised, “Kunoichi are not typically used on the battlefield? In what respect do you desire me there?”

“We both know your skills are far more than that. I desire you there as my personal guard, you see what others do not. I can trust you to swiftly eliminate any threats to my person, leaving me to only concern myself with the battle itself.” 

“As you wish, my Lord.” She gave him a small bow.

“Ren,” his hand covered hers, “you may decline me. I am asking a lot from you. You will be in the thick of battle, not in the shadows. I hate placing you in that danger, however-“

“It is the most practical use for your most lovely blade.” Her eyes held his.

“Think on it?” He sipped his tea.

“I accept.”

“You don’t have to answer now Ren-“

“Shingen,” she said softly “I don’t think you fully comprehend the lengths I would go through to keep you safe.”

He nodded, looking down into his tea, “I’ll have armor made for you.”

“Keep it light and noiseless, or you’ll just slow me down.”

“I don’t think anything could slow you down, little bird, you move like the wind. These eyes have never seen a more glorious sight. You are truly a goddess.”

“I’m still human Shingen, it’s not like I have supernatural powers, I’m simply well trained from a young age.” She smiled, bumping her shoulder against his, “More tea?”

“Yes, please.” He passed his cup to her. Shingen’s fingers traced the mon on her shoulder. “You look beautiful in my house symbol.”

“Well, this mysterious package arrived in my room with this stunning kimono in it, I couldn’t imagine the occasion.” She smirked, holding her sleeve back gracefully as the steaming liquid poured into his cup.

“It was a thank you for saving my life.” He murmured softly.

“You would have done fine on your own. After all, you’ve often told me you don’t need guarding.”

“I was wrong, I need my guardian Angel, sent from the heavens.” His fingers brushed against her cheek.

Violet eyes flicked to his as she handed the cup back to him. He could see she held back words she wanted to say, words that would likely change everything between them. It wasn’t something he had the luxury of coping with right now, so he just enjoyed her company.

Her

Ren held back the words that rushed to her lips, taking another bite of sweet bun. She had come here tonight to come clean on who she was. That she came from the future, that she would eventually return to that future. His gift had been startlingly personal and spoke of a desire far beyond a single night’s tryst. She didn’t want secrets or misunderstandings between them anymore.

His personal guard. Her sense of duty overrode any desires as a woman. This talk would have to wait for another time. It was more important to help him get Kai back, she mused how that might change history…perhaps for the better. Of the warlords in this era, his progressiveness had always stood out to her. If he had not died, she always wondered what more he could have accomplished. It felt right to do something for the greater good here. In her time, she was used as a tool to achieve government goals, the right and wrong were a very grey area that her training taught her not to question. It was rare she was treated as a person, and she had felt herself sinking more and more into the darker side of her persona.

Visiting with Sasuke after so long had helped pull her out of that downward spiral. Being treated well by the Takeda clan made her feel like a person again. Sure, he teasingly called her “His most lovely blade,” but it was evident that he respected her as a woman, not just a tool to be used.

It didn’t hurt to be a blade in hands she admired.

That was the most significant difference, she respected and admired Shingen. Before her assignments were just that, she worked like a well-oiled machine. Now she did it to reach a commonly held goal for a Lord she loved.

Loved

Did he realize that? With as observant as he was, how could he possibly not pick up on her feelings?

She studied him, he looked tired. Shingen’s auburn hair was mussed, he needed a shave. Dark shadows ringed his eyes. He had too many other concerns to worry about one woman. Ren reached out, ruffling her hand through his hair, his eyes slid closed at her touch.

“You should get some sleep, Shingen.” 

Soft grey eyes opened, gazing into hers. Shingen’s lips parted, a request behind them. She knew what it was and couldn’t bear to hear it at that moment. She couldn’t stay the night with him, that door couldn’t be shut once opened. Ren stood, tore her eyes from his, then cleaned up the tray to take with her.

“Goodnight, my Lord.”

“Goodnight, Ren.”

Chapter Text

Him

A few weeks later, they were on the road, it was high summer, and the sun glared relentlessly. As promised, Shingen had fitted leather armor made for her. It was sleek, light, flexible, and silent. Sasuke had helped design it. None of the noisy lacquered plackets the samurai wore. She rode with her open bow case on her saddle, her quiver strapped to her thigh. He had a hood and cloth mask made for her to cover that white-blond hair and hide her face. The visage of an Oni was painted on it in dark blue. He had the Takeda mon embossed on the leather over her heart. He saw her fingers reach up to trace the raised design as they rode side by side. Shingen smiled.

Kunoichi and Lord weren’t enough to describe what they were anymore, but damn if they didn’t cut a fine figure together. They were heading into a wooded area. She pulled her bow, tossing him the reins to her horse. 

“I’m going to scout ahead, I’ll rejoin you before nightfall.” She pulled the cloth mask up over her nose. With her violet eyes, she did indeed look like a supernatural creature. She stood on her horse and leaped into the closest tree, running along the branches and disappearing into the woods. He tied her horse off to his. Yuki rode up beside him.

“Shingen are you certain you want her in this battle, it doesn’t seem a place for a woman.” The young general looked concerned. “It’s not like you to let yourself be distracted from the battle by a female.”

Shingen chuckled, “On the contrary, she is here so I can focus on the battle. Yuki, is that why you think I brought her? To warm my bed?”

“Isn’t it?”

“She has never warmed my bed Yukimura.” Yuki looked surprised.

“I thought you two had…well. “ He blushed, “ I know you have relations with a lot of your kunoichi.” 

“Let me ask you this... if she were male, would you consider her an accomplished warrior?”

Yuki looked thoughtful as he mulled over the question. Shingen knew he had sparred with her but never saw her outside the dojo. Ren’s reputation had grown to almost legendary proportions recently. They whispered she was the daughter of Fūjin, god of the wind. That at night, in the shadows, she changed into a fierce demon.

“If she were male, I would not question your choice, my Lord.”

“Then you should not question it at all.” Shingen’s smile did not reach his eyes.

Her

Ren bounded from tree to tree, quickly overtaking the front of the column of soldiers. A rustle made her glance to the right, Sasuke was a few trees over, shadowing her. 

She winked and picked up speed. 

They raced through the trees in a whirlwind dance. Ren felt free, breathed deep. She hit the forest floor, flitting soundlessly along a deer trail. After an hour, she slowed. They got a drink by a stream, Sasuke was panting slightly.

“Do you want to head back?” He lowered his hood, running a hand through damp hair.

“Mmmm no. We can meet up with them tonight. I want to make sure the way ahead is clear. We should be out about ten miles from the column now. Are you coming with me, or did Kenshin demand your presence for the entire ride?”

“I’ll stay with you.” He pulled his hood back up. “Do you expect an ambush?”

“Yes. I’m just not sure who. When we find it, I’ll knock one out and drag him off so we can see whose man he is.” Sasuke nodded, and they were running again.

 

It didn’t take much longer to find the ambush, five archers were in the trees above the main road. Sasuke crouched with Ren deeper in the woods. 

“You could take all five out from here.” He whispered.

“I want to know whose men they are.” She eyed them. “Our troops are at least two hours behind us, what if these schmucks are just local bandits.”

One of the men dropped from the trees slinging his bow over his shoulder and walking into some dense brush.

“I’ll go get the crapper, be right back.” Ren grinned, Sasuke rolled his eyes.

Ten minutes and five dead Ikkō-ikki later, Ren was searching through their clothes.

“Uggg, don’t these monks ever bathe? I don’t recall this sect being an issue for Shingen in history.”

Sasuke shrugged, “Us just being here alters things, isn’t this your second run-in with them?”

“Yea and they’ve got nothing. Let’s get these bodies dumped and keep moving ahead. I want the way cleared.”

They found two more ambushes and took them out before circling back to the column toward the end of the day. Twilight was settling over the camp when Ren slipped into Shingen’s command tent. She pulled the hood off her head, ruffling her sweat-dampened hair. Shingen was speaking to one of his generals, his eye caught hers, and he excused the man. She stepped forward, taking a knee before him.

 

Him

Ren took a knee before him, her blonde hair glittered damply in the torchlight.

“My Lord”

“Ren, there is no need to be so formal between us, come sit and tell me what you found. Dinner was just brought.” He led her to a small table sitting across from her. Two servings of soup and rice balls were laid out along with tea. She raised an eyebrow at him.

“I knew you would be hungry when you returned, there is also wash water behind the screen. “ He nodded to a canvas draped corner of the tent.

“It must be good to be the Lord.” The corner of her lip tugged upward.

“It has its perks, comfortable camping, good food, a beautiful woman.” He winked at her, “Who should be eating while she gives her report to her Lord.”

“We ran into three ambushes along the road and eliminated them, it seems the Ikkō-ikki are interested in you. It’s the one group I can’t infiltrate because they are all men. I just don’t have the supplies here to look male enough to pass.”

Shingen raised an eyebrow, “have you passed as a man before?” He couldn’t help but let his eyes sweep over her curves, he couldn’t imagine passing that off as male, or those beautiful eyes.

“I have, but it takes a lot of…cosmetics.” She took a bite of the rice ball and then was silent a few moments as she just dug in ravenously. He watched, enjoying just being with her after a long day of riding.

“Anyway, Sasuke and I will take turns patrolling the inside of the camp tonight. We both need a couple hours of sleep, and then we’ll start. He’s checking in with Kenshin now.” She glanced up a moment. “I assume you’ll be talking to your generals for the next few hours and generally be in this tent?”

Shingen nodded, tipping the bowl to his lips and drinking the broth. 

“May I sleep here?”

His heart slammed against his ribcage. He set the bowl down, using the movement to cover his surprise. 

“My goddess, I thought you’d never ask.” He smiled flirtatiously.

She smirked and took another sip of tea. “Just sleep Shingen, I’ll put my bedroll in the corner, get cleaned up and take a nap. I feel safe near you, and this way, if anything crazy busts into your tent, I’m already here.”

Everything, after I feel safe near you, got lost in the buzzing of his mind.

“At any rate, Ikkō-ikki, get your mitsumono on that and figure out what’s going on. I don’t have time to decimate an entire religious sect.” She took the last bite of the rice ball. “Shingen?”

“Yes,” he covered smoothly. “My home is yours, my goddess.”

“Shingen, did you hear what I said?”

A faint blush colored his cheeks. His mind quickly pulled the words she said back up for review. He nodded.

“Let me get you some soap to wash with.”

 

The next few hours were a blur of meetings and individuals reporting in. In the few moments of silence, when the tent was clear, he just gazed at her. Ren lay curled on her side on her bedroll, tucked in an inobtrusive corner. She blended in with the shadows except for that short white-blonde hair. Her chest moved evenly in slumber, her face peaceful.

“My Lord, you are needed on the east side of the encampment.” Shingen nodded rising. Ren was instantly a step behind him, alert, poised. Her bow in hand.

“Ren, rest, I’ll be in the encampment.” He put a hand on her shoulder.

“No.” She glanced at the other man, her tone turned formal. “My Lord Shingen, I will accompany you.” She pulled her hood up over her hair and dropped behind him a few steps as they made their way to the other side of camp, Yuki joined them along the path, chatting amiably. Shingen glanced back at Ren, she was eerily still, absolutely silent as she walked with them. They stopped at a large campfire, she stayed in the darkness outside the ring of light. They moved on, Yuki continuing to discuss the cavalry plans for the upcoming battle.

Chapter Text

Her

Something was off about the man requesting Shingen’s attention. Then she realized he had the same unwashed incense stink on his clothes the ambushers had. Ren fell into step behind them, then Yuki joined in. She paused outside the fire watching the man. No, the hit would not come from him. Her eyes scanned the darkness. Her mind filtered out all the background noise all the normal camp sounds, the men talking, the noise of horses. Ren listened for the sound that didn’t belong. Energy hummed along her extremities. Shingen moved from the flames, walking around the backside of the camp. A branch snapped high above.

There.

A glint from the trees twelve feet up, twenty paces. Her bowstring thrummed, a shadow hit the ground. Noise rose in excitement; it hummed in the back of her mind. Her blade was already pressed to the other man’s throat. 

“Start talking, every moment you remain silent will be pain.” 

Him

Her eyes were the intense magenta of the assassin. 

“Yuki, double up the guards on the perimeter.”

“Ren, we have enough men here. We’ll take him back to the tent. “ He kept his voice quiet, calm, he didn’t need public torture happening in the middle of his camp. Two nearby men grabbed the man up, tying his hands.

“The sniper from the tree should only be wounded, he can also be questioned if the fall didn’t kill him.” Her voice was flat, Shingen nodded to a nearby vassal to handle it.

“Ren, I need you to come back to me. I’m safe now.” Shingen touched her shoulder

She blinked. 

“How did you know?” Shingen gently rubbed her shoulder, seeing her violet eyes go soft again.

“He stunk of old incense the same as the Ikkō-ikki earlier today.”

“And the sniper in the tree?”

“He snapped a small branch, I heard it when he moved on the limb. Then I saw the glint off the tip of his arrow.”

Shingen nodded, he chose well, bringing her, but he was concerned about her well-being. What was the price of her being immersed in the assassin? “Let’s go back to my tent. We can question the man there.”

She nodded. “Do you have people to do that?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll escort you to your tent, then check the camp perimeter.” 

Ren walked him back to the tent. She slipped the face cover up, leaving just her violet eyes showing. The Oni visage painted on the mask was more terrifying than he ever intended it to be.

“Be careful.” He wanted to hold her to him, to ask her not to go, to see her smile again as she had at dinner.

She slipped into the darkness.

Her

She moved in the night like she was a part of it, her senses fully extended. If there were two, there were more. The first circle of the camp perimeter yielded nothing. She saw more guards coming in, she silently passed by Yukimura twice. She pushed out father. 

A tree rustled, she paused. A figure wrapped in black with a bow moved from branch to branch. She scented the air. Her bolt hit his throat. Eyes cold, she checked the man, pulling her bolt out, examined it for damage, and cleaned it. So, they had shinobi as well. Not good ones apparently from all the noise he made. She looked up at the crescent moon, it was going to be a long night hunting.

 

Him

She stepped into his tent, the face-covering draped loosely around her neck. She pulled the hood from her short-spiked hair running a gloved hand through it. The morning was already warm, but she looked fresh and well-rested. 

Ren took a knee before him.

“My Lord, I’m here to report.”

Shingen finished writing his missive and sealed it, handing it to the waiting page. He nodded.

“There was seven more last night ranged out as far as five miles, they’ve been eliminated. The patrols on the camp are currently adequate. I will continue to keep watch at night.”

“Thank you, my most lovely blade, have you slept?”

“I am fine, my Lord.”

“I’ve left breakfast on the table for you.” 

Her eyes flicked to the table, there was rice porridge and a tray of sweets. A smirk crossed her face.

She rose and sat at the table, pouring herself tea and tucking into the porridge. Shingen joined her.

“Is there something you find amusing?” His voice was light, her grin was an unexpected treat.

“Shingen, I wish I had your metabolism. If I ate all the sweets you eat, it would go right to my hips.”

“If I were a sweet treat, I could think of no better place to go to then your delicious hips.” Shingen gave her a grin, the tiger glinting in his grey eyes.

“You are a sweet treat, but I am positive you’d be so very bad for me.” She positively purred back with a wink. Ren bit into one of the pastries letting out a soft moan of pleasure, she licked the gooey molasses off her fingertips.

“Only as bad as you wanted me to be my goddess.” Internally Shingen groaned his control barely in place. He knew what he wanted for breakfast…

The grin she shot him made him wish they were home instead of on the road heading into a war.

“All right, Tiger time for business, or I’ll start going all “my Lord” on you.” She laid the empty bowl to the side. He smiled, they were a good match for each other.

“We have two more days of riding until we hit the location the battle will take place.” He took another bite-sized bun chewing it thoughtfully. “I have you bunked with Sasuke for the duration if that is acceptable? Once the permanent encampment is set, my main tent will be guarded well enough.” He tapped long fingers against the table. “Beyond that, when you aren’t patrolling or resting. I want you by my side.”

He paused, looking into her violet eyes, they were serious, but there wasn’t a trace of the coldness he saw when her personality flipped to darkness.

“Ren, it’s possible both Masamune and Nobunaga will get close enough to see you. For the most part, we’ll be on the back lines directing. But Masamune frequently runs front line charges. I’d prefer it if you’d mask up during combat.” It was a request. He didn’t want additional complications coloring this fight. Date was a known hothead; he could easily see the man breaking the line if he recognized Ren. Nobunaga…he had no doubts the man would demand her back like she was negotiable chattel. Shingen recalled the look in her eye when she teased him during the fan dance. If that was how she teased, he imagined her actual effort to seduce would be absolutely ensnaring. Women were magnificent, alluring creatures that a man once caught had no hopes of shaking free. He wouldn’t let her go to the likes of the devil king…not even for Kai.

“I understand, Shingen.” She placed her hand over his. They held each other’s gaze for long moments. 

“Alright, it’s time to break down and move out.”

 

They rode side by side in the column, her blonde hair gleaming whitely in the sunlight. Shingen watched her out of the side of his vision. She sat straight in the saddle, alert, you’d never know she was out patrolling all night.

His mitsumono were already bringing back reports that made him chuckle. A demon guarded the Takeda camp. That the Lord Shingen had made a deal with the spirits and brought an ethereal warrior back to fight for him. It was the stuff of fairy tales. He knew she was flesh and blood. He wondered if she heard the whispers, or even cared if she had.

Two more days of riding and they arrived at the site, the battle would happen. There were no more instances of ambushes or shinobi attempting an assassination. However, the rumors grew like wildfire about the Takeda Oni.

Ren arrived at camp at nightfall, Shingen had his generals gathered around a large map discussing strategy for the following day. He was the only one that saw her slip into the tent, she nodded to him then slid behind the screen to wash. He turned his attention back to the map, he would get her report later.

 

Her

Ren was hot and tired, she stripped the leather armor and padded silk off her heated skin and doused herself in the refreshing water. Today was a lot of scouting, but she turned up no ambushes. She had heard the rumors that a demon guarded the Takeda camp, it made her chuckle. If it made her job easier, the superstition was worth spreading. She washed the sweat out of the face mask, hanging it to dry and then grabbed a light kimono top, and hakama Shingen had presumably left for her. Ren noted the hip-length top was woven with an interlocking pattern of the Takeda mon. She chuckled. He did like marking her with his house symbol. She took a moment to wash her short hair, toweling it off, then stepped from the small enclosure to see his generals leaving the tent.

Shingen raised the curtain to his private living quarters, gesturing her in. A dinner for two was laid out, Ren smiled at his thoughtfulness.

“Shingen, you’ll make your other mitsumono jealous with the way you spoil me.” She admonished with a smile. Ren took a seat on the cushion at the low table.

“I desire to spoil the goddess that works so hard for me. What I do is of no concern to anyone else.” He sat across the table from her, nudging a bowl of rice topped with vegetables toward her. “How was scouting today?”

“Oddly quiet, it seems tales of a demon have scared them all off.” She smirked around a mouthful of rice. “You haven’t had any part in spreading those rumors, have you?”

“My dear goddess, whatever do you mean?” His smile was sly, the smooth debonair mask he wore for the world.

“Apparently I’ve reached demigod status, and turn into a demon at night.” She tipped the teacup toward him in a playful salute, then took a sip.

“You should spend the night with me, I’ll ascertain if you are goddess or demon.” The tiger glinted in his eyes, she laughed then focused on spooning rice into her mouth.

“At any rate,” she paused as she finished eating, trying to cover the slight blush that always seemed to rise in his presence. “I don’t believe we need to worry about ambushes. What are your plans for tomorrow?”

“I’ll be directing from the rear, Yukimura has the front guard, Kenshin has the troops to the west.” His storm grey eyes were serious. “I want you in sight of me the entire battle if not next to me.”

She nodded, “Understood.”

He drank his tea as she finished eating. Gently he reached out, rubbing the fabric of her kimono sleeve thoughtfully.

“I noticed you enjoy me wearing your house mon.” Ren glanced up from her meal, features carefully schooled to neutral.

“This time, it was unintentional, but you do make a simple design look exquisite.”

“Flatterer” She took the last bite of her meal. He caught her eyes, and the gaze held. There was heat in it, desire, longing. She could get lost in those grey depths, wrap herself in that warmth and never come up for air. She blinked, looking away.

“I need to head out to speak to Sasuke and get some rest.” She stood, excusing herself, trying to cover her own feelings for him.

“Goodnight, Ren.” He took her hand, giving it a warm squeeze before reluctantly releasing it.

“Goodnight, Shingen.” She hesitated a moment, wanting more, a touch, a kiss, an embrace…just more. Shingen tilted his head questioningly. Snowy lashes covered her indecisive eyes, Ren nodded and left.

Chapter Text

Her

The air reeked of gunpowder, horses, sweat, and leather. Ren could see billowing clouds of smoke from the field below. They had the high ground.

Shingen directed from a large table map in a field tent. Men ran in and out like so many ants

She stood.

She watched over.

Men died.

Ren listened unobtrusively to the news as it came in, this battle was not one she had studied in history. This was purely created from the information she provided to him.

She chewed her lip, had she done the right thing? Feeding him information that would give him back Kai.

She slid into the shadows of the command tent, hood up, willing herself invisible, becoming one with her surroundings. Ren listened to the reports without comment, the day stretched out long. It sounded like they had the advantage of the field today, and the casualties were few. Finally, night was falling, and a ceasefire was called, the men pulled back into camp.

She took dinner with Shingen in his private quarters after he was finished debriefing his generals. Both were still in their armor. The meal finished in silence, Shingen beckoned to her.

“Sit with me?” He held his arms open, gesturing to his chest. Ren moved around the table to lean against him, she relaxed her back against his hard breastplate, allowing a moment of closeness. Ren’s eyes slid closed as he feathered his fingers lightly through her short hair.

“We push forward tomorrow.” His voice was deep, soft, almost a hypnotic purr heard through the armor. “I will be directing from the field, I ask that you be by my side, my guardian angel.” His fingers traced the wisp of blonde hair behind her ear.

“I will.” She leaned into his touch; it was soothing after such a tiring day.

“Have you been in battle before?” Shingen rested his chin on her shoulder, Ren enjoyed his closeness.

“Yes, but not like this, combat, where I am from, is different.”

“You may decline.” He offered softly. She leaned her head back against his shoulder.

“Then who would keep you safe, my Lord?” Her lips curled in a tender smile.

“Who, indeed?”

 

 

The killer in her had been unleashed for hours, the line had broken through. She had long swapped from bow to short swords. Her mind was a roll of red light simply moving without thinking, bodies dropped before her with ruthless efficiency. At times she was back to back with Shingen as the enemy surged forward. Other times she spun out in a crescent of death, cutting a wide swath through the enemy soldiers allowing his guard to push them back. Her mask was always in place, the fierce grimace of the Oni striking fear into those that beheld her and survived to carry the story back. They held their ground then pushed forward before nightfall, another successful day.

She felt Shingen touch her shoulder, then lower her mask, brushing the warmth of his gloved hand against her cheek. Ren felt herself coming back to consciousness. The killer faded back into the shadowy part of her soul.

“Little bird, come back to me, it’s over.” His thumb stroked her cheek, his hand cupping her jaw, he kept softly touching her until she looked up into his concerned eyes. 

 

Him

 The line broke, Ren fired off her bow, dropping several unfortunate enough to be on the front lines. Her shots all precise, finding the fatal gap in armor. Then she ran forward swapping to double short swords, cutting a half-moon swath in a flurry of silver, giving his men room to fight. Even in broad daylight, she was a shadowy blur, a harbinger of death. His guard stepped forward, holding the line she had made. She stepped back, pressing her back to his.

“Are you ready, Tiger?” It was a deadly purr full of battle lust.

“Let loose hell, little bird.”

And she did.

The line broke again, and they fought tirelessly. Shingen never felt more protected. Her dance was a blur at the edge of his vision. As the day closed, his chest ached from exertion, breath coming hard. The ceasefire was called, she panted lightly beside him. She still guarded him, her body language dangerous, tense, ready to fight.

“Ren?” He touched her shoulder; the killer was still in her eyes. Shingen ached to have been the cause of her immersing herself that deeply in her other-self. He stroked her cheek, pulling down the mask to reveal her pale white skin. He touched her gently, watching the magenta bleed from her eyes, the soft violet returning. 

“Little bird, come back to me, it’s over.” She blinked, shaking herself off. Ren surveyed the area, the body count was high. Shingen could see the pattern on the bodies that were obviously made by her. A single shot, she typically went for the throat, a quick kill. Ren sighed.

“I wish this wasn’t necessary, none of these men should have to die for this.” She looked pained.

Shingen observed the area around them, very few of the fallen were his men. “You gave them a quick, clean honorable death Ren. Such is the price in battle.” He squeezed her shoulder, “Let’s get back to camp.”

 

They rode back to the central command tent together, then she slipped away to scout. He knew she needed time alone, Shingen let her go without comment. He had the debriefing and planning tomorrow, men were already gathering in his tent, he would see her for the night meal.

 

Her

 

She pulled her hood and mask up, slipping into the night like the shadow she was. Past the ring of sentries. She needed to clear her thoughts, to unsee all the lives she had taken that day. She swung up high into the trees, perching to stare at the moon. Her hand went to her hood and mask, sliding it down. Ren let the cool silver light wash over her, purifying her. She whispered a prayer to the fallen and asked for forgiveness.

Her thoughts shifted to her father for a moment, he had taught her fighting skills from a young age to defend herself should she ever need it. Would he proud or disappointed with what she had become? He was always concerned his profession would invade his home life. He retired when he married, but the NIS never really let him go, once an agent always an agent. After her mother died, he returned to service. Ren didn’t understand it at the time. Why did he leave her alone so much as a child if he loved her? She always thought if she was somehow better, he’d stay. She strived for his approval, training herself to the apex of perfection, but now she was starting to understand. It was never about her.

His heart broke when his love died, he lived as the killer losing himself.

The faint scent of chemicals caught her senses. Ren mused that no matter how long they had been in this time, Sasuke still smelled like a chemistry set.

“Hey, Nerdboy.” Her eyes were closed, lips quirked in a smile as he rested on a branch beside her.

“Hey, Ren, just checking on you. I heard you saw more action than anticipated today.”

“It was handled.”

“I expect no less, are you alright?” He touched her arm, concern in his warm brown eyes.

“Yea.” She leaned on his shoulder. “I’ll be fine. It was just a bit more intense than usual. I stayed in my darker self a little too long. Sometimes I worry it will be hard to come back.”

“Ren, I’ll always be here to show you the way back.”

She smiled.

“Thank you, Sasuke.”

 

Him

She came back late. He kept the broth warmed on a small brazier, holding the meal for her. His commanders had long exited the tent. Quietly Shingen arranged dinner while she bathed and changed.

He passed her a hot cup of tea when she sat beside him, her hip brushing his. He had a small moment of surprise at her intimacy, Ren typically took the spot opposite him. She nodded thankfully to him, looking worn.

“Are you doing alright, my most lovely blade?” He put a dish before her, serving her from covered plates himself.

“Yes, Shingen, thank you.” She took the food gratefully. A smile for him.

A companionable silence spun out between them as they ate, finally Shingen broke it.

“You did exceptionally well.”

“I did what had to be done.” She smiled tiredly, finishing her food and sipping the warm broth. “How is the overall looking?”

“Well enough. We should be behind the lines again tomorrow. You won’t have to do what you did today.”

You won’t have to kill for me.

She leaned against his shoulder, eyes sliding closed.

“Shingen, are you done with your meetings for the night?”

“Yes, is there something you require, my goddess?” His voice was suddenly, soft, tender, he was surprised how easily he slid into the affectionate tone for her.

“Can I just rest in your lap a while? Would you hold me?” Ren whispered her request. In response, he slid her down, pillowing her head in his lap. His hand moved to her hair, then soothingly stroked down her back.

“Sleep if you can, little bird, I’ll watch over you.” She was gone in seconds, breath soft against his thigh.

He continued eating his meal one-handed, musing to himself about the day. She took out an entire line by herself twice today, would those faces haunt her later or would they become absorbed into the assassin she became? Shingen stroked his fingers through her damp hair, then lightly down her back, the faint spice smell of her skin tickled his senses pleasurably. He’d keep her with him behind the lines, he didn’t want her overtaxed. Her breath rose and fell evenly. He sipped his tea, wondering what a lifetime might be like with such a woman. If he had Kai again, and his health was stable, to share that with her. He smiled softly, such were dreams.

Chapter Text

Her

 

“My Lord Shingen, the east side has weakened and needs reinforcements.” A vassal arrived at the field tent breathlessly. Ren saw Shingen frown in concentration. She knew the west and front lines were pushing forward, the reserve column needed to go to the east, there was no one left to lead it.

“Ren, you’re with me.” Shingen nodded to her, ordering for their horses to be brought around. Within minutes they were leading out a force to bolster the ranks of the east side.

She glanced at her Lord. His armor covered every inch of flesh, a white mane flowed back from his helm, his expression was covered by a metal mask. She pulled her own cloth mask up over her face, scanning the area as they moved out. She had a twisted bad feeling in her gut but couldn’t figure out why. They moved at the front of the reserve troops through ground already conquered. She was torn between staying at his side and scouting ahead. Ren fidgeted.

Shingen lowered the metal mask part of his helm to look at her, “What is it?”

“A bad feeling.” She glanced at him. His storm grey eyes looked unusually indecisive.

“What does your gut tell you?”

“I’m equally torn between scouting ahead and remaining by your side.” She admitted.

“I’m well protected here, go scout the front and return to me, little bird.” He gave her a comfortable wink, “I know you’ll be there and back like the wind.”

She handed her horse off to a vassal and, with a small bow to her lord, melted into the trees.

Him

Shingen watched her go. There was honestly something magical in the way she would just simply disappear into the background. He noticed her do it in the common tent as well. It was like eyes just passed over her. He did feel that she was sent to watch over him, to aid him in achieving his goals. Shingen turned his mind back to Kai and the battle before him. Once this line was bolstered, they would start the sweep inward to crush the enemy Oda troops. He was confident he had this battle in hand. Mentally he reviewed the current strategy for the forces, extending into the possibilities for the battle ahead.

Her

She let the assassin in her run free, her eyes bled to magenta above the painted oni mask. Ren’s senses extended outward, seeking the anomaly. She ran light and fast to a bluff overlooking the east lines, they were strung out but holding. A blur of movement to the far right caught her eye. Horsemen in black, those were not Takeda cavalry.

She dropped back, running a line to intercept. There were at least twenty men, armed and heading straight for Shingen. Ren bit her lip. She wouldn’t make it back in time to warn him on foot. That small a group against a column meant an ambush.

Her mind went over the topography she saw on the battle map, picking out the most likely place they would strike.

Dammit, she shouldn’t have left his side. She pulled her hood off in the heat and dropped the mask so she could breathe freely. Ren cut across the landscape, sacrificing stealth for pure speed to intercept the invading troops.

Him

Runners came to him. The east line had been reinforced by a group sent from Yukimura in the middle. He decided to keep pushing toward the front. He had Kenshin’s men swinging in from the west. The Sanada cavalry was in the middle. Shingen would lead the east, decimating the Oda forces.

There was a clearing ahead flanked by two hills, the force narrowed down to pass through.

Shingen paused. He scanned the area for Ren, she should return soon.

Her

Ren’s lungs burned, she pushed through it, knowing the second wind would come. In her mind’s eye, she saw where the ambush would happen. They were definitely going straight for Shingen. She pulled energy up through the earth, letting it pour through her body, pushing herself far past her limits. She estimated how many men she could take down alone, not enough without surprise and terrain on her side. It wouldn’t do to get herself killed before she reached him. Hopefully, the soldiers he had with him would be protection enough.

Him

The trap closed as his horse stepped through the pass, black riders swinging behind him, blocking his soldiers from getting through. The handful of men that had passed before him were already engaged in combat. They were almost to the east troops. Shingen pulled his long blade and joined the fray. Horses screamed, men fell under the song of his sword, their souls separating from their lives. He had this handled, the black riders before him were down, the ones behind him were almost crushed by his forces.

Her

She ran into the field, immediately spotting Shingen’s white-maned helm. Then she saw the glint of archers in the trees.

Ren drew her bow, two shots fired as she ran toward her lord dropping the archers, a third man got his bolt off, she was too late, her bowstring thrummed her bolt sank into the man’s throat. She flung herself at Shingen using the only thing she had left to protect him, her body as a shield.

Him

They say in battle there is a moment where time slows down and the silence blankets the field, he was in that moment.

Shingen could see the magenta flecks in her violet eyes, inches from his own. The stench of the battlefield was eclipsed by the scent of her. That clean smell of leather and oiled steel mixed with a sweet touch of spice. She was before him like a lover, throwing herself into his arms. A flush on her cheeks, the sun glinting through that white-blonde hair. Then red bloomed from her chest, unfolding in slow motion, like rose petals opening to the dawn. A barbed point broke through her skin, piercing the leather of her light chest armor. His eyes widened in horror, she had taken the kill shot meant for him. Shingen caught her in his arms.

“Ren!”

“It was an honor to serve you, Lord Shingen.” Blood tinged her lips red, fierce devotion mixed with love shown in her eyes, but the light was dulling, fading out. She closed them, head lolling back.

The wind stirred around them, the noise of battle came crashing back in, time resumed.

“Ren, dammit. REN!” He swung up onto his black charger, cradling her body in his arms then spurred the horse toward the med tents.

“You have command.” He spat out at a vassal as he galloped past, the crimson armored man saluted him.

Her

There had been pain in her life. The pain of running so long her lungs were on fire, and her muscles burned to ash. The pain of a knife splitting her skin, the sting as the air hits flayed muscle. The pain of a bullet ripping through her body. The pain of losing a loved one, she had so few of those left. She felt the arrow intended for him pierce her back. The pain bloomed sharp and hot, but all she felt was relief.

He was safe.

She felt herself caught up by his large warm hands, holding her as if she weighed nothing. Her eyes sought the refuge of stormy grey in her last moments.

“It was an honor to serve you, Lord Shingen.” This wasn’t a bad way to go, she thought as her mind started to slip away. His hands felt hot on her skin, those concerned grey eyes were all she could see, then the blackness rolled in.

Chapter Text

Him

She had taken a kill shot meant for him, he left the battlefield for her. Evening was falling, his forces were returning victorious, led by Yukimura. Ren had been tended to, patched up. The arrow hit was clean, it had passed through, just above her lungs, on her right shoulder. His medics were able to remove it and stop the bleeding. He sat by the cot in the corner of a busy infirmary tent, holding her hand. She was still unconscious.

She took an arrow for him.

SHE took a shot meant to kill him, knowing she would likely die.

Shingen brought his forehead to her hand, bowing over it.

Ren, please don’t die for me.

He had taken tens of thousands of men out on the battlefield; he knew people had died before for him. He accepted the loss as part of leadership. But not this time, not her. 

It felt more personal, more visceral. Shingen remembered the look in her eyes when he caught her in his arms. Ren accepted what she was doing, she looked at peace.

He couldn’t agree less with her sacrifice.

“Lord Shingen?”

Yukimura appeared at his side. The young commander glanced at the kunoichi seeing the chest wound.

He studied his older friend’s face.

“Shingen, she did what she was trained to do, she is your blade, this is war.”

Shingen lifted his head, looking tired. “My blade, not my shield.” He said softly as he rose from the small stool.

“You knew when you assigned her to your personal guard that she would be both, you took her because she is the best.” Yuki paused, allowing his Lord to gather his thoughts. “Your generals await you in the command tent Lord Shingen.”

 

Her

Feathers, the color of midnight, flapped around her brushing against her skin. She could hear the cawing of carrion crows and the ripping of flesh. Ren opened her eyes.

The sky was stuck in the perpetual dusk of a Nordic winter, bodies were covered with snow. A murder of crows feasted on the fallen. Intelligent black eyes glinted at her as a large raven hopped into view. There was something in the distance, it tugged at her. Ren started walking toward the horizon.

The wind whipped her long silvery blond hair around her face, the cold cut her to the bone. The shrieking of birds was deafening. Ren made the mistake of looking down at the snow-covered corpses, she recognized some of the faces.

These were her kills.

 A second raven joined the first, it seemed she had an escort. She drew closer to the dark monolith, her boots crunching in the ice, light snow started to fall.

It was a man on a throne of black stone and ice. He was huge, blonde, with one piercing ice-blue eye. A jagged scar ran down the other side of his face. Dressed in heavy furs, he looked like something out of a Vikings documentary. He turned to look at her, two pairs of hungry yellow eyes gazed out of the darkness behind him.

“That was quite the flight, little bird.” His voice boomed around her, rolling like thunder, his lips didn’t move.

“Erik?” Ren was confused, he looked like her old mentor, but Erik was never scarred like that. 

His gaze raked over her appraisingly. She did her best to boldly stand before him, to ignore the wind carving through her bones, icing her soul. She felt the weight of his judgment, pressing her down.

“You are not worthy yet, take her back.” He looked away, making a dismissive gesture.

She was flying, all she could see was inky black feathers in a midnight sky.

 

Ren woke in a tent lit by lanterns, the groans of the wounded surrounding her. The right side of her body felt like it was on fire, she couldn’t move her arm. Ren attempted to flex the fingers of her dominant hand; they didn’t respond. She rolled her eyes, blinking the world into focus.

Sasuke’s concerned face hovered above her.

“Ren?” He cupped her cheek, “thank goodness you're alive.”

She coughed wetly, “Damn, if I have to come back from the afterlife, why is it to your ugly mug?”

His mouth tugged up into that small smile. “I thought I’d lost you.”

She reached with her left hand feeling the damage. “I don’t die that easily. I’d kill for some morphine right now, though.”

He chuckled, “We are a few years too early for that, but I’ll see what I can find for you.”

She gave him a half-smile. “What’s the damage?”

“The Takeda forces ruled the battlefield today. There will be some cleanup skirmishes, but they are now poised to easily retake Kai. Tales say you killed a sniper then took the bolt meant for Shingen.” He looked into her eyes and paused; she didn’t deny it. “You saved his life. You were lucky it was a clean hit through the shoulder, the shaft missed your lung.” He took her hand, giving it a soft squeeze. “I expected you to take something from Shingen, but an arrow wasn’t it.”

Ren laughed weakly. “Ass.”

“He means that much to you? That you’d die for him.” Her eyes shifted from Sasuke’s to someone behind him. The ninja stood as he turned.

“Lord Shingen,” his voice dropped respectfully, and he bowed gesturing to the stool. “I’ll take my leave. Get some rest, Ren.”

Ren closed her eyes, Shingen took her hand in his. It was hot, almost unbearably so. Her cheeks flushed.

“I wanted to thank you.” His soft baritone flowed through her. She opened her eyes, getting a little lost in the smoky grey of his. She must be delusional, they were warm with affection, concern, and soft with what looked like love. There wasn’t a trace of his usual sensual, predatory gaze, nothing was guarded.

“None needed, my Lord. You chose me as your personal guard, I was simply doing my job.” She offered him a tired smile. They both knew it was so much more than that. He stroked a thumb across the back of her hand. 

“A part of me would have died with you, Ren.” His eyes were serious. He kept his voice soft, leaning close to her in the crowded infirmary. “We return home tomorrow, it will be about a week of travel to get there. The campaign was successful. I think we should talk once you are healed.”

She nodded her head, eyes sliding closed again. She was just so tired, she felt fingers feathering through her short hair. His large warm hand cupped her cheek. Lips pressed to her forehead, and darkness took her.

When she woke again, she was riding cradled against Shingen on his horse. Her bandages had been changed, and her head felt a little fuzzy from the medicine she had been given to help dull the pain. 

Her shoulder ached, she flexed her fingers, they didn’t move very far, but at least they moved. 

“Good morning, beautiful,” his voice was soft, just loud enough to run a warm shiver through her.

“Shingen…why are you giving me the princess treatment, I should be back with the medic wagons.”

He brushed a light kiss on the crown of her head, smiling. “You shielded me, I shield you. This will be a more comfortable ride then jarring your shoulder in a wagon.” She let herself lean against his broad chest, inhaling his scent. His thumb stroked gently along her bare arm. “Are you warm enough? I have a haori in my bags you are welcome to.”

“Your body throws off enough heat that I’m fine.” She smiled, letting her eyes slide closed, she could hear his soft chuckle. 

“Just sleep then, I’ll wake you when we stop for the night.”

When she woke again, she was cradled against his chest, sitting inside a tent. He had a bowl of rice porridge in front of her, his arms wrapped around her sides.

“Wake up, little bird, let’s get some food into you.” He pressed the spoon to her lips.

“Shingen, I can feed myself.”

“Oh, can you?” He grinned, “Well then, by all means.” He placed the spoon in the bowl and cupped it into her left hand. 

Ren frowned, flexing the fingers of her right hand, they moved slightly. She tried to move her arm, pain shot through her shoulder. A light sweat broke out on her forehead as she tried to force the movement. 

Her breathing became erratic, she grimaced. Shingen slipped the bowl back into his hand.

“If you like, I’ll just hold the bowl for you.” She took the spoon with her left and clumsily brought it to her mouth. By the third spoonful, she was exhausted.

“Thank you, I’ve had enough.”

He sighed, “You are a most stubborn Goddess, it’s a good thing your loveliness makes up for it.” He fed her another spoonful of the porridge. 

“I see,” Ren said after she swallowed the bite, “I have your attention for my looks.” The grin was almost teasing. 

“Well, even you must admit, you are striking to behold. Even more so when you are in action. For example, I could watch you shoot archery all day.”

Ren felt her cheeks grow warm. She took another bite that he fed to her.

“May I ask who taught you?” He paused, letting her swallow.

“Taught me bow? My father.” She took another spoonful.

“No, taught you to fight the way you do.” He scraped the spoon along the bottom of the bowl, getting the last bit up.

“Ah well,” Ren hesitated, how do you explain that you were trained as a spy by a government agency that doesn’t exist yet. “It was noticed at a young age that I had the skills to be in a stealthy profession, so I was trained by a group that makes use of people like me. It paid well, and I was good at it.” She tried to shrug then winced at the incomplete motion.

He hummed, she suspected he knew she wasn’t giving him the whole truth. 

“Are you tired?” He set the bowl to the side, feathering his fingers through her hair. 

“A bit.” She yawned, she felt him smile against her cheek. “Maybe more than a bit.”

“I have your bed ready, you’ll stay here for the night. It will be quieter than the infirmary.

Ren took a good look around the spacious tent.

“Shingen, we are in your personal tent?”

“We are.” He moved from behind her carefully, then stood. Leaning down, he scooped her up, carrying her to his futon. 

“Isn’t that a bit unseemly for me to stay here with you.” Her violet eyes were level with his grey ones. She tried not to notice how nice it felt being held in his arms.

“Are you concerned about your reputation, my Goddess?” A bit of the tiger showed in his eyes as he laid her down on his bed.

“No, I’m concerned about yours. You are showing a lot of favoritism.” He folded the blankets over her, gently arranging the pillows to cradle her injured shoulder.

“It’s a better bed then you’d get in the infirmary, and I need my best blade back in my arsenal as soon as possible.” He brushed a kiss over her forehead, her skin tingled and flushed. “I have some work to do before I turn in, try to get some sleep.”

He sat at a nearby desk and began to answer correspondence. Occasionally Ren would hear someone enter. There would be a low conversation, and then they would leave. The night grew colder, she shivered slightly her shoulder aching. He lit a small brazier placing it on her side of the bed, then crawled into the futon, laying his body along hers but not touching. His warmth radiated from his skin, caressing hers. The shivering ceased. She murmured her thanks and drifted back to sleep.

Him

She was in his bed as he had imagined for more than a year, and yet he couldn’t have her. He chuckled softly at the situation, combing his fingers through her short silky hair. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time he simply held a woman in his bed with no intimacies being involved, or if he ever had. With her, it was comforting, he wanted to take care of her, desired to see her happy. Shingen enjoyed gazing at her. The light from the little brazier spun her hair from ice to warm gold. Her face was relaxed in slumber. Ren murmured in her sleep and rolled against him. He froze a moment. Her face was snuggled to the curve of his shoulder, breath warm against his neck. He could feel her soft breasts pressed to his chest through her thin kimono. He put his arm around her careful of her bandaged shoulder, resting his hand against the small of her back. For such a fierce fighter, she was surprisingly tiny in his arms. He stroked his thumb gently along her lower back.

Shingen let out a long, contented sigh, this was something he could do every night for the rest of his life. Just hold her. He nuzzled against her lightly, under the antiseptic bandage smell she still had that enticing spice scent that so enraptured his senses. The warlord closed his eyes, drifting to sleep.

Chapter Text

Him

 

“Good morning, beautiful.” They had been on the road for hours this time before she awoke. He was surprised she slept through the breakdown of the camp and him cradling her onto his horse. He passed her a rice ball. “You should eat something; we’ve been traveling for a while. How do you feel?”

She took the rice ball nibbling at it disinterested.

“Shoulder throbbing, chest hurts.” She didn’t sound well. He placed his hand on her forehead, but it was difficult to tell if she was fevered through the raised heat of his own body.

“See if you can eat that for me.” He was concerned, he flagged down one of his men to pass a message back to the medic to come forward during the next stop. He kept his arms around her, she drowsed against him, the half-eaten rice ball eventually slipping from her fingers. Shingen looked up at the sky, they had hours to go before they stopped for the night. There wasn’t much he could do but let her rest. Sasuke rode up alongside him.

“Lord Shingen.” He nodded. “How is Ren?” 

“I’ll have the medics check her wound when we stop for the night. She was doing better last night, but this morning she seems to be having a hard time staying awake.” Shingen studied the stoic ninja. He knew the two of them were close, he had a hard time believing they had never been lovers. It seemed like a good time for a little information gleaming. 

“How long have you known Ren?” Shingen let that casual smile settle on his face, the open friendly ‘we are just two men chatting’ smile.

“My home was next to her when we were kids, we’ve been friends as long as I can remember.”

“Was she always like this?”

Sasuke’s lip twitched. “You mean lethally athletic and sassy? Yes always. To be honest, I was a bit of scholarly type, so she both intrigued and terrified me when we were younger.” Sasuke seemed to be picking his words carefully. “Later, she was chosen to be trained as a kunoichi, I continued my studies. We had just gotten back together for a visit after many years when we wound up on Kenshin’s lands.”

Shingen nodded. Something was missing in that information, but he let it slide.

“You and she never…?”

“She’s like a sister to me, Lord Shingen.” Sasuke looked him straight in the eye, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “And I’m the only family she’s got left. If you hurt her…” The threat hung on the air.

“Well, it seems we share the care of a Goddess.” Shingen smiled disarmingly. He shifted Ren against his chest. Her face looked flushed, was it a touch of sunburn or was a fever rising? He frowned. The horses walked on in silence.

“She admires you to the point of hero-worship. Don’t you dare let her know I told you.” Sasuke said softly. “I’m not surprised she sacrificed herself without hesitation.”

Shingen chuckled, “I find that hard to believe with the level of refusal of my affections and sass she’s given me over the last two years.”

“It’s just how she is Lord Shingen, all or nothing. If you aren’t offering her everything, she’s too good a woman, too excellent a warrior, to accept your crumbs.” He gave the older man a long, hard look. “Have a good ride, I’ll check back tonight.” Sasuke turned his mount, falling back in the long column of soldiers.

 

By nightfall, her fever had spiked. The head medic was in his tent. Her wound was an angry red and seeping.

“My Lord, there must have been debris left in the wound. I need you to hold her down while I clean it.”

She had been unconscious when they started, but by the time the medic had dug around inside the wound, she was screaming. Sasuke suddenly appeared, sliding a leather sheath into her mouth.

“Ren bite down. Look at me, Ren look at me.” Sasuke’s voice was oddly commanding. Shingen was above her head, holding her down to the cot.

Violet eyes rolled wildly, then focused on the ninja. Sasuke put pressure on her thighs, stilling her thrashing. 

“Look at me, Ren, you are going to be fine.” Her eyes locked on Sasuke, her teeth leaving deep impressions on the sheath.

The medic dug a little more then pulled out a small metal barb. He redressed the wound, then fed her some powders stirred in a liquid.

“My Lord, she’s likely to have a rough night but should start healing again. Would you prefer to send her to the infirmary, so she doesn’t disturb your rest?” The medic washed Ren’s blood from his hands and tools, putting the equipment back in his small bag.

“No, I want her here. I’ll watch over her tonight.” Shingen lifted her from the surgery cot, settling her into his futon. The medic nodded without comment and left. Sasuke paused at the tent flap.

“I’ll be nearby if you need me, just call.”

Shingen nodded, his eyes not leaving the frail form in his bed. Gone was the fierce warrior. Now she was pale, sweat slicked her hair to her scalp. He saw her start to shiver. Shingen quickly lit a brazier then slid into the bed, holding her. It could have been minutes or hours that he laid there with his worries, He pressed his lips to the heated flesh of her forehead.

“You finally got me in your bed, Tiger.” She murmured, he looked down. Her eyes were still closed, but a small smile curled her lip.

“Mmmm, so I have my goddess, but not quite the way I desired.” He brushed the sweat, slicked tendrils from her forehead.

“Pffft because you’re an idiot, a great, handsome mountain of a man but an idiot.” She rolled mumbling into his chest, drunk on the pain medication she was given.

“Oh, am I?” A tender smile tugged his lips, he traced her cheek. “How so my goddess?”

“I never refused you,” she paused, he almost thought she drifted off again. “I only refused to share you. I want you to look only at me.”

“These eyes have seen nothing but you for more than a year, my beauty, how could they? Your radiance eclipses even the sun.” He ran a calloused thumb over her lower lip, part of him knew this was just the fever talking, but another part wished she would open those beautiful violet eyes so he could spill his heart to her.

“Always… the smooth talker.”

He pressed a kiss to her forehead.

“When I go home, I want you to come with me. Come home with me.” He paused. She’d never discussed where she was from.

“They will heal you, I don’t want you to die.” She mumbled again, her breath hot on his bare skin.

“What was that angel?” He stroked her cheek, straining to hear her. Her snowy lashes fluttered against her cheek.

“I can’t let myself love you…knowing I’ll lose you to death so young, so come home with me.” It was a fevered whisper, but he heard it. “Come back to my time.” His brows rose in surprise. He waited for more, but her breathing had evened out, she was asleep.

Her time?

His mind raced, her lack of a past, there was no information on her, no family. Her fighting style of striking points on the body hard enough to disable, while not unheard of, was not widely known technique. The fact that she was absolutely precise with it spoke of training no woman in this time period would have. 

Her time.

Had he asked the wrong question? Not where she was from, but when?

Was Sasuke also from her time?

He thought about the strange bow she used, the unique draw style that was not Japanese. The fact that her father was western…while, not impossible, it was unlikely. Ren knew information about him, about Kai, more then she should. He thought she was observant, but what if it was something else.

Her time

He would ask Sasuke in the morning.

 

In the morning she didn’t wake, the medic came and changed her bandages again. He handed her the powders to give Ren when she woke. Camp broke, and he cradled her in front of him on his horse again, riding steadily toward home.

Sasuke pulled even with his horse at mid-morning. “Has she woken?” he eyed her paler than usual form lying against Shingen’s chest. She looked small, gaunt, there were shadows under her snowy eyelashes.

“Not yet. I’ll send word to you when she does.” Shingen mulled over his words.

“Sasuke, last night, she said she wanted to take me back to her time.”

Sasuke’s expression was even more stoic than usual “She’s been under a lot of duress Lord Shingen, I’m sure it was just the fever talking.”

Shingen nodded, “Of course.” He didn’t believe that for a moment. 

She woke just after midday; he got the medicine and some water into her before she passed out again.

That night he’d manage to keep her awake long enough to spoon-feed her broth. She had fever dreams. Ren would mutter fantastical things in her sleep. Sometimes there were obviously nightmares where the people she had slain would come back to haunt her. He would wake her through these then hold her stroking her soothingly until Ren returned to sleep. There were nights he laid awake, fearful she would slip away from him. Three days of riding and they had reached Kasugayama. 

“Take her to my room and send for my healer to check her.” He laid her on a pallet to be carried inside. Yuki raised an eyebrow. 

“Taking a particular interest in this kunoichi, aren’t you?”

“I would do the same if you took an arrow for me, Yuki.” Shingen passed his horse off to be taken to the stables.

“I would hope that wouldn’t include sleeping together at night.” Yuki smirked, “Don’t think I hadn’t noticed.”

Shingen grinned at his young general, “Well, only if you asked nicely.”

He walked across the courtyard, intent on seeing Ren settled when Chiyome appeared silent as a shadow at his side.

“My Lord Shingen, it is good to see you home.”

“Chiyome,” he nodded.

“I never thought to see you married.” She commented a sly smile danced on her lips, “especially to a woman whose background is completely untraceable.”

Shingen pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration, then let a smile spread over his face like warm honey.

“Chiyome, you are mistaken. I am simply making sure the hero of our latest conflict has the best of care.”

“In her Lord’s bedchambers?” He turned to give the women a stern look, but she had already vanished.

Chapter Text

Her

Ren slowly clawed her way to consciousness, her throat ached, and her tongue felt like it was glued to the roof of her mouth. She blinked her eyes, trying to focus. She remembered the sniper, the arrow ripping through her then Shingen speaking to her, …but sometimes it was Sasuke. In her fevered dreams, they would combine into one person. At night the dead would come back to speak to her, to accuse her for their demise. She remembered warm hands stroking the fever dreams away, his lips on her forehead, that soft baritone soothing her. Ren was surrounded in Shingen’s scent, tucked warmly into an unfamiliar bed.

She blinked a few more times the room coming into focus. A dim light shone from the far end of the room, casting everything into either light or shadow. She pushed the blankets off, a damp cloth that had been on her forehead slid away. She tried to sit up, but the room spun wildly, and she felt sick.

“Whoa little bird, slow down,” An arm was suddenly under her shoulders, supporting her upright. Her head throbbed dully.

“Where?” she croaked out, a cup of warm water was brought to her lips.

“You are in my room.” Shingen’s handsome face floated into view. She was in his arms. Ren shrugged her shoulder, sending a sharp pain through her chest.

“Why?”

“A barb from the arrow got left behind in the wound, causing some complications. The infection is healed now, but you’ve been down for a bit over a week. My healer took care of the wound, but you need to rest.

He let her drink her fill, then took a little balm from a pot and wiped it over her chapped lips.

Ren cleared her throat, her thoughts coming to order.

“My Lord, why am I in your personal chambers?” her voice was gravelly and rough.

She saw him flinch at her tone.

“I wanted to be the one to care for you.” He said honestly. Shingen cupped her cheek, tilting her head to meet his gaze. She saw concern and tenderness in his soft grey eyes. “Can I convince you to drink some broth while you are awake?”

She nodded, and the room kept moving. Ren slipped to one side, and Shingen caught her, propping her back up while he retrieved a small bowl sitting on the brazier. He sat behind her, cradling her to his broad chest, she let herself be handled too weak to protest. The spoon came to her lips. The warm broth felt good on her throat. She greedily drank each spoonful he fed her.

“Easy there, little bird, you’ve been down a while.” His tone was warm and soothing. She finished off the bowl.

“Thank you, Shingen.” He relaxed, setting the bowl to the side and holding her.

“I was worried I would lose you.” He murmured into her shoulder, his soft auburn hair brushing against her cheek.

“What would you do without your best blade?” She relaxed back into his arms; his embrace felt good. Her belly was full of warm soup. Ren breathed in, enjoying his scent.

“You are so much more to me than that, Ren.” She paused, her head clearing. There were no flowery words this time, no seduction, nothing rung insincere, or trite.

“Shingen?” Her voice was soft, a whisper in his room. He kissed her cheek.

“You should rest, I’ll be here if you need anything.” He slid from behind her, lowering her gently back into his futon. “My healer will be here tomorrow to redress your wound, it’s healing cleanly. You’ll have a scar, but I’ve done the best I can to minimize it.”

Her eyes slid closed, “It won’t be my first scar.” Her voice was heavy with sleep, the room was blurring out of focus.

“I know, my goddess, sleep now. I’ll watch over you.”

 

Him

Shingen watched her as she slipped back into slumber. She looked so small now in his bed, Shingen frowned at the amount of weight she’d lost over the last two weeks. He had seen her scars when he washed her, some he recognized, some were odd. There were two circular scars on her left leg and another just below her right breast, he wasn’t sure what made wounds like that. Thin almost invisible lines on her flesh spoke of blade wounds. He wondered about the stories behind each mark as he bathed her. That wasn’t the way he had wanted to see her bare the first time, but her sacrifice to him spoke of a deeper bond, one he found he desired to have with her.

Shingen moved back to his desk, he could watch over her from there. He had stacks of intel to read from his network spread all over Japan. These missives weren’t going to write themselves.

 

Ren blushed looking to him as the healer started unwrapping her shoulder, she clutched her sleeping kimono to her breasts. A small smile, he politely turned his back. It was one thing to see her naked when she was sick, unconscious, and needing care. It was entirely another monster to wrestle with when those violet eyes looked at him from under snowy lashes. Shingen took a deep breath, he had prepared some rice porridge for her, hoping to get some solid food into her. It sat on the brazier, staying warm, wafting a delicious scent through his room.

“My Lord, the wound is healing cleanly. She should be up and moving soon. I’ve given her something for the pain that will likely make her sleepy, see that she gets some solid food today to keep her strength up I’ll leave some medications here with you to administer for pain.” The healer packed his bags up, leaving some small packets on Shingen’s desk.

“Thank you for your assistance.” The healer bowed and took his leave.

Shingen kneeled by the futon, helping Ren to slide her arm back into her kimono. He ran his warm hands over the fabric, smoothing it against her skin, snugging the belt securely. Almost ritualistically, he took his seat behind her, settling her against his chest. She moved better, seemed stronger after the visit. He lifted the bowl, offering her the first bite.

He saw her try to flex the fingers of her injured arm with a frown.

“Everything takes time and patience, Goddess mine, eat, and you will heal.” She took the first bite, her eyes slid closed in pleasure, and her head rested back against his shoulder.

“I never thought I’d be so happy to have rice porridge spoon-fed to me.” He saw a little smile tug at her lips.

“It pleases me to worship at the altar of your beauty, any way I can.” He brought the next spoonful up, his cheek resting against the soft fluff of her silken blonde hair. She ate it gratefully.

“I’m sure I look like a hot mess right now.” She flustered, he grinned that she was feeling well enough to banter with him.

“You are ever radiant, the moon herself is jealous of your beauty.” She took another spoonful, trying to hide her delightful blush. Shingen lowered his head, gently kissing her cheek.

“I’m not going to be much use to you until this arm heals.” She swallowed the next bite and frowned. He let the silence drift through the room for a few minutes while she continued to eat.

“You are welcome to stay here regardless as to whether you are my blade or not. I want you by my side.” He wasn’t surprised by his sudden admission, she was. He felt her stiffen in his arms. He took her uninjured hand in his, stroking his thumb over the back of it. His voice was deep and soft, his lips brushed the curve of her ear.

“Just you. Only you.” He laid his solemn promise out for her.

She was silent, he continued to feed her until the spoon clinked on the empty bowl. He set it to the side, holding her. She closed her eyes, leaning back against his chest, her hand squeezed his.

“I need to tell you something.” Her voice was soft, almost scared. “I’m not from this time, there was an accident.” She paused her voice faltering, “I fell through a rift, I’m from five hundred years in the future.”

He nodded, his arms tightening around her careful of her wound.

“You had fever dreams and spoke in your sleep. I’ve pieced together some of it.” He stroked his thumb soothingly over her hand. “Will you go back?”

“Sasuke has calculated the rift should open again in a bit over a year. We had planned to try to go back.”

The silence drew out long between them. Shingen moved his hand up to feather lightly through her short hair. The movement was soothing, Ren leaned into his touch.

“The first time we met you said ‘I ruled like a man writing his last will and testament.’”

The corner of her lip quirked up.

“You were right. I do everything with the moment of my death held in focus.” Shingen slid his hand down to recapture hers, stroking his thumb sensually along her palm. His rough cheek to her smooth one, “Taking care of you, I realized I want to live again, not just plan for my demise.” His voice dropped low, a caress against her cheek. “I’m done playing games with you, Ren. Let me love you for as long as we have together?”

Long snowy lashes fluttered, trailing shadows on her cheek. She gave his hand a warm squeeze closing her eyes.

“You don’t have to answer me now, but please think about it. Even if you decide to decline, you will always have a place here in any capacity you desire. If you no longer wish to be my blade, I would certainly welcome you as a teacher.” He carefully slid out from behind her, lowering her to the futon. The medication the healer had given her was catching up to her system. Her violet eyes were unfocused when she looked up at him. She mumbled something reaching for his hand.

He held her left hand, straining to hear her.

“Stay.” She tugged gently.

“Stay with me.” Shingen stretched out beside her, enfolding her gently in his arms. He rested his chin on top of her head. Her breathing quickly evened out, her body relaxed into slumber.

“I love you, little bird.”

Chapter Text

Her

Ren woke surrounded in Shingen’s scent, still nestled in his embrace. His breath was warm on her temple, his arm gently around her waist.

Her mind cleared.

Last night he promised he only wanted her…and she asked him to stay. Her drug clouded mind made the memory indistinct. Did he really say that or was it just another fever dream? Regardless he was here, holding her. Tentatively she moved her injured arm; it was stiff but not as sore. She sat up, careful not to wake him. Shingen’s hand still cupped her hip, he looked so peaceful, no worries furrowed his brow. No mask of a congenial smile. She reached out with her injured hand, feathering stiff fingers through his thick auburn hair.

Smokey grey eyes opened. He captured her hand, placing a tender kiss in her palm.

“Good morning, my goddess.”

Ren gazed down at the handsomely sculpted planes of his face, the way his kimono had slid off one muscled shoulder. No man had the right to be this sensuous upon waking. Her body stirred just at the sight of him, being wrapped in his scent drove her a little mad with desire.

“Good morning, Tiger.” Her voice was soft, she offered him a tender smile. Ren cupped his cheek, his eyes were so warm, they held nothing but love for her. “Last night-“ she started.

“I offered you everything I am. You are all I desire.”

“So it wasn’t a drug-induced dream?” She smiled, laying back down next to him, her head cradled on his broad chest.

“No, but the medication did steal you away from me sooner than I thought.” She felt his smile against her skin

“Shingen, our story already has a tragic ending before it starts. If I go back to my time, I leave you alone for the few years until your illness claims you. If I stay, I’ll be alone after you die…it’s why I kept my distance from you all along.” She turned her face into his chest. “I was infatuated with you before we ever met. I love you too much to lose you, I never let myself get close because I’m not sure I could emotionally handle the loss.” There it was out, she had admitted it.

“I love you too much to ever let you go.” He brushed his lips over her forehead “All things end Ren, I would deeply regret it if we didn’t have a beginning.”

She sighed against the open collar of his kimono.

His hand cupped her cheek. “In your fever dreams, you asked me to come home with you.”

Ren blushed, hope bloomed.

“You would come to my time? Even if it meant possibly leaving this one?”

“I have Kai back for her people, arrangements have been made for rule in case of my inevitable death. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by returning with you. We can attempt to heal me. If you’ll have me by your side?”

“Yes, if it’s possible. It’s still a bit over a year until we have a chance to try.” She placed his hand over his.

“Then let’s make the best of that year, my angel.” He hugged her close, her eyes closed again, relishing his warmth.

Shingen shifted, his warm lips covering hers in wordless promise. Auburn hair tickled her cheek. Her hands combed up through his hair, bringing him down to her, deepening the kiss. Her body arched. Pain tore through her shoulder and chest.

“Ow…”

Shingen’s eyes flew open alarmed, and he drew back. Ren smiled sheepishly.

A low chuckle, “I have waited this long, my angel. I can wait a little longer.”

“I don’t want to wait.” A soft whisper, dark violet eyes gazed up at him through snowy lashes. He groaned.

“Goddess, do you know what that look does to me?” Shingen sat up, carefully scooping her into his lap.

She rocked softly against him, her hands stroking his cheeks, breath warm against his lips. “Why don’t you show me, Tiger?”

His smoke grey eyes studied hers a moment in concern, his hands cupped her hips squeezing gently. Shingen kissed her again with such longing her heart ached, every move he made was slow, tender treating her like she was the most delicate of creations in his hands. 

He leaned back, looking into her eyes again, then his hands came up to the belt of her sleeping kimono. Fingers slowly untied it, she felt the heat rise to her cheeks. His warm hands parted the fabric, then slowly traced upward over her flesh. His eyes never left hers.

“You are exquisite, far beyond every dream I’ve had of you.” 

Snowy lashes fluttered against her cheeks. “You dreamed of me?”

Shingen nuzzled between her soft creamy breasts. “Only every time I closed my eyes, my goddess. You were always waiting for me, haunting my nights.” His lips closed over her nipple, sucking teasingly, she cried out when his teeth grazed her flesh. Shingen purred against her soft skin. Ren felt his lips curl in a smile.

“You have the sweetest song, my little bird.” His hands cupped her breasts, lips reclaiming hers. His tongue slid in tasting her, she moaned against him, pressing to his bare chest. Her hands went to his loose kimono, pushing it off his shoulders. Her right hand dropped abruptly back to his chest. He drew back, an eyebrow raised.

“Do I need to restrain you from moving to keep you from hurting yourself?” A sensual smile, his thumb played over one nipple, avoiding her bandage. Ren chuckled and nuzzled against his neck.

“I can be a good girl, I promise.”

“History says otherwise goddess mine.” He teased, sliding his hands down to her thighs, “perhaps you just need more of a distraction?”

Him

“What did you have in mind?” Her voice was like velvet, wrapping around his thoughts until all there was left was her. He squeezed her thighs, sliding his hands up to brush one thumb against her already damp blonde curls. He pressed deeper into her slit sliding against her swollen nub, Ren buried her face in his shoulder, he felt her teeth scrape his flesh. He pressed his thighs out, spreading her wider, sliding two long fingers into her slick depths. She was so wet it pooled into his palm, had she yearned for him this long? His eyes fluttered closed, enjoying the feel of her, the soft keening cry when he stroked her. His other hand cupped her bottom, restricting her movement. Shingen held her still, only allowing his fingers to stroke, slowly drawing her pleasure out. He would bring her to the edge and then pause tracing soft kisses over her neck and cheek before starting to move inside her again. If she writhed, he stopped. Ren whined in frustration. His lips moved back to her breasts, toying with her nipples while his fingers pulled out, dancing over her passion slicked folds. The spicy scent of her was intoxicating, he brought his fingers to his lips, desiring a taste of his goddess. Violet eyes cracked open, watching him then fluttered shut, the scene too much to bear. She was deliciously sweet, he sucked his fingers off with lewd noises, his eyes not leaving her snowy lashes. 

“Open your eyes, Ren, let me see you.” Such a beautiful dark violet, pupils blow wide in desire. She kissed him, tongue sliding against his, tasting herself. Shingen delighted in the feel of her taut nipples pressed against his chest. Her skin was pure white against his. 

“I want you inside me.” She whispered along the shell of his ear pleadingly.

Shingen let out a low sensual chuckle, sliding his kimono off, untucking it from her thighs. “What sort of man would I be to deny such a request?” He assisted lifting her up, her hand closed over his stiff member guiding him in. He tried not to tremble at her touch, his breath came out ragged as he slid into her, fitting together. Shingen went slow, knowing he was large and unsure how much she could take. When hip almost met hip, his hands feathered through her short blonde hair just holding her close. He felt her move around him. The clutch of her tight hot walls stretched, pulling him deeper.

He twitched inside her, and she let out a tiny gasp. 

“Give me a moment.” A breathy request. She shifted on him, rocking her body softly, adjusting to his size, taking the last couple inches. “You are-“ She gasped again.

Shingen tried not to grin as he felt her move on him greedily. “I am?” he purred into her ear, sending a warm tremble throughout her body. She felt delicious. Ren clenched on him, and he echoed her moans.

“A little larger than I imagined.” She chuckled, taking him all in with a sighing moan of pleasure.

“You saw me naked?” He slowly withdrew from her, listening to her soft, breathless cry.

“You were not erect.” Her words came out in a panted rush as he pushed back in.

“I’m certain you heard gossip.” Now he was teasing, he rolled his hips against her, seeking that sweet spot, grinding against her clit.

“I thought it was just bragging.” More panting. She bit down on her lip in the most delicious way. 

“It was not.” He cupped her hips thrusting into her, Ren’s eyes rolled back. Her breasts swayed enticingly as he set a languid, sensual rhythm deep within her. Shingen held himself back, so careful of her injury. He decided to tease them both, keeping her immobile and just moving slowly. As long as they had waited to be together, he would spend the entire day gently making love to her. Everything else could be put on hold.

He slid his warm hands up her back, pressing their flesh close, teasingly he nibbled just behind her ear, sliding shallowly into her, feeling her tremble around him. Her breath caressed his neck in high pitched song. In delight, he tilted his fingertips, running his nails lightly over her flesh. Her voice grew louder, needier, he relished in it. Shingen didn’t care if the whole damn castle heard her, she was finally his. Her body shook, thighs clamping down on him. Shingen stilled his hips. Another frustrated whine, he grinned against her pale flesh, enjoying this sensual game. His hands lightly moving to caress over her sides, just barely ghosting the curve of her breasts. He cupped her cheeks, bringing her to him for another toe-curling kiss. Ren melted into him, and he loved every minute of it. He nipped her neck, marking her, kissed around her bandages, sucking little red love bites onto her alabaster skin. Her breathing had slowed just enough that his hips started pressing into her again in slow rolls. He cupped her bottom, lifting her, stroking Ren along his entire length, her nectar dripped down over his flesh, soaking him. He brought his thumb up to stroke her swollen nub, she writhed, her head falling back, pushing those beautiful breasts to his waiting lips. He nuzzled into her chest. He was ready to let her come. He took her nipple in his teeth, biting down gently, then sucking. His thrusts moving faster, that powerful roll of his hips sliding him right over the spot that made her cry out the loudest, her voice pitched high.

“Shingen….Pleeeeeaasssee.” 

He tightened, hearing his name on her lips, drenched in passion. He held his control, waiting on her to unravel. He watched her expression, shifting slightly, hitting just that perfect spot, and her violet eyes flew open, locking with his.

She came apart, her body gripping his so tightly that he quickly followed. He could read every emotion flitting across those beautiful eyes. It was a gift he would never forget, her deep love and passion for him. She collapsed against his chest, the after tremors of her orgasm still rippling enticingly along his length. His arms wrapped around her in a warm embrace. Minutes of silence passed, echoing almost as loudly in the room as her cries of passion. He kissed her forehead, then her lips murmuring against them softly. 

“I love you, Ren.” She mumbled a reply to him, her eyes fluttering, and he grinned again. “Let me get you cleaned up.” Shingen gently laid her back on the futon, sliding out from under her. He kissed his way up her muscled legs, licking teasingly behind her knees. His broad shoulders pressed the backs of her thighs, spreading Ren wide, he gazed at her swollen pink flesh glistening with his essence surrounded by silvery blond curls. She was, indeed, an angel. The first long slow lick had her gasp out in surprised protest. He grinned, sucking her nether lips, licking every inch of her like she was the most delicious sweet he had ever desired. The taste of the two of them mingled made him groan against her flesh, setting her to song. Ren’s fingers twined into his auburn hair pressing him to her, she wrapped her thighs around his shoulders, squeezing. He hummed against her wet pussy, making her squirm in delight. His hands reached up playing with her pert breasts, then sliding down to cup the sensuous curve of her hips.

He feasted, sliding that silvered tongue inside her flicking it just to hear her love song. He held her hips so she couldn’t arch and hurt herself again. Instead, Shingen enjoyed cradling her. Keeping her pinned down so he could move over her flesh at his leisure.

“My angel, “ he murmured against her. “My goddess, how I have long desired you.” His breath against her skin sent her trembling. She cried out against him. He licked long and slow, feeling the clenching of her silky womanly flesh against his tongue. Finally, when her sighs softened, he released her, moving to cradle her limp well-loved body in his arms.

“I love you.” She whispered into his shoulder. Shingen ran his fingers lightly through her hair. He couldn’t imagine ever not having her by his side, he had found his Tigress of Kai.

 

They slept until early afternoon, Shingen stepped out briefly to get food and a pot of tea from the kitchens while Ren lazed in his bed. She sprawled luxuriously on top of the covers when he returned. Her naked bottom in full view. He paused to admire it.

“Hello, Tiger.” She fairly purred at him, he felt his cock rise to the occasion. Heh, food first. It wouldn’t do for her to fall ill again.

“Hello my goddess, are you hungry?” She gave him a look that was so sexually alluring it was not convincing his cock to relax. He winked, gifting her with a smooth grin, “for food?”

“Oh yes,” She turned, looking for her kimono lost in the bedding. Shingen admired the roll of her muscles and her fluidity of movement, he was almost sorry when she slid the garment on, covering the show. She stood, the kimono flapped open, displaying long legs and the barest glimpse of her blonde curls. Shingen licked his lips, he wanted her again. He busied himself with the tea. She’s still injured, he’d already pushed it far enough, he reasoned. His dick wasn’t heeding his logical mind very well. 

She sat down next to him at the low table. He pictured her bent over it, legs spread-

“Shingen?” She had her hand out for the bowl he was holding toward her. He coughed, a flush rising to his cheeks.

“Do you need help, or can you manage?” Shingen passed her the bowl, trying to somehow keep his libido in check.

She flexed her fingers slightly, then decided to use her left hand.

“I think I’ll be alright, you’ve been spoon-feeding me for a month, you must be tired of it.”

“Never.”

“Hmmm?” She took a spoonful of rice to her mouth, dipping her head toward her bowl on the table.

“I’ll never tire of caring for you, my angel.” He smiled. Picking up his own bowl to eat.

“Didn’t you have meetings and such today?”

“I canceled them.”

“This afternoon?”

“Canceled.”

“The evening war council?”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “I believe I will be indisposed until at least tomorrow, they can manage without me for one day.”

She grinned, looking down into her bowl.

“Oh, the speculative gossip that will occur.” Ren teased while finished off her rice and reached for the tea.

 He took the cup and poured for her. “Speculative? It’s already happening, someone was quite loud.”

Ren’s jaw dropped, her eyes rounded out in horror.

“No,” her voice was soft.

“Oh yes, my little songbird, it’s too late now to whisper.” His laughter was deeply sensual. He practically strutted he was so giddy with his masculine prowess. Shingen had never been so indiscreet, so loud, with his couplings as he was this time. This magnificent woman was his lover, he wanted the world to know it.

The tips of her ears reddened; the flush rapidly crept down to the collar of her kimono.

“That… is an enticing color on you. It only makes me want to hear you more.” He leaned forward, placing a soft kiss on her neck, then his teeth grazed her flesh in a playful nip. “Don’t worry about it, Ren. Besides, Sasuke has apparently had a betting pool for months. You just won him a large sum of money.”

Chapter Text

Her

Sasuke was a dead man.

“He bet against me?” She blinked, already planning her revenge.

“Well, the original odds were pretty favorable that you would never give in, some even claimed you were a mirror of Kenshin and disliked men, possibly preferring women. Sasuke had a 5:1 that you would eventually bed me. So, I guess hit him up now if he owes you any money.”

“Oh, I’ll hit him up.” She crossed the room, dropping her kimono and sliding back into the blankets. “I’m never leaving this room again, an arrow didn’t kill me because now I’ll die of embarrassment.”

Shingen finished eating, then dropping his clothing he slid into his bed next to her, his arm naturally went around her waist. “Is it so terrible?” He nuzzled her earlobe, catching it softly with his lips.

“I would do it again.” She admitted, Ren felt his grin against her skin.

His fingertips ran lightly over her flesh, she dozed. Her belly was full, she was warm and safe. She felt his fingers pause over the circular scar under her breast.

“What did this? I noticed it’s on your thigh as well.”

“A bullet. Firearms are different and much smaller in my time. The ammunition that fires out of them is kind of a cone-shaped piece of metal packed with gunpowder.”

He continued to trace the scar, then slid his hand to the back, there was no exit wound.

“It was painful. The bullet had passed through a door before hitting me, so it had slowed down. I had to dig it out and patch myself up.”

“You had to?”

“I was on a mission that I needed to complete.”

“Is the world so hard in the future?” He splayed his hand over her stomach, holding her close.

“No, it’s actually not that bad. The life I live is that hard.”

“Did you choose it? Or did it choose you?”

Ren smiled at his perceptive abilities. “Did you choose to be a warlord, or were you born to it?”

“I see what you mean.” He gave her a small hug, his chest spooned warmly to her back.

“Does it bother you that I’m scarred?” Her hand went over his. She knew it was undesirable for a woman to have marked flesh, perfection was thought to be the height of beauty.

He nuzzled against her ear, affectionally. “Never, each one tells a story of survival.”

“You said something odd, that you were infatuated with me before we ever met? What did you mean?” His voice was soft, compelling her to whisper heartfelt secrets. 

“I studied the Sengoku period when I was at university, specifically the class was the history and military strategy of wars in Asia. There were several historical figures that stood out to me, that I admired. You were one of them. When I met you the first time here, after Sasuke and I fell through the time rift, I wasn’t prepared for how attracted I would be to you.” She laughed softly. “Just the scent of you on my clothes was distracting, let alone your habit of wearing your kimono so open.”

“And yet you resisted?” His tone was teasing, but there was a hint of admonishment to it.

“And you know exactly why. Quid pro quo. When did you decide on just me? I missed the exact point you flipped from lust to love. You were still prowling when you sent me away.”

He was silent for a long time, his hand stroked soothingly along her abdomen. She felt his breath hypnotically warm against her neck, her eyes slid closed. Ren was reasonably certain he was opting not to answer until his baritone rumbled through her drifting thoughts.

“It was a lot of little moments that all came together. After you took the arrow for me and I realized I’d rather die than lose you. That you meant more to me than being my blade or an evening of comfort. I think the first time my heart changed over was when you came back from that mission so bruised, and you allowed me to help you. I sent you away because I didn’t feel I could afford to have a relationship so deep. The scope of my responsibilities didn’t allow for it. I was confused about what exactly I was feeling, I thought it was lustful infatuation for someone because they denied me. But every day you were gone, I missed you more.”

“And then?”

“And then you showed me that two could carry the burden of rule easier than one, that you were a partner in every sense.” He chuckled softly “I almost feel that the heavens sent you to me, my angel, just to help me accomplish my goals. I sent you away to try to forget you, and then you came back, handing me Kai on a platter. I couldn’t have done all of this without you.”

“I know.” She placed her hand over his, giving it a warm squeeze.

“Did we change your future?”

“I’m not sure. Sasuke theorizes that there are different timelines and that we’ve created an offshoot of sorts. I’ll be honest, I’d always wondered how great your rule would have been if you’d not died so young. What you would have accomplished?”

He grinned against her neck. “I wonder what I could accomplish with a Tigress of Kai ruling by my side?”

She let out a small laugh. “Bold, aren’t we? Goodness, I’ll have as endless a string of titles as you warlords before you are done.”

Shingen tickled along her ribs, hugging her tight to his chest. “The Takeda Oni, The Demon Shadow of the Takeda, Fūjin’s daughter, Defender of the Takeda Army, The Demon Shinobi.” She writhed against him breathlessly, giggling, his fingers stilled. “The Lady Takeda, my wife.” His voice dropped into seriousness. Ren sat up to face him, his grey eyes were soft with affection. 

“Shingen I-“

“Be my wife, Ren.” He took her hands in his sitting up.

“I’m not from a noble house, or any house your people will never accept me-“

“I think you underestimate how much my men worship you after that last battle.”

Her head spun. The Lady Takeda. She couldn’t…could she?

“I’ll make a deal with you.” He raised an eyebrow, “you come home with me, we get you healed, and then we will discuss the possibility of marriage.”

“You are a difficult woman, my goddess.” He frowned. Even his damn frown was attractive.

“I will accept an engagement. And we’ll see what is said about that to gauge the issues?” She kissed his nose.

“And far too cautious.”

“Concerned for the welfare of Kai.” She corrected.

He pulled her back against him, “Like a perfect ruler should be.”

 

 

 

Three days later, Ren was in the dojo early in the morning. She had slipped away silently from the comfortable warmth of Shingen’s bed, leaving him asleep. She needed to get back into shape, she was losing flexibility in her dominant side, her muscle tone was down, and she had become way too thin.

She lit a lantern in the darkness and started some slow stretches before moving into a gentle kata. Half an hour into it, the faint scent of chemicals wafted to her.

“I’m not speaking to you.”

Sasuke stepped from the shadows, lowering his mask.

“But Lady Takeda…”

“Don’t you dare start with me, Sasuke.”

“So… did he ask you before or after you rocked the entire castle with your love song.”

“Damned thin walls! Hell, Sasuke…where did you hear about the proposal?” She turned her back to him, slowly stretching her injured shoulder against a wall.

“Lord Shingen announced his intentions toward you at war council last night.”

Ren paused, covering her face with her hands, just how horrifically could she possibly trash history? She knew marriages during this time period were for political connections, not love. Highborn women were used like ambassadors that gave out sexual favors, married off to men to form alliances, not for love. She never expected him to propose, let alone announce it publicly.

Well, that guns been fired.

“What was the reaction of the daimyōs and vassals?” She still had her face covered…how, could he? She thought they were keeping this between the two of them.

“Well, they all want first dibs on marriage to your children. You currently rank somewhere between Deity and Savior of the clan. Never mind the whisperings that you really are a goddess…or demon. Personally, I’m willing to believe you are both.” 

“How long until the time rift opens?”

“A year and a half.”

“I want to take Shingen back with us. If whatever garbage happening in his chest can be healed, that is his best shot.” She glared at him in determination.

“We’ve already punched some pretty big holes through history, what’s a few more?” He slid down against the dojo wall. Ren slid down next to him. 

“Can we make it back here?” she asked softly.

“You’d want to come back?” Sasuke’s warm brown eyes met hers.

“I really like it here. I love Shingen, I want to be his wife. I also like doing missions better here than in our time. Here I’m a person. There I was a tool. Here I do things for the betterment of society. There I follow the orders of a faceless organization. So yes…I want to live out my life here, but not without him. I don’t care what happens to me if I don’t have him, I know that sounds awful, but I’ll just let the killer slip her leash if he dies.”

Sasuke put his arm around her, pulling Ren to his chest.

“What about you?” Her voice was muffled.

“I want to stay too, let me do some calculation on the next rift opening and see what we can do about Shingen, ok?” She nodded, wrapping her arms around his waist.

 

Him

 

Shingen pressed his forehead against the wall outside the dojo. He had woken to Ren gone and came here to join her. He knew as soon as she could she’d start to train again. He wasn’t expecting to overhear this conversation, it was bittersweet. On one side, he was elated to hear her want to be his wife and live in his time period. But it crushed him to listen to her basically say she would lose herself if she lost him. He still had no idea what his chances of survival were. He leaned, gazing quietly into the room. Ren was curled comfortably in the shinobi’s embrace. If he asked Sasuke to care for her in the way a husband would after his death…would he? Anything to keep her from falling into the void of the assassin. Shingen turned walking back to his room, he would just make the best of this year with her. He couldn’t wait to show her Kai, their home. 

Shingen entered his room, seating himself at his desk, eyeing the mounding paperwork. He wanted to be back in Tsutsujigaseki estate before winter arrived in a few months. His home, soon to be their home. He had already sent people ahead to ready the residence for his occupation. It had to be perfect when he presented it to Ren for the first time. His eyes went to the first missive on his desk, he sighed and got to work. 

Chapter Text

Her

“Lady Takeda,” a vassal bowed respectfully as Ren passed him in the hall. She would never get used to this, they weren’t even married, and yet all of his men treated her with the utmost respect as if they were. Ren wasn’t even currently dressed like a lady. She nodded and smiled at the vassal, continuing on her way toward the dojo. It had only been a week, but her injury was feeling healed enough to get her classes started again. Ren knew she needed to take it easy, but she felt like her students had been neglected.

She rounded the corner into the dojo. A dozen women bowed deeply to her,

“Good morning, Lady Takeda.”

Ok, this was too much.

“Ladies, I am still simply Ren. One of you and your teacher. There will never need to be any type of formality between us.” She smiled at them, displaying warmth. Internally she was concerned, this was rapidly becoming larger than she had ever considered. It was difficult being a shadow when so much light was shown on you. She flexed the fingers of her right hand and rolled the injured shoulder, gently loosening it. 

“Today’s lesson is going to be with tessen, we will start with paper fans for practice and move up to the real thing next week. I have purchased one for each of you.“ She nodded to a crate off to the side. “Take the week to get used to the weight of it, ultimately it should appear no different than handling a light paper fan.”

Ren stretched as she spoke, her students mimicked her movements, warming up. It would likely be another few months until she had full range of motion back. This would be just another ache when it rained, just like the bullet wounds. She shook herself off, then began demonstrating a series of poses to block incoming attacks. As long as she moved slowly, she had her fluidity back, but she tired quickly. Her muscle tone was decreased, she had taken to eating more fish to build herself back up. The days were still warm with early fall, she wasn’t looking forward to this winter. Her fan flashed in the light, she picked a second one up to demonstrate dual movement and got lost for a moment. The familiar warm energy filled her, her mind coated in the pure whiteness of it. She moved smoothly through the steps her body falling into the long-practiced dance of it after over a month of inactivity and bed rest. 

His scent floated in on the breeze from the doorway, mixing with the autumnal smell of golden leaves drifting from the trees in the courtyard.

Then his warm arms were around her, his deep baritone rumbling through her body. 

“Pardon me, ladies, I need to steal your instructor for a moment.”

Tittering from the class, murmurs of appreciation and yes lord Shingens abounded. Ren blushed.

Him

He had just intended to watch the class like he used to, but there was something so alluring in her movement that he had needed to touch her. Every line was the height of grace. She moved with such slow control and precision. The early morning light streamed in through the open door, gracing her with a subtle golden ethereal glow. His goddess. Shingen moved forward, wrapping his lover in a passionate embrace.

“Pardon me, ladies, I need to steal your instructor for a moment.” He drew her outside the doorway into the empty hall. 

Shingen pressed Ren to the wall covering her lips with his. She fervently returned his kiss, her lithe body melting into the heat of his.

“I woke, and you were gone,” he murmured, lips moving to nuzzle against her neck, he kissed along the short silken curls behind her ear. Her hair was getting longer, he secretly hoped she wouldn’t shave it again.

“Mmmm, I have a class to teach. I told you I was starting again last night.” Her hands slid inside his kimono, running lightly along his ribs. 

“So you did, I came to watch.” He sucked playfully on her earlobe, she purred against him.

“Oh, this is watching? This seems a little more hands-on, my Tiger.” She teased. Ren nipped his neck hard enough to mark him for everyone to see, then lapping her tongue over it sweetly. He growled in arousal, leaning his forehead to her shoulder. How could he possibly desire one person this much?

“Is your afternoon free?” He drew back, looking into her violet eyes. They were bluer this morning, reflecting the brightness of the clear autumn sky.

“It is, do you have something in mind?” Her hands cupped his cheeks, bringing him down to her lips for another kiss.

“I do. I have some meetings this morning… but let’s go riding… this afternoon.” His voice was tender, the words spread between kisses. Giggling came from the doorway. He glanced; her students were peering out at them.

She slid from his arms with a smile, “I’ll see you then.”

Shingen watched her walk back into the dojo, her hips swaying seductively.

 A flurry of women’s voices surrounding her.

“He’s so handsome, Lady Ren, you are so lucky.”

“I’ve never seen Lord Shingen so smitten.”

“Truly, it only makes him more attractive.”

“Is that possible?”

More giggling, then Ren’s voice, “Alright ladies, settle down, let’s pair up and go through these drills.”

Shingen turned, heading toward this morning’s war council, a broad smile on his lips, her scent clinging to him. He was the lucky one.

 

Her

 

Ren leaned into Shingen’s broad chest as his black charger picked its way slowly over the meadow. She was amused that he insisted on only taking his horse. His hands caressed her as they rode, stroking her thigh, a light caress along her ribs, gentle fingers barely brushing the outer curve of her breast. She adored his touch, and now that they were together, he never seemed to get enough of her. Sometimes she had to remind him she was indeed still injured. This was so much better than the last time she had shared a horse with him. She chuckled softly.

“What is it that amuses you, my goddess?” He nuzzled her ear, she purred snuggling back into him.

“I was thinking about the last time I shared a horse with you, it was not nearly as romantic.”

Shingen smiled, his hand coming to rest over her stomach, thumb stroking just under her obi.

“I loved you then, almost as much as now, but not as much as I will tomorrow.”

She grinned and rolled her eyes at his hallmark-like cheesiness. “You-“

“Me?” He kissed her cheek.

“Where are we going anyway?” she gazed out over the fields. The autumn colors were lovely, the day was comfortably warm.

“Honestly, I just wanted you to myself for a time, away from the castle.”

“Fair enough.” They both had responsibilities that kept them apart during the days. Ren was still injured, so she wasn’t being sent on missions. She wasn’t sure he’d still be willing to send her on missions, but they would cross that bridge when they got there. She was enjoying the bliss of a new lover far too much to mar it with realistic details.

“Tell me how you really came to be here? You’ve always been so vague, but I admit I am curious.”

“Well,” Ren took a deep breath, the scent of sweet, dry grasses filling her lungs. She picked over where exactly to begin. “I had a break between missions and hadn’t seen Sasuke in about three years, so we were overdue for a visit. He is actually in a science field, not a ninja, where we are from. He had emailed…um written… that he had been doing some breakthrough work on tracking time anomalies. It all seemed very fantasy-based, but he was excited about it. I arrived in Japan, we hung out a few days, and then he said the next wormhole was about to open and would I like to see it?”

Shingen’s hand moved to stroke through her hair. His fingers played with the curls starting to form behind her ears, a warm kiss was pressed there.

“So, what does a “wormhole” look like?” 

“Well, for starters, it poured rain, and then the lightning started. Of course, neither of us brought umbrellas.” She chuckled, placing her hand over his on her stomach. “Then it was like this dark rift opened in the air, he tried to pull me back, we were only supposed to be observing. But the next thing I knew, I was lying in the street getting rained on in the castle town below Kasugayama. I was in modern clothes, which are not very modest by your standards…”

Shingen raised an eyebrow, he moved Ren to sit across the saddle, cradling her in his arms so he could see her face.

“How immodest?” He grinned.

“Well, …it was spring and warm. I was wearing what we call “shorts” and a sleeveless top. My legs from upper thighs down were exposed…and unfortunately, that drew the wrong kind of attention while I tried to get my bearings.” She chuckled with a blush.

“Two ruffians approached me in the rain, offering their brand of help, I declined. The streets were fairly empty because of the storm. I was surprised when they got rough with me, so I got rough back and left them unconscious in the mud. Chiyome saw all of it and was impressed. She took me in, got me dried off, loaned me a kimono, and invited me to join your mitsumono. I ran into Sasuke a few days later at Kasugayama castle. It seems he was dropped on a nearby battlefield, saved Kenshin’s life, and in return, the warlord agreed to train him as one of his Shinobi.” She leaned in, kissing Shingen’s cheek. “And the rest, you know.”

“Sasuke studied science in your time…what were you?”

“I was an agent, a spy, a shinobi, I guess. I told you a man came to get me after my father was killed?”

Shingen nodded, remembering the earlier talk.

“Well, he was also an agent for the NIS, an intelligence network that operated out of Norway, my father’s home country. Erik had promised my father to look after me. He took me in and knowing nothing else in his life, trained me in that profession. I already had all the baseline skills from my father. By age twenty, I was out in the field doing missions. Actually, …you look a bit like them.”

Shingen raised a brow in surprise.

“I mean, not in coloring but size, I guess. My father was a big man, blonde, blue-eyed. I take after him in looks…other than the big part, I got my mother’s frame. Erik, the man who trained me, was the same. It’s why when you and I sparred it was familiar for me, I’m used to going against big men with a long reach.” 

“And your Mother? She was Japanese?” Shingen paused the horse under a large tree. He slid her off then dismounted, tying the horse off. He pulled a small picnic bundle and blanket, taking the time to lay it out as he listened.

“She was, it wasn’t typical for agents to take a spouse. They can become possible targets if your identity is ever revealed. He was in Japan, in Kōfu, her home town.”

“Wait…your family is from Kōfu?” He glanced at her. “So… I’ve fallen for a village girl?” His grin was borderline silly, Ren rolled her eyes.

“Anyway…the way my father tells the tale, it was love at first sight. Her family was extremely traditional and not happy this “great blond barbarian” was stealing their daughter.” Ren had a seat on the blanket. Shingen laid his head in her lap, gazing up at her as her story unfolded.

“So, what did he do?” Shingen fed her a sweet pastry with a grin, Ren licked the sugar off his fingertips.

“He spent a lot of time charming the family while he dated…courted…her. He was fairly wealthy. Finally, they relented, their daughter was happy, he could obviously provide for her, and he set her parents up quite nicely. He retired from the NIS, and they lived happily for a time. He was always concerned his work would come back to haunt him, so once I was old enough to walk, he started training me.”

“So, you were born to this?” He brushed a bit of icing from the corner of her lip.

“As much as you were, I suppose.” Ren smiled down at him, running her fingers through his thick auburn hair.

“My mother taught me fan dancing, tea ceremony, everything that was traditional to her culture. I did martial arts competitive sports from a young age at the insistence of my father. We lived in Japan, I had a hard time fitting in because of my Norwegian coloring. Sasuke lived next door, and we became best friends. I don’t recall a time without him. I was young when my mother died, my father went a little mad and returned back to work at the NIS, I had nannies and neighbors to take care of me, but he rarely came home. Sasuke was always there, like an older brother. A few years later, my father was gone as well.” Ren paused for a long time, gazing up at the clear blue sky.

“I think he segregated himself like I do, and when his love died, he just fell into the assassin side of himself and never came out again.” She blinked back tears, then gave a sad smile to Shingen. “I didn’t understand it then, but I do now.”

“I hope to never give you a reason for that to happen.”

“You know, you are still very popular there, in my time, huge statue and everything.” She changed the subject, grinning down at him. “Big festival celebrating you, the whole works. It’s likely why you were kind of a hero figure to me. I’ve been going to the Takeda Shingen festival since I was small. I’ve walked around Tsutsujigaseki more times than I can count.

“Have you?” He looked surprised, “I was hoping to be the first to show you our home.”

Our home.

The strangeness of what she knew from the future versus what was happening now made her feel a little dizzy.

“Well, you still will be. In my time, it’s a ruin. It’s still a large tourist draw, but it’s not really one of the castles that time left standing. The moats are there, and some of the stone.”

“A ruin…what happened?” He looked sad. Ren brushed her hand against his cheek.

“Five hundred years happened, my love.”

“Do any of the castles stand?”

“Well yes, of course, the vic-“ She stopped, glancing at him. “It’s not important. What is important is I will very much enjoy seeing it with you.”

“The victors, the leaders who eventually unified Japan. That is what you were going to say, wasn’t it Ren?” His voice was soft. He cupped his hand over hers on his cheek. “My goddess, what if things do change?”

“Then, they change. Historians have argued that point forever, Shingen. The maybe ifs and the would haves. I guess if we make it back to the present, we’ll see if anything has changed. I’d just like to enjoy the now.”

“Do you have any family left in your time?” He closed his eyes, nuzzling into her thigh.

“My Grandparents on my mom’s side still live in Kōfu, I never got along great with them because I look like my father. They were always on me to marry and would foist some poor male on me every time I visited.” Ren rolled her eyes, Shingen chuckled turning to look back up at her.

“None of them were good enough?” He teased, a shadow crossed over her face. 

“I was in love with an older man when I was too young to know better, or I thought I was in love. I didn’t realize it was another lesson.” Ren pulled some dry grasses twirling them in her fingers.

“The man who trained you?” Shingen guessed.

“Yea, Erik. Maybe it was I missed my father, maybe it was just the attention. He waited until I was eighteen to teach the seduction part of the spy game, and he taught it well. His final lesson was never fall in love with your mark.”

She grew quiet for a moment remembering her mentor and first love. He literally did teach her everything. You had to know love to give love, he would say. You also had to know pain to appropriately convey that when needed. In the end, when she thought he was the only man in the world for her, that he hung the stars in the moon. Ren thought he loved her with all his heart just as she loved him. Then she saw the blankness in his eyes and knew it was all a lesson. Erik had never involved his feelings; it was the same for him as if he had been training her to use a weapon. And truthfully, that is precisely what seduction was for their kind. The illusion of love, a weapon, just one more tool in the art of deception. She had seduced plenty of men and women in her lifetime for her line of work, she had loved none.

“That must have been hard on a young girl’s heart.” Shingen’s words brought her back, Ren blinked.

“He was never cruel about it. And I am well trained, it’s just another skill. Most of the time, it doesn’t even involve sex, it’s a look, a touch, a feeling. It’s saying what is desired to be heard.” She shrugged.

“You never used that on me? You are always blushing adorably.”

“You…are the exception to the rule for me, my damn training goes all to hell when you are near. I did use my skills on you once, and you fell hard.” She grinned.

“The fan dance,” He grinned back, remembering. “That look you gave me! I thought you were going to kiss me in front of the entire room. You were so furious I asked you to do that.”

“Asked? Try commanded…you had to hide your interest under your haori.” She laughed.

“You noticed that did you?” Shingen ran tickling fingers up her ribs.

“Kinda obvious not to notice.” Ren took his hand, kissing his palm. “Anyway, I never used it on you because I always wanted to be honest with you, and I respected you. If anything ever happened between us, I wanted to know it was genuine, not a bunch of carefully cultivated circumstances wrapped in a fake persona.”

“So, is Erik waiting for you? Back in your time?”

“No, we were casual on again off again, bedmates for a long time. It was a comfort thing after my training was done, not romantic. But he died on a mission about five years ago.”

Shingen paused, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, everything has an end remember, besides I was never good at casual anyway. I have a jealous streak a mile wide.”

“So, no one else?” He enveloped her small hand in his.

“I was a shadow Shingen, emotional attachments were a luxury I couldn’t afford.”

“And now?” He sat up.

“Am I still your blade?” Her eyes searched his. 

Shingen took her hands, “you are so much more to me than that. I can’t tell you to stop being you, Ren. I won’t willingly send you out on missions like I did before, though. I don’t want to put you in danger. And I certainly don’t want you in another man’s bed, it appears you are not the only one with a jealous streak. Stay close to me? Protect what is ours.”

Ours

She nodded in understanding.

“I would like to leave for Tsutsujigaseki shortly before it gets much cooler. I’ve already sent vassals ahead to prepare the estate for us. It’s not a traditional castle, but it is my ancestral home. I would like it to be ours.”

“Just so you realize, Sasuke has calculated the time rift will likely open near Honnō-ji. When the time comes, we will have to travel there.”

Shingen frowned, that was awfully close to Azuchi. Ren gave him a nudge. “We’ll be fine, I’ll disguise us while traveling, just a merchant husband and wife peddling their wares.”

“I like that.” His lips came down warm and soft over hers, lingering. “The husband and wife part.” His voice whispered against her lips.

“I thought you might since you proposed within minutes of the first time you had me.” She teased, returning his kiss.

“I knew what I wanted, there was no point in delaying if we both felt the same.” He pulled her into his lap, sliding his hands up her thighs. “Speaking of wants…” His lips kissed down her neck, nuzzling against her collarbone, pushing the collar of her kimono to the side.

“Here?” She grinned against his cheek.

“Yes.” His tongue lathed her skin, warm hands were already untying her obi.

“Where anyone can see us?” She teased, shrugging out of her kimono, he groaned at the sight of the sunlight on her pale flesh. The scar on her shoulder had healed cleanly to a faintly red star-shaped mark. His lips traced it tenderly, a symbol of the depth of her loyalty.

“Are you concerned about making love in a public place? You were the one that almost took me on the dojo floor.” He laughed, nipping her shoulder, “At least your love song will be mine alone to hear.”

“My Lord.” Her eyes were teasing, fingers untying his hakama. “Part of me believes you did that on purpose, you made no move to quiet me, if anything, you encouraged it.”

“My Lady Takeda, I was simply making sure everyone was clear that you are mine.” He leaned back and lifted her, letting her slide onto him at her leisure. Her Tiger purred against her shoulder at every small movement. She went achingly slow, allowing him to stretch and fill her. His grey eyes watched her with a touch of wonder. “And I am yours.” His arms went around her when their hips met, his lips seeking hers. He made love to her in the warm autumn sun, her song was indeed sweet, and solely for him.

Chapter Text

Her

Ren held out her cup for Sasuke to pour, but Kenshin brushed him aside.

“You will be missed, Takeda Oni.” The warlord sloshed the sake to the very brim of her cup. “But, I thank you for taking this great lout out of my castle.” His mismatched eyes glanced at Shingen.

“Now, now…I’d like to think we’ve become friends.” Shingen smiled suavely, tipping back his drink.

“I look forward to seeing you again on the battlefield.” Kenshin grinned fiercely, downing his own cup.

“As allies…” Ren laughed, she took the sake bottle, pouring for Sasuke. 

The farewell party had been in full swing for hours, Ren gazed out over the hall. People were happy, good food, plenty of drink, she would miss living here. Sasuke leaned into her shoulder

“You’ll come back to visit?” His warm brown eyes were a bit unfocused, his words slurred.

“Of course, I will,” she gave him a half hug. “And you are always welcome to visit me. Besides, we still have the trip.

“Not for quite a while yet. I’ll get in contact with you when things get closer. We still have more than a year. But it should be mid-spring after this one.” He leaned against her, she poured him another. Another cup appeared as Shingen’s arm possessively wrapped around her waist. She grinned, pouring for her lover.

“You are welcome in our home anytime, Sasuke.” The tall warlord smiled. Kenshin shot Shingen a dirty look. 

“Keep your filthy paws off my shinobi, you have your women, don’t steal him.” The blonde muttered. Ren smirked, Kenshin had become so reliant on Sasuke in the last two years she couldn’t see them ever parting.

“My Lord Kennnshumn,” Sasuke slurred, “I could not standf the level of toof rotting affhhection these two display now to even contemphlate living in their cashle. Ima lifer wif you.”

Ren leaned into Shingen’s embrace with an amused smile leaving Sasuke to tumble back onto some cushions.

“Ninja down! I believe Sasuke has had enough.” She sipped her sake, Shingen’s fingers traced her cheek.

“We should also be heading to bed,” Shingen rose, offering Ren a hand up. “My Goddess?”

 Him

“My Tiger.” Her violet eyes burned with desire for him. It was all Shingen could do not to sweep her into his arms, kiss her until she was breathless right there in the hall then carry her back to his room. He’d settle for walking close beside her until they were away from prying eyes. Shingen brushed a kiss over her forehead, leading her from the hall. He glanced down at her as the chilly night flowed over them both then bent, sweeping an arm behind her knee and lifting her bridal style.

“Shingen!” Her squeal was delightful. His long strides moved them toward his room. Ren was already kissing down his neck, pushing the collar of his kimono aside. Her pert bottom brushed the tip of his already stiffened cock as he strode down the corridor, tantalizing him. He had been so gentle with her up until now, waiting for her injury to heal.

He was not in a gentle mood tonight.

He paused in the hallway, leaning against a wall and ravaging her lips. Her cries against his mouth only served to urge him on. Her hands pulled his hair, he moaned at the sensation then held her close to his chest again. They would never reach his chambers at this rate, he contemplated just finding a quiet hallway. A smirk crossed his lips, it wouldn’t be silent for long. He continued swiftly down the hall, turning to cut across a courtyard.

He stopped again, letting her feet touch the ground. Shingen pressed Ren to the wall, his lips to her neck, she clung to him in tipsy pleasure. The spice scent of her flesh was driving him insane with need. He pressed the hard length of himself to her belly, sliding his knee between her thighs. She ground herself on his thigh enticingly, soaking the silk of his hakama in her arousal. He slid a hand through the slit in her kimono, tracing up her leg and cupping her ass. She hooked her leg up over his hip.

“How is it you always smell so good, goddess mine?” He growled low against her throat, her hands twined up around his neck, holding him to her. She laughed, and it only aroused him more.

“You like the smell of leather and polishing oil?” She grinned against his cheek, then sucked playfully at his earlobe.

“No, it’s more than that, it’s a sweet spice, and I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is.” He breathed deeply, nuzzling his face into the curve of her shoulder.

Ren laughed, “Shingen, that tickles! I’m not wearing perfume...” her words ended in a soft moan as he feasted on the soft flesh of her shoulder, covering her skin in nibbles and kisses.

“It must be the pure scent of an angel then. How fortunate I am to have one descend from the heavens to bestow her gifts on me.”

Ren rolled her eyes, writhing against him, “Get us to your room before the bestowing happens here where we will be on display for the entire castle.”

He lifted her up, wrapping her legs around his waist. The last few steps to his room were absolute torture, she wore nothing under her kimono and now pressed bare female flesh to his hakama. He was far too clothed for this, her wet heat slid along his cock with each step, soaking the thin fabric. He slammed the door open hard on its rails, spinning in place he slammed it closed with a crack of distressed wood.

Shingen pushed her to the wall, one large hand on her bottom to support her. He pulled futilely at his hakama ties then in frustration, ripped the already ruined silk from his body. Ren grinned, nipping at his lips, her legs wrapping tighter.

“It seems you have finally let the tiger loose.” She purred against his skin. Shingen yanked the tie of her obi roughly, leaning back just long enough to push the layers of her kimono aside, taking an erect nipple into his mouth. He flicked it with his tongue, loving how prominent hers were. He sucked her flesh into his mouth and bit hard, leaving a perfect crescent mark on her pale skin. Ren let out a yelping moan, he felt her gush against him, covering his shaft in her juices. He slid his arousal against those wet lips, his hands going under her thighs effortlessly lifting her higher. Passion drunk violet eyes met his, he paused a breath, gazing at her in hunger. The blunt head of his cock pressing insistently against her entrance.

“Yes.” Her voice was soft compared to their panting breath.

He slammed into her in one stroke, her passionate cry echoed loudly in the room. Her thighs pressed to his heavily muscled biceps, he continued pounding into her each thrust creating a steady beat against the wood wall. Her nails raked his shoulders, and his cries joined hers. Her lips brushed his ear, breath caressing his flesh.

“Harder.” She begged. Shingen crushed her to the wall pinning Ren down. She struggled arching against him. He shoved her against the rough wood picking up a bruising pace. She bit down on his broad shoulder, muffling a scream, then licked his marked skin. His name a cry on her lips.

The warlord spun her taking her to his bed. He lifted her off him. Her cry of disappointment at the loss of his thick length filling her made him grin savagely. He flipped her, ass high in the air, large hand on her hip. His fingers dipped into her wet pussy sliding teasingly, tapping against her in such a way that she let out a staccato of short high-pitched squeals.

“Ahhh, there’s my little songbird.” He slid home, his grip was tight enough on her hips to leave a trail of purpling bruises on her pristine flesh. He licked up her back, and she positively howled out his name.

“Shingen!” She tightened around him. His name cried out in passion made him throb, he wanted to hear it over and over until she was too hoarse to speak. He curled his body over hers, stroking her shallowly, his fingers played in those blonde curls, tapping an uneven rhythm against her wet flesh, making her writhe deliciously against him. He felt her ripple along his rock-hard length, he strummed her like the beautiful instrument she was, bringing forth the sweetest song. He held himself in check…barely… as she came around him. His breath short as he struggled not to let himself go with her. He slowed his strokes, riding the after tremors of her orgasm, then stilled, rolling them both onto their side. 

Shingen kissed along her neck and shoulder gently, nuzzling the flesh he had ravished. She was covered in his passionate marks, his scent, and he loved it. He stroked his warm hands over her body for long moments, letting her come back to herself. Then flexed his still very hard cock sliding the full length out to just the tip, then pressing with aching slowness into her sensitive womanly flesh. The long moan she let out was worth not letting himself finish with her. Another long slow press. She bit down on the blankets, tenderly he pulled them from her lips. 

“I want to hear you.” His sonorous baritone was a purr against her neck “I love hearing how I make you feel, never hold back.”

“Shingen.” His name was a whisper, she was barely holding on, her mouth formed an O of a wordless cry.

“I don’t care who hears. You are mine.” His hand cupped Ren’s breast toying with her nipple, he loved how she just fit into the palm of his hand, not so much that it spilled over, just enough to play with, the perfect softness. He licked the sensitive skin behind her ear, nuzzling as he pushed deep into her again. The round cheeks of her bottom snugged against his hips, he reveled in her silken flesh.

Another languid push, she trembled. Shingen felt her clench him, and he almost lost his control. Her muscled thighs shook.

“Shingen….Please…” said so softly, her voice almost gone.

“Mmmm, please, what my angel?” He rolled his hips, she fluttered on his flesh, and he almost lost himself again. He couldn’t get enough of her, he never wanted this to end. Two long slow strokes, her sighs were like a summer breeze. That flutter built, she was so tight, he pressed in again with a groan.

“Fill me.” A pleading whisper.

It was all he could take, she came undone around him. He spurted hot and deep inside her, ribbons of cum painting her, claiming Ren completely. His gasps buried in her neck. Shingen finally stilled, wrapping himself around her. They both drifted off to sleep bodies entwined.

Chapter Text

Him

 

Shingen eyed Ren curiously, She was wearing a dark blue haori against the cooler autumn day, but he could clearly see she was in armor under it. The arrow hole had been patched, worked into a lotus flower design that spread over her right shoulder. Her tessen were tucked into her belt. Her bow was loose in its case on her saddle. The horse she chose to take was dark like his but a smaller, light, faster mount. She decided on the animal for its endurance and speed. She had packed surprisingly little, and most of it appeared to either be dry rations or weapons.

“Are you expecting problems, little bird?” Shingen reined his charger in, matching the smaller horse’s stride. Ren turned, giving him a wink, the oni face-covering hung loose like a scarf around her neck.

“In these times, aren’t there always problems? We have a long way to go, I’d prefer to be prepared. The rest of my things can come along with the vassals. I don’t actually own much, a few kimonos, and some wigs. I have all I need here beside me.” She gave him an affectionate wink.

They had decided to leave the day before they announced they would, traveling fast and light with no additional guards. It was Ren’s idea. Initially, he wanted a slow caravan bringing everything from Kenshin’s castle to their new home. Ren felt it posed too much of a target after his recent win. Two people traveling alone would not raise an eyebrow and could move much faster. It should take a bit over a week of comfortable traveling to get there. Shingen wasn’t going to argue, it meant ten nights alone with her, ten days of no paperwork or responsibilities where his sole focus could be his soon to be wife. The wind played in her hair, it was long enough now to sit on her head in silvery blonde ringlets. The curls traced the nape of her neck, there was almost enough to hold onto. He licked his lips, tearing his eyes from her to scan the trail.

Ren side-eyed him, grinning. “Is there something you’d like to share with the class Shingen?”

He chuckled, so little slid by her. “Your hair looks attractive. I like it longer.”

“Such a male thing to say, is there a reason why?” She ran a gloved hand through the curling locks mussing it. It was still far shorter than his own.

“Something to hold onto?” The tiger glinted in his eye, he nudged his horse closer, tracing a finger behind her ear. She laughed, the sound was musical. Had he known it would be like this, he would have given in to her sooner, sworn himself to her a year ago, two years ago…the moment they met, he would have just given her everything if he had known. He wanted children with her, strong sons, beautiful daughters. A family, a legacy.

“I promise you if I ever feel at peace, I will let it grow.” 

“Has it ever been long?” 

“When I was young, it was to my waist. Erik shaved it when my training started.”

“A pity.”

“A necessity, if you’ve ever had your hair grabbed in a fight, you would know why.”

“Helms tend to stop that. So, I can’t say I’ve experienced it.”

“It’s a painful lesson. In my line of work, it can end up getting me killed. If I need long hair wigs work fine.”

Her

They rode in quiet companionship for some time, enjoying the scenery. As dusk approached, they pulled off the trail finding a suitable location for a campsite. Shingen got a fire started while She slipped off, returning with a pair of freshly killed rabbits, she cleaned and spitted them setting them to roast.

Shingen rolled out their bed, inviting Ren to join him. She curled up under his arm, nuzzling against his chest, her eyes watching the dancing flames for a long time before she spoke.

“You never talk about your family Shingen.”

“Family gets a little complicated when clans are concerned. What would you like to know?” His fingers traced small circles on her shoulder, then slipped under her kimono to gently caress her scar. The night was unseasonably warm, even without the fire. She let him slide the cloth down, baring her shoulder.

“Are your parents still alive?”

“My father, I sent into exile after I took over the Takeda Clan. He supported my younger brother Nobushige to succeed him. We never really saw eye to eye. I didn’t really know my mother.”

“Any siblings?” Ren leaned forward a moment, testing the doneness of the rabbits. Satisfied, she pulled the first one off to share with Shingen.

“Several brothers but not all are still alive, some are generals in my army. My three sisters were married off. Nobushige actually supported me as one of my generals, we were close, but he died in battle a few years ago.” He nodded in thanks, biting into the roasted meat.

“How do they feel about your proposal?” Ren kept her tone light, she was still concerned about him taking her as a wife and the political implications, not that she’d let him shuffle her off to concubine status.

“They are impressed by your battle prowess, valor, skill, and loyalty to the clan. It supersedes your lack of family ties. Also-“ He paused, trailing off, he stuffed a large bite of rabbit into his mouth chewing thoughtfully.

Ren waited, tearing bits of meat off and chewing them. He didn’t continue. She finished her part of the rabbit pulling off the second from the fire and laying it on a small pan for him.

“Also?” She turned to face Shingen questioningly.

“Well,” he made a gesture…then put another bite into his mouth. She smirked.

“What a terrible day it is when your silver tongue runs out of words.”

He grinned and finished chewing.

“It may have been said that we would make extremely desirable children.”

“Oh, would we? Desirable in what way exactly? Careful what you say here, Shingen, I’ll not have my daughters married off to secure some geezer’s loyalty.”

He choked. She patted his back.

“Well, there is the obvious aesthetic appeal.” He was blushing.

It was adorable.

“And.”

“And discussion of combat prowess, you must admit…they do not know your training and where you came from. To their eyes, you are an almost mystical creature.”

“Shingen, I nearly died, I bleed red like everyone else.”

“But you didn’t die, which makes the legend even that much more magnificent.” He teased, finishing his dinner and pulling her to his chest.

“Is this your backward way of asking me to bear your children?” She squinted playfully.

“I feel like we should practice the making of them to be sure I have it just right.” Shingen’s seductive smile was irresistible. His large hands slid under the band of her hakama, cupping her bare bottom.

“You are incorrigible.” 

“I do feel like you are encouraging me with your heavenly body.” He stole a kiss, his lips curling in a smile.

“That is not what I said.” Ren giggled and squirmed against him as his hands massaged and squeezed teasingly.

“I do want children, though.” He kissed her nose, his eyes a soft grey. “Is that something you’d desire with me?”

Ren smiled, her hands tracing over his broad chest. “Yes, when the time is right, and it’s safe for me to be waddling around with a swollen belly.”

His hand smoothed down over her flat muscular stomach, “And if I put one in you tonight?” His husky voice was a seductive whisper, lips tenderly brushing her ear. Ren chuckled internally; she wasn’t going to explain what an IUD was to him. She’d remove the contraceptive device when she felt safe enough to carry their child.

“You are welcome to try.” Her eyes darkened in desire.

“Am I?” He purred. Ren slid down his body, untying his hakama. Her hands caressed his naked hips as she pushed the soft fabric aside. He was already hard, she kissed down the long smooth v of his stomach, letting the silken heat of him trail across her cheek. Her eyes watched his. Her tongue slowly traversed the full length of him in one long slow lick.

“Unless you would be content to sit and watch for a while?” She flicked her tongue over his weeping slit, tasting him, a purr escaped her lips, whispering along his flesh.

“My goddess, what if I desired a…more natural…view of your heavenly body?” His lips were quirked in that smooth smile that said he expected to get exactly what he wanted.

“What would you do to see my flesh lit only by fire and moonlight?” Another long slow lick up his throbbing flesh, she let her kimono slide the rest of the way off her shoulder to rest against one elbow.

“To see the very stars envy your beauty, you would have my gratitude.”

She hummed against his flesh, his eyes rolled back, and he trembled. “Your gratitude, tch,” she nipped him lightly, causing moans of pure desire. “Surely, you can do better than that, Shingen?”

Ren let the other shoulder of her kimono drop, she leaned forward, allowing his cock slide between her bare breasts, the tip tickled her chin. Ren tipped her head down, letting her lips capture it teasingly. Rapturously he watched her, violet eyes glanced at him, she pulled back, continuing to let fingers dance lightly over his long length.

“I’m waiting?” Her voice was deliciously breathless.

He let out a rush of air, her name a soft exhale, “Ren…”

“Hmmm?”

“Goddess….”

She circled her fingers almost fully around the base of him, giving him a nice squeeze. She marveled for a moment that her hand did not fit around his full girth. Ren never thought of herself as a size queen, but damn the man was converting her. She ran her thumb lightly over him, then put pressure right…

He moaned deeply…

There…

“That my love is not an answer, what would you do to have me completely naked, here in the moonlight?” She took the full length of him in, relaxing her throat to fit him all, then drawing back slowly, his hand rested on the back of her head, caressing through the short silken waves. She bobbed his full length a few times until his breathing got pitched then pulled back with a lewd pop, silvery strands trailed from him to her lips, she licked them off slowly.

“Anything…” it was barely a whisper. His hand dropped to her shoulder, relaxed. Her teeth barely caught his flesh as she slid over him again. His breath hitched, abdomen muscles tensing. She withdrew with a grin.

“I couldn’t hear you over all that gasping…”

“Anything…you desire…my ang-“ another gasp swallowed the rest of his words. Her hand rolled his balls gently, lips brushed tender kiss down his length, then she sucked on the smooth flesh.

“Well, since you can’t seem to use that handsome mouth of yours for words tonight,” Ren stood, slowly disrobing. “I’ll put those lips to better use.”

Him

There was a soft whisper of cloth, and then she was clothed only in moonlight, backlit by the embers of the dying fire. His vision felt a little hazy, she looked ethereal, surreal, as if a spirit had come to seduce him. But the thighs she pressed to the sides of his face were silky and so warm. Ren laid her body on top of his, hard nipples caressing his taut stomach. Her lips wrapped around the head of his shaft, tugging insistently. He took a deep breath, senses filling with the enticing scent of aroused female flesh. His hands smoothed to her hips, pulling her closer. He licked slowly, drinking in her arousal, flicking his tongue over her sensitive flesh. Ren hummed her approval against his straining cock. His hips bucked involuntarily, and he felt her impish grin against his heated flesh. It became a sensual game of teasing moans, their sounds of pleasure echoing softly into the night. He tugged on her hips, thrusting his tongue deep into her core. Ren sat up, her hips rolling. His hands traced up her body to cup her breasts, flicking her pearled nipples in calloused fingers. Her hands clawed at his chest in passion, her voice was hoarse little cries of pleasure.

It only encouraged him more. Shingen licked and nibbled every bit of her flesh, claiming all of it as his. She came apart, soaking his cheeks and chest in her nectar, he drank her down, letting her grind and writhe on him. He wanted to feel that delicious clenching on his cock, to be enveloped in her silky heat. He lifted her high, and she turned to take him in, sliding her body down his long torso, welcoming him into her tight, passion slicked embrace. 

Her

She was still coming when he lifted her off the seduction of his silver tongue and filled her with his magnificent cock. Each roll of his hips sent new tremors through her body, rocking her very soul. Her lips traced his chest, tasting herself on his flesh, murmuring his name. She was lost in the pleasure he gave her. Never had Ren ever let herself go, immersed herself so completely as she did when she was one with him. Never had she felt so loved, warm and safe as she did in his arms, her body twined with his. One more thrust, and she was lost, spinning into ecstasy and pulling him with her. She felt him spill hot inside her, clenching herself tight, never wanting to let him go. Light covered her consciousness, and she floated blissfully in it, enjoying the sensation of being joined with the other half of her soul until the velvet of sleep draped over her mind.

Chapter Text

Her

Ren leaned back comfortably into her lover’s chest, the slow rambling walk of his horse lulling her in and out of a lazy dozing. They were on the last day of their journey, flatlands had given way to mountains ringed in the reds and golds of fall. The weather had been nothing less than gorgeous the entire trip. Ren had traded her armor for more comfortable clothes on the third day, finally relaxing enough to realize she didn’t need to be on duty. She shifted, tipping her head back to kiss his chin. Shingen smiled, giving her hips a squeeze with his muscular thighs. His hand slid inside her kimono top, caressing her breast, a rough thumb toying her nipple to erectness. Over a week of constant lovemaking and they still couldn’t get enough of each other, it was a wonder they made it into the borders of Kai at all. He slid his hand out again, placing it warmly over her stomach, she covered it with hers. Shingen nuzzled her neck affectionately.

“What are you thinking, my angel?” His voice was achingly tender, how she loved this man.

“The mountains look familiar. I’m starting to recognize where we are. But in my time, the capital city sprawls.” She gestured with her hand, where the city would lay in the valley before them. There was a bustling town below, a shadow of what it would be one day. “It’s charming to see nature untouched, this is a breathtaking time of year to travel.” She gave his hand a squeeze then glanced back at her dark horse, the mare was tied off to his black charger. She walked along docilely, the extra packs tied to her saddle. It was Shingen’s suggestion this morning that they ride together. At first, she thought it was just so he could continue this morning’s affectionate petting, but now she realized he wanted to be close to her as he presented their home. 

“I’ll take you for a ride one day to see mount Fuji to the south. I’ve always loved the leaves at this time of year.” His smile was soft, a bit shy, “I never dreamed I’d be able to share this with you.” She felt his lips against her temple. Then Shingen kissed the crown of her head, nuzzling into her hair. “We’ll stay in an inn once we reach town so you can get a real bath and bed. I’ll send ahead to Tsutsujigaseki, so they know to expect us in the morning.”

Ren nodded, returning to dozing against his warmth. She could get used to this, having a real home with a man who loved her. A family. Her eyes misted a bit. This was worth protecting, worth dedicating her life to. Perhaps the assassin could retire, fading into the shadows like a dark dream.

 

Ren unpacked the one formal kimono she had brought with her. His gift to her, the gossamer silk rolled from her pack, she carefully shook out the wrinkles hanging the garment up in their inn room. She wanted to look like the Lady she was expected to be when she entered their home for the first time tomorrow. 

“My Love, the bath is ready downstairs.” Shingen entered their room, seeing her gazing at the plum blossom kimono he slid behind her, enfolding Ren in a warm embrace.

“You brought it with you.” Shingen’s voice was tender. She felt his smile on her skin, his lips traced her neck. The warlord’s hand reached out, tracing the Takeda Mon on the delicate silk. “You will look radiant for our people.”

“I know I’m not what they would have expected for you.”

“No, you are far more. You are everything that my standard stands for, as swift as the wind, as gentle as the forest, as fierce as fire, as unshakable as a mountain. Everything a Takeda should be is in your soul. I marry a Goddess from the stars, a daughter of the wind.”

Ren grinned, snuggling into his arms. “Whose bath is getting cold while she is buried in silver-tongued compliments.” Shingen laughed.

“Come, we are in luck, the tub is more than large enough for two.” His laughter was music to her ears, and his smile contagious. Her heart was content.

 

Him

She rode cradled in his arms as they entered Tsutsujigaseki. He had once again insisted on one horse, leaving a vassal to bring their things along. They were both in formal kimono. 

Ren looked radiant, ethereal, a true goddess. He beamed in pride as they rode his black charger across the entryway moat. A line of vassals and staff from the manor stretched the length of the courtyard, they bowed low.

Murmurs of welcome home Lord Shingen, Lady Takeda, murmured from numerous lips. Shingen gazed down at his wife to be, Ren’s cheeks were flushed in pleasure. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. The manor was as lovely as he remembered it, huge moats surrounding a large courtyard with flat, sprawling buildings all interconnected. They reached the main building, and he dismounted, then turned to lift Ren off the horse in the restrictive kimono. He couldn’t wait to show her the dojo where she could continue to hold her classes, where they could train together. The master suite of three interlocking rooms that would be their private refuge. The view from the bedroom to the formal gardens. He took a deep breath, his lungs tightened slightly in the cool air. He would live for her.

Her

Ren wandered through the halls of Tsutsujigaseki, they had only been there a few days, and she still got lost in the vast sprawling manor. Shingen had not been kidding when he said it was not a traditional castle. It was more like a series of buildings that happened over time all interlinked together, moats and gardens were interspersed sometimes seemingly at random. It was really lovely, but right now, it was making it challenging to find Shingen. Ren finally blew out a sigh and stopped a retainer to ask if they had seen him.

“Lord Shingen is in his workshop, my Lady Takeda. Would you like me to lead you there?”

Ren nodded in gratitude. The man led her to a small open building, then bowed deeply and departed. Ren quietly took the steps, leaning in the large open doorway.

Shingen had his sleeves tied back and was hand planing a large piece of wood. His hair was attractively mussed, a thin sheen of sweat made his skin glow. His muscled played attractively on his forearms as he worked. It was rare she got to watch him like this. He paused, closing one eye and checking the levelness of his project, his gaze then raised to her.

“My goddess, I did not hear you arrive.” His smile was warm, she would never get used to how much love he showed to her now in everything he did.

“I didn’t know you did woodworking, what are you making?” Ren moved forward, trailing her hand along the large piece. He brushed a light kiss on her cheek.

“All my tools were here, it’s nice to be able to relax again into a favored hobby.” He turned, wiping his face off on a hand towel, then got a drink from a small bucket. “I thought I’d make us a desk. I enjoy us working together, I had the concept it might be more comfortable if we had more space.”

Ren eyed the wood, it was a large curving “S” shape. It warmed her that his solution was not separate workspaces but one that was combined. It showed his willingness to share equally in the tasks that needed attention.

“It’s lovely, I can’t wait to see it completed.” She sat cross-legged nearby, he leaned back into his task.

“How did your first class go this morning? Is there anything you need?” He panted slightly in exertion. Ren could hear his lungs were a little congested.

“It went well, the space is a little smaller than Kenshin’s was, but I really love the light in it and the way the whole east-facing wall opens. The airflow in the warmer months will be lovely, and I’ll be able to watch the dawn when I exercise in the morning.”

He smiled, “It warms my heart, angel mine, that you feel at home here.”

Ren paused a moment, not quite certain how to broach the subject.

“I left some proposals for treaties with the Oda on your desk.” Shingen’s arms moved in long sure strokes, his eyes didn’t leave the wood he worked.

“I did see them.” His tone was neutral.

Ren chewed her lip, “I know it’s a different concept then you typically choose.”

“Ren, the man is brutal. He burned a temple full of innocents because they housed some of his enemies. He’s running roughshod over these lands in the name of unification. There is nothing he does that I agree with.” Shingen glanced up at her eyes dark with anger. “I refuse to enter a contract with him. I can hold these lands just fine without a writ of his permission or concession.” 

“Did you read it?”

He sighed, “No, I glanced at it.”

“Promise me you’ll take time to read over the proposal and at least consider it?”

Shingen stopped working and looked up. “Why do you involve yourself in such large-scale ideas? Why not be content with what you can hold in your hand?”

Ren smiled, “Says the man that uses an entire spy web made up of women and orphans to blanket Japan under his watchful eye and manipulate rumors.”

Shingen drummed his fingers on the wood in frustrated thought, then sat down on a log, gesturing her to him. Ren stepped forward, sitting on his lap, his arms slid around her hips.

“I will read them, and we will discuss it later.” He kissed her forehead. “I love you, even though you are difficult.”

“You love me, especially because I am difficult.” She corrected him teasingly, “I believe you enjoy the challenge, my Lord.” Her hands swept back his damp auburn hair.

“It is extremely attractive, little bird, if moderately frustrating.” He admitted, placing a warm kiss where her kimono crossed on her chest.

“How about if I promise to make it up to you?” Her violet eyes darkened suggestively.

“I like where this is going…” Shingen’s lips traced the hollow of her collarbone.

“After you review the documents.” She rose from his lap, tossing a wink over her shoulder. “I’ll see you at dinner tonight, my Tiger.”

Him

He groaned, picking his tools back up, “my goddess, you’ll be the death of me.”

“At a ripe old age, surrounded by our grandchildren.” Her laughter echoed in his heart long after her departure.

Shingen continued working the wood, shaping it with his skilled hands. As frustrating as it was, he knew her observations were fundamentally correct. While he understood and controlled the broad strokes of diplomacy, his focus had always been local, centralized.

The wood curled away in long ribbons. While he had heard of samurai with strong wives advising them, Shingen had to admit he never thought he would be in that number. It was both a pleasurable and frustrating experience. Ren was headstrong, stubborn, outspoken, and far too naïvely optimistic sometimes. However, her knowledge and ability to apply it to circumstances on the fly was beyond compare, useful, and not to be disregarded. No matter what his personal biases were, he felt her point in this matter was valid and worthy of being examined.

He paused, looking at the shape of the desk. It was wholly untraditional and yet would be perfect for its intended purpose. He smiled with a soft chuckle. Just like her.

Chapter Text

Him

Snow lay thick on the ground. Shingen watched Ren through their bedroom window. His warm breath fogged in the frosty air, steam rising from his medicinal tea.

She was dressed in a light-colored version of her snug black kunoichi garb. The white and grey fur-lined garments blending seamlessly with the frosted world around her. Shingen knew she had been out scouting the area this morning, she patrolled almost every morning the weather notwithstanding. He had told her it was unnecessary, that they had people to do that. But still, she went.

She removed her hood, ruffling a white-gloved hand through her hair. It lay in waves almost to her sharp jawline now. Shingen sighed in contentment, she was relaxing into his life. He used her hair as a measure of how comfortable she was. He had noted in some ways she was like an untamed creature. Ren would only rest when she was secure and safe, she would stay awake for days if she felt threatened seemingly needing very little sleep. He tried his best to make her feel secure, they’d been home for three months now. Despite his best efforts, her stomach remained flat. Perhaps she was waiting on official marriage? She had finally agreed to spring ceremony when the cherry blossoms were in bloom. He ached to see her softly rounded with their first child, someone he could leave behind to love her if he didn’t make it.

The cold air finally caught up to him, constricting his chest, he slid the window closed, turning back to the warmth of the room. Shingen eyed the sweeping curve of their desk. Ren had passed him re-written corrections of the treaty they planned to propose to the Oda shortly, he still couldn’t believe she had talked him into this. He’d already signed binding agreements with Kenshin and all surrounding clans that were not already pledged to the Oda. Usually, these agreements were fleeting, but the way Ren had managed to word the documents, all parties involved seemed extremely satisfied. Better, his people were happy as were the ones surrounding their lands. No strife meant no war, a better economy, and full bellies.

He sat down, tapping his brush pensively. The issue he had was Ren wanted to be the one to present it to the Devil King, she had concerns that he wouldn’t listen to any of their other diplomats. It was the one thing he wouldn’t give her. Shingen never wanted Oda to know that the maid he took for a lover was his mitsumono, let alone that Ren was to be his wife. It was a complication he didn’t need. He had selected an envoy to be sent when the roads cleared next month, it would have to be enough. This was something he refused to budge on.

He coughed, then moved to refill his tea. Ren entered their room, eyes lighting with concern.

“It’s nothing, my goddess.” He smiled

They both knew he lied, his chest had been steadily getting worse.

He sipped the too-hot tea, “How was your morning patrol?”

“Beautiful in its icy splendor. The storm last night left a coating of ice on the tree branches making everything glitter like diamonds.” She leaned to him, brushing a cool kiss on his cheek. “I wish you could have been with me.”

“In my heart, I always am, my angel.” He pulled her down into his lap, sharing his warmth. Her cheeks were the color of rose petals against the alabaster of her skin. “What are your plans for today?”

“I’m teaching a class in an hour, although with the weather, I’m not certain how well attended it will be. Another storm will be rolling in soon.”

“How can you tell?” He nuzzled her affectionately, his lips tracing the curve of her ear.

She chuckled. “My old bullet wounds ache…and now my shoulder.”

Shingen frowned. “I could distract you with a different sort of ache.” His hands slid from her waist to her hips suggestively.

“Ohhh, no, I have a class to teach and you…” she tapped the revised paperwork on his side of the desk, “have the final draft of the treaty to write.” Ren kissed his nose. “Besides, an hour is not enough time for us…but…keep our room warm, and I will take you up on that this evening, my Tiger.”

“Mmmm, a sweet reward for a hard day’s work then.” He kissed her lips, letting his linger. Shingen’s chest tightened painfully; he held the cough in until she left the room.

Her

She slid the shoji door closed and heard the spasming coughs. Ren closed her eyes, leaning against the wall. It was a full year until they could try to go back to her time, he had to make it until then. If the timeline held, he had about three more years until the recorded date of his death. Unless things had changed. In the original timeline, he never had Kai back, he didn’t have her. It had been constant fighting with the Tokugawa until he died. Perhaps the lack of fighting would prolong his life? Ren knew he was trying to hide his sickness from her even though he knew she was aware of it. She sighed, heading to the dojo early. Nothing could be done until the time rift opened back to her present.

She walked down the hall then passed through the snowy gardens to the dojo. Ren lit a few braziers to get the room warmed for her class then started running through her stretches. It had been a bit over six months since her injury. She had full range of motion and her strength back, but the wound ached in the cold, took longer to loosen up, and likely would be a vulnerable spot if she was struck there in combat. She was no longer sent on missions, it was more of an unspoken agreement than anything else. She trained mitsumono that showed promise to be kunoichi like her. She also worked with Chiyome to assign missions and gather data to report to Shingen. His network was indeed impressive if someone coughed in northern Japan, he knew about it.

Ren started moving through a kata to warm up, her mind pleasantly drifting and empty, white light flowing through her body.

The scent of chemicals tickled her nose. She opened one eye in surprise.

Sasuke lowered his mask, the corner of his lip tipped up in a small smile.

“SASUKE!!!!!” She ran forward, tackling him to the ground in an exuberant hug. “What are you doing here? I never expected to see you in winter.” She hugged him tight, crushing the prone ninja.

“Things were pretty quiet in Kenshinland, so I thought I’d come to visit my favorite time traveler.” He kissed her cheek, returning the hug.

“Looks like you got here just in time.” Ren glanced at the snow, starting in the garden courtyard.

“Eh, I can think of worse things than being snowed in here.” He sat up putting his arm around her shoulders. “I missed you lots. I admit I liked it better when we lived in the same castle.”

“Awww Sasuke, you could always move here. It’s uphill both ways wherever you go, but the scenery is pretty.”

“And have to listen to my sister’s loud love song with her warlord every night, hard pass.” She gave him a smack.

“We aren’t that bad…mostly…” Ren rolled her eyes. “Anyway, why haven’t you found someone to make your own song with?” She gave him a nudge in the ribs.

“Who says I haven’t.” he blinked at her. It was likely supposed to be a wink, but he’d never really mastered that.

“Oh?”

His cheeks took on a bit of a blush. Footsteps and chattering female voices filled the room.

“Mmm, my class is starting. You are welcome to join in Sasuke.” Ren dusted herself off, straightening her clothing.

“Good morning, ladies! Thank you for coming out in this weather, today’s class is focusing on unarmed blocking, get yourselves warmed up, and we’ll get started.” A choir of good morning Lady Rens echoed through the cozy dojo, the door slid shut, blocking the view of the snow.

“I will join the class, thank you. How’s the shoulder?” Sasuke stood and stretched.

“As good as new for the most part. Although not an injury I’d ever want to repeat.”

“I wanted to compliment you on the treaty documents you’ve been spreading out to the neighboring Daimyos; you may be on to something.”

“Hells, I hope so, Sasuke, this body isn’t getting any younger, and my soul is weary of war.” He gave her a pat and then partnered up with her for the class demo.

Chapter Text

Her

She woke to soft lips tracing over the nape of her neck and warm breath on her skin. Shingen’s hands slid over her body, cupping her breasts, fondling her nipples before moving lower to smooth over her stomach and brush against her curls. He had pushed aside her sleeping kimono in his sensual petting, desiring to feel all of her skin.

“Someone is frisky this morning.” Ren tipped her head back for a languid kiss.

“Mmmm you are usually up and gone before I wake, it’s a rare treat for me to wake to a goddess still asleep in my bed.” He nibbled along her shoulder.

“It’s too cold to get up, and with the snow yesterday, I’m not needed.” She stretched lazily against him, glancing at the light coming in from the shoji door, it was well after dawn, but with the brightness of the reflected light off the snow, it was difficult to tell the time.

“I need you, my goddess, you should stay in bed with me.” Long fingers played over her silken female flesh spreading the slick warmth he found there.

“Mmmm, should I?” She teased, snuggling her bottom into his hips. Ren breathed in, months of sharing a bed, and he still intoxicated her with his scent.

“I promise to make it worth your while.” He slid her leg back over his so that she was spread wide. She could feel him growing hard, pressing between her cheeks. She gasped a little when his fingers brushed over her most sensitive part. Ren felt her lover grin against her cheek then softly stroke her until she was making the sweetest mewling noises. She ground back against him, wanting more.

“I do adore your promises.”

He purred against her shoulder, then moved back so he could rub the smooth blunt head of his arousal against her wet lips. She pressed to him, teasingly taking the tip then letting him slide out. 

“I promise to love you beyond my last breath until the moon herself falls from the sky.” He pushed into her slowly, his full thick length filling her. “I promise to give you as many children as you desire if you’ll let me.”

Ren chuckled softly, this wasn’t the first time he’d asked. His hand moved to caress her belly.

“When I’m ready, I’ll have as many as you can give me. But for now, my Tiger,” She squeezed herself tighter around him, making him moan into the flesh of her shoulder. “You’ll have to be content with practicing and wait.”

Shingen groaned in need, rolling his hips, taking Ren roughly. She let out a little gasp, not prepared to take his full length from this angle, then bit down on her hand. A low sensual chuckle filled her senses.

“You are quiet because your brother is visiting.” He thrust shallowly, running against the spot he knew made her sing. She left marks on her own hand, then buried her face into the covers, keening. Shingen ran his nails lightly up the back of her thigh, Ren whimpered softly.

Him

“Oh, my little bird, what a fun game you’ve gifted me with.”

Ren writhed against him, already panting. He flicked his thumb lightly over her swollen clit, and she brought her hand to her mouth again. Grinning, he traced his fingers upward, leaving glimmering wet marks of her arousal on her skin. Shingen captured her wrists and held them pinned above her with one large hand. 

“Now, now, my goddess, I can’t have you damaging that beautiful flesh of yours. If you need to be nipped, I’ll be happy to do the honors.” Ren whimpered again, pressing her delicious rear into his hips. He ran his hand down over her breast tweaking her nipple.

She squeaked and bucked against him. “Shingen, this isn’t fair… I don’t… want him…. to hear us… this time.” Ren said breathily between thrusts.

“So, next time would be fine? Say this afternoon, perhaps tonight?” He lifted her sculpted leg high, over his hip, holding her stretched out and pinned for his pleasure.

Her response was a muffled moan that turned into a frustrated growl.

His lips curled upward in a smirk. Shingen picked up the pace enjoying the tight heat of her wrapped around his long hard shaft. The feel of her well-toned body pressed tight to his, all her soft places fitting perfectly against his tall frame. Like his goddess was made just for him.

She struggled against his grip, holding in another squeal of pleasure. He started to chuckle, then gasped himself when the first flutters of her orgasm clenched along his thick length. Apparently, someone liked being pinned down.

“So… that’s not a no…” he nipped along the curve of Ren’s ear, she tightened again, and he groaned. He slid his large hand along the curve of her rear then cupped her hip for a few shallow teasing thrusts, then he slowed down. She felt so good he didn’t want this over so soon.

Ren kept her panting cries so soft, it was titillating to his senses. He released her wrists and pulled out, rolling her onto her back. Her eyes were closed her mouth open in a little O of pleasure. Shingen kissed her soft sweet lips, snuggling his narrow hips between her thighs. He rubbed against those slick silken folds enjoying the feel of her on his flesh. Her hands smoothed down his back, cupping his round firm cheeks. 

“My Tiger, stop teasing.” A pleading whisper, her legs wrapped his waist.

He kissed her breathless, sliding deep into her, swallowing her cries of pleasure. Each thrust was met by a caress of his tongue against hers, each fervent cry he stole to keep only for himself. She trembled around him, her face buried into the crook of his neck as she climaxed. He stroked deep and slow riding it out before letting himself go. Shingen collapsed to the side, pulling his lover to his chest. They panted together for a moment in bliss.

Ren finally opened her eyes, looking up at him. They were a deep velvety blue, full of love.

“You spoil me so.” She purred out, “best snow day ever.”

“Stay here with me longer, I want to spend the day enjoying the feel of my skin warmed by your breath.” His hands smoothed down her heated flesh with a contented sigh. He could think of no better way to spend a cold, snowy day than in her arms.

 

“Lord Shingen, I commend you on how you’ve united central Japan. It’s certainly an interesting improvement.”

They were taking dinner with Sasuke in the main hall, but Shingen couldn’t tear his eyes off Ren. They had spent all afternoon making love, and even though she had cleaned up before dinner, she had such a well-fucked look about her that he just wanted to dishevel everything she was wearing into a passionate bliss and do it again. Her violet eyes were still lust darkened when she gazed at him, her lips swollen and pouty from sucking his cock. Shingen could see the marks he had left on her collarbone when the neck of her kimono gapped. He smelled the scent of her flesh still on his skin, the taste of her still in his mouth. He was barely able to concentrate.

Sasuke, the shinobi was talking, he should probably focus.

“Yes well, it was mostly Ren’s backing and suggestions that have made this all happen.” He smiled at Sasuke, gesturing toward Ren then shoveled some food into his mouth to give himself a moment to collect his thoughts. Sasuke glanced first at Shingen, then to Ren. His lip quirked up in his usual small smile.

“It’s so good to see you two finally together, I’m happy for you that this all worked out.”

Ren gave her friend a warm smile, “Thank you, Sasuke, it’s been a dream.”

“Actually, Sasuke, perhaps you can help us out. I’m sending an envoy soon to Azuchi with the final proposal to Nobunaga. Would you be interested in an escort job?” Shingen wiped his mouth off with a napkin and picked up a cup of sake.

“Shingen, I said I would take the proposal to him.” Ren glanced at him. This argument was getting old.

“You are absolutely going nowhere near Azuchi, my love. That is my final word, I won’t be swayed on this matter. It’s for your safety.”

“Sasuke?” Ren looked to the shinobi in frustration.

“I actually agree with Lord Shingen on this one Ren, it would be better if the connection between your mission identity and Shingen’s betrothed were not known.” 

Ren threw her hands up in frustration.

Her

Gah men!

They were both being too overprotective! She loved them both dearly, but oi they both knew she could more than handle herself.

“Sasuke, you too!?” She downed her sake in one gulp. “You both know my skills.”

“Ren, I won’t risk you for this. He’s likely to figure it out eventually, but for now, I’d rather keep the information quiet.” Shingen gestured reasonably as he spoke, Sasuke nodded in agreement.

“Shingen, you can’t cage me.”

“I won’t risk losing you again.” The warlord’s voice rose slightly. Sasuke usually stoic face looked uncomfortable.

Shingen’s voice softened. “Ren please give me this? Six months ago, I thought you were dying in my arms, I can’t do that again.” 

Ren sighed. “I understand. I don’t mean to worry you, Tiger, I’m just unused to such a sedentary lifestyle. Give me time.”

“So, Lord Shingen.” Sasuke attempted a subject change. “Rumor has it a spring wedding is planned?”

“Indeed, you’ll have to come, of course, Sasuke. We plan to send invitations out once the roads clear. It will be during the cherry blossom viewing.” Shingen smiled, leaning forward he poured for Ren, filling her cup. She sipped thoughtfully.

“You can bring your lady to introduce us Sasuke.” A sly smile creased her lips, Sasuke looked slightly alarmed…like she would forget. Ha.

“Of course.” Sasuke coughed, his cheeks tinged pink. “In the spring.”

Chapter Text

Her

They had arrived in castle town roughly three weeks after Sasuke left with the envoy. Ren had been handling the reports from their mitsumono in Shingen’s stead while he was ill with a chest cold. Nobunaga and Masamune had been seen in town, along with three retainers. She had kept tabs on them using the mitsumono, but now that they had left the town, her tracking them was the only option. Anyone else would likely be spotted this late in winter with the trees bare and snow still patchy on the ground. She went out every night after tending to Shingen and was home before morning.

Her breath was warm in her mask as she slipped from tree to tree, watching the camp for the third day. They didn’t appear to be actually doing anything. Since they left town, they had just been slowly circling Kai, camping out. Ren ran silently, scouting out in a broad sweeping circle. He had no other men with him, no one else reported in or left the camp. 

The darker side of her whispered how simple it would be to take the five men out during the night. Their deaths would be painless, the benefits bountiful. She silenced those dark voices, there was no reason to unnecessarily end a life. She ran through the treetops without so much as a susurration, then paused. They should have received the treaty to review. Were they scouting…planning an attack on Kai? She should just warn them off, ask them to leave? Perhaps she could use the rapidly growing legend of the Takeda Oni to her benefit. 

It was late, she circled around to the camp again to watch. Nobunaga was the only one still awake, he stared pensively into the flames. She watched the light lick across his handsome features, his eyes looked sad, haunted. Not the usual coldness he showed the world. He ran a hand through his hair, she fondly remembered the thick texture of it in her hands when he made love to her.

Ren blinked.

Tsukimi…it was never her. 

She forced that separation firmly into place, stepping back. The branch trembled slightly.

Nobunaga glanced upward sharply at the noise. His eyes blinded by foolishly staring into the fire. Ren was gone before they could adjust.

 

Him

“Don’t go.” Shingen’s eyes were rimmed red, he’d been up again all night coughing. Ren sat on the edge of their futon, still in her leathers, her mask draped around her neck. The morning light through their bedroom window colored her hair golden.

“Shingen, I’ve been tracking them for three days. They aren’t leaving. Our mitsumono reported they were in the castle town for almost a week.” She took his hand pleadingly. “I need to know what they are looking for.”

“Ren, I don’t want Oda seeing you. Send someone else.” Shingen gestured his hand in frustration, his voice a harsh croak. She sighed, pouring a cup of the medicinal tea for him and urging him to drink. He’d been sick enough to be confined to bed for almost a week now, late winter was just the worst time of year for his lungs.

“You know there isn’t anyone skilled enough to send.”

He frowned. “How many are there?”

“Three vassals…and Masamune.” Shingen’s chest squeezed violently, the coughing wracked his tall frame.

“Ren, he will kill you.” Shingen grabbed a hand towel, there was a smattering of blood when it left his lips, he folded the towel, trying to hide it from her.

“He may try, I’m willing to bet Nobunaga won’t let him. Also, let’s have some faith in my skills, Hmmm?” Ren’s thumb brushed his lips with tender concern.

“I won’t lose you to that man.” Shingen’s hand reached out, gripping her arm. If she saw the devil king again, would she go to him? They had been lovers. She claimed it was a mission, but what if it was not just that. Jealousy flared hot, he knew he was being unreasonable, but he couldn’t stand the thought of losing her.

Ren leaned forward, brushing his hair from his face. 

“Shingen, there is no danger of you ever losing me to another man. I love you, only you. I need to go protect Kai, that is my job now.”

“Ren, I don’t like it.” He finished his tea, setting it down, his chest felt slightly better. She refilled the cup.

“I’m not asking you to like it.”

“I refuse to let you go, Ren. As your Lord, I order you to stay here.” 

It was worth a try, would she comply?

She raised her brow reproachfully, “Tiger…”

“Please?” He wasn’t above begging his goddess.

“I’ll be back by tomorrow morning, I’m just going to warn them off Kai lands. I’ll stay in the shadows and keep my mask up, alright?”

He sighed, smothering his defeat in tepid tea. “Just come back to me.”

“My Tiger, I will always come back to you.” She kissed his forehead tenderly and left.

 

Her

 

It was early evening, she had been watching the camp silently for some time. The three vassals were chatting around the campfire. Masamune and Nobunaga had stepped away, murmuring amongst themselves. She moved closer, studying the dark-haired man. His eyes were cold again, that wall was back up. She slipped to the branches above them, then cleared her throat.

Nobunaga looked up, his hand rested on his sheath.

“The Takeda Oni…” His carnelian eyes met and held hers.

Ren dropped silently from the trees, her hood and mask still up. She studied him in the firelight.

“This is Takeda land. You shouldn’t be here, Nobunaga.” She pitched her voice low, staying in the shadows to hide the violet of her eyes. “Take your men and leave peacefully. This land is well ruled, there is no need for violence.”

Nobunaga quickly stepped forward, pulling down her mask. She didn’t resist, she easily could have avoided him. Ren thought some part of her wanted him to know. Masamune gasped, thrusting at her with his katana. She deflected with a flick of her wrist, tessen in hand with a blur of gold. Her eyes never left Nobunaga’s, the two of them stared at each other, entranced. The other three men were too far away to hear their conversation.

“Stand down, Date.” The black-haired devil king let out a low chuckle. “I admit when I heard Takeda had a violet-eyed, part demon, Shinobi… my thoughts did drift to you, my lovely moon. But I didn’t think one so soft and sweet could possibly do what the rumors had claimed.”

She remained silent.

“Tsukimi, come back with me. You have been missed. I haven’t slept well these long months. It’s certainly easy enough to make you part of the bargaining chip for Kai, it would be sweeter if you did it willingly.”

His confident, cocky, behavior was enough to reinforce her spine. Tsukimi was dead. She was here as a Takeda.

“It’s Ren, Tsukimi was a late-night dream, gone in the mists of the morning.” She drew the second Tessen from her obi, snapping it open, the sharpened edge gleamed. A cold smile drew across his face. 

“No matter, I guess we will see if the Tiger cares more for his Kunoichi or for Kai.”

“I am the protector of Kai, and I am asking you to leave without conflict.”

Ren looked over his armor, he’d be slowed in it, but most of his nerve points were covered. She would be relying entirely on her speed.

“Duel me to first blood. If you win, I go with you willingly, and the treaty stands. If I win, you go forward with the treaty for the full liberation of Kai to the Takeda, ending the border skirmishes. Leave me out as a bargaining chip.”

He raised his hands, “Why should I fight when I could just take?”

Violet eyes flicked to the stiffened man to her left. His one visible eye was black with rage. She assessed the three vassals at the fire in the distance. She had seen no others when she scouted the area these past few days. It would be easy to lose them in the trees, they would never be able to scale them as swiftly as her in their armor.

“If you think you can take me, you are welcome to try.”

Two steps back, her eyes bled to magenta, ice filled her veins. She pulled her mask back up.

Nobunaga tilted his head at the change. Ren could see he recognized the look, that it was familiar. It was like gazing into his own reflection. The cold deadness of a killer haunted her eyes, there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do to achieve her goals.

Ren could see in his gaze how it aroused him. The air grew heavy with his desire.

“A duel then, when I win you will return to Azuchi with me as my lover, I’ll honor the treaty and the outcome of this duel. Weapons?” Nobunaga raised an eyebrow at her.

“My Lord, you can’t be serious, we have enough men to take her here. I’ll kill her myself for her betrayal.” Masamune stepped forward again, Nobunaga rested a hand on his chest.

“You will do no such thing. Her life is mine. Stand down Date.” 

Masamune grumbled, stepping back, his hand still resting on the hilt of his katana.

“Weapons are whatever you prefer.” Ren shifted her footing, setting her stance in case Masamune decided to jump in on the duel.

Nobunaga drew his katana, he couldn’t see the grin that spread her lips, but the fierceness reached her eyes. 

“Let me know when you wish to begin.” The energy flowed through her, time slowed to a crawl. A red haze colored her vision senses extending outward. She saw his movements and every counter to him before his first swing. She’d watched him in practice at Azuchi enough under the guise of the enamored maid. She was familiar with his style, right down to his tells. He stepped forward. To his credit, even in her slowed world, he moved faster than a typical opponent. His weaknesses in his armor glowed in her sight, the neck just below his chin, the armpit from the back of the armor, the inner thigh under the swing of his leather coat. But she wasn’t looking to disable or kill, just a drop of blood would be enough. 

His swing started. Ren’s movement was a blur. She stepped in close, the bladed tessen lightly flicking his cheek. His breath mingled with hers. His nose brushed the soft cloth of her mask; they were so close. Ren could smell the scent of cedarwood and gunpowder on his flesh. She saw surprise glint in those carnelian eyes, a single drop of blood rolled down his cheek. He nodded to her. The world sped up.

A needle-sharp stab hit the nape of her neck, she reached for it as she turned, pulling a small dart from her flesh… betrayal? Her confused gaze met sly citrine fox eyes under a sweep of silky white hair.

Fucking Mitsuhide.

Nobunaga caught her in his arms as she fell, her world slid into darkness.

Chapter Text

Her

 

Ren woke in a cell, her head ached, and her ears rang. They must have kept her drugged for days. Sitting up, her vision snapped into focus. There were no windows to tell the time of day. The air was dank and moldy. She could smell piss, blood, and fear. Ren looked herself over, she was still in her armor. Her hands ran over her body, they had taken all her weapons. She slipped a hand into her chest plate, between her breasts.

“Ahhh, no, I found that one too.” A sly voice came from the shadows, Mitsuhide stepped forward with an amused smile. “I will admit, I am impressed. I thought you were simply sleeping your way to the top. You seemed too daftly sweet to be what you obviously are.”

Ren quickly observed her surroundings. A six by eight cell, stone floor, and walls, no windows, a bucket to piss in. The front of the cell was latticed wood and locked, it appeared sturdy. Her eyes flicked to the white-haired man before her. A gun on his belt, one shot, katana, unarmored, probably a knife somewhere. No keys. He wasn’t going to be seducible.

She widened her eyes, looking terrified, “I think there’s been some mistake?”

“Really?” He gazed at her, amused.

“I’m sure if you take me to Nobunaga, I can explain everything to him.”

“I’m sure you could, and that is why you are here. I don’t need you seducing my Lord twice. Although... he was much more pleasant to deal with when he was sleeping more than two hours a night and getting laid regularly.”

She dropped the innocent act. “Glad to assist.” She settled back down on the floor, stretching her neck out, breathing slow, pushing the headache from the knock out poison from her mind so she could function. 

Cool violet eyes met foxlike citrine. Her tone was deceivingly light. “So, what would you like to talk about Mitsuhide? I suppose we could compare notes on torture and espionage.”

He chuckled, a genuine smile cracked his mask. “There we are, you are so much more fascinating like this.”

“Am I?” She rolled her shoulders, loosening them. If that gate opened, she was gone. They had nothing that could hold her.

“You are.” His eyes were curiously sharp, “Now then let’s make a deal, you tell me what I’d like to know, and I won’t spill your secrets that I know, but my Lord does not, Lady Takeda…or shall I call you little bird?”

Ren frowned. She didn’t want to be used as a ransom piece. She wouldn’t put Shingen in the position of deciding between her and Kai. As far as she knew, Nobunaga currently only thought her a kunoichi in Shingen’s employ, high ranking… but not his wife to be.

“Why don’t you come on in so we can talk like civilized people?” Ren smiled sweetly.

“Did you want another sleep dart? Because that is the only way, this door is getting unlocked. How is your head, by the way?” Mitsuhide stepped closer to the cell, his face arranged in a parody of warm concern.

“Just daisies and butterflies.” She winked at him. “How about some water or tea if you want to have a chat? If you wanted to torture me, I would have been strapped to the table before I woke.”

“I did consider it, but Nobunaga wanted you kept in one piece, and I already knew anything else I could do you were likely trained to endure.”

Ren smirked, letting a hint of violence slide into her eyes. “You have no idea what a woman can endure.”

Mitsuhide licked his thin lips and eyed her pensively for a moment, “I almost feel envious of Shingen, what a treasure he found.”

She stood, stretching out her back and rolling up onto the balls of her feet. Her throat burned.

“Flattery will get you nowhere. So, then tea? And then we’ll chat.”

“So trusting, what if I poisoned your tea?” Mitsuhide gave her a snake-like grin.

“That would avail you no information and one body to haul out of here. What would be the point? Did you want to try harder for intimidation tactics or maybe…just maybe you can concede that I avoided you because we are exactly the same, and the psychologic damage should we play games with each other will be utterly exhausting.” Ren stepped forward, leaning her body against the wood of the gate.

“Who trained you?” His eyes narrowed.

“I’m afraid I’m so parched, I can’t answer any questions.” She put a hand dramatically to her forehead.

“You know,” he drawled, “torture for answers is not completely off the table.”

Ren rolled her eyes in boredom, “Bring it, Fox, I’ll critique your technique and give you some pointers.”

He stepped away from the gate, walking down the hall and out of sight. Ren studied the latticework, tapping on it. Solid…and the holes were too small to slip through. The lock wasn’t one she had the tools to pick. She checked the edge of the latticework where it met the stone, also solid. She frowned, peering into the other cells. It appeared she was currently the only guest. Ren moved around the cell, checking each stone. She paused when she heard footsteps coming closer and sat back down in the center of the room to appear to be meditating.

Mitsuhide raised an eyebrow, “Tea as requested.” He poured her a cup, setting it on the ground between the latticework.

She chuckled, “so cautious. Like you have a wild creature in here instead of one unarmed female.” Ren picked up the tea, he hadn’t skimped, it was a lovely green tea. She drank the small cup dry and placed it on the floor. “Thank you, may I have another please?” She sat crossed legged by the gate. Far enough away that she couldn’t obviously grab him. Mitsuhide refilled the cup, placing it on the ground.

“I’ve seen you fight, you are always armed. I am right to be cautious.”

“Your questions?”

“Why infiltrate Azuchi?”

“I was tasked with collecting information to achieve the goal of getting Kai back into the hands of the Takeda, where it belongs.” She sipped her tea. “Obviously, mission accomplished.”

“Who trained you?” His eyes bore into hers.

Sure…why not. The truth was always stranger than fiction. There wasn’t much he could do with the information anyway.

“The NIS, an intelligence organization in the country of Norway to the west.”

“Where are you from?”

“Kofu, on my mother’s side, my father is from Stavanger in southern Norway.” Mitsuhide paused, she slid her empty cup to him, and he refilled it, pushing it back.

“That is odd…for a Japanese woman to take a foreigner as a husband.”

She rolled her shoulders, “Love is love. Do I look fully Japanese to you?”

“You look…different.”

“So, do you.” She grinned over her cup, letting a seductive light shine into her eyes. What the hell? He was still a man. He moved closer to the wooden gate, studying her eyes.

“Your fighting style?”

“Is a mix of a lot of things.” She licked her lips, her voice lowering to a purr. “Did you want a lesson? I do teach. Come on in, and I’ll give you a hands-on demonstration.” She let the suggestiveness of it hang thickly between them. Mitsuhide shifted imperceivably. Ren saw a glimmer of lust in his look before his eyes became more guarded. Internally Ren grinned. Maybe seduction wasn’t off the table for this one. She wasn’t sure if she felt elated at the success of her games or disappointed that it affected him at all.

“There were bodies of Ikkō-ikki found outside Kenshin’s castle. Rumor has it you stopped an attempt to assassinate Shingen.”

“That is my job, I am his blade.”

“The rumors about you are…impressive.” He poured himself a cup of tea. She held her cup out to him. With a cautious glance, he accepted it through the latticework. Ren let her fingers brush his warmly. He glanced at her again.

“Are they?” She smiled. “Tell me, what have you heard? I’m happy to separate truth from fiction for you.” She let her eyes darken, and boldly held his gaze. Mitsuhide cleared his throat, passing her full cup to her.

“There were eighteen corpses-“ He started.

“Shingen killed three. The others all had one-shot kills on the corpse, six were bow shots to the chest or neck.”

He paused.

“One was-“

“Tortured for information then had his throat slit. His nails were sliced, his back was flayed open, and his lungs were pulled out through his ribs.” Her voice was neutral. Mentally she commended him on changing the subject to something violent to avoid her seduction.

Mitsuhide swallowed some tea. “How long was he alive…while you did that?”

“I held him alive a bit over an hour. Once I had the information I needed, I released him. Zealots are a pain in the ass to break.” Ren sipped her tea.

“They really are.” Mitsuhide chuckled, agreeing. “Interesting technique.”

“It’s old school Nordic. Again, I do teach.” She grinned and winked. 

“During the battle reports say when the line broke, you pushed it back, alone.” He eyed her.

“Well, that was a team effort.”

“So, it was exaggerated?” He frowned.

“I cleared the line so our men could step in. Did you really need a blow by blow of my body count during the battle? It gets a little repetitive. I killed soldiers, just like everyone else out there. I didn’t keep count.”

“You killed a sniper during the last battle then took an arrow through the chest meant for Shingen.” His eyes studied hers.

“I did.” She agreed.

“You would die for him?”

“Would you like to see my scar?” Again, the suggestive purr of seduction. She let her eyes darkened attractively. He tore his gaze away, clearing his throat.

“You turn into a demon at night.” Mitsuhide’s lips curled in his little foxlike smirk.

“Is it night now?” She grinned back, her lips paused at the edge of her cup. He glanced at her lips then back up at her eyes.

“It might be.”

“Well, if you are a kitsune and I am a demon, I guess we could shed our people skins and go frolic in the moonlight together.”

He laughed, then caught himself, forming his face back into the usual sly smirk.

“Mitsuhide, in a different world under other circumstances, we may have been friends.” Ren gave him a genuinely warm smile. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Please just let me go. I’ll slip away quietly, no bloodshed, and the treaty with Kai can be signed as per the results of the duel. We both know Nobunaga won’t go back on his sworn word, and he won’t take an unwilling lover. The man isn’t into rape.”

A shadow passed over Mitsuhide’s eyes, he looked away.

“He’s in love with you, he believes you love him.”

Ren sighed. “He’s in love with a carefully crafted persona that was purely designed to entice him. You know that.”

“I have told him as much.” Mitsuhide made a frustrated gesture with his hand.

“Then why am I here instead of in the Tenshu?” She asked softly, her hand resting against her wooden prison bars. “And why did you dart me during a duel? That was uncalled for.”

“You are here instead of the Tenshu because I asked to question you first. I’ve received so much intel on the Takeda Oni since the battle it was becoming difficult to tell what was real and what was rumor…even the real sounds fictional.”

He gave Ren an exasperated look, then smoothed his features back into the fake smile.

“I darted you because we’ve been under orders to find the oni and bring you back to Azuchi. I already knew that Takeda had announced he was taking a wife. The information just came in that the wife he chose was the hero of the last battle, the Takeda Oni.”

Ren sighed, pressing her cheek to the wood. “That’s why you were lurking in Kai, and you didn’t realize I was the Takeda Oni until after you darted me.” Her eyes slid closed, she was so damned tired. “Let me speak to Nobunaga, I swear on my honor I will do him no harm. Not physically, anyway.” Ren amended.

Mitsuhide winced.

“Then let me go, Mitsuhide. I will eventually get out, you know I will. The body count will be high if I have to do it unaided. You have no use for me. If you attempt to ransom me, Shingen will rain hell on Azuchi. If you execute me, the results will be worse, with the possibility of martyrdom. I don’t want to kill anymore.” Ren pulled her knees to her chest, resting her forehead against them. Her eyes wearily closed. “I just want to live in peace, with Shingen, maybe have some kids, farm rice, or whatever it is people do in Kai. The killer in me has been fed enough souls for this lifetime.”

Ren felt a hand rest on her head, smoothing her hair.

“I’ll see what I can do.” Mitsuhide removed his hand.

“Do you have any other questions? It doesn’t seem like what you asked me could possibly be of any use.” Ren tilted her head, looking at those odd citrine eyes. “You could have asked about military numbers, defenses, income, weapon inventory…instead you ask about personal background.”

“I have the rest. What I couldn’t find was any information on you. All I could find was tales of a demigoddess, a demon, body count numbers that seemed in line with a warlord, not a woman, and whispered fairytales.

She smiled tiredly. “And yet you still asked the wrong question.”

“Tell me what I should have asked, little bird, and I’ll be certain to let you go when the time is right.” The pet name rolled off his tongue, but it had none of the sweet affection that coated it when Shingen said it.

“When. When did I come from.”

He tilted his head intrigued. “When did you come from?”

“2020.”

Him

She didn’t come home that morning as she promised. Shingen had been up all night, not because of his cold this time but because he feared for her safety. 

He sipped the tea to clear his lungs and paced. Messengers were already sent out to Sasuke, Chiyome, and his contacts in Azuchi, he had trackers checking where the camp had been. 

Shingen stared out the window. She was good, the best, he shouldn’t be worried, he knew she could handle herself.

And yet he was.

A racking cough stole his attention for a moment, he wiped the blood from his lips in frustration. He wanted to go after her and couldn’t, he’d never felt so useless in his life. He starred out into the late February snows. Her promise echoed in his mind.

My Tiger, I will always come back to you.

Chapter Text

Her

The Tenshu was precisely the way she remembered it. Ostentatiously extravagant with its gilt paneling and collected works of art. It smelled of rich cedarwood, expensive silks, and exotic oils. Ren kneeled on the floor, chin proudly up, there was no longer a need to show deference to him. As far as she was concerned, they were equals. Her eyes returned to Nobunaga, he wore his scarlet and black sleeping kimono embroidered along the shoulders with a hawk. His back was to her. The dark-haired warlord leaned against the shelving that housed his art, a cup of sake in hand, untouched.

“Tsukimi-“

“Ren.” She corrected. She saw him flinch imperceivably. There was a tiny part of her that felt terrible about this particular deception in a way she had not felt before. She was going to have to crush the one good part of this man for him to understand he needed to let her go. Her eyes flitted to the open door to the balcony, it was evening. The tenshu was high, but she was reasonably certain she could parkour her way down if desperate or plummet to a broken death trying.

She didn’t hate Nobunaga the way Shingen did. Ren respected him in her own way. While she didn’t agree with all of his ideas, they weren’t necessarily bad or evil, just different. She had enjoyed her time with him, the games of Go, the late-night discussions. He had been a skilled, considerate lover. Nobunaga would have been a friend in a different life, but never a lover or partner. His demand for complete submission to his passions was not to her tastes. The darkness in them both would wreak chaos in an already fractured world. Nobunaga was too harsh in his edicts; he didn’t need a killer for an enforcer. Shingen was her light, he always would be.

“Ren,” Nobunaga conceded. He moved to his desk, placing the cup on it, and sat down. He hadn’t looked at her yet. She extended her senses, studying him. His eyes wavered between conflict, pain, and the cold mask of indifference. He was struggling to hold that mask up. His fingers drummed on the desk, she let his thoughts process through quietly. She felt no aggression or anger, just hurt. Patiently she waited, more than fifteen minutes had passed, and still he had yet to meet her gaze. Ren glanced at the Go board set up nearby.

“Lord Nobunaga, would you like to play a game of Go with me?” She offered, breaking the silence.

He looked at her then, something moved in his eyes. He was grateful? Relieved? The warlord nodded, moving to the table. Ren sat opposite of him, taking the white side. She had given him something familiar he could cling to.

The pieces clacked, she didn’t bother hiding her skill at the game as she had when she played his lover. She wasn’t a simple maid anymore. A few minutes into the game, he raised an eyebrow at her, enjoying the unexpected challenge. She glanced up with a small smile.

“I should have known a maid couldn’t have conversed with me about military tactics the way you did.” He started softly. She knew he was still coming to terms with who she was.

“I did tell you I came from a samurai family and that my father had passed.” She gave him the out as she cleared more black pieces from the board. He nodded to himself.

“You did. Your background was very convincing, flawless.” He looked up to her, “enticing.”

“As it was meant to be.” Ren smiled, nodding as he removed a few white pieces. 

“You’ve lost weight.” He commented, eyeing her svelte, muscular form encased in supple leather appreciatively. His carnelian eyes returned to the board, tapping the black stone against it thoughtfully before placing it.

“You prefer your women soft, gentle, feminine. I made myself into that to attract your eye.”

He looked her over again, a hunger creeping into his gaze. “I’ll admit, the warrior has its allure as well.”

She swept a large number of black pieces from the board. “Careful Nobu, you may want to focus. You are not going up against a simple maid.”

His eyes warmed at her old pet name for him. “I’ve missed you. I never slept as well as I did in your arms. You could have killed me any of those times and saved Takeda the trouble. Why didn’t you?”

“My job was information, not assassination. I don’t believe in taking a life without reason.” She laid the next piece down with a soft click. Ren leaned, reaching for the sake cup on his desk. She sipped it, then placed it by him on the edge of the board. Nobunaga stood, picking up the cup and downing the contents. He retrieved the bottle from the desk and then returned to his seat. The dark-haired man handed her the cup and poured for her. She sipped and passed it to him. There were plenty of other cups in the room that he chose to share showed a desire for the intimacy they once had.

He studied the board, the corner of his lip curled up. “You are skilled.” 

“My father taught me.” She smiled at the compliment.

He pondered the placement of his next piece for a long time. Ren looked him over, his body had relaxed, his hair fell into his eyes, softening his looks. He was a very handsome man when his eyes weren’t so cold. 

“I understand why you did what you did.” He placed the piece down pensively. “What I don’t understand is why you felt the need to take my heart to do it.”

He looked up, the hurt and betrayal was clear in his carnelian eyes. The pain she saw made her chest clench. Ren moved her eyes from his to the shared cup, and lifting it to her lips, took a sip. His eyes tracked her movement, lingering longingly on her lips. She wasn’t expecting to have this level of attachment to him, he was a mark. She cleared her throat.

“You desired my submission. I needed your trust. With trust comes love, one inevitably follows the other when a man is attracted to a woman.” Her tone was academic, flat. When she looked at him, she was careful not to let a drop of emotion show.

The room was silent again, the soft clicking of pieces against the board went on for some time.

“Will you attempt to kill me now that you are here?” He didn’t look up from the board, his voice was soft.

“I am unarmed. You brought me here, I did not come willingly.”

He chuckled, giving her a warm grin. “Ren, we’ve dueled. I am certain you being unarmed does not mean I am safe if you are intent on my demise.”

She smiled back, happy he’d finally used her real name. “I have no intent to harm you as long as my life is safe. I don’t kill indiscriminately.”

They both looked down at the board for long moments.

“It appears we are at a draw.” His sonorous voice had a hint of puzzlement to it.

“It appears that way.” Ren reached across the side of the board, taking his hand in hers.

“Nobu, please forgive me, forget me, and let me go. No good will come from keeping me here, only needless bloodshed. You are already honor-bound to the treaty per our duel.”

He drew her to his side, the game board no longer between them, she let him.

“Did you ever love me?”

Ren let her eyes go soft. She cupped his cheek, tracing her thumb over the light scratch she had made on it with her tessen.

“You know the answer to that Nobu, I won’t hurt you by saying it aloud.” Her voice was a whisper. He rested his forehead to hers, the warm scent of cedarwood surrounded her touched with the faintest hint of gunpowder. It elicited feelings of both comfort and danger in her.

“Let me go. Use the compassion and love you felt for me in your rule. Stop being such a damned hard ass with your unification, treat your people better. Sign the treaty and send it back.”

He let out a soft laugh, his eyes were closed. “You would be good for me.”

“We would destroy each other. There is too much alike between us, too much darkness. You see what you want to see.” She sat up, taking her hands back.

His eyes opened, he gazed at her for long moments in the silence of the late evening.

“A kiss, and I’ll let you go. Look only at me one last time.”

Ren closed her eyes. It was a bloodless victory, he wasn’t asking for sex…just a kiss.

I’m sorry, Shingen.

Ren opened her eyes, letting everything that was the persona of Tsukimi flow into them. The softness, the pure love, the desire, the affection, the absolute sweetness that made up the woman Nobunaga called his lovely moon. She felt it and showed him with her entire soul. Tsukimi reached for him, her lips soft and welcoming. Nobunaga crushed her against him, clinging to her like a man drowning. His hand cupped the back of her head, holding her to him. His tongue traced her lips demandingly, and she submitted, returning his passions. Fiery heat coursed through her like a maelstrom. Tsukimi leaned into his embrace, crumpling the collar of his kimono with her fists in reckless passion. He moaned like a wounded man against her mouth and swept her into his lap.

Her leather breastplate pressed his chest. She leaned back.

Carnelian eyes looked into hers, Tsukimi faded away. Ren gazed at him impassively, but she couldn’t keep the touch of sadness from her eyes.

“Goodbye, Nobu.”

 

Ren slid the tenshu door open, stepping into the hall. Mitsuhide leaned against the wall, he glanced inside at his Lord, still sitting on the floor, uninjured physically. He nodded to her, and she slid the door closed.

“Promises kept.” The white-haired man passed her a sack. Ren opened it and took a moment to equip herself. “I will walk you to the gate.”

She nodded numbly.

They passed through the gate silently together into the night, Kitsune and Oni. Mitsuhide handed her a small bundle.

“A haori, some rations, and coin. You can make Tsutsujigaseki in a week moving fast on foot, less if you feel like running.”

 Ren nodded her thanks, covered her blond hair then pulled up the mask. She extended her senses outward, still wary of danger. Mitsuhide studied her a moment, she could see her magenta-flecked violet eyes reflected in his.

“May we never be on opposite sides of the battlefield again.” He said softly.

“That is the dream, isn’t it?” Her eyes smiled at him, and she slipped into the night.

Chapter Text

Her

 She was one with the night, the darkest shadow amongst shadows. She ran soundlessly, setting a pace she knew she could keep up for miles. They likely slung her over a horse and kept her sedated for the ride in, she estimated she’d been gone four or five days. Shingen must be frantic with worry by now. Her breath came out in puffs of steam. When she left him, he was in bed suffering from the second bout of chest illness for the season. They were heading into a wet spring, him worrying about her wasn’t going to help his health. 

She needed a horse, she didn’t have the money for one…Ren chewed her lip as she ran. She didn’t feel comfortable stealing. She ran on.

Night turned to day, she stopped at a stream to drink. She pulled out the dried rice cake Mitsuhide had thoughtfully provided, eating without tasting. She focused inward, letting the energy flow from the earth through her limbs as she had been taught so long ago. She ran faster. The miles blurred by. She kept her senses up, avoiding all people. Midday came making the roads busier. She slipped off the trails finding a shallow depression to rest in. 

She slept.

She dreamed.

Ren saw her old teacher, his eyes crinkled with age and black as the night. He almost always smiled, his heart full of warmth and light. He glowed with that light. Her parents had only known him as their elderly neighbor.

As a child, Ren always knew he was something more.

He taught her the separation. He taught her not to lose herself to the dark, to use it as a tool and not be used by it. He taught her all people were born as pure souls and how to stay that way. He knew what her father was, what she would be. The years her father was absent, he watched over her.

“It’s been a long time my child, you’ve gotten yourself into quite the predicament.”

She breathed in the light, Ren felt like she was floating. She relished in it. Her body didn’t hurt so much anymore.

There was a noise like musical humming, it was soft, so hushed, but growing louder.

“It’s good to see you so fully connected to the energy around you, Ren, you were always such a good pupil.” He breathed in, she felt her exhaustion dissipate, he breathed out she was filled with life. “I’ve enjoyed watching you teach others, but you’ve still got a long way to go, little one. Keep spreading that light into the world.”

He touched her forehead, she felt at peace. Her flesh tingled.

The humming sound was louder, it was discordant with the peace here.

“Ren, you need to wake.” Her teacher frowned gently.

“I want to stay with you a little longer.” Her voice was so high pitched? Ren looked down, she was young again. Her long silvery blonde hair flowing around her body. She floated, weightless in this void of light.

The humming turned to whistling. Her mind caught the sound the alertness slipping in.

“Wake now.”

 

Ren rolled to the side as the whistling blade came down where she lay. A tessen in one hand her tanto in the other. Masamune stood above her, his eye black with rage. The next blow, she barely blocked with the fan turning it aside. Metal shrieked on metal.

“Traitor!” He growled, drawing the second katana.

“Masamune, wait!” She deflected another blow, rolling to her feet. She backed up, focusing herself. His moves were too wild, too erratic, she couldn’t predict him. Another blow came in, she blocked, her tanto went skittering off to the side with the force of his blow.

Ren pulled her other tessen snapping it open. She flexed her feet, this was going to be pure luck, she knew his chaotic speed matched hers. “Masamune, can we please stop and talk about this?” Another dodge, too close, she felt the sharp edge of his blade ghost past her shoulder.

“Talk? I think I’ve confided enough in you. Did every word I ever said to you go straight back to the Tiger of Kai?” Both blades came at her, she snapped the fans closed using the steel ribbing to block, Ren strained against the strength of his fury.

“It was never anything personal.” She sprung back, he leaped forward.

“I consider the woman I love betraying me personal.”

Ren started to laugh, she couldn’t help it.

“Love? Oh, don’t be so dramatic! Masa, we had a lot of fun, but it was all about sex and comfort, let’s be truthful here. Love wasn’t a word either of us ever uttered.” Oddly that made him pause.

“You were a lot of fun, Kitten. But that doesn’t make up for you working for the other side.” His blow came in slower, lighter this time, it was more a sparring speed.

“I never intended to hurt you. Takeda wants the best for his people, just like you do for your people in Oshu. Why must there be sides?”

His eye was looking bluer, more thoughtful. “It was still betrayal.” He had his swords up on guard but paused.

“Can we please talk? My friendship with you was always real. At least hear me out. If you still want to beat on me afterward, then so be it.” She held her tessen up defensively. He paused again, then nodded his head tersely, lowering his weapons. He was the most dangerous type of opponent for her to face, his pure chaotic nature almost completely canceled out her ability to predict movement. She did not want to fight him. 

And if she were honest with herself, she liked him too much as a friend to kill him.

Damn, I’m getting soft.

“I’ll listen.” He sheathed his katana. Ren slid her tessen back into her belt.

“First, you know Nobunaga is a hard ass and has a ‘one size fits all’ style of unification. That just doesn’t work in all areas. Some places like Kai need a little extra for the people to survive and flourish. They aren’t getting that right now under his rule.” She sat down on a nearby log, patting the seat next to her. Cautiously he sat down.

“So how exactly did you fit into this?” Masamune looked wary but took a seat beside her.

“I was sent to gather information, that was it.”

“So, when you finished getting information from me, you moved higher in the ranks, was that it? You know that really hurt Kitten?” He gave her a sorrowful look out of his blue eye.

“I could see how bad you were hurting the first night I was summoned to the tenshu, and you were howling your way through a threesome with that cute chunky maid and one of the kitchen girls.” She raised her eyebrow with a knowing smile.

“I was going to invite you to join us, but things got started and-“ He gestured in explanation.

“Whew, let’s stop there, no need for all the details.” She grinned at him.

He smirked. “I see what you mean.”

“We had fun.” She smiled, brushing her shoulder against his.

“Yea, we did.”

“Look, all I want is an end to all these wars and a peaceful life. My gut tells me Shingen is the best man for that.”

Masamune frowned, sorting the information out in his mind.

“What do you plan to do?”

“Well, he has Kai again. Personally, I’d like to work out something where we can all agree to coexist. For the betterment of the people in general.”

“That’s a pretty tall order Kitten, how do you plan to manage it.” He looked interested, serious. Internally Ren sighed in relief. At least he wasn’t trying to kill her anymore.

“I’m still working that part out.”

“Mitsuhide said something to me when I was leaving. Are you engaged to Takeda Shingen? The latest rumors say he’s taken the half-demon Takeda Oni as his wife.” He looked slightly deflated.

“Well, most of that is true, Shingen did propose. I did accept. I am the Takeda Oni.” Ren smiled, giving Masa a friendly kiss on the cheek. “But I’m full demon, not just half.”

“I should have known that by the way you bed a man.” He teased.

Ren grinned. “Can we still be friends? Even though right now we stand on opposite sides? I’m really trying to make those sides dissolve.”

He sighed. “Yes, I’m sorry I came at you, Kitten…. I was just embarrassed I was deceived so easily.”

“Thank you for forgiving me.” She leaned over, offering a hug. 

“I suppose make-up sex is out of the question?”

“Dammit, Masa!” The warlord gave her a warm hug.

“I had to ask! You don’t know unless you ask!” He glanced at her, then back at his horse. “Are you heading back to Kai?”

“Yea, you guys, took me pretty unexpectantly, and Shingen will be declaring a full-blown war on Azuchi if I don’t return soon.”

“Take my horse.”

“What?” Ren blinked at him, surprised, glancing at his mount. She was light and fast.

“There is a town nearby, I’ll borrow another one.” He looked away a moment. “Do you love the Tiger?”

“With all my heart.”

“Make a good ruler out of him then. Take care, Ren.”

“You too, Masamune.”

Chapter Text

Him

She’d been gone for nearly two weeks. He’d sent mitsumono out looking for her, he sent word to Sasuke the first morning she didn’t return. 

Shingen stared out the window at the pouring rain, at least her body hadn’t been found yet.

Chiyome had found the campsite, there was no sign of struggle. Shingen sipped his tea, he hadn’t been able to eat. His lungs were clearing, but with the weather, he was in no shape to ride out after her. Where would he even look?

Azuchi

He couldn’t imagine her being taken unawares, was she hurt? Had they somehow knocked her out? Did she go willingly?

Did she return to the Devil king?

His chest clenched painfully, it had nothing to do with his illness.

Shingen ran a hand through his hair in frustration. His gut was in knots. He already had people heading to Azuchi to look for her, but it would be a few more days until he heard back.

This waiting was utter torture.

He sat at his desk, trying to read through missives, but the letters all blurred together on the page. Papers were piled precariously, he looked to her side of their shared desk. Empty, everything laid out exactly how she had left it. He cradled his face in his hands in frustration, tears burning hotly threatening to spill.

The door slid open, footsteps. Someone kneeled before his desk. He took a moment to compose himself, so many of his people had been in and out in the last two weeks, this one reeked of horses and the road. 

“Yes?” he wiped a hand over his eyes. Shingen reigned his voice into a formal tone. “Your report.”

“My Lord, I apologize for taking so long.”

Ren

He moved, shoving the desk to the side, wrapping her in his arms. His face buried in her shoulder. Her leathers were soaked, her body chilled. “You came back, you came back to me.”

“My Tiger, I’ve told you before. I’ll always return to you. Although I do apologize about my state.” She was covered in mud and filth, it looked like she rode out of hell to get to him.

“What happened Ren, you said you’d be gone a day?”

“There was a misunderstanding, and I got taken to Azuchi, I cleared it up, and they let me go. The treaty between them and Kai will be signed shortly.” She kissed him briefly.

He pulled back, looking at her. “You’re not hurt, my angel?”

“I’m fine Shingen, I really need a bath, though. How is your chest, how are you feeling?”

“I’m over it. I missed you, I was worried that-“

“Shhh, Shingen. I would never.” She held him close. “I love you.”

“I love you, Ren.”

“I’d also love it if you’d join me for a bath.” He grinned against her cheek, this woman.

Shingen nuzzled her neck, “I think that can be arranged.”

Her

Ren was so filthy she took a pre-bath before even considering sinking into the large tub with her lover. Shingen immediately pulled her close, settling her between his thighs, her chest to his back. His hands took up a cloth, the pretense was washing, but it was more like a claiming. He stroked his large hands over her flesh, ensuring every part of her was his.

She relaxed back into him, letting it happen with a pleased grin. Who knew this once promiscuous Tiger would be so fervently jealous when he decided on a life mate? His fingers massaged soap through her hair, and she purred in contentment. 

“Perhaps I should leave more often if this is the welcome home receive.” Ren closed her eyes, her head lolling back against his broad chest.

“Perhaps I need to lavish my sweet angel with more attention, so she never feels the need to spirit away from me again.” He nipped her earlobe in admonishment.

“Mmmm, I wouldn’t say no to that, but we both have duties. These lands don’t govern themselves.”

Shingen let out a long sigh, “No, they do not, and frankly with me sick, and you gone, the paperwork has become an insurmountable mess.”

Ren made a non-committal hum. “Bath, then some food, and we’ll tackle it together?”

“How about Bath, lovemaking, food, more lovemaking, and then we can think about paperwork tomorrow?” Her Tiger nuzzled her ear, caressing her breasts suggestively.

“Oh, really?”

“Mmmmmhmmm, the only thing I’m hungry for right now is you, little bird.”

Ren grinned. “How could I deny the man I love?”

 

Him

They sat across from the large desk together, the entire day had been like this. Shingen hadn’t been kidding when he mentioned to Ren the paperwork was a mess. He hadn’t realized how much he had begun to rely on her to handle the day to day workload over the last four months until she was gone a couple weeks, and everything piled up. He paused a moment in writing out some new taxation proclamations to look at her. Her blonde hair was adorably mussed, large curls starting to frame her pointed face. She was busy handling intel from the mitsumono. She would compile everything into one report for him and handle outgoing assignments, leaving him with the job of directing the actual ongoing skirmishes for border disputes left over from the last war.

She was relaxed but alert, sipping her tea as she read over the documents. She leaned forward, pooling some wax and sealing a letter with the Takeda mon. Violet eyes caught his watching her. Ren smiled those beautiful eyes lit with affection and love.

“Do you need a break, Tiger?” Ren stretched, arching her back. They had chunked through over half the pile in a day. More than he expected to get done. She was a quick, efficient worker with an organized, analytical mind. He could get so much more completed with her assistance.

“What did you have in mind?” He smiled, taking her hand in his. His thumb stroked affectionate circles on her palm.

“Tea and sweets at that shop you like in town?”

“Little bird, you know me far too well.” He favored her with a lazy smile, then rose, helping her to her feet.

Her

“Let me ask you this,” Ren said between bites of a gooey sweet pastry. The tea house was empty at this time of day. Shingen reclined casually against the wall, licking the molasses off his fingers from one of his favorite desserts. “What are your long-term goals, seeing as you and Kenshin are now allies and not at each other’s throats.”

“Well, I have Kai back in the hands of my clan, and we are extending the borders to make sure it remains safe.” Shingen sipped his tea.

“This treaty with the Oda won’t last forever unless you do more Shingen. Eventually, he and Tokugawa will sweep east in their efforts for unification.”

Shingen raised a brow. Ren didn’t typically offer exactly what she knew, more a nudge here and a hint there. This time something more needed to be said.

“What are you suggesting exactly, my goddess?”

“I’m suggesting you think on a larger scale then you have in the past, the land has been in a constant state of warfare, and while you’ve excelled at that, you also excel at the social aspects of the rule. I’m saying I think you will go farther if you use your mind in this case instead of military might. This treaty gives you a small stepping stone.”

Shingen leaned into her close. “You’ve never told me how this ended in your time…”

Ren frowned, chewing her lip. 

“In the broad strokes it ends with the Oda having a lot of guns teaming up with the Tokugawa who have a lot of men, and they run roughshod over everyone. You were the last bastion against them and were doing well until your illness took you down. The three unifiers end up being Oda, followed by Toyotomi then Tokugawa. There is a lot of war and death in the process, but it does eventually end up in a period of peace and prosperity. Tokugawa literally adopts most of your social reforms, …which is how I know they absolutely will be effective. What I’m proposing is to use what you’ve done here socially in Kai and have talks instead of battles with these men to hash things out.”

“Little bird, that will never work. We all despise each other; egos get in the way. Why do you think there is constant warfare?”

“Have you tried? You and Kenshin fought for years, and now you are allies. I think everyone really wants the same thing, perhaps some type of peace summit could happen where you agree to work things out.”

“That is very optimistic of you.” Shingen sipped his tea. “Did you speak to Oda of this while you were there?”

“Well, …yes and no. I told him to stop being such a hardass.”

Shingen choked into his tea. He started to laugh then leaned over, embracing her. His lips rested on her forehead with a grin.

“My angel, I adore you. So, the Takeda Oni told the Devil King to… “Stop being a hard ass.””

Ren grinned, “Well, when you put it like that…”

Shingen grinned. “What else was said?”

She locked down her emotions. 

“I told him he should be more compassionate and treat his people better.”

Shingen studied her a moment. “And his response?”

“I left after that, it was time for me to depart.”

“What aren’t you telling me, my goddess?” He was far too smart to play games with. 

She shook her head, “nothing else that is pertinent, Shingen. My point is, perhaps, this could be handled more diplomatically.”

His grey eyes narrowed and darkened. “He cares for you, not just in a casual way.”

“He cares for the person he thought I was when I was on the mission. I can’t control his feelings, Shingen, I can only control my own.” Ren covered his lips softly in a tender kiss, not caring if anyone observed their public affection. “However, if we could somehow work out something more permanent then this treaty, that would be an accomplishment. Historically you had a bad habit of making short term deals and ending them when they no longer favored your ambitions. I can see that habit in your records here, it needs to stop. You make an ally, then you work to keep that relationship beneficial for both sides.”

He grumbled.

“Think about it, at least?” Ren glanced at him, his eyes were shaded. Shingen’s expression was carefully arranged to neutral. “Please, for the future of our children and the clan?”

Shingen went soft-eyed and kissed Ren’s nose. “I will take it under consideration, Lady Takeda.”

“Thank you.” She gave his hand a squeeze. “We have a year until we try to leave. It would be nice if some peace could be established before then.”

He nodded.

“What if we don’t make it back?”

“We will. I have faith in Sasuke.”

Chapter Text

Her

Ren sat on her side of their desk, steadily answering a pile of new requests that had come in. It seemed word had spread of her teaching after the fame of “The Takeda Oni.” Men and women were writing to request to be her student. She chewed on the end of her brush, deep in thought. While she didn’t mind teaching their kunoichi, the idea of actually opening her own dojo had never really crossed her mind. She shuffled the pluses and minuses of such a venture through her head. Shingen entered the room, setting a fresh cup of tea next to her.

“And this is why I will share everything with you, but my brushes.” He gave her a wry grin removing the well-gnawed brush from her lips. “My goddess, what has you so deep in thought that you feel the need to destroy yet another writing instrument?”

“Mmmm, it’s nothing. I left the finished invitations for our wedding and the peace summit on your side. When I scouted this morning, it looked like the roads over the mountains should be clear enough to pass now.”

Shingen sat beside her, picking up the correspondence she had been reading. 

“You are being sought after to teach?” He raised an eyebrow shuffling through a pile of such requests. “Do you wish to have your own school, Ren?”

“I…I don’t know.” She smiled at her lover, Shingen gently pulled her into his lap, resting his chin on her shoulder. “I mean, I feel that I should be doing something. There aren’t usually many kunoichi actually stationed here, they tend to float in and out. Some of your men have started attending classes. I’ve also been trading Yuki lessons in naginata for unarmed combat.”

Shingen smiled, “How is that going?”

“I’m terrible at pole weapons, and he calls me a boar woman when I toss his ass on the floor in unarmed combat.”

Shingen grinned against her cheek. His hand reached around to stroke her flat stomach. “You should have our children to occupy your time soon. But if you would like to accept new students to teach, I will support your endeavor.”

“Well, our primary focus needs to be the upcoming summit. Your allies are in favor of it, it’s the western half of Japan I’m concerned about. I’ll take on a few local students and see how it goes.” Ren dodged the baby question again, she still didn’t feel ready to cross that bridge.

“Our marriage is before the summit.” Shingen nuzzled against her neck, tenderly. “You aren’t concerned about that?”

“Why should I be? I’m marrying the most wonderful man in the world.” Ren turned, kissing his nose. “The plans are already made, and your people adore both of us to the point that I don’t feel I should be worried. Everything will be properly handled.”

 

Spring rolled in with warm breezes and colorful flowers. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, castle town was bustling with guests for the wedding, and the manor was filled to capacity with visiting allies.

Her Wedding Day.

Ren had relented to wearing the traditional white but absolutely refused the symbolic giant egg of a headdress. The taming of the woman to be an obedient wife indeed, what a bunch of bull. Shingen had just laughed and gifted her with a beautiful band of flowers made of crystals and glass to adorn her short hair.

The layers on this garment were moderately insane, she’d lost count of how many under kimonos she’d been enrobed in. She suspected it was to weigh the bride down so she couldn’t escape. The white traditional kimono and kosode that went over everything had been passed down through Takeda brides, and now it was her turn. Two attendants fussed over her, helping her into the complicated garment.

Ren sighed, she was nervous.

Not nervous about the wedding, she knew they loved each other. More worried about the implications of it all, at having this many factions gathered in the same place at once.

At not having a single damn weapon on her.

She glanced at the long sleeves impeding the movement of her hands. She contemplated how fast she could pull it all off if circumstances warranted it.

Ugggg it’s your wedding day calm down that fight or flight instinct.

It was one day, she could change after the ceremony. The women moved to do her makeup. She had already been clear that she was only wearing eyeliner and lipstick. None of the white face covering. She knew Shingen disliked the white, hiding her natural skin tone. He loved seeing her blush. She was also very aware of how much he loved ruining crimson lipstick on her. He’d made that clear every time she’d worn it and had gifted her with enough pots of it that it was obvious, he wanted to be sure she never ran out. She likened it to wearing stilettos…damn, she’d love to see his face if she wore stilettos for him. Ren grinned.

“Lady Takeda, there is a messenger with a delivery for you.”

Ren dismissed the two attendants, a young man entered. He was sweetly attractive, very boyish. He dropped to kneel before her.

“Lady Takeda, I was instructed to deliver this to you as a gift to wish you well on your wedding day, from my Lord. He apologizes that he is unable to make an appearance today.” The well-dressed young man presented a narrow black lacquered box.

Ren pushed back her annoyingly long sleeves uncovering her hands and took the box curiously. The catch was a stylized gold hawk. 

“Who is your Lord?” Ren looked up, the boy was gone. She frowned, only a skilled shinobi could move like that. Cautiously she opened the box.

Inside lay a pair of stunningly crafted ebony tessen. The edge of one was bladed, she pulled it out, the weight was perfectly balanced. The fabric of the fan was unadorned midnight silk so dark it seemed to absorb the light. She flipped it over, a floral design of the Oda mon was discretely carved into the handle. Ren sat down, stunned. She looked back into the box, there was a folded letter sealed in wax with the Oda mon. With trembling fingers, she broke the seal.

A gift for the Shadow of my lovely Moon.

-Yours Fondly

Nobu

Tears pricked dangerously at the corners of Ren’s eyes, her chest tightened. She wasn’t surprised Nobunaga put together the Takeda Oni was to be Shingen’s new bride, it wasn’t a secret. She was surprised at how personal this gift was. This wasn’t fair, she shouldn’t feel this way at all. It was wrong, inappropriate, he had been a mission, that mission was over. She had shown him that person never existed. He said he’d let her go.

He still loved her, for who he saw she was.

Ren paused.

How did she feel about him?

No.

She took any remnants of what the persona Tsukimi had felt for Nobunaga and crushed them into a ball, locking it all away. She never had to submit to a mark to the level he demanded in his passion. It seems that had left an indelible stamp on her soul. She placed the tessen in the box, sliding the latch closed.

Ren sighed, this treaty needed to hold true if the Oda and the Tokugawa continued to combine forces and press east war would start again. They already held half of Japan, Shingen was close to securing alliances of the other half. The peace summit was in two months. The only way she could treat this gift was with a polite thank you between friends. That was it, she would reinforce the friendship aspect of it to keep the alliance strengthened. If she refused the gift, she risked the alliance. If she acknowledged it with more than a passing nod, it could encourage him more. 

Ren reopened the box, they were exquisite, he always did have good taste. She admired that they were dark-colored, unlike the ones she had now, practical. They would be much more suitable for her gear. She flipped one open, maneuvering it lightly. The balance was sublime. It was a gift from one skilled warrior to another, an acknowledgment, not something a Lady would typically be gifted with.

Why the hell was she reasoning this out!?

She pulled the note and burned it, there was no need for Shingen to know how personal this gift was. Without the letter, it was just another Warlord’s tribute gift to acknowledge their wedding. It was certainly no secret that Takeda Shingen’s bride was a warrior. The gift was lovely, thoughtful, practical, and she would use them.

Him

She was so lovely his breath caught as Sasuke lead her up the aisle to him. Cherry blossom petals fell around them in the gardens. The white of her garments, the paleness of her skin and hair, she appeared to be an exquisitely carved statue of a goddess come to life. His gift glittered in her silvery blonde hair, Shingen smiled, it was all perfect. 

The words said by the attending priest were a blur, he could only gaze at the love he saw in her violet eyes. This one woman who had captured his soul, eclipsing all others. He would do anything for her, anything to protect her. She would stand by his side, an equal. 

Vows were exchanged, but he had already made those promises to her in his heart long ago. She was his Tigress of Kai. Shingen gave Ren’s hands a gentle squeeze, then turned as the bridal kosode he had commissioned for her was handed to him. The design was a spiraling depiction of a Wren in flight and a Tiger defending it. Scarlett and gold silk was heavily embroidered with auspicious symbols and the Takeda mon. He removed her plain white kosode, replacing it with his colors. She smiled.

“It’s beautiful, Shingen, thank you.”

He cupped her cheek, leaning down for a kiss to close the ceremony. “My Goddess, I am forever yours.”

 

Her

The celebration went late into the night, sake and good food flowing freely. Sasuke had an adorably tiny, brown-haired woman tucked under his arm. He had introduced her as Asa, she was the daughter of a merchant in the castle town, and he looked like he was utterly smitten. Ren was thrilled for him.

Her friends gathered once again, all in the same place. Her friends, a family. A concept she never really thought she’d have again. She felt warm, comfortable, relaxed.

Finally, Shingen stood, raising his sake cup.

“My friends! I thank you for coming to celebrate my joining with this magnificent woman. I urge you to celebrate as long as you desire, but as for us,” Shingen turned to wink at her suggestively “It is time I attend to the desires of my beautiful wife.” He took Ren’s hand, helping her to rise, she blushed when he kissed her cheek. 

“Well, at least it’s loud enough in the hall they won’t hear us.” Ren chuckled softly to him as they passed through the shoji doors into the refreshing evening air. His grin was feral, the tiger stalked through his eyes as he swept her up into his arms.

“Oh, they still may.” Shingen’s laughter made things deep in her clench enticingly. Ren nuzzled into his chest, placing her arms around his neck as he carried her back to their rooms.

 

Shingen let her feet touch the floor again when he reached their room, brushing a tender kiss over her lips.

“Let me get it warmed up in here.” He smiled, shrugging out of his formal kimono and lighting the braziers in the room. 

Ren took a small silk packet from her side of the desk, rolling it between her fingers thoughtfully. 

Shingen returned to her, helping her out of the heavy formal kosode and draping it carefully on a waiting display rack he had built.

“I have… an unusual gift for you, but I believe it is one you deeply desire.” Ren sat on the edge of their desk, watching him arrange the coat for display. The golden threads gleamed in the soft light, it really was a lovely work of art.

“The gift of you is all I need, my angel.” He returned to her, helping her to stand and then divesting her of so many layers she lost track. After a few minutes, she started to laugh. 

“It’s a good thing I’m not virginal, I would die that way before you found me in all this silk.” He grinned, leaving the last layer of pale blue silk on her, then lifted Ren again, settling her into their futon. She took his hand, setting the small packet into his palm. He reclined back, opening it. His eyes lit curiously on hers, then looked back down to the small cross-shaped piece of metal in his hand, he ran a finger over the flexible arms.

“In my time, a woman can choose if she wants children and when. Because of my line of work, I had that placed in my womb to prevent any pregnancies.”

The understanding lit in his eyes. “You are ready now?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be Tiger. I’ve come to terms that this world will never be completely safe, and I just need to accept that. I was going to wait until you were healed, but… I want this with you.”

Shingen crushed her to his chest when he pulled back, she saw tears in his eyes.

“Thank you, my angel, this is the best gift you could have given me. I’ll be honest, it’s been six months of trying. I was beginning to question my ability to get you with child.”

“Well, the best gift will likely happen in a year or two.” Ren gave him a saucy wink.

“A year or two?” His body covered hers, already pushing the pale silk aside. “My goddess, I think you underestimate my never-ending desire for you.”

“Well Tiger,” she purred, pulling at the ties to his hakama. “I figure you’ve had enough practice it was time for the real thing.”

 

Ren woke the next morning deliciously sore. She grinned to herself while stretching slowly in their bed. He had made love to her all night, his recovery rate was…surprising. If intensity equaled fertility, she was having octuplets. She turned to gaze at him, her crimson lipstick was still smeared across his lips, and it was just the most erotic thing to wake to. Which reminded her, she should likely wash her raccoon eyes off before he woke, she never did get a chance to wash off her makeup before they were all over each other last night. Ren slipped from the bed with practiced stealth, removed the smeared makeup off her face, then, after glancing in a small hand mirror, slipped back into their bed. He nuzzled into her sleepily, pulling her body tight against his. she dozed comfortably against him, enjoying his warmth. She never thought she would be gifted with moments like this. Being held in loving arms in a safe place, it felt like a dream. The idea of having her own family was so enticing. To not live in the shadows. She put her hand over his, drifting back off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Him

Shingen smoothed his hands over the silk of the embroidered kosode, then stepped back to admire it. The wooden rack he had carved for it was perfect, it was the first piece of what would be their legacy together. He’d never felt such warmth as he did when he turned to look at his new wife. She sat on the edge of their desk, the light from the braziers caressing her with a golden glow, softening her image. Her eyes went from the bridal kosode back down to a small square of silk she twirled in her fingers. He took a moment to read her emotions as his hands carefully started removing the many layers of silk she was enrobed in.

She was unusually pensive for so joyful a moment, seemingly almost hesitant. They had been together before, this couldn’t be new bride jitters.

“It’s a good thing I’m not virginal, I would die that way before you found me in all this silk.” She joked to cover her awkwardness. He smiled at her tenderly, leaving the last layer of silk on her. He could clearly see everything through it. The darkened spot of her nipples, the angelic curl of blond at the apex of her toned thighs. It made her all that more desirable. Tenderly he scooped Ren up, settling her gently into their bed, he sat next to her, reclining casually against the headrest. She handed him the tiny square of silk, Shingen unfolded it curiously. The small cross within seemed to be made of copper and some smooth, soft material he didn’t recognize. He wasn’t sure what it was really, he turned it over in his hand, running a finger along the flexible arms.

“In my time, a woman can choose if she wants children and when. Because of my line of work, I had that placed in my womb to prevent any pregnancies.”

The shock ran through him. Ren really could choose when and all the efforts he had put forth in the last half-year that had failed wasn’t because of some inability. Emotion choked him.

“You are ready now?” He never thought she’d marry him before regaining his health, he was sure she would push off a family until after they returned.

“As ready as I’ll ever be Tiger. I’ve come to terms that this world will never be completely safe, and I just need to accept that. I was going to wait until you were healed, but… I want this with you.”

He exhaled, then pulled her into a tight embrace. He felt hot tears pricking his eyes that she would give this to him. She was so much the kunoichi and raised so differently he wasn’t sure if being maternal was something that was even possible. He knew things were likely different in her time. It wasn’t like here where bearing several heirs was necessary for the continuation of the clan. He didn’t want her to feel like a broodmare, but on the flip side of that, he wanted their child growing within her, to see her softly glowing with what they made together.

“Thank you, my angel, this is the best gift you could have given me. I’ll be honest, it’s been six months of trying. I was beginning to question my ability to get you with child.”

“Well, the best gift will likely happen in a year or two.” Ren gave him a saucy wink.

Too long. He wanted time as a family, time he may not have.

“A year or two? My goddess, I think you underestimate my never-ending desire for you.”

He pushed aside that translucent silk, covering her body with his. Desiring to feel her soft skin pressed to his warm flesh. He would have her tonight until she begged him to stop. His lips were already on her pert nipples sucking teasingly, he fantasized briefly of having her when she was round and soft.  

“Well, Tiger,” she purred, pulling at the ties to his hakama. “I figure you’ve had enough practice it was time for the real thing.”

He chuckled softly, his hot breath raising goose pimples on her pale flesh.

“My goddess, you should have told me sooner we were “only practicing”."

“And deny myself the pleasure of this?” she stroked her hand along his engorged member as it fell heavily from his pants. Shingen groaned into her shoulder.

“I’m not saying I would have made love to you less. I just wouldn’t have had my hopes crushed each month when your moon times came.” He brought a hand to her hip caressing the curve he knew and loved so well, then slid his fingers over the soft golden curls…she was already slick with desire. He bit off another moan and parted from her a moment to shed his clothes.

He looked down into her dark violet eyes full of desire, tinged with apology.

“I am sorry, Shingen. It is something I’ve struggled with, I still feel it may be too soon, but…” She looked away, pulling him to her. The words were replaced with an almost desperate kiss.

“But?” He cupped her chin, bringing her eyes back up to meet his. He wanted no secrets or misunderstanding between them.

“If this all fails, I wanted something of us I could keep, if I lose you-" Her eyes were misty, he kissed her again resting his forehead to hers.

“Shhh, I understand.” He traced his fingers along her cheek, wiping away the few tears that had escaped from her beautiful eyes. “Hey, no tears tonight, we have each other. And I am confident this will all turn out well, because…” His lips warmly caressed her skin, tasting the salt of her fears kissing along the enticing spice scent of her neck, down lower into the valley between her breasts.

“Because?” she whispered, her hands running through his hair.

“Because you are amazing, my goddess and I have come to realize nothing but miracles come from you. You are, indeed, a spiritual being. I am blessed you have chosen to grace me with your divine love.” He kissed down her smooth stomach feeling her muscles flex under his lips as she laughed.

“Shingen, I am as mortal as you.” She was smiling again, it was enough.

“Little bird, I know in my heart you are something more.”

He nuzzled against her silken curls and breathed in that enticing aroused scent. The time for talking was over. He kneeled between her thighs, lifting her hips to his waiting lips. Shingen took his time, tasting her leaving her writhing in their bed. Her head was thrown back, eyes closed, and she purred like the tigress he knew her to be. As he lapped at her altar, he worshipped her with her eyes, memorizing every line, every movement, every sound filed away into his memory held sacred. Her legs flexed, and she looped them over his broad shoulders, he grinned humming contently into her female flesh, making her squirm and a broad smile spread her lips. The silk kimono draped around her attractively, making it appear like she really did have angel wings.

His large hands caressed and cupped her bottom, holding her to him as his tongue explored each slick fold as if it was the first time he had tasted her. He dipped deeper, making her moan and arch her hips, welcoming his touch, inviting him in. Shingen slid her down slowly, laying between her thighs, he flicked his tongue lightly, sliding one long finger into her tight heat to tease her. Slowly he stroked those clenching walls, readying her body for his thickness to fill her.

Ren’s pale thighs were so enticing he moved to kiss one, then the other licking his way back up to those swollen pink petals blooming before him. She was beautiful if he could convince her to be naked in their room all the time he would immerse himself in her and let the outside world crumble to dust. She bucked against his hand with a soft cry, he reached down stroking along his length a few times. She would reach for him soon, she was always impatient for him, his little bird.

Ren reached down, threading her hands through his hair, she cried out, and he felt her ripple around his finger. Shingen kissed along her thigh to the delicate curve of her hip bone. Then his lips traced to the long line leading up to her ribs. She pulled him up to her waiting lips. He slid his hand from her as his lips covered hers, stroking himself in her juices, once…twice… she arched, pressing her wet heat against him. He wanted to watch her, but his eyes fluttered closed at the sensation as he slid into her tight embrace. No matter how many times he had her, it always felt like he was coming home for the first time. She was his mate, his perfect match.

Ren’s body arched to his taking him all in greedily, she could never wait, he grinned against her lips then slid his tongue in to dance with hers as he started a slow rhythm to appease them both. She was still coming from his finger's caress, her nails dug into his back, making him groan in pleasure. He wanted to bear the marks of his tigress. Shingen thrust harder, enjoying her louder cries, the soft pants between as she struggled for breath. Her breasts moved so sweetly against the hard wall of his chest, he brought up one leg over his bicep, her eyes flew open as he shifted deeper, stroking lower over her. Ren clung to him, he nuzzled into her neck, and he felt her lips, then teeth on his shoulder marking him. She sucked and bit along his neck, and he reveled in her passion. This woman was his, he’d give her anything she desired.

He felt her tip into orgasm again and rode through it, stroking her until her passionate song was a wordless whisper. Shingen stilled, kissing her gently, letting her come down just enough that he could take her one more time before he lost himself in the glory of her body. Her crimson lipstick was ravished entirely, his eyes were drawn to it. He kissed her harder, stealing her breath, claiming all of her as he slid his full length along her core. His breathing became ragged, her name on his lips as he spilled deep inside her holding her tight. He rolled to one side, careful not to crush her under his weight, gathering her to him.

Shingen’s lips brushed her forehead tenderly.

“I love you, my wife.”

She nuzzled sweetly into his chest. He remembered the first time she did that, on the balcony in the moonlight. Boldness fueled by too much sake. He had lost his heart to her that night, Shingen mused. He just hadn’t known it then.

“I love you, my husband.” Her fingers played down his chest, sweeping lower to stroke his semi-hard cock.

He chuckled softly, his lips seeking out hers.

“Give me a moment, my Tigress, I am far from done with you tonight.”

 

He watched her wake through shaded lashes. How she went to wash her makeup off, how beautiful she looked naked, checking her appearance in a hand mirror. Like it would matter to him how mussed she was. He was the one that messed up her makeup, left passion marks all over her flesh how could she think she was anything less than magnificent in his eyes? She slipped silently back into bed. He pulled her close, rewarming her skin. The sound of contentment she made was enough to make his heart dance. Could she hear it beating? The staccato of it against his ribs must surely be loud enough for the entire world to hear in the peaceful silence of dawn. Shingen let his mind drift, another hour, and he’d listen to her sing for him again. He’d never get tired of his name coming from those perfect lips.

Chapter Text

Him

Shingen stood on the overhang of the dojo sheltered from the light early summer rain. Ren’s class barely fit inside the small building, she had nearly three dozen pupils paired up this morning practicing unarmed combat. This class was wrapping up, and she already had five mitsumono waiting outside that he knew were part of her advanced class. He looked the women over. Ren was training them in hopes they would be skilled enough to be her replacement. The youngest appeared to be no more than ten years old. Shingen tilted his head in interest, she was likely one of the orphans. He found it fascinating that a child had caught Ren’s attention.

“Alright class great job today, thank you for braving the weather to come out.” She wiped her face off with a hand towel and caught his eye with a flirtatious wink. “I’ll see you all next week, remember to practice!”

Shingen moved forward through the exiting students, embracing his wife affectionately. Ren reached up, mussing his damp hair with an impish grin. “Hello, my Husband, what brings you to my domain?”

“Hello, my goddess, I thought I’d steal you for a moment between classes.” He kissed her nose, endearingly.

“Shingen, you shouldn’t be out in this weather.” She admonished, grabbing a dry towel and patting him down. “I don’t want you getting sick again.”

“I have the most beautiful, caring wife in the world.” He kissed her again, scooping her up in his arms and twirling her. Her advanced students tittered and giggled. They were all used to the lovebird behavior their Lord and Lady exhibited.

“MMmm, I’m glad you’re here,” Ren’s lips caressed his ear, her voice lowered. “See the youngest one? Her name is Shion, she’s an orphan from the north. A prodigy, I've been training her over a month now. I believe she will be my replacement. I want you to watch her in class today if you have time.”

“For you, I always have time. I need you later to go over the plans for the summit next week. We have people starting to arrive in four days.” Shingen set Ren back down, tracing his thumb across her back thoughtfully. “Who is she staying with now?” The other students all appeared to be over age twenty and already in their mitsumono.

“I set her up in one of your houses in town with other women in the red-light district. She’s already been paired with a tutor to learn how to read and write.”

Shingen nodded, taking a seat. Ren had yet to say any of her students were worth training to a higher level. That she picked one so young interested him, what did she see? It would be years before the child was ready for missions. She was on the short side for her age and didn’t appear to weigh more than a wet cat.

The air in the dojo was moist and warm, it smelled faintly of sweat from the last class and polished wood. Shingen coughed, clearing his throat. The students milled about stretching as Ren welcomed them with a warm smile. These were her current top five. It was rare Shingen had the time to sit in on her classes. He was interested to see what was being taught.

“We’ve been covering unarmed strikes on nerve points for disabling opponents and channeling energy through yourself in meditation. Today we are going to combine those two lessons to put a little extra push behind your strikes.”

He listened to her as she explained a concept that seemed not only advanced but a little mystical. Not for the first time, he wondered if she was some sort of spiritual being. Her students were paired, he noticed Ren paired with Shion. Kneeling before her, she whispered to her quietly, placing the child’s hand on her sternum. Ren was wearing the form-fitting short top she typically preferred. Shingen could see every line of muscle as she demonstrated how the strike should be placed with the idea of temporarily winding an opponent and knocking them back. She let the young girl hit her, then nodded with a smile.

“Alright, the second move to that can be a kill shot if done correctly. It’s a hard strike just to the left of the sternum, over the heart. Pouring your energy through the move to complete it will stop a heartbeat. However, it’s obviously not something we can practice to completion,” She grinned, her students chuckled. “And depending on how true your strike is, it may not always be reliable, but it is possible and a good defense in a tough situation. At worst, that strike will give you a few seconds to take them out with a solid hit to the throat or nose. At best, they will drop on the spot. Let’s start our drills from last week at half speed then pick it up to full speed.”

Shingen was lost in his thoughts for a moment, there were times he forgot that the woman he loved had an emotionless killer locked inside her. 

“Shion, I want you at full speed with me.” The little girl bowed respectfully, set her stance then flew at Ren in a blur of movement.

Shingen grinned. It was like Ren had a miniature mirror image of herself. They were a yin yang symbol of shadow and light twisting in moves faster than his eye could follow. Ren wasn’t holding back on her speed for the little girl, and to the kid’s credit, she was using her small size for low attacks and unexpected fast maneuvering. She ended in a strike to Ren’s sternum that the taller woman didn’t block, tossing her several feet back.

“Lady Ren!” the little girl ran forward to her prone teacher, there was a gasp from the other students. Shingen started to rise concerned. Ren gasped a few times then laughed, sitting up with the little girl’s help.

“Good job, Shion. Alright, ladies, let’s take a break.” Ren grabbed a towel, wiping down her face as she approached Shingen.

“That was quite the hit. Are you alright? Why didn’t you block that?” Shingen rubbed her shoulder.

“I needed to see if she was just doing the physical strike or channeling her energy through it. She’s an amazing little fireball. I can’t wait to see how she progresses.” Ren grinned at him. He loved seeing that excitement light up her violet eyes.

Shingen smiled. “Why don’t we have her live here then? There is plenty of room, you can focus on training her, and it would keep her out of the seedier aspects of the red-light district until she is older.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. I’ll have one of the vassals set up a room for her in the servant’s quarters for now with the kitchen girls to watch out for her.” Shingen placed a kiss on the crown of her head. “I love you, have fun with your class. I’ll have lunch set for us when you get back so we can review the summit documents.”

“Thank you, Shingen.”

“Of course, my goddess, you can let ‘mini you’ know of her new accommodations after class.” He gave her a sexy wink and ambled back off into the light rain.

 

Her

A few days later Ren ran her hand lightly down Shingen’s back as they stood watching guests arrive. The summer sun was warm on her face. This was possibly one of the boldest moves to be made in the Sengoku period, and completely unheard of. Every warlord had been invited to the peace summit. Every faction had a representative present. The talks were scheduled to last four days. Shingen was very concerned bloodshed would happen. Ren assured him she would never let it get that far, she was prepared to nerve block and disable anyone getting out of hand.

No edged weapons were allowed in the central area where the talks were being held. They were careful to keep disagreeable representatives segregated to head off any infighting. Ren was tense and exhausted, but if this crazy idea worked, it would all be worth it.

Their allies had already arrived the day before. Sasuke was keeping Kenshin under close wraps, doing his best to distract the warlord from murderous thoughts. Everyone else so far had been relatively amicable. It seemed people were open to the concept of prospering without war.

Ren felt Shingen tense, and she looked up. Nobunaga had just arrived flanked by his usual crew of warlords. She slid her hand into his giving it a squeeze.

“He controls the other half of this island, you know we need his cooperation.” 

Shingen opened his mouth to reply when a boisterous voice cut into his words.

“Kitten! You look amazing, I see marriage suits you.” Masamune strode forward, kissing Ren’s cheek. Her eyebrows hit her hairline in shock. “Takeda.” The one-eyed man nodded politely.

“Date.” Shingen returned the nod. 

Shion took that moment to run up and hug Ren’s waist “Lady Ren, I’ve been waiting at the dojo for you. Aren’t we going to practice today?” The dark-haired little girl gazed up at Masamune with big eyes. 

“I’m sorry little one, as soon as I greet our guests I’ll be there.” Ren ruffled her hair. At that moment, Masamune’s tiger cub came bounding forward. “Masa? Really?”

“Well, I couldn’t leave her home lass, who would feed her?”

“Is that a real tiger?” Shion’s eyes were huge with glee.

“It is indeed, and who might you be?” Masamune squatted down to look the girl in the eye. 

“Masa, this is Shion, my best student. I’m hoping she’ll surpass me one day. Shion, this is Date Masamune. He lives in that big castle in Oshu, that is just south of where you are from.”

“Ohh hooo another northerner, well I tell you what. How about you show me where the dojo is, and you can play with Shogetsu until Ren is done babysitting warlords? And then we can all have fun sparring together!”

“Can I?!” Shion looked up to Ren who was holding in a laugh, she didn’t know who was the larger child. She glanced at Shingen, who was surprisingly also smiling. 

“Go on, little one, you can show Masamune what a good student you’ve been.” Shingen ruffled the girl’s hair and shooed her off. He slid an arm around Ren’s waist, watching them go. 

“Takeda, it’s bold of you to hold this summit. I am very interested in the outcome.” They turned, and Nobunaga was before them. Shingen’s jaw tightened, he nodded.

“Oda, thank you for coming. I appreciate you agreeing to lead the discussion on trade.” 

Nobunaga’s eyes slid to Ren, warming fondly. “Lady Takeda, you look lovely as always. Word of your teaching has reached as far as Azuchi.

Ren was slightly taken aback by how friendly he was being but decided to take it as a blessing. “Well, that is an honor to hear my humble teachings are being talked about so far away. Thank you for making an appearance Lord Nobunaga. I hope you find your accommodations comfortable.”

He bowed to her and strolled away.

“How do you do it?” Shingen said softly, a bemused smile on his face. Ren leaned her head against his chest, his arm still around her waist.

“Hmmm?”

“You literally betrayed both of those men to gain information, they should hate you, but they both just treated you like a treasured friend.”

“I’m magical.” Ren winked at him.

“My goddess, I have no doubts that you are.” 

 

 

There was a tiger in her dojo…and it wasn’t Shingen.

“Lady Ren! Watch this!” Shion leaped through the air, then tucked and rolled. The tiger cub mimicked her.

“Excellent job! Masa, hopefully, you’ve tired both of them out.” Ren stepped forward, giving him a friendly kiss on the cheek.

“Uncle Masa said Shogetsu can sleep with me tonight.” The little girl tumbled in a whirlwind across the room. The cub followed.

Uncle…Masa said that did he?” Ren raised an eyebrow at Masamune.

“She’s adorable Kitten, and she moves just like you.” Masa pecked her cheek then looked around the room. “Nice dojo Takeda set you up with.”

“He’s a good man.” Ren smiled. “What have you heard so far?”

“Mmmm, always gathering the information.” He rolled his blue eye playfully at her.

“I always am.”

“Well, Nobunaga’s changed a bit since this winter when you were in Azuchi, I don’t know what the hell you said to him, but he’s gotten a lot fairer and a lot less….what was the word you used?… Hardass.”

Ren grinned.

“He’s still tough, just more willing to listen to other points of view, slightly more forgiving. Of course, Hideyoshi follows whatever Nobunaga does so you have no threat there.”

“So, where is the threat, Masa?” Ren leaned against his shoulder comfortably, the man always had loose lips.

“You know I love him like a brother, but Ieyasu has a lot of hate for you. He thinks you’re some kind of witch that has a spell over us all. Pretty ridiculous, huh?”

“I wish I did that would certainly make it easier.” Ren chuckled.

“Oh, ignore him. He’s a sourpuss with a stick up his ass. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.”

Except she did.

Worry about it.

Tokugawa was the threat in history, it concerned her that he remained a threat now. As long as they had Oda support, it would be fine. That would sandwich Tokugawa lands between them, leaving him with potential enemies on every side. Ieyasu was too slick to do that.

“Are you up for a spar?” Masa gave her a feral grin.

“As long as it’s touch not hit. I don’t need to explain to my Tiger why I’m all bruised up later tonight.” Ren grabbed a pair of wood practice blades off the wall tossing him one. 

“Fair enough.” And he came at her.

Him

Ren came back to the room and sprawled on the tatami mats.

“Just kill me now. Everything hurts, and I’m dying.”

Shingen glanced at her from their desk, his brush barely pausing in its travel across the parchment.

“You sparred with Date?”

“And Shion…and then, “Uncle Masa,” thought two on one would be super fun.”

“Are you hurt?” Shingen raised an eyebrow, trying not to grin.

“Just my pride, Tiger.”

He finished the letter he was writing and sealed it with wax.

“How about if I pour us a bath and we call it an early night. Tomorrow is going to be long and hard.”

“That’s what she said.” Ren quipped, punch drunk with exhaustion.

“Hmmm?”

“A bath sounds great. I’ll pry myself from the floor in a few minutes.”

In the end, he scooped her up, divested her of sweaty clothing, and lowered her into the bath before climbing into the large wooden tub behind her. Ren closed her eyes, reclining back against his chest.

“What are your thoughts on Ieyasu?”

“Well, he showed up today.” Shingen ran the soapy cloth over her skin.

“Yes, but did he show up because he’s part of the Oda entourage or because he’s interested in these talks?” Ren played with the bubbles on the surface of the water thoughtfully. “I spoke to Masa, and he said Ieyasu had some crazy hate going on for me. Apparently, I’ve cast a spell on you all.”

“That man has the loosest lips.” Shingen chuckled.

“I wasn’t kidding when I told you he was easy. I pointed out one of the more adventurous maids that will likely show him a good time tonight if he’s his usual charming self. So, I’m going to call it even. Oh, and Shion gets to sleep with a tiger… I’m certain now she will be asking us if we can get a “real” tiger in Kai.”

“Because what this place needs is another large predator.” Shingen purred teasingly against her neck. 

“You are all the tiger I need.” She slid her hands along his muscled thighs.

“I don’t know, I’d like a few cubs from my tigress.” Shingen nipped along her shoulder.

“What would you do with a nation united in peace?”

“Grow old and fat with my beautiful wife.”

“Aren’t we doing that now?” Ren teased.

“She isn’t fat enough yet. I need to work on that part.” His hands glided suggestively down over her flesh.

“I thought we were turning in early?”

“My goddess…I didn’t say for sleep.”

Chapter Text

Her

The talks had been going on for hours, so far it was going well after the initial adjustment period of enforcing that everyone will be polite. Shingen had very carefully arranged the seating to both encourage a mix of the different factions and not seat rivals that loathed each other side by side. This made a large circle so that no one was at the head of anything. A speaker was welcome to enter the center to equally address all.

This put Nobunaga almost directly across from her, which was distracting at best. At worst she felt like she was being constantly judged. Every move, every word, was being weighed and measured by those emotionless carnelian eyes. Ren was doing her best to ignore it but she had all her senses extended so she could head off arguments before they happened, predict the results of comments and soothe ruffled feathers. So, she felt every damn reaction from him from every word she said. Thank goodness Mitsuhide wasn’t present, the last thing she needed was the weight of two people judging her to this degree.

Ren’s eyes scanned over the rest of the occupants while one of the Daimyo from the north voiced his concerns. Tokugawa was studiously ignoring her presence; she took a moment to study him. All she got off him was a stewing, sullen anger, but she wasn’t sure over what. Shingen brushed her arm, leaning in to comment. She saw him glare at Nobunaga, and her fingertips brushed his thigh. He turned those storm grey eyes back to her, filled with apology. Ren knew how hard old habits were to break. They just needed to do the best they could.

Him

They broke for lunch. Shingen watched Shion run to Ren, the tiger cub bounding after her. Ren swept the young girl up onto her hip, giving her an affectionate hug. He smiled. Shion was charming, and it pleased him to see his wife displaying some maternal qualities. Perhaps she would like to adopt Shion, giving her the Takeda name? His eyes swept the area, appraising it for issues. Men were sitting down at the long tables arranged in the gardens. Servers were bringing out food. Generally, everyone seemed pleased. Then Shingen frowned.

The devil king was leaning against a stone wall off to the side, an uncharacteristically soft smile on his face while he watched Ren. The man was obviously smitten. A low growl hummed in the warlord’s throat.

I can’t control his feelings Shingen, I can only control my own.

Her voice came back to him, and Shingen settled. This was a peace summit; whether he liked it or not, they needed Oda support. Without it, they were back where they started. Ren had said this would end in a bloody war otherwise. Shingen knew he had the best standing cavalry in the history of Japan, but that would never stand against a line of guns. His gaze slipped away to Tokugawa, who had glanced at the food then walked off, presumably heading back to his room to eat alone. Such an odd man to be the one that finally manages unification, stepping on the backs of others to do it, and stealing policies.

“Shingen, come join us.” Yuki was at his elbow gesturing to an empty spot by Kenshin and Sasuke. Shingen’s face smoothed into a warm smile.

“Thank you, I will.”

Her

It was late. Ren was settled at their desk, lantern burning, still answering mitsumono correspondence and writing reports when Shingen returned to their rooms. Wordlessly he embraced her. The scent of sake and pipe smoke was heavy on his clothes. His head pressed to her breasts. His arms wrapped around her waist. Ren put down her well-chewed brush and ran her fingers through his auburn hair.

“My Tiger, what is wrong?” Her words were soft, she trailed her fingers soothingly down his back.

“Doing things for the greater good is stressful and exhausting, I’m beginning to understand why men just beat each other to death in war.” He mumbled into her breasts then snuggled his face deeper in between them breathing in.

Ren chuckled.

“I never said this would be easy. Is everyone getting along? No fighting, I hope?”

“Well…Sasuke is running a gambling den in our main hall, and a wrestling competition had been going on for several hours. Someone brought tobacco and there were several kiseras being passed. I don’t think I’ll ever get this scent from my clothes, I’ve been in better smelling brothels.” He hugged her tighter. “And having this many people in our home is more stressful then I imagined it would be.”

“Shingen, everything is going fine, and you are doing amazing.” Ren tipped his head out of her cleavage to look into his eyes. “three more days.”

“I love you.” He sat up, his lips warm against hers, she coughed slightly. He tasted of tobacco smoke and sake…not in a good way.

“I love you too, let’s get you cleaned up, and I’ll join you in bed.”

“My angel, you are ever my savior.”

Ren was suddenly thankful that she wasn’t invited to the boy’s club in the hall tonight.

 

It was a whisper before dawn, Ren lit a single lantern in the dojo. The early summer air was already warming as she slid the east-facing walls to the side so she could welcome the day. She stretched slow, relishing in the feel of her body wakening, then moved into her favorite kata. Her shoulder was strong again, rarely giving her issues, her body lithe and back into perfectly honed shape. Ren paused a moment and removed her kimono top leaving just the short sleeveless breast binder she had designed. It was the closest thing she could get to a sports bra in this era, and while it wasn’t modest by Sengoku standards, at least her students were now accustomed to seeing her in it. Ren picked up her ebony tessen from a box left on her shelf. They had become her favorite weapon, and she lost herself in the movement of dancing with them. A slow drumbeat in her mind, her feet stepped through the steps of an intricate dance swaying her body like the wind. Her eyes closed she tossed one fan up, catching it and spun. 

Someone clapped softly.

The faint scent of gunpowder and cedarwood tickled her senses. Nobu?

Ren opened her eyes. How had she not heard him draw close? He leaned casually against the shoji door, watching her. A faint smile was on his face, his carnelian eyes soft.

“Lord Nobunaga,” She bowed before him, sliding the ebony tessen into the waist of her hakama. “It is early, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit? The summit talks do not start again for hours.”

“Lady Ren,” surprisingly, he bowed low, gifting her with a warm smile. “As is usual for me, I could not sleep. I decided to walk the gardens and saw the light on here. I am glad to see you enjoy my gift.” He nodded to the fans tucked into her waistband.

“They are beautifully crafted and were a lovely, thoughtful wedding gift. Thank you, Lord Nobunaga.”

“You move with stunning grace Lady Ren, it is a pleasure to see you dance. Would it be a terrible inconvenience if I asked to sit and watch longer?”

Ren paused at the unexpected request, she saw his eyes move over her torso, taking in the snug top followed by the naked swath of alabaster skin from below her breasts to where her hakama slung low on her hips. His eyes returned to hers, desire burning in them. The gaze wrapped warmly around her making it suddenly difficult to breathe.

Ren felt something clench deep inside. She coughed, reaching for her kimono top.

“I do not feel that a private performance would be appropriate, Lord Nobunaga, my apologies. I will be, however, be performing at the feast tonight, you are welcome to attend.” She kept her voice level as she pulled on the top, placing her tessen back in the box on her shelf.

“I did not intend to make you feel uncomfortable, please accept my apologies.” His sonorous baritone rumbled across the room to her. Ren paused, turning. When did he start apologizing for anything? Her eyes caught his, the heat was gone replaced by sincerity. She let out a sigh glancing behind him. The sky was turning golden, heralding the sun. He was a guest, she needed to treat him politely so these damn treaty talks would run smooth. Shingen and Nobunaga loathed each other, she had to be that bridge.

Ren looked over what he was wearing, it was appropriate enough for sparring, she snugged up her belt. 

“Nobu would you like to spar with me?”

A smile lit his carnelian eyes. “Ren, I would love to spar with you. I hear your classes are extremely sought after.”

“Well, those who can’t, teach.” She gave him a half-smile, she missed the thrill of a mission.

“Tch, Ren, we both know you still can. Your heart holds you here.”

“Indeed. This is touch not hit. What weapon interests you?” She turned to the practice wall, hand running over the wooden weapons available there.

“Mmmmm tessen off-hand with tanto?”

“Ah a personal favorite, done, and done.” Ren tossed him a tessen from class box then picked a practice tanto from the wall. She flipped her fan open, the weight was more substantial than the ebony ones, and the balance wasn’t as sweet. She maneuvered it a few times, getting used to the different feel.

“Half speed or full?” He took a defensive stance, raising his eyes to her. They looked less guarded than usual.

“Let’s start this slow and see where it goes.” Ren moved forward, taking the offensive.

Him

Shingen wasn’t surprised to wake alone, Ren frequently slipped out of their bed hours before he woke. He would typically find her in the dojo if he woke early. If he slept in, she would wake him pleasurably when she returned, so there was every incentive to sleep in. This morning he woke early with his mind buzzing, information about the talks today circling his head, his insecurity about having so many warlords under one roof from currently opposing factions. His roof. It was beyond stressful. He rose to seek out his wife. Watching her in the morning always relaxed him.

When he neared the dojo, he heard voices. He recognized the spin and slap of tessen, Ren’s favored weapon, as he took the steps up to the small building. What he saw shocked him.

Oda was attacking his wife. 

Shingen growled low in his throat, then paused when Ren laughed, leaping forward with a counter. They both stopped, and she explained the move to Nobunaga and then went through it again slowly. Shingen stayed in the shadows of the porch overhang watching. They spoke easily with each other, like close friends. Ren came at him again at a slow speed doing the same maneuver, he tried two different ways to counter it, then they started discussing the merits of the second.

She was…training him?

She turned to counter his second move, and he blocked with the tessen. She paused, and he demonstrated that block again. He corrected her form slightly, touching her wrist, laying his hand on her hip, guiding her. The warlord felt his temperature rising.

Or was he training her…? Shingen frowned. He knew they needed Oda’s support for any of this to work. He ran a hand through his hair, jealousy flaring. He needed to trust Ren, she knew what she was doing. At that moment, Ren’s violet eyes pierced the shadows where he stood.

“Tiger, is that you?” 

She knew damn well it was, he swore she could scent him from a mile away with those acute senses she had. His eyes narrowed as he watched her smile at Nobunaga and excuse herself.

“Hey.” Ren’s voice was tender. She slid the tessen into her waistband as she reached him on the porch. Her hand cupped his jaw bringing him down to her for a kiss. “You’re up early, is everything alright?”

He claimed her with that kiss, covering her lips hungrily, stealing her breath. He stared hard at Oda, the man looked away. “Our bed was cold without you, my angel.” he fairly purred “I came to see if I could convince you to come back to it.” His hands went to her hips, bringing her closer. She chuckled softly.

Ren pressed her lips to his whispering, “you jealous beast.”

“Guilty.” He grinned back, stealing another heated kiss.

“Lord Nobunaga,” Ren raised her voice to carry to the far side of the dojo. “It was a pleasure sparring with you, but it seems my husband has need of me. I will see you later at the summit?”

“Yes, of course, Lady Ren, thank you for the session.” He bowed to her, expression neutral, and turned away to put the sparring weapons back on the wall.

Shingen covered her hand with his, stealing her into the dawn.

 

Ren sat by his side during the peace council. She had worked hard on the wording of the agreements with each of the warlords and innately knew what each one wanted. She wore the scarlet silk kimono embroidered with a tiger. His hand ached to trace the lines of it over her back. Her ebony tessen were tucked into her thin obi. No edged weapons were allowed at the summit, but no one had raised a word against her having them.

So far, the talks had gone surprisingly well, she had a charismatic knack to smooth things over anytime conflict arose, or tempers got a little hot. Shingen scanned the room two men concerned him, for utterly different reasons.

Oda had not been able to keep his eyes off Ren. While he was amiable, even agreeable to the tenants of the summit, his eyes kept drifting over her …not so much in lust as appreciation. Like she was a desirable piece of art. There were times Shingen would touch Ren’s arm or lean in to speak to her just to draw Nobunaga’s gaze to him. There was challenge in Shingen’s eyes every time.

The other man that worried him was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the man was sullen, not well-liked. He had made it as far as he had by careful alliances that he then abandoned as soon as they became inconvenient. The man seemed to have a deep-seated resentment toward Ren, but Shingen wasn’t sure why. Was it her gender? He made a mental note to discuss it with Ren tonight, perhaps she had some insight.

They took a break for lunch in the gardens. Ren excused herself to freshen up back in their rooms. Shingen strolled slowly through the courtyard alone, heading toward the open pavilion where the meal had been laid out.

“Takeda, you are a fortunate man.” Nobunaga caught up, falling into step beside him.

“Oda.” Shingen nodded.

“Your wife is really something special, her poise today during the talks was beyond compare. It is a rare woman that commands such a noble air.” Nobunaga continued.

“She is, I treasure every moment she graces me with her divine presence.” Shingen let a proud smile curl his lips.

“It was bold of you to marry for love instead of taking a political wife.” The man continued.

Shingen chuckled softly, “Does Ren seem like a woman that would accept concubine status to you?” He ran a hand through his auburn hair. “Do those alliances ever really work, Oda? We hold each other’s sisters, daughters, and nieces hostage. Sending them out to marry to form bonds that never last anyway. Perhaps it is time to stop using female flesh as a stop-gap to war.”

Nobunaga chuckled softly. “Not all of us are blessed enough to have Fūjin’s daughter show an interest in us. Some of us settle for alliance marriages.”

“Indeed. Well, I hope you enjoy your stay here and that you find the talks to our mutual beneficial interest. Perhaps if this land is united in peace, we all could choose love over duty.”

 

Her

Ren sat on the tatami mats using a small mirror to apply her makeup. She painted a carmine stripe down the center of her lips, filling it in with a tiny brush. Shingen watched entranced, then moved to kiss her.

“No…this is the third time I’ve reapplied my lipstick.” She tried unsuccessfully to suppress a grin. “We are the hosts of the feast tonight, if you ravish me again, we’ll be late.”

He snuggled her from behind, curling strong arms around her. “What if I just…lightly ravished you?” He nuzzled her neck, Ren turned to him and wiped the lipstick off of his mouth from his last slip of control.

She grinned, “my Tiger, I said no.”

“My goddess, your no’s sound so much like yes’s to me.”

“It likely does when my thighs are over your ears.” She gave him a playful swat with a towel. It didn’t wipe the stupid grin off his handsome face. She rose stretching and picked up the floral hair decoration he gifted her at their wedding. Shingen took it from her hands, gently sliding it into her white-blonde hair. His fingers took a moment to feather through the silk of it with a smile. Ren hadn’t cut it since the last battle, her promise to him that if she felt safe, she’d let it grow.

“I love this so much better than the wigs.” His hand gripped the silken locks at the nape of her neck, pulling her head back to expose her throat, his tongue traced one long lick along her pulse.

She moaned, “Tiger….”

His teeth closed gently on her flesh, she felt her nipples stand against the plum-colored silk of her kimono. His thumb traced over one teasingly.

“See my goddess? Your body always says yes.”

“We will be late.”

“Then, we are late.” He nuzzled against her neck, she felt his teeth close on the flesh above the collar of her kimono.

“I am performing tonight, don’t you dare mark me above my collar.” She laughed, pulling away.

“You can’t blame a man for trying, my beautiful wife.” He grinned, taking her hand he kissed the back then led her out the door, to the hall.

 

Him

His stomach was full of delicious desserts, the sake was flowing freely, men that usually are at each other’s throats were celebrating together, and his magnificent wife was doing a breathtaking warrior’s kata for the entertainment of their guests. She was a whirling dervish of flame-colored silks and golden tessen. The movement was so impressive Kenshin had stood to clap along with the drum cheering her on. More men joined him and she invited Kenshin out with a sensuous curl of her finger, flipping one tessen through the air for him to catch. He stepped over the table, taking her hand. Shingen laughed toasting them both, slapping a hand on his thigh to keep the beat. The two ice warriors twirled together in a blur of platinum blonde hair and fierce cries, their unrehearsed movements looking effortless. He mirrored her then would change up the difficulty, and she’d mirror it back. She laughed, his tigress, and it sounded like a triumphant roar of challenge. Kenshin lifted her and she flipped off his shoulder, a bird in flight. Men cheered loudly, more sake flowed. It was a good night. 

Shingen’s eyes shifted imperceivably to Oda. The dark-haired man watched her, but he was smiling and clapping along with the rest of the room. Nothing about the devil king seemed out of line or inappropriate. Storm grey eyes shifted to Tokugawa…there was the problem. The man sat sullenly, barely touching his food or drink, a black cloud over his countenance. That needed to be solved before this summit was over. 

Suddenly, Shingen’s lap was full of plum and scarlet silk. His lips were covered in spiced warmth. A deafening cheer went up.

“To our hosts! Lord and Lady Takeda!” Nobunaga had raised his cup toasting them.

“Now, you can ruin my lipstick, Tiger mine.” Ren grinned against his lips, and he dipped her back in a kiss. She flipped her tessen open playfully, shielding them from the crowd. And ruin it he did.

Ren laughed in delight when he released her, quickly wiping the crimson smear from his lips with a cloth. He ran a thumb along her lower lip, fixing the smudge on hers. Her violet eyes were filled to the brim with love for him.

“Thank you all for coming, please feel free to continue enjoying the evening. Talks start again tomorrow at mid-morning.” He announced, offering Ren his hand to stand.

Ren stood, rescuing Masamune from a sleeping Shion in his lap. He ruffled the young girl’s hair affectionately. 

“I’ll keep the cub in my room tonight lass, your hellcat wore poor Shogetsu out last night.” Masa gave her a grin then pulled one of the serving maids into his vacated lap. Ren balanced the unconscious child on her hip, with Shingen behind her as they left the hall.

Carnelian eyes watched them leave with a sorrow tinged envy.

Chapter Text

Her

Ren had been warmed up for over an hour, and the sun had yet to start to color the sky. She had too much cluttering her mind to stay in bed. On the upside the summit seemed to be going exceptionally well, there were two more days of talks planned, today was focused on trading. Nobunaga was leading that since he appeared to have the best relationship with the Portuguese.

Ren took a naginata off the wall. She personally had a strong dislike for the weapon but felt she should learn to master it. The kunoichi was at her best with close up or range. The in-between zone that a six to eight-foot weapon created was always awkward for her. She knew a lot of women in samurai houses used them, and it was a preferred weapon. It made sense if you didn’t want to get up close and personal with your attacker, but Ren preferred to be standing on their toes while she took someone out.

She started running through drills and footwork that Yukimura had taught her, letting her mind focus on the martial form instead of pounding what-ifs about the unification of Japan. She closed her eyes, focusing on correct posture and body movement, but her concentration just wasn’t there. The movement felt wrong, she stopped and corrected herself. Then stopped again frowning, her eyes still closed.

“Would you like some help with that? It is unusual that a warrior, as skilled as you are, is inept in that weapon form.” His sonorous voice thrummed through her.

Ren’s eyes snapped open. Nobunaga leaned against the shoji doors, half in shadow watching her. How had he gotten close again without her hearing him? How long had he been watching her? She scented the air…it smelled like lavender soap. The clothes he was wearing were new, more casual.

His low chuckle echoed the room.

“I don’t always wear armor and walk so loud. Would you like some help with your form, Ren?”

“Sure.” She was cautious, but their sparring session the previous day had been pleasurable. She took another practice weapon off the wall and tossed it to him. He caught it easily and took the stance she had just been practicing. She resumed the stance, and he looked her over. 

“Loosen those shoulders and hold your back a little straighter, your power is coming from your core through your feet just like everything else you do.” His voice was deep, she followed his instruction, unconsciously falling into the old habit of obeying him without question.

“Bring that leg back, just a bit.” Ren shifted. He slid the pole between her legs and tapped her shin, “more.”

That deep, authoritative voice. A blush suddenly rose unbidden to Ren’s cheeks, she turned her head away slightly, sliding the leg back.

“That’s good,” his faint praise encouraged her. It was like being trained by her father again, or Erik. Following orders without question and the desire to please. 

“Now, follow my moves.” He fell in next to her, going through a relaxed series of steps that were similar but felt more stable then what she had been doing. They did that series for a time until he nodded in approval, and she smiled.

“Thank you.”

“Alright, let’s try this now.” He went through a series of thrusts and when she tried to echo it her shoulder was a bit stiff making the movement difficult. He frowned at her, and Ren stopped…realizing she didn’t want to disappoint him.

“I’m sorry, give me a moment, please? Sometimes my injury still acts up.” She laid the weapon on the floor and used the wall to stretch her shoulder, loosening it up. His carnelian eyes watched her silently. 

“Was that the kill shot you took for Takeda?” He sat on one of the benches along the wall.

“Yes, you heard about that?” She flexed her shoulder against the wall, leaning into it.

“Everyone has heard how the Takeda Oni leaped through the air, firing a dozen arrows in the span of a breath, eliminating a whole line of archers and then was shot through the heart and lived.” His carnelian eyes were filled with mirth. “You are legendary.”

She sat next to him, still rolling her shoulder with a soft chuckle. “It was three.” She corrected. “I jumped into the air afterward to block the incoming shot, and the shaft went through my shoulder, luckily missing the lung.”

“It’s still impressive, you could have died.”

“I expected to,” Ren answered honestly. His eyes met and held hers for an eternity of moments. Finally, he glanced at her shoulder.

“May I help you with that?” 

Something in his voice made her nod her head in the affirmative. Perhaps it was how deep it was, or that it sounded soft. Even kind. Or the fact that he said it in such a way the word no wasn’t an option. Nobunaga took her hand in his, running the other hand firmly from her neck to her wrist. He faced her side, massaging thick blunt fingers against her shoulder. Then took her hand in both of his, gently putting pressure on different points of it. It felt strangely intimate but not intrusive. He covered his hand with hers, looking down at it.

“How is it now?”

Ren rolled her shoulder, the movement was free. “That’s amazing, thank you.”

A small smile. He still didn’t look up… or release her hand.

“I am not a bad man, Ren.”

“I know that, if you were, you wouldn’t be participating in a gathering to discuss unification through peace instead of war.” She gazed at him, still feeling comfortable enough in his presence to not stand and put distance between them.

“I wish,” He paused, mulling his words over for a moment. “I wish I had met the real you and not the persona you created to attract me. While I held an affectionate love for the sweet innocence of Tsukimi, I find the extent of my admiration for the kunoichi that is Takeda Ren runs much deeper.”

“Well, we are both accomplished warriors, it’s natural to have a mutual admiration for skill and talent.” Ren reasoned; her smile was warm.

“It is more than that, Ren.” He said quietly.

“We are alike.” She offered, “you see yourself in me. We both will do whatever needs to be done to achieve our goals Nobu, I just took the less bloody road.”

“Did you?” He finally looked up, releasing her hand. His melancholy gaze rested on hers. “You don’t get eyes like ours without rivers of blood. I suspect your body count is closer to mine than most know.” Carnelian eyes searched hers for long moments. “I wish you the peace that you seek, Takeda Ren.” He stood slowly as if a great weight was on him. Then placing the naginata back on the wall, Nobunaga quietly left. 

Ren hesitated a moment, the words on her lips to call him back.

She didn’t stop him.

 

 

“She is a witch and has ensnared all of you, My Lord. I can’t believe that you, out of all of us, you can’t see this for what it is.” The blonde spat out his venom, spit flecking his lips in anger.

“Ieyasu, you are being unreasonable.” Nobunaga smiled, skipping another flat stone across the moat in the soft morning light.

“There is no other reason for a woman to hold so much sway.” He glared angrily over the water, hands grabbing the bridge railing until his knuckles were a ghostly shade of white.

“Ieyasu, she is a fine warrior, a natural leader, an accomplished teacher, and a good ruler for her lands. The supernatural has nothing to do with her abilities, it’s all a lot of training, discipline, and hard work. If you wish to sideline her because she has tits, then keep in mind she is under Takeda.”

“Quite literally.” The younger man growled.

“As his honorable wife.” Nobunaga reminded. “If he chooses to rule his lands with her by his side, that is his prerogative.”

“These talks are useless, is everyone just supposed to hold hands and wish for world peace, we all share, and no one goes hungry? What a ridiculously naïve concept.” Ieyasu tossed his hands up in frustrated anger.

Ren had heard enough, she silently stepped out of the side path in the gardens.

“Good Morning, Lord Nobunaga, Lord Ieyasu, what a loud discussion you are having. Perhaps you’d like a hot beverage to settle you down? You should join me now in the tea house.”

“Lady Ren, it’s a pleasure. We accept your offer.” Nobunaga smiled at her, stepping forward to take the large basket in her arms.

“I’ll pass,” Ieyasu grumbled, turning to leave.

“Lord Ieyasu, perhaps you misunderstood me? We will have tea, in the house by the pond, now. Unless you feel it is proper to insult me, your host, by refusing.” Her smile was deceptively polite. Nobunaga turned his head to hide a smirk.

Ieyasu turned and glared at her. She smiled back, her eyes full of ice.

“I feel certain there are things we should discuss.” Ren gestured toward the small building.

A look of uncertainty crossed his features.

“Come now, Ieyasu, it’s just a woman, right? It’s not like she’s going to assassinate you here in front of everyone.” Nobunaga joked, walking toward the tea house.

“Certainly, you are not afraid of a woman Lord Ieyasu? If you are, I am certain Lord Nobunaga will guard your virtue against my wanton, witchy ways.” Ren winked, gesturing again toward the small house. The dark-haired warlord couldn’t hide his smile this time.

“After you?” He practically shoved the smaller man forward toward the house. Ieyasu quickly trudged ahead of them, as if being even within a step of Ren was distasteful.

“Thank you, Nobu.” Ren gifted him with a warm smile.

“You may want to save your thanks, the two of us will be sitting in a small room with possibly the prickliest individual you’ve ever met.” He fell into step beside her on the decorative path.

“You underestimate how many pricks I’ve had to deal with in my life.”

His deep laughter carried across the garden.

Him

Shingen’s head turned as he heard the laugh from across the gardens. He saw Oda carrying a large basket walking beside Ren. Tokugawa was sullenly stomping toward the tea house. Shingen started walking toward them, then paused. It would likely be less threatening for just her to be there, speaking to Ieyasu. He had the feeling, as much as he disliked Oda, that the warlord would never let any harm befall Ren.

“Shingen, would you join us?” Yuki’s voice came from nearby, there were several men sitting around a low stone wall. “They had some questions on the new taxation laws you’ve enacted in Kai and how they are working.” Shingen’s kimono fluttered in the warm breeze as he turned toward the group. He slid into his usual congenial smile, taking a seat to explain the even taxation methods that had been successful in his lands.

Her

Ren silently went through the steps of the tea ceremony, pushing calming energy outward from herself and letting it settle in a harmonious silence around her guests. Each movement was spare and with purpose, the cleaning of the bowls and instruments. The way all the tools were carefully laid out. Her eyes remained downcast as she focused with intent on whisking the matcha.

Nobunaga’s gaze never left her graceful form, each step was executed with precision, a perfection that bespoke years of practice. Finished, she handed the small bowl to him. His fingers brushed hers as he took the warmed pottery in his hands. He admired the simple beauty of the bowl, turning it in his hands then sipped the tea. Violet eyes watched him from under snowy lashes. His movements were as graceful and precise as hers. He wiped the rim off with a white cloth and passed the bowl to Ieyasu, feeling very peaceful. 

Ieyasu took the bowl, looking slightly more relaxed. He briefly glanced at it while doing the required turn then sipped. His brow raised in surprised pleasure. He took a second sip then wiped the rim, passing the bowl to Ren. 

Ren took her turn, looking much like Nobunaga had, turning the bowl then in silence, cleaned all of the tools laying them out aesthetically for the inspection of her guests. They both made the appropriate comments. 

Ren carefully packed everything back into the basket, then lifted out a small box of sweets, setting it in the center of the table. Next, she pulled out a small lidded jar, opening it she placed it near Nobunaga, it was full of colorful Konpeitō. She prepared another pot of a light jasmine tea, pouring cups for each of them, then raised her eyes to Ieyasu, studying him.

He was more relaxed but still sullen with a slightly confused expression.

“Lord Tokugawa, I have asked you here because there seems to be some misunderstanding between us I desire to clear up. In this space, I will allow you to ask any questions you might have and will answer them honestly to the best of my ability.”

Ieyasu raised an eyebrow at her.

“I would ask that you reciprocate. I call on Lord Nobunaga to act as mediator.”

“He is not unbiased toward you.” Ieyasu ground out.

“With all due respect Lord Ieyasu, I am merely an acquaintance on friendly terms with Lord Nobunaga while you have been his ally for years. I feel that it is more than an even bias.”

“I never shared his bed.” The smaller man muttered.

“There are plenty of people that have not graced Lord Nobunaga’s bed that he holds in high esteem. I do not believe the ability of sexual prowess comes into play in the matter of these negotiations.” Ren caught a small smirk curling the corner of the dark-haired man’s lip. His eyes held amusement when she glanced at them.

She continued, “If you have grievances, I ask that you air them so that we can move forward.”

He began to speak, his voice angry, almost petulant. Ren sat quietly, listening to the unending litany of complaints and saw clearly the issue wasn’t something that she could resolve. He was a small man desiring of power, and no amount of power would ever be enough for his ego. He was insecure, he held no close friends leaping from one advantageous alliance to another, often with the enemy of the first.

He was not to be trusted.

Ieyasu had a strong dislike for women, seeing them as weaker and only useful for making heirs. Therefore, he had a particular hatred for her, that she had the gall to be nameless and rise above her station.

He envied the ease he saw her gain success, friendship, admiration. Ren sat quietly and listened to what was said and what was not said.

“Surely Lord Ieyasu, you care for the people you rule over and have their best interests at heart?” Ren’s face was set in a calm smile. Her eyes were shadowed, flecks of magenta glinting in the violet.

“When I am successful, they are successful. “he spat out. “There is no need for me to care about their poor day to day lives. It is beneath one of my status.”

And that was it. Ren sighed. It was a commonly held concept in the era and one she was trying to change. Peasants rarely cared what petty lord ruled over them, and the Lord waged endless battles and taxation upon the poor. Her eyes flicked to Nobunaga. His gaze was interested but hooded. Ren sorted the information in her head, filing it quickly. As long as she had Oda support, the current Tokugawa lands would be forced to fall into line, or they would have enemies on all borders.

“Do you have any questions for me, Tokugawa Ieyasu?” Ren was having difficulties keeping a civil tone.

“Why would I? You’ve obviously used some mysticism to enrapture key figures.”

“If by mysticism you mean polite respect, then yes, I’ve obviously enraptured them with my mannerisms. I’ve seen enough up-close killing that I don’t have a taste for it if there is another way-“

“Typical woman, shying from violence.” He muttered, he stared down into his cooling tea, not meeting her gaze. Ren looked to Nobunaga, imperceivably, he shook his head.

“Ieyasu, even you must recognize that even the greatest of us fall if our foundation is not solid. What the Takeda wish to accomplish is a solid foundation under us all, to lift us all equally. They seek to foster trade within Japan to strengthen it so eventually when the outside world arrives, we are not seen as an insignificant island. Look at the greater picture.” Nobunaga's voice was deep and calming, Ren found herself wanting to lean into it.

“One unified rule would do the same.” He stated, slamming the small cup to the table.

“Not without a lot of bloodshed and expenditure that could be used to bolster the country as a whole!” Ren had about hit her limit, he disgusted her.

“Are we done here?” The man stood dusting himself off. “I believe I’ve lost my taste for tea.”

Nobunaga waved him out, and the man left. Ren cradled her face in her hands a moment.

“Well, I could have handled that better.” She pulled her hands away and started to clean up the low table.

“Ren,” the warlord stilled her hand, covering it with his. His eyes were serious when she looked up into them. “I think it was commendable that you even tried.”

“Thanks, Nobu.” She gave him a half-smile then nodded to the konpeitō filled jar. “That’s a gift for you, to thank you for sitting in on this nonsense.”

He winked at her, his voice took on a sensuous tone. “You know me too well, my lovely moon.”

They both froze. Ren’s eyes got large, she forgot to breathe. “I-“ 

She took her hand back from him as if burned.

“I apologize, it was a slip.” Nobunaga looked away. “It’s difficult sometimes, please forgive me?” He busied his hands by putting the lid on the jar and sliding it into a pouch.

“Of course.” Ren willed her heart to slow the hell down.

The silence was awkward, she finished packing the basket.

“The talks should be beginning again soon.” Ren stood, bowing to pass under the small door. Nobunaga took the heavy basket from her.

“I’ll escort you there, Lady Takeda.” 

Chapter Text

Her

Nobunaga was leading the discussion today on both trade within Japan and foreign trade. Ren was finding it difficult to focus. She had to keep up her senses to gently steer the room if someone got disgruntled, but that made her even more aware of the charismatic warlord that was currently speaking.

His voice.

His strength.

Ren kept thinking about his hand on hers this morning in the tea house. His sensual tone of voice wrapping warmly around her. Memories of time spent in Azuchi, even if it was as someone else. She was having a hard time keeping the separation. Ren sharply reminded herself he had been a mission, nothing more. A pain throbbed in her head, wrecking her concentration.

Ren slid her hand into the secure comfort of Shingen’s. He looked down at her questioningly and gave it a soft squeeze, thumb caressing her palm. It soothed her, her heart calmed. It seemed like Nobunaga had the crowd under control just fine with his sheer force of will and charisma. During the break, she bowed out, opting to take the afternoon off to be with Shion.

The little girl held her hand as they walked toward the dojo together, she felt like a daughter faster then Ren ever thought possible. It warmed her, she felt the same light in training the young girl that she felt when she was being taught.

They settled themselves comfortably in the dojo facing each other for quiet meditation. Ren just needed to clear her head. Shion, however, had other things in mind.

“Thank you for letting me live here, Lady Takeda.” Her voice was soft, she reached out for Ren’s hands laying on her lap.

Ren opened her eyes, giving the small hands a squeeze. “We are thrilled to have you here, Shion. I am glad you are happy here.”

“I like it better when there are fewer people.” The little girl said honestly. Ren smiled.

“Me too.”

“But Uncle Masa can stay.”

“Oh, can he?”

“Uh-huh, he’s fun.”

Ren stood and pulled the girl up, starting to run through slow drills with her.

“Well, perhaps sometime he’ll come back to visit, or I can take you to Oshu to see him.”

They were quiet for a time, slowly gaining speed on the unarmed blocks. For Ren, this was a form of meditation all on its own, it was almost like sparring against herself.

“Who is the dark man that watches you?”

Ren fumbled. She took two steps back and sat down, covering her discomfort with stretching. Shion sat next to her echoing her movements.

“Who do you mean?” The little girl was far too sharp.

“The one talking today, with the really deep voice. He’s always looking at you.”

“That is Lord Oda, he pretty much controls the whole western side of Japan.”

“And Lord Shingen has the east?” Shion questioned.

“Most of it, yes.” Ren leaned stretching out her ribs and back.

“They don’t like each other, do they?” Shion leaned forward onto the wood floor in the boneless way children do.

“Not really, but they are trying to get along for the betterment of the people.”

“But they both like you?”

“They do.” Ren nodded, closing her eyes back into meditation, Shion mimicked her.

“He’s very handsome, isn’t he?” Shion asked innocently.

“Shingen? Yes he is, I’m lucky he’s my husband.” Ren grinned.

“No, the dark one, Lord Oda. Maybe I’ll have someone that handsome one day.” Shion opened her eyes peeking at Ren, Ren peeked back.

“I think you should focus on your studies and not on boys.” Ren teased, she saw the girl roll her eyes. “Besides, he’s too old for you. Pick someone your age so you can grow old together.”

“Like you and Lord Shingen?”

Ren paused, his illness was still a ticking time bomb that few knew about. Would he grow old with her?

“Yea, hopefully.”

Him

The talks had gone far better than he had thought. Treaties were being drawn up along with trade agreements. What little disagreement happened was quickly smoothed over by either himself or Oda. While he still didn’t like the man even he had to admit Nobunaga had changed recently…for the better. Oh, he was still an overbearingly confident prick, but he was treating people better, less like pawns or tools, and more like human beings. Shingen briefly wondered what the catalyst was that caused the change in the younger warlord. There was still tension between them, but Oda went out of his way to be polite, whereas before he would take pleasure in hurling insults.

Ren hadn’t shown up at lunch or dinner, she wasn’t in their rooms. He bundled up some food and wandered out to the dojo, hoping to find her. She was sitting alone starring at her dark wood tessen when he entered the building. Shingen took a deep breath sliding the door closed behind him. There was a smell of polish like she had just wiped down the floors. Everything in the studio was immaculate, she’d been cleaning. Shingen moved behind her, taking his wife into his arms. He nuzzled against her ear, tenderly.

“Hello, little bird, are you well?” Ren leaned back against him, her eyes sliding closed. She let the tessen slip from her lap to the wooden floor.

“I am. You know how much I love you, right?” Her violet eyes opened, she tipped her head up to look at him.

“I do, enough that you’d marry me.” Shingen smiled, brushing his thumb over her lips. “I brought you some dinner, the talks went well today. We even started drafting out treaties.”

“Thank you for agreeing to this, even though I know you thought I was crazy when I presented it to you. I don’t know how long the peace will last, but it’s worth the effort.”

“I would agree.” Shingen hesitated a moment. “Oda has changed, I think it’s what is making this possible.”

“What do you see?” She took a rice ball from the plate he brought and chewed on it thoughtfully.

“Compassion. Oda never had that before. He certainly is still a far cry from the easy relationship I have with the people of Kai, but it is an improvement.”

Ren made a noncommittal hum.

“Is that your doing, little bird?” Shingen skimmed his fingers down the soft skin of her arm.

“How could I possibly affect him like that, Shingen? I haven’t seen him in months, and the last time I did see him, it wasn’t for much longer than it takes to play a game of Go.”

It was his turn to hum in response. Was Ren aware of the longing looks Oda gave her? Or did the man hide it when he interacted with her directly?

“Perhaps you are just that wonderful, my goddess.” He sat down fully, pulling her into his lap facing him. “So why are you hiding here? You were missed today.”

“I’m sorry, I lost track of time, were there problems? Arguments? I promise I’ll be more present tomorrow.” She straddled his lap, laying her head against his broad chest. Shingen found comfort in breathing the warm, spice smell of her skin.

“I missed you.” He felt her smile against his bare chest, her hand toyed with the collar of his kimono.

“I just got a little overwhelmed and needed to refocus. I trained with Shion until she got bored and went off to play with Shogetsu.”

“She fits in well,” Shingen commented, his lips traced her forehead.

“I adore her, I’m glad she found her way here.”

“Would you like to adopt her? As our daughter?” He’d been thinking about it for a while, the two of them seemed so well suited, and he was fond of the youngling.

Ren sat up a little to meet his gaze. “I would actually really like that, are there any ramifications to adopting her?”

“She gains the Takeda name and the protection it affords. She won’t inherit, but it could buy her a better marriage later.”

Ren squinted at him.

“If she desired to marry.” He amended, grinning in apology. Shingen stole a kiss to make up for his slip.

“Then, yes.” She snuggled back against his chest.

“I will speak to her first, then introduce her as our daughter tomorrow.” Shingen played his fingertips up her back. “I do still want my own cubs from my Tigress.” He nipped playfully at her neck.

“Oh, do you? You hadn’t mentioned that before.” Her giggles tickled his skin. She fisted her hands in his kimono, pulling him to her for a passionate kiss. There was a lot more heat behind it then he was expecting. His hand cupped the back of her head, fingers lacing through her hair, holding her to him. Her tongue slid against his lips, then against his tongue, tasting him. His mind swam in her sudden rush of warm affections.

“Ren…”

“Hmmm?” She sucked his lower lip, nipping it lightly.

“We should go back to our room…” His large hands slid to cup the globes of her sweet bottom, lifting her up to him.

“Or we could stay here.” Her hands slid suggestively inside his loose kimono, slipping it from his shoulders, she leaned back to gaze appreciatively at his mostly naked torso.

“Where we could be interrupted?” It wasn’t that he cared if he was seen, he didn’t want another man seeing her in full naked glory. Or having her song attract unwanted attention.

“No one is going to come here uninvited at night Tiger, this is my playground.” She dipped her head, closing her lips around one of his dark nipples. Shingen bit back a low moan feeling her teeth against his flesh. His thoughts went to Oda sparring with her here, what if he wandered back?

“My goddess as tempting as it is to have you right here,” he took her hand gently in his, lips tracing over the pulse of her wrist, “tonight we go back to our rooms. There are too many guests, and I won’t have the Lady Takeda seen, or heard, like that.”

She grinned, “I’ll cave to your request…this time.”

Shingen kissed her sweetly, enfolding her hand in his he led the way.

Chapter Text

She almost expected him at this point.

It was the last day of summit talks. The front of the Dojo was open to the gardens; the only light outside was a blanket of stars. The summer air was already warm. Ren stripped off her kimono, leaving only the binding tank top she wore when working out, and a dark pair of hakama slung low on her hips.  She lit a single lantern, just enough light to see by. Ren’s body loosened as she went through her usual stretches then arched into her whirlwind kata. Her senses were extended this time. She knew when he leaned against the door, Ren could feel his eyes drinking her in. Sensed his longing without seeing it.

The air was heavy with his sorrow.

She moved, eyes closed, pretending not to know he watched. Ren turned her back to him, walking to her shelf and retrieving the ebony tessen from the box. She wasn’t sure why she felt the need to give him this gift, to dance for him. Perhaps it would be a balm for his soul, perhaps it would cut him deeper.

There was a crisp thwack as she snapped both fans open. And then she danced.

The black fans absorbed what little light was cast by the lantern, turning her into a whirling shadow. She picked up speed displaying something she rarely did, the full range of her abilities. The left hand blocked the right hand cut as she paced through moves so well memorized that they were part of her soul, her being. Her movement came without thought. The slick roll of her form the pinnacle of a warrior’s beauty. The light played over every muscle of her back and torso as she moved and flexed. They rippled in a dance of their own on her pale flesh. Her eyes remained closed. Ren got lost in the feel of the energy, the roll of white light pouring through her. Time no longer had any meaning, she existed only in the moment. Ren tossed fans up and caught them, it was as if she controlled not only her movement but that of some unfelt wind. She arched back and heard his breath catch, the only sound he had uttered in over an hour.

The horizon was a rose-colored line, the sky echoed the color of her eyes. She looked to Nobu, acknowledging his presence, that she knew he was watching. She snapped the tessen closed with a flick of her wrists.

Nobunaga didn’t bother disguising the heat or desire in his carnelian eyes, his gaze boldly locked on her. He took one step toward her, then hesitated.

Ren collected her things, returning her tessen back to their box. Sliding into her kimono top and belting it, she blew the light out in the lantern, leaving the room lit only by stars.

She intended to leave, never saying a word. Never acknowledging that she had danced for him. Only for him.

“Ren,” his voice was so soft as she walked past, he caught her arm gently, and she paused. Her face forward gazing out at the stars. A warm breeze ruffled through her silvery blonde hair. It tickled at her high cheekbones.

“There are whispers that Shingen is ill. I want you to know you will always have a home in Azuchi, should you choose it.”

Her eyes misted, Ren couldn’t look at him. She knew the love and adoration she would see in his gaze. She was in danger of drowning in the depth of it. She nodded once then slipped into the night like the shadow she would always be.

 

 

Ren helped to lay out a spread for breakfast for their guests to partake of this morning during the final leg of the summit discussions. Today she was the Lady Takeda. Her hair swept back in a cloth band, a lovely lavender woman’s kimono gracing her form. People started arriving, and she put on her best smile, welcoming them, and serving tea. She had just finished serving when Shion jumped into her arms in a blur of pink cloth and long black hair. She swung the girl out wide, both of them giggling then set her on her hip rubbing noses. The little girl rested her forehead to Ren’s, and she closed her eyes a moment, in peace.

“What has my little hellcat been up to this morning?” Ren hugged the girl close.

“Shingen said he’s my Papa now.” She whispered gleefully, rubbing her nose against Ren’s

Ren flushed with joy spinning lightly in a circle. “And I’m your Haha. Does that make you happy, Takeda Shion?”

“Yes!” The little girl squealed. The two of them giggled and spun, Ren was oblivious to everything else; her heart felt fit to burst. Suddenly she bumped into someone, strong arms steadied her.

“Careful there,” that hypnotically sonorous voice. “What has you two beautiful ladies celebrating with such wild abandon?” Nobu was before her, his eyes creased with a warm smile.

Ren paused, remembering him in the starlight just a few hours before. Her chest clenched painfully.

“Lady Ren is my Haha now! I’m Takeda Shion!” The little girl struck as a heroic pose as she could balanced on her new mother’s hip.

“Ah Ren, motherhood will suit you. You glow already.” He stroked a calloused thumb on her cheek tenderly. His eyes met hers, the depth of what would never be said was endless. “Congratulations Takeda Shion, I am certain you will do the name proud.” He turned and walked toward the table, laden with food.

Ren took a deep breath smoothly, covering her fluttering emotions. “Where is your Papa? We should go find him.” She let the girl down and taking her small hand, let her lead her off deeper into the gardens. She needed some time to clear her thoughts before talks started for the day.

Him

When Shingen found her at dusk, she was curled up against Sasuke, facing the pond in the garden, his arm around her. Fireflies danced in the grasses, and frogs croaked out their evening song. Most of the guests had departed, a handful of friends stayed on until the morning. Shingen mused that Sasuke was the only male he could find her with like this that wouldn’t tie his emotions into a jealous mess. As soon as she saw him, she smiled.

“Shingen, come join us. We were just talking about being back in our time in a year.” She extended her arm out, and Sasuke released her to curl against her husband.

“Well, don’t let me interrupt.” Shingen smiled, letting his fingers comb through Ren’s moonlit hair, it was just below her jaw now, longer than his, it would be shoulder length in no time. Briefly, he pictured her with waist-length silvery hair, how it would glide over his naked skin.

“You aren’t interrupting Lord Shingen, we were discussing things we miss.” Sasuke stretched out, Ren offered him her lap as a pillow.

“Such as?” Shingen raised an eyebrow at Ren.

“I miss pizza…and good chocolate.” Ren looked sheepish as she said it. “You’ll have to try both.”

“I miss computers and having so much information at my fingertips,” Sasuke said wistfully.

“Information?” Shingen was curious.

“Another thing I’ll show you.” Ren grinned, giving him a squeeze. “It’s a big world.”

“Is there a plan?” Shingen swept silky hair to the side and brushed a kiss across Ren’s forehead.

“Yes, Sasuke owns a decent sized place in Kyoto, so we’ll stay there. My house was a rental, so the little bit I had in it is all gone by now, no big deal. Nothing was personal. You will likely be in the hospital for a while, that is a big building where they care for the sick. Once everything is done, we hang out until the wormhole opens again.”

Sasuke nodded. “I’m estimating eight months to a year, I’ll get a better read with the equipment on the other side. As soon as the roads are passable next spring, we should head down to Honnō-ji and find an Inn to stay at.”

“Have you spoken to Kenshin?” Ren eyed her friend. She did not envy him that conversation.

“I’m still alive…so no. He’s gotten very clingy. I also have to explain this to Asa-“

“Sasuke, she doesn’t know!?” Ren slapped him hard on the arm.

“I was making sure the relationship was serious enough.”

“Well, is it?” Shingen looked over Ren’s head at him.

“Yes…no…I don’t know. She’s amazing, I love her. It’s her family.”

Ren snorted.

Shingen gave him a knowing pat.

“I’m going to have to disappear for a year, I’m not even sure how I explain that to her.”

“Well, you better, or she’s old enough that her father will marry her off to the highest bidder,” Ren remarked.

“Also, they want a dowry.”

“Ask Kenshin for a raise?” Ren grinned. “Marry her before you leave?”

“Is that even fair?” Sasuke looked pretty honest like he didn’t know if it was.

“It is if you tell her you are not from this time. If she loves you back, she’ll wait for you.” Ren smiled. “If I were her, I’d want some assurance you were coming back. Wait…you haven’t been intimate, have you?”

“Ren, no! She’s…not like that. Asa is waiting for marriage.” Sasuke was blushing.

“That’s sweet Sasuke, are you also holding yourself pure, for marriage?” She ducked away as his swat came in.

“Even nerds get laid in college, Ren,” Sasuke grumbled out.

Shingen grinned. “I suggest you speak to her, and if she doesn’t run screaming when you say you are from the future, then marry her and move her to Kenshin’s castle while we are gone, she will be safe enough.”

“Oh,” Ren frowned. “What about Shion? We can’t take her with us.”

“Already solved, little bird. Yuki treats her like an older brother. I’ve asked his mother, Kanshō-in, to come for a visit, and she will be taking care of the girl. Yuki can continue her martial training while we are gone, particularly naginata, since Ren is terrible at it.” Shingen winked at Sasuke.

“Hey now-“ Ren started to defend herself.

“My goddess, if you had someone coming at you armed with a pole weapon intent to kill you and your choices were a naginata or tanto…are you telling me you wouldn’t be standing on their toes, breathing in their last breath on this world.” Shingen’s tickling fingers ran up her ribs.

“Point taken.”

“You are allowed to be bad at something, my goddess. Oddly, you’ve chosen a weapon, that is typically used by female samurai, to be bad at. But there it is.”

“It’s not like I chose to be bad at it, I just find it awkward,” Ren grumbled into his shoulder.

“So, are you heading out with Kenshin tomorrow?” Shingen glanced back over to Sasuke, smoothly changing the subject.

“I believe I will be herding him in the general direction of home tomorrow. Hopefully, without pausing for skirmishes.” Sasuke pushed his glasses up his nose with an air of resignation.

“Good luck with that.” Ren grinned.

“Right.” Sasuke sighed.

Chapter Text

Her

Mount Fuji could be seen off in the distance, ringed with the reds and golds with its summit capped in snow. Ren paused her mare a moment to take in the splendor. She had seen it before from the city in her time. But never with this much pure nature around it.

“It’s charming, isn’t it.” Shingen’s charger pulled even with her mount. 

“It is, and it’s all united by you now. How does that feel?” Ren let her eyes wander from the natural beauty before her to the man she loved. Summertime and early fall were always the best months for him, he looked so strong and sure. Shingen’s auburn hair looked fiery in the autumn light, every sculpted line of him was breathtakingly attractive. It was hard to believe this was the same man taken down by illness just eight months ago.

“Odd to be honest. I don’t feel that it’s mine, per se. More that we all hold an agreement, it’s a very unique system that you’ve fostered, but I admit it does seem to work.”

Ren nodded with a grin, “Hopefully it will continue to hold, I’m interested to see what happens when we go back to my time. And if I’m honest…a little scared.”

“Why?”

“Well, there were two very major world wars within fifty years of each other. Japan got hit pretty hard during the second one. I guess I’m interested to see if the same choices were made with the same results.” Ren let her horse pick its way forward across the meadow.

“But Japan survived?” Shingen watched her curiously.

“Yes, obviously, because I’m here. But there was still a huge impact on society. Things may have changed when we go back, or they may be relatively the same.” She rolled her shoulders, then, after a short pause, slid off her horse to lead it. Shingen followed suit, taking her hand in his as he walked beside her.

“Shingen, what if we can’t come back?” Ren asked softly.

“I’ve made arrangements with the Sanada clan to take over if anything were to happen to me.”

His grey eyes looked forward toward the mountain. “You do want to come back, though?”

“Yes. I love it here.” Ren stopped and pulled him down into a warm kiss. “Besides, who would keep the peace if we weren’t around.” She gave him a wink and continued walking.

“While we are gone, I’m having another larger dojo built for you. Your classes have outgrown the one you have. And perhaps one day, Shion will also desire to teach.” Shingen gave her hand a warm squeeze. 

“Thank you, that is beyond thoughtful, my Tiger.” She leaned into him, enjoying embracing her new life.

That fall brought a new peace over the lands. Masamune had taken to stopping by whenever he was on his way to or from Oshu. Shion greatly enjoyed his visits, and the two were fast friends. Shingen kept up his network, but now the information coming in mostly helped them move supplies from where they were plentiful to where they were needed. The mitsumono still reported some unrest and rumors that Ren was a witch manipulating powerful men to do her bidding. Shingen carefully placed counter rumors demonstrating how ridiculous this concept was and pushing forward the desirability of becoming one of her students. All in all, Ren was pretty satisfied, sure there were still some minor skirmishes in some of the backwater areas, but they were typically quickly resolved.

Seven months had passed since their wedding, and she still wasn’t pregnant. Ren sat in the dojo at dawn, watching the sunrise. While she wasn’t young, she wasn’t too old to bear children, it had crossed her mind that perhaps she was too fit. It wasn’t unusual for her to skip periods, mostly due to an incredibly low body fat ratio. Of course, that also made it difficult to tell if she was pregnant. Perhaps she should let herself go a bit, indulge in some more sweets, and let her training slide. 

That could be deadly if trouble were to start up, it would slow her down, make her weak. Still, a few extra pounds probably couldn’t hurt, at least enough to have a regular period.

She almost wanted to ask Shingen if he had fathered any children. He’d certainly been around enough. But a large part of her just didn’t want to know. 

She didn’t want to cross the wormhole while pregnant. Tumbling through time with an unborn child seemed risky. On the upside, she was also concerned with what she would do with an infant if they had to go…That was no longer a concern. They were at the halfway point with six months left until the rift to modern times reopened. Ren closed her eyes, trying once again to clear her mind.

Was she too old? Infertile?

She pushed the thought from her head.

Was he infertile?

Her eyes opened again, this was going nowhere. Ren starred out at the bare limbed trees in the courtyard. Winter would be coming soon. She would need to do her best to ensure Shingen didn’t get sick. Lately, he was piled in paperwork arranging new laws, social policies, the dam he had constructed had been studied and now was being implemented in other areas of Japan to increase agriculture. Another example of using money to create rather than destroy.

She pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. It was French braided today, tied off with a piece of cloth. She discovered it was worth keeping long if for no other reason than Shingen couldn’t keep his hands off it. She loved him running his fingers through her hair. A smile curled her lips.

So, about the meditation, you aren’t doing.

Right, she was here to meditate. Ren closed her eyes.

She could have fertility checked on both of them in the future.

Gah!!!

She opened her eyes again, Shion was sitting in front of her. The kid was really good.

The child’s dark eyes sparkled with glee. She knew she managed to arrive without Ren sensing or hearing her. 

“Good Morning Haha.” Ren leaned forward, pressing her forehead to Shion’s. The girl was adorable. Her long black braid was tied off in a wooden clip Shingen had made for her. He loved Shion as if she were his own. She even had a room now just down the hall from theirs.

“Good Morning, my little hellcat, that was excellent. What would you like to do today?”

“I’ll meditate with you.”

Oh great, because I’m doing such a bang-up job of it.

Ren nodded, and Shion took her hands. They both closed their eyes in the dawn light. Shion’s energy flowed through Ren, and her heart calmed in the white light of it. She sent that energy back around, letting it flow through them both in an endless circle, her mind was finally empty, floating. The kunoichi rested at peace.

Him

Shingen was up early, but as usual, Ren was already gone. He finished some correspondence back to Nobunaga, it really was amazing that they had been able to professionally get along… not so much privately. They both found it best to keep the in-person contact to a minimum, especially if Ren was included. Shingen had made it clear to the man he didn’t appreciate the way Oda looked at his wife. He tried to keep things civil, but his jealousy tended to get the best of him the longer that meeting time went on. Nobunaga was obviously pained, sometimes seeing Ren happy with him. Shingen didn’t need to cause any man that level of heartache, so they agreed to keep planning to correspondence, and Shingen did his best to quietly limit Ren from seeing Oda without being obvious. Not because he didn’t trust her, but because it hurt him too much to imagine what could be happening.

He had to give it to Ren, it was amazing what they had accomplished in just a few months after the treaties were signed. Instead of funneling resources into endless wars, they were being used to create a better life for the people of Japan, much the way he had done for the residents of Kai. He was proud of the way things had gone, even if he left this world now, he could do it with a light heart.

Shingen headed down the path toward his small workshop. He deserved a day off, and doing a little creation always cleared his thoughts. He passed the dojo, the east wall was open. Ren and Shion sat facing each other. He paused, they were like a painting. Ren all in white with her gleaming silvery blond hair and pale skin. Shion’s hair was midnight dark, her skin deeply tanned from a lifetime outside. She wore a set of dark kimono and hakama that mimicked her mother.

Her Mother

Shingen couldn’t keep the smile from his face. He didn’t want to disturb them, so he just stood and took it in. The way the morning light graced the two most beloved females in his life.

“Haha, is he going to stare at us all day?” Shion peeked open one eye.

Ren’s lips curled in a grin, “Possibly, we may have ensnared him.”

Well, it was too late now, he moved forward to hug them both pulling Shion into his lap.

“How are the Ladies Takeda this morning?”

“You are up early,” Ren commented, leaning forward for a brief kiss.

“I had some paperwork to do, and now I’m taking some time to myself.” He stroked his fingers down Ren’s cheek, something was off. She had a ghost of sadness to her. “Shion, why don’t you practice your kata while I borrow Ren for a moment.” He stood, pushing the child out of his lap and offering Ren his hand.

“Walk with me?”

They walked in silence around the side of the building toward his little shop on the other side of the courtyard. Ren's hand was small and warm in his. Shingen breathed in the enticing spice scent of her skin.

“What troubles you?” His thumb ran gently over the back of her hand. Ren turned to face him, placing his large hand over her still flat stomach.

“I thought this would be filled by now, I am concerned that it is not.” She didn’t look at him, he could see she was worried he was disappointed in her.

“Ren, my goddess, it will happen in time.” Shingen ran his fingers through the length of her silken hair. “And even if it does not, I have you and Shion and am content.”

She smiled wordlessly, her arms sliding around his waist, cheek to his bare chest. Shingen heard her inhale deeply breathing him in and smiled.

“Feel better?”

“A little. I’m still concerned about this spring.”

He chuckled. “Little bird, winter hasn’t even arrived yet. Let’s just take it one step at a time.”

Chapter Text

Her

Ren re-read the first few sentences of the letter with excitement then waved it at Shingen across their desk.

“Sasuke is coming to visit for winter solstice! He’s bringing Asa!” She squealed in glee.

Shingen looked up from the stacks of documents he was buried in, a tired smile on his lips. “That sounds wonderful, is that a time that is celebrated by you both?”

“It is. Usually, there is an exchange of gifts and dinner.”

“I am surprised Asa’s family is allowing her to travel with him.” Shingen nodded, his eyes returning to the paper before him. Ren continued reading the letter.

“Oooooh! It would appear that they married, he said it was tranquil and private. She’s been moved into the castle with him and knows about our trip.” Ren looked to Shingen, he was buried once again in his papers as he had been for the last few days.

“Shingen, when was the last time you took a break?” Ren stood and moved behind him, looking down on what he was reading. There appeared to be a disagreement among the wealthy that they shouldn’t be taxed equally with the peasant class. It had worked here well in Kai, but other regions were being resistant to the change. She rubbed his shoulders.

“I need to finish this.”

“You need to take a break. Come to the dojo with me?” Ren tugged him up.

“Hmmm? Ren, it’s cold.”

“Come on, Tiger, I’ll keep you warm. We’ll get you stretched, do a little sparring, and get some fresh air into you. The paperwork can wait a few hours, it’s not going anywhere.” She tugged his arm insistently, and he smiled.

“Alright, my goddess.” He stood with an affectionate smile.

Ren grabbed a scarf and wrote a note on some parchment, then handed him his haori, and off they went.

 

A few lit braziers warmed the studio up in no time. Ren had hung a scarf with a note not to be disturbed on the main door. She wanted some alone time with him, they had been so busy lately it was rare they had time together. They sat on the floor opposite each other doing slow stretches. Ren looked Shingen over. So far, his lungs had been good this winter. Ren kept her fingers crossed that would hold.

“How about a slow kata, and we can run through some unarmed drills?” Ren suggested standing.

“Am I your student now, my goddess?” Shingen smiled indulgently, kissing her fingertips when she offered her hand to help him up.

“Would you like to be?” Her violet eyes flashed with impish mirth.

“Perhaps I need to be taught a lesson.” He stood, towering over her, his voice dropped suggestively. Ren chuckled, moving into a stance that he echoed.

“Do you?” She let a teasing allure coat her words.

The tiger flashed in his storm grey eyes. “I do.”

She started moving through a simple kata, he mimicked her, then purposefully made a misstep.

Violet eyes glanced at him from under snowy lashes.

He grinned.

Ren ran a hand down his leg, sliding it back into position, “Behave.”

Shingen’s lip twitched. “Yes, Lady Takeda.”

Ren turned away, nearly choking on her silent laughter. This was the game he wished to play today?

He slid his leg forward. Ren raised her brow.

“Naughty warlords don’t get treats.” She warned.

“History says otherwise, my Tigress.” He purred seductively at her.

Ren circled to the front of him, forcing him to slide his leg back into position. She leaned forward, her hand caressing his hip then ghosting around it to trace the curve of his well-rounded cheek.

She gave his right buttock a firm slap. “Behave.”

A blush rose to his cheeks, and flooded down his neck. It was the most adorable thing she’d ever seen him wear. She drew back, her eyes languidly moved down his body, pausing at his half-hard erection pressing the fabric of his hakama. Ren’s lips curled in a smirk.

“Is that the way it is, my pet?”

He closed his eyes, face flaming red. More length pressed the fabric forward.

She untied her kimono top, letting it hang open and gently used the belt to tie a loop around his neck.

A soft tug brought him down to her height. “I’ve always wanted a pet tiger. Open your eyes.”

His eyes were almost blackened in lustful desire. He clenched his hands at his side.

“Is that what you want right now? To be my pet tiger?” Ren ran her fingers lightly through his silky auburn hair. He closed his eyes, thick coppery lashes shadowing his cheeks, and leaned into her touch. He hadn’t looked this relaxed in days.

“Yes,” Shingen replied softly.

“I couldn’t hear you?” She gave another soft tug on the makeshift leash, bringing his head level with the bare flesh of her stomach.

“Yes, Lady Takeda” His warm breath caressed her abdomen.

“That’s my good boy, I knew you could behave.” Ren grinned, he hadn’t struck her as the type that would desire this, but his actions and body were telling a different story. She was happy to provide a little entertaining play for him.

He leaned forward to kiss her stomach. She tipped a finger under his chin, stopping him.

“Oh, my handsome one, did I say you could do that?” he growled in soft protest and moved forward again to claim her.

The leash snugged up, his eyes flew open in surprise.

Ren crouched, so their eyes were even, she studied him carefully.

“If you want to stop this game, you say mochi.”

He moved to kiss her again. She grinned, snugging up on the leash a little more.

“My goddess, you are a delicious dessert, you tempt me too much.”

“What was that? I couldn’t hear you…”Ren reclined back, resting on her elbows, the leash now slack. His eyes traveled hungrily down her flexed bare abdomen then back up over her barely covered breasts.

“Lady Takeda-“

“Hmmm?”

“Lady Takeda, I wish to lick you like the delicious dessert you are.”

Ren bit back a moan…she wasn’t sure how long she was willing to keep the game up with him. Her eyes locked with his…he knew it, damn his ability to read people. A feral grin split his lips. He leaned forward, rubbing his cheek slowly against her hip, like a large cat.

Ren tickled her fingers through his hair then hooked them onto the back of his kimono, sliding it off his arms to drape around his waist.

“I would like to stroke my tiger. Come sit in my lap, my pet.” She sat up, tugging him forward, so his head was in her lap, nose pressed to the fabric of her hakama. He breathed in deeply and nuzzled against the apex of her thighs.

“Now, now, don’t be impatient.” Ren ran her hands down his back, massaging tense muscles. He curled closer to her with a low rumbling purr. “Remember, good kitties get to lap the cream.”

Shingen chuckled softly, still nuzzling against her, exhaling warm air through the cloth to caress her already silky wet female flesh.

Her hands worked their magic, fully relaxing his back and shoulders. Ren almost thought he had fallen asleep on her until his tongue flicked out, licking along her slit through the fabric of her hakama. It felt so good she let him do it again before she stopped him.

“Tch, obviously, there are no good kitties here.” Ren admonished. He grinned and closed his teeth around the fabric, tugging on it.

A crisp thwack echoed in the studio as her hand met his rump, it was all sound and not much hit. But it was enough to startle him.

“Apologize.”

He blinked. “I-“

“And such a short memory as well.” Ren rubbed her hand over his bottom, then slid it under the fabric to feel his bare skin.

Shingen moaned, melting into her lap.

“I am waiting, my sweet pet.”

He hid his face in her folded legs and mumbled something.

“My pet, your ears are an adorable shade of red.”

More mumbling.

“Perhaps I should have you fetch my tessen so I can give you a proper spank?”

Shingen actually squealed into the cloth of her pants. Ren bit back a laugh.

He cleared his throat rolling onto his back

“My Lady Takeda, please accept your pet’s humble apologies and spare his sensitive bottom.”

Ren gazed down his body, the man was rock hard. The tip of his cock peeked out of the waist of his pants, weeping in neglect.

“My Tiger,” she flashed him an evil grin. “Your lips say no, but your body is screaming, yes.”

He throbbed.

“Kneel.”

She had never seen him move quite that fast before.

Ren stood before him, he looked up into her eyes, that storm grey was a dark sea of passion. It reminded her of the first time they met, and he asked if she was available.

“You may remove my hakama, take it slow.”

Shingen leaned forward, catching the tie in his teeth and slowly working it loose. His nose softly brushed against her lower belly. His large hands cupped her hips then hooked into the waist, sliding the fabric down to expose her pale skin. He kissed and nibbled every exposed inch before revealing more. Once it was bare, he rubbed his cheek against her again, like he was scent-marking her as his. Ren saw his eyes go to her glistening curls, she ached for him to take her right now.

“Is there something you desire, my Tiger?”

“Lady Takeda, may I please taste my goddess?”

Ren slid one leg over his broad shoulder, bringing herself right up to his lips. “Yes.”

His hands cupped her bottom, and it was a good thing they did because, within moments, she was dizzy and seeing stars from his talented tongue.

“Shingen…oh!”

He grinned fiercely against her wet lips and ravished her more. His other hand reached up to roughly toy with her breast. She buried her hands in his hair and just held on. Her cries echoed off the wood beams of the dojo ceiling.

“My pet.” She said softly, drawing back.

“Mochi,” the single word came out as a feral growl. “It’s my turn now.”

He laid her down on the hard wood floor, freeing his erection and was inside her in one swift push, his sculpted hips pressing to hers with an animalistic need that wasn’t to be denied.

“Sing for me, my little bird.” His words sounded out as a fierce rumbling command. He pounded into her flesh, pinning her between the hard plains of his body and the polished wood.

“Shingen!” Her voice was a ragged cry of passion. He pushed so deep into her Ren thought they would be one being. Her mind knew nothing but him, his presence filled every sense. She came, clenching around him, raking his back with her nails.

It only made him go harder, taking every bit of her roughly his desires completely unleashed. His molten heat exploded inside her, his thrusts erratic. Shingen collapsed over her smaller form, barely holding up his weight. His chest heaved with the exertion. Ren’s mind was pleasantly fuzzy, drifting on a cloud of pure bliss.

Shingen panted over her for long moments then chuckled.

“You were absolutely correct, my Tigress. I both feel warm and refreshed after the exercise.”

She grabbed the belt still tied around his neck and dragged him down for a breathlessly long kiss.

Chapter Text

Her

They arrived in light snow, all bundled for warmth. Ren excitedly embraced Sasuke then hugged Asa making the small woman gasp in surprise at her exuberance. She had the horses led off to the stable and welcomed them into the warmth of their home.

“We are so happy you braved the weather to visit.” Ren offered them both hot tea and asked a vassal for some sweets to be brought from the kitchen.

Sasuke pushed his glasses up then settled Asa comfortably before settling himself.

“Well, I’m trying to make Kenshin slightly less reliant on me prior to our trip. He only tries to murder me twice a day now, so I think things are going well.”

“And married?” Ren raised an eyebrow at Asa with a sly smirk. The small woman blushed crimson, eyes shyly to the floor. “I’m sad I wasn’t invited, Sasuke.”

“It was really just us.” He put an arm around his new wife, and she flustered adorably. Ren watched Sasuke dote on her and smiled.

“I’m happy for you, Asa I swear I’ll make sure he gets back to you in one piece.”

“He better!” She nervously tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, the blush still rode high on her cheeks. Sasuke took Asa’s hands in his.

“I promise.” Ren had never seen her friend so incredibly doe-eyed and smitten. She almost wanted to tease him, but she was completely guilty of it herself.

Musky, sweet warmth surrounded her. Speaking of smitten.

Shingen’s lips brushed against her cheek as he sat behind her enfolding Ren in a warm embrace.

“Asa, Sasuke, welcome to our home again.” Shingen’s deep voice rumbled through her, Ren snuggled back into the heat of his body. At least she never had to be worried about being chilled in winter with him around.

Asa blushed more at their open show of affection.

Sasuke blink-winked at her. “Thank you, Lord Shingen. Asa, these two tigers never stop pawing at each other. You’ll get used to it like the rest of us have.”

Ren stuffed a mochi into Sasuke’s mouth. “Shut it.”

Him

The main hall had been decorated in fragrant pine garland and bright red ribbons. Ren had planned out a banquet for the evening, inviting all to attend.  Shion ran through the room with a wreath on her head, long black braid flapping behind her. It amused Shingen that Ren wouldn’t cut the girl’s hair as hers had been shorn for training. When he had asked, Ren insisted she was a child still, and it was unnecessary. That she would let Shion choose when the time came, giving the girl a choice Ren never had herself.

Ren leaned against his shoulder, popping another sweet dessert into his mouth. He grinned at her licking her fingers playfully.

“Enjoying yourself?” Her eyes seemed to sparkle in the lantern light.

Shingen grinned, holding a treat tripping with syrup to her lips. “How could I not? All my favorite people are here.”

He honestly needed the night off, keeping and organizing peace actually turned out to be more time consuming then waging war. He barely had a moment to himself anymore. The winter had at least been relatively mild so far, perhaps staying sequestered at his desk in their warm suite of rooms was actually beneficial for his lungs. Or that he was generally relaxed in the arms of his love every night. He pulled Ren into his lap, not caring how many people were in his hall.

She squealed as he lifted her and settled her between his thighs. “Shingen!”

“I love you, little bird.” He nuzzled her ear, the whisper caressing her skin. “Just let me hold you close.”

She settled back against his chest with a contented sigh, across the room he saw Asa blush furiously and hide her face behind her sleeve. Sasuke patted her shoulder and raised his cup to Shingen shaking his head. Shingen grinned, kissing Ren’s cheek. He knew the display of affection was extremely nontraditional and mostly frowned upon. It didn’t stop him. When you weren’t sure how many moments like this you had left, it became more important how you spent them.

Another loud cheer went up, there appeared to be a drinking contest happening on the other side of the hall.

“Tell me what you want to do in your time, once I’m all healed up.” Shingen’s lips were close to her ear. His fingers moved to her hair, cording through the length of it to where it lay on her shoulders.

“Mmmm,” Ren purred eyes thoughtfully flicking to either side. No one was close enough to overhear.

“I want to show you everything. We can tour Kyoto, feed you all the best desserts. Did you know there is one named after you?”

Her giggle was delightful. Shingen spread his large hand over her flat stomach and, not for the first time, imagined it round with their child. “And then?”

“Oh! There are so many things that seem simple, like hot showers and computers where the information and history of the entire world is at your fingertips. Maybe meet my grandparents? We can travel if you like to different countries in a plane. Travel is so fast there are things called trains that can take us anywhere in japan in a few hours. We can literally get from Kyoto to Kofu in less than five hours.”

“Really? I would like to visit the ruins you mentioned.”

“We could do that. Oh! We might be in time for the Takeda Shingen festival!” Ren’s eyes lit up, and she turned to face him. “Wouldn’t that be funny?”

“When is it held?” Shingen traced her cheek, her skin seemed to glow tonight. She was just so lovely.

“It’s April 12th the date of your-“ Ren went quiet so fast he thought she bit her tongue.

“April 12th is when it’s usually held.” Her smile was tight, forced. Shingen studied her face a moment.

“Well, that isn’t the date of my birth, so it must be the date of my death.” He kept his tone light. “In the year?”

“No. Because it’s not going to happen, you are going to be with me for a very long time. Long enough to watch our grandchildren grow old in the peace we’ve carved out of this world.” She looked across the room at all their people celebrating, her jaw set in resolution. “Long enough for us to be fat, wrinkly, and grey.”

Shingen grinned at her determination. “As you wish, my goddess.”

 

Her

It was late. They walked down the hall together, Ren snuggled under his arm. It was a lovely solstice celebration, even if the participants didn’t know what they were celebrating. Ren paused, pushing Shingen playfully against the wall. Her lips met his, lingering softly. She could still taste the sake and sweet desserts on him. Shingen’s hands swept to her waist, pulling her in tighter to his tall frame as the kiss deepened.

She grinned, moving to kiss along his jawline, her hands caressing the warmth of his skin under his kimono. She felt his chest vibrate in a soft chuckle.

“What is it?”

“Shhh.” He placed a finger to her lips. Ren tilted her head, looking into his mischievous grey eyes. “Listen.”

Ren focused her attention outward…there was a soft rhythmic thumping punctuated with breathy cries and lower grunts. She looked around the hall, they were near the guest suite.

Her eyebrows shot up.

“Oh, Saaaasuuuuuke!” A high-pitched female voice wailed.

The thumping got faster.

Ren covered her mouth, smothering a giggle. Grabbing Shingen’s arm, she tugged him away.

He resisted, a grin on his face he moved closer to the door.

“You voyeur!” She hissed, barely containing the laugh. Ren tugged his arm again “Let’s go.”

There was a long deep low groan from within the room. Shingen’s eyes met hers flashing with mirth, he pushed her against the far wall, framing her in his arms.

“Shall we compete with them, my goddess?” His lips slanted over hers in a passionate kiss that stole her breath. She shoved his bare chest, it was like trying to move a mountain.

“No, you beast! I don’t want to listen to my brother have sex.” She whisper-laughed against his lips. He kissed her again, firmly pressing her to the wall. Ren could feel his hard length against her stomach. She moaned in frustration.

“Then you should be loud enough to drown his voice out.” Shingen teased, parting her thighs with his leg he ground against her.

“Harder, Sasuke, harder! Oh!”

Ren’s cheeks flamed red, Shingen collapsed in silent laughter. Taking her hand, they ran down the hall toward their room.

Ren collapsed in a fit of giggles into their futon.

“Well, then.” She tried for decorum and failed.

Shingen snuggled in beside her. “I have a gift for you.”

“Oh? Well, yours is on your desk.” She kissed his nose.

“Is it? I thought my present was right here in my arms.”

“Flirt.” Ren grinned

“Always, my beautiful wife.” Shingen’s warm grey eyes shone with pure love for her.

“Flatterer.”

“Guilty.” He started to untie her obi.

“Unwrapping your present already?” She teased.

“Well, it’s a little cold to have you on our desk, but I will definitely keep the suggestion in mind for a warmer day.” He nuzzled her neck.

“Go on.” Reluctantly Shingen left the warmth of her embrace. He spied a neatly wrapped box on his side of the desk. Inside was a silver bracelet with a design of entwined tigers. “I know Japanese men don’t typically wear jewelry, but I had that commissioned to be made for you.”

She turned onto her back, gazing up at him as he slid it onto his wrist.

“It’s lovely, Ren, thank you. I will wear it always and think of the goddess of my heart.”

She rolled her eyes, her lips curling upward.

Shingen kneeled, sliding a ring onto her left ring finger. “Sasuke had said in the west, women traditionally wear a band showing they are married. I also wanted to gift you with something, so you would think of me.

The silver band was decorated with an elaborate lotus design, Shingen bent kissing her finger.

“My love for you will ever endure. Even when I pass from this life, Ren, I will find you again.” His promise hung softly in the air around them.

She smiled. “I had to fall through time to find you what an impossibility.”

Shingen laid beside her, pulling Ren into his arms. “I would say it was merely fate, we belong to each other. His lips covered hers, and she surrendered to his desires.

 

Him

The weather continued to be unseasonably warm, and the snow minimal. Asa and Sasuke headed back home after just a week of visiting promising to return in two months to travel with them to Kyoto for the wormhole opening. Ren held Shion on her hip, waving goodbye to them, Shingen’s arm draped around her shoulders. She turned a bit misty-eyed, and he hugged them both.

“You’ll see him again soon, little bird. Don’t be sad.”

“I know communication is just harder here. You’ll see what I mean in a few months.”

Shingen smiled and nodded. He wondered, not for the first time if what he asked of her was fair. She was giving up everything for him. He watched her set Shion down, brushing a kiss on the child’s forehead and shooing her off.

“Are you happy here, Ren?”

She beamed up at him, “Yes. Have I ever given you an indication that I am not?”

Shingen hugged her.

“Alright, I have a class to teach shortly, and you…have a meeting with that local builder about those new dams going in this spring.”

“Ah, my exciting domestic lifestyle.” He sighed.

“Would you rather be living with Kenshin…or worse battling against him again?” Ren raised an eyebrow.

“Point taken, my goddess.” She patted his backside and strode off toward the dojo. He enjoyed the view of her rounded hips swaying as she left. Ren was putting on a little extra cushion with their peaceful living, and he couldn’t say he was opposed to the way it softened her curves. He licked his lips, watching how the fabric snugged tight across her sweet bottom with each step.

“Lord Shingen?” A vassal was at his side. “The architect and his sons await you in the hall.” Shingen nodded with a sigh…necessities. At least his health was holding in this blessed weather.

Chapter Text

Her

Ren stared forlornly out at the slushy February snows. The day they needed to leave was drawing closer, and Shingen just became sicker. If they waited too long, it was possible they would miss the wormhole to take them back to the modern world. She just couldn’t let that happen. What had been a warmer than usual winter had turned into a damp, wet mess heading into spring. January had been coated in ice and February, slushy snow. Shingen was asleep in the bed behind her, breath rattling loudly through his lungs. Ren slid the window closed, blocking the depressing view. The room was kept warm and dry, it was the best she could do. She kept everything clean, anyone sick was kept away from him…to no avail. He still fell ill with the wet, cold weather. His fever was running high today. She had sent for his doctor yesterday, but with the weather, there was no telling when the man would arrive.

One more month and they would be back in her time where he could get treated.

What if this was cancer?

Ren frowned, trying to clear her head. All she knew was that it wasn’t contagious. It could be any number of things, none of them treatable here. And certainly not anything she was trained to diagnose.

She rechecked him, left tea by the bedside, and stepped out to find Shion for her lesson.

 

They went full speed at each other, master and student. Ren had been training Shion for coming on a year now; she couldn’t ask for a better, more adept student. Even her stable temperament was well suited to what she would become. She was quick, level headed, and creative. There was a calming sort of meditation for Ren in training her. This wasn’t some modern movie where the student eventually goes evil or has some cocky personality quirk. Shion was just what she appeared to be. She trained hard, she asked the right questions, and she was smart enough to break the rules when they didn’t align with the end purpose. Shion’s self-defense skills were beyond compare. She could disable a person of any size in the blink of an eye.

Ren hoped she would never have to kill, but prepared her to do so.

“Alright good job, my little hellcat. Let’s take a break for a moment.” Ren smiled, then slid one of the windows to the side an inch gazing out into the wet slush falling. Shion got a drink then joined her.

“Papa is sick again, isn’t he?” Shion hugged Ren’s waist, she brought the girl under her arm.

“Yes.”

“Are you leaving to go to the healing place soon?” They had told her they were taking him to healers far away and would be gone for at least a year.

“Soon.” Ren watched the greyness of the day.

“Why don’t you leave now so he can get better?” 

“I wish we could Shion, but we can’t go yet.” Ren gave her a hug. “Go practice your tessen footwork, I’ll watch.”

Ren sat down on the bench to watch, folding her hands over her stomach. If she missed her period again, this would be the third month. She had made an effort to let herself gain a small amount of weight, but she wasn’t sure if she was pregnant. They certainly were active enough right up until Shingen got sick again. She didn’t feel any different, no morning sickness. It seemed too early to show. Ren sighed. 

“Watch that left foot, don’t be lazy.” Shion realigned her form back into perfection.

What would a wormhole do to pregnancy? Anything? Nothing like a little time travel to shake things up.

Ren slid a hand under her kimono against her bare flat stomach, she could still feel the hard ripple of ab muscles. Most of the weight she had put on went straight to her ass and thighs, not that Shingen seemed upset about that. She wasn’t kidding when she had told him sweets go to her hips.

“Haha are you watching?” Shion pulled a face at her.

“I am, you look good, let’s call it a day.”

 

The days rolled by so fast, and then Sasuke was at her doorstep again. Shingen was only marginally better and at least able to sit a horse. They had a month until the portal would open, Sasuke had calculated Honnō-ji at the end of March. They would take their time and stay at Inns every night. Arrangements were made to cover Shingen’s duties while he was absent. Shion was to train under Yuki and they planned to return in a year. Ren nodded to Shingen. Her modern belongings were wrapped in a small pouch against her stomach, she didn’t have much. A wallet, some credit cards, and ID. The three of them were wrapped in oilcloth rain gear and large straw hats against the rain. Shingen looked miserable. She caught his eye, and he smiled for her giving her a slow wink.

“Don’t worry so much my angel, I’ll make it.” And they set off on their horses to the west.

 

Ten days went by in a blur of grey rain and muddy roads. It was cold, windy, wet, and Shingen’s lungs continued to get worse. At night Ren would do her best to get him dry and warm again. His fever ran higher than normal. After a week, he was coughing up blood. The time on the road got shorter, the time they spent in Inns got longer. Finally, they arrived in Kyoto with a week to spare. Sasuke found them as nice an inn as possible, and Ren got Shingen tucked into a bed for the evening. 

The next morning his fever had spiked, Ren went out to find a healer. They seemed to be in a better part of the city, but the larger part of it had been damaged by a previous war and never rebuilt. She managed to find a healer eventually that would come back to the inn with her. 

He did what he could, gave her powders, and a tea to calm his cough. She sat by Shingen’s side throughout the day and curled up with him at night. 

But she didn’t sleep, she just listened to her husband’s labored breath rattle through his lungs, wondering if each one would be the last. Her heart was breaking. 

On the third day, he was sounding slightly clearer but still slept most of the time. She was almost out of tea. She knocked on the door to her friend’s room.

“Sasuke, I’m going to head out and see if I can buy Shingen some more medication and get us some food. Can you keep an eye on him?” She heard him call out an affirmative, and she headed out into the town.

Ren wandered the streets the city was full of burned-out derelict buildings, she was wary of where she went. A light rain started again, she stared forlornly at the sky. It was still a few more days until they could try to leave. This weather wasn’t making it any easier. She found an apothecary and picked up a resupply of herbal teas to clear his chest. 

The rain got heavier, and Ren ducked into a tea house to wait it out. She ordered a large bowl of soba and rested her head in her hands wearily. Her mind was too tired to even contemplate all the ways this could go wrong.

“May I join you?” A familiar voice.

Ren looked up into carnelian eyes. “How did you-“

“Mitsuhide.”

Ren grunted, then gestured for him to join her as her food arrived. Nobunaga ordered as well then leaned back.

“How sick is he?” His gaze pierced her.

“He’s fine. Just a little road weary.” Ren concentrated on getting the food into her mouth.

Nobunaga eyed the apothecary marks on her packages.

“Are you taking him back to your time?” Tea arrived, Nobunaga poured them both a cup, sliding one to Ren.

Ren looked around them, the tea house was empty. Her eyes met his.

“How much do you know?”

“I know you are not from this time and that he is dying,” Nobunaga said bluntly.

“Yes, we will be absent for a year. There are plans outlined for if we don’t return.” She stared down into her food, willing herself not to cry in front of this man. He didn’t need to see her weak. She didn’t want his comfort.

“I see. But you do expect to make it back?” His food arrived, he picked up his chopsticks. Tapping them pensively, he waited on her reply.

“I plan to get him healed and then return.” She glanced up. “Will you have an issue holding the peace?” Ren put on her best level, neutral professional voice, she kept all emotion from her eyes.

“Lady Takeda, I will do my best. You are aware of what an unruly lot we warlords are.” He winked.

Her lip tugged up slightly.

“Careful, I see a smile. Next, you’ll be enjoying my company.” He teased then started to eat his meal.

Ren relaxed and continued to eat.

“Did you come all the way here from Azuchi to see me?” Ren raised an eyebrow.

“Well, you didn’t stop by to say hello. So, I thought I’d make a social call while you were in the area.”

Ren chuckled, “a full day ride on horseback is hardly ‘in the area’ Nobu.”

They ate in companionable silence for a while, Nobu ordered some sake and poured for her.

“May I ask you something personal?” He sipped from his cup, his eyes studying her.

“I can’t stop you.”

He chuckled. “Always so damned bold. Will you come back even if he doesn’t make it?”

Ren looked up, that odd reddish-brown color of his eyes glinted in the lantern light but wasn’t cold. It was a serious question. She knew what he was really asking.

“Is this the time to ask that Nobu?”

“I may not get another chance. I have nothing to lose.” He gestured with a disarming smile.

“I don’t know. I haven’t considered it.” She took another sip.

“My offer stands.” He sipped his sake, gazing at her thoughtfully over the rim of his cup.

“I am aware it is unlikely you would ever rescind it.”

“Perhaps I also dream of having a partner that is an equal.” His sonorous voice was almost tender.

“Then, you should focus your energy on finding one that is available.” Ren placed her empty cup down. He went to fill it, and she covered it with her hand. 

“I am willing to wait.” He said softly.

“Nobu, if I come back alone, it will only be as the Takeda Oni. Only the killer will be left because my heart will have died with him. There is nothing to wait for.” Ren gathered her things, setting payment for both meals on the table. “It was good seeing you, my friend. Thank you for your concern.” She gave his hand a warm squeeze. “I hope one day you marry a woman worthy to lead by your side.”

“Do you need anything, is there something I can do?” He reluctantly released her hand as she turned to leave.

“Just hold everything unified, and don’t let Tokugawa run amuck.”

Chapter Text

Her

It was deep into the night, Shingen was coughing up blood again in gelatinous globs. Ren kneeled behind him, supporting him up on her chest to help keep his lungs cleared. In the morning they would ride out to the temple, where the rift through time would open.

But now,

right now,

her heart was breaking.

Tears rolled silently down her cheeks, landing on the rough woven blankets. In the waning moonlight, her tears glimmered like pearls on his skin.

“Hey, little bird.”

His voice was rough, soft. Death whispered out coating every word.

She'd stared death in the face too many times to not know what it looked like. Ren felt like she could lift his soul from that husk of a broken body right now.

Shingen’s hand slid over hers. “Don’t cry, it’s going to be alright. We’ll beat this.” He brought her hand to his lips, kissing it, then slipped back to unconsciousness.

Ren stared down at the red smudge of blood he had left on her hand. A morbid copy of all the times he'd ruined the crimson lipstick on her lips.

Had smeared it in passion.

Left her gasping in pleasure.

Now he was the one gasping in death's stranglehold, a far cry from any pleasures they had ever shared.

Her heart had never felt this much pain. Not when her mother died when she was young. Not when her father died, he had been absent for so long before that. Not even when Erik died, her feelings for him had walled off as soon as she realized his feelings were an act to train her to be the weapon she now was. Ren wiped her cheek and bowed her head to try to drown her sorrow in sleep.

 

She woke before dawn and wandered into the inn kitchen for some tea and broth. She needed to get something into him before the journey started. It was hard to wrap her head around the fact that she’d be back in the modern world by the end of the day. After four years of surviving in feudal Japan, she should welcome the conveniences that would come with returning to her proper time. But she found they didn’t matter much to her anymore. She downed a cup of tea and a bowl of broth herself then walked up the stairs to their room, holding a tray for Shingen. She could hear muffled voices at the door.

“I can’t do that for you, Lord Shingen. Ren has the right to make her own choices. But I will see she is taken care of.” Sasuke sounded much firmer than usual. Then she could here Shingen’s deep voice, muffled and weak.

“Just don’t let her fall to darkness and kill herself.”

She opened the door, both men fell silent.

 

They left in the warm light of the morning. Ren ended up tying Shingen to her, and riding double with him propped against her back. He was fading in and out of consciousness as he had been for the last day. Sasuke had arranged for their horses to be retrieved. At this point, all they had to do was hope that the damn rift opened.

Of course, it was a perfectly clear spring day. Sunny, warm, the earth smelled of new growing things.

It didn’t suit Ren’s mood.

She could smell the blood and sickness on him. The fever sweat clung to his brow. His arms were loosely around her, she had bound his wrists with soft cloth around her waist to keep him behind her. Another cord ran around their hips.

“We are almost there, Ren” Sasuke turned in his saddle to look at her. She nodded, listlessly her eyes going to the bright blue sky. Sasuke had said it would be a lightning storm again when the rift opened…where was the storm? Had he miscalculated? Would she lose Shingen before they even had a chance to make it back?

Ren placed her hands over his, they were cold and clammy, not the usual burning warmth that she had become accustomed to. He was heavy dead weight against her back, she had no idea how they were going to maneuver him if he was unconscious besides just holding on tight and dragging. The temple was ahead.

“Shingen?” She gently nudged his ribs. “We are here, it’s time.”

His watery grey eyes blinked open.

Him

He was ready to die.

Every breath was pain, his lungs were a burning inferno. Shingen’s throat was so closed off it felt as if each breath had to pass through a narrow reed, there was never enough air. He felt as if he were drowning. Stars passed over his eyes whenever he opened them and danced behind his closed lids. Staying awake was too much of an effort. He wanted to fall into the black velvet of unconsciousness where the pain didn’t exist and never come up again.

He leaned heavily against Ren’s back, the movement of the horse was nauseating.

The one thing he missed was the spice scent of her skin. His senses were so clogged that even lying against her, he could no longer scent it.

He felt robbed of that comfort.

“Shingen, we are here, it’s time.”

She untied him, his angel, and slid off the horse first. He opened his eyes, looking down at her. Ren was haloed in a glowing golden light. She really was a spiritual being, a Kami. He knew that, deep down inside, he knew that she was different. Nothing human moved as fast or as silent as she could.

Then the light shifted, and clouds started covering the clear blue sky. He got an odd double image over her. Ren’s countenance was fierce. Her body was encased in heavy furs and leather armor, her hair was long and blonde whipping around her. Huge wings, pure white like a swan’s, beat behind her.

Once…

Twice…

“I’m going to get you help.” Her voice brought clarity.

Ren’s hands reached for him, and she was dressed in travel-worn kimono and hakama again, hair tied back in a short tail. He blinked. It was just the fever.

He helped her get him down off the horse as best he could, the world swirled, and he fought it to stay conscious. He knew he was too heavy, his frame too large for her to lift alone. Then Sasuke was under his other arm, supporting him.

“I have you, Lord Shingen. Ren, the rift should open just under that tree.” The smaller man gestured with his chin, trying to manage Shingen’s weight.

A crack of thunder split the sky.

“We can get him over there and lean him against it, we don’t have much time.”

It started to rain. The wet, the cold. Shingen was so weary of it, there would be peace in death, he should just let go.

“Tiger, stay with me. I love you, just hold on.”

Her.

He promised he’d live for her.

Shingen pulled himself upright, leaning against the rough bark.

“I love you, my angel.” Her hands were on his face, her lips felt so warm on his.

Another crack of thunder, he looked up as lightning arced the sky.

She held him tight. The air seemed to rip open in front of them. Shingen blinked the water out of his eyes. His vision wavered. Sasuke gripped him firmly from the other side, 

“Hold on tight to each other, here we go.” Sasuke shoved them all into the swirling chaos.

Her

They stepped out into the rainy streets of modern-day Kyoto, Shingen supported heavily between them. Ren briefly took Shingens’s full weight, then leaned him against a building for the eternity it took for Sasuke to hail a cab.

He coughed, blood spitting out in gobs, staining the front of his kimono, washing to pink in the downpour.

“Just hold on, Tiger. We’ll be there soon.” The smell of wet asphalt filled her senses, the rain hid her hot tears. He leaned forward against her, his coughs wracking his tall frame. She held him tight

He was going to make it. He had to make it.

“Ren, I’ve got one.” Sasuke was at her side, helping her to maneuver Shingen into the cab. She vaguely heard him give directions to the driver for the hospital. 

“Sasuke, how are we going to pay for this?” Ren leaned into her friend, whispering.

“My black card is still in date. Hopefully, it’s still active, it should have auto-debited yearly from my account.” He ineffectively tried to dry his glasses on his wet clothes managing only smeared lenses. “If nothing else, I’ll stall while you get Shingen into the ER.” 

The ride was tense, Shingen seemed to be unconscious again, his breath death rattling in his lungs. Ren stared forlornly out the window of the cab. Neon lights flashed by as they drove through the city streets. After four years of no electricity, everything seemed too bright, too surreal.

“Ren?” Sasuke’s hand covered hers, she looked up into concerned brown eyes. “We’ll do all we can, no matter what, it’s going to be alright.”

Ren nodded woodenly, she understood what Sasuke was promising. She was sure the men had come to an agreement before they left the inn this morning. It was the way they had looked at her as she walked into the end of the conversation. Shingen was making sure she’d be taken care of if he passed. Her eyes started to tear up again.

“Ren, lock that down and hold it together. We are almost at the hospital, you need to handle this.” Sasuke gave her hand another squeeze, then let go as the cab pulled up to the ER doors. 

He slid his card through the reader on the back of the seat, Ren saw it authorize. A small feeling of relief flooded through her, at least they had some funds. She took a deep breath, preparing herself to manhandle Shingen’s limp weight out of the cab. She got her arm around him and propped most of his weight across his shoulders, dragging him forward toward the automatic doors.

“I need some help, please!” Two orderlies were at her side. They got him into a wheelchair and rolled him inside. Ren glanced back at Sasuke in the pouring rain.

“Go! I’ll find you, use Takeda to register, it’s common enough.” Sasuke waved her in then got back into the cab.

 

The chair was plastic and uncomfortable, Ren had been in it for over two hours. She leaned forward, resting her head in her hands. Everything was overwhelming. The lights were too bright, the hum of the fluorescents deafening. The smells were too sharp, people too loud. She tried to extend her senses out, but it felt like a football stadium worth of people was murmuring in her head, and she quickly withdrew, locking herself down. She ran a hand through her wet, tangled hair. It laid limp and cold against her shoulders. She wanted to cry, but her eyes remained dry. A drum beat…no that was her heart. Was his heart still beating? Were they too late? Her stomach churned and lurched, something fluttered in an unsettling way.

“Mrs. Takeda?”

A hand rested on her shoulder.

“Mrs. Takeda?”

Ren raised her head, realizing this was the first person to call her that. She wouldn’t be Lady Takeda here.

“Yes.”

“Your husband has been moved to surgery, there is a large mass blocking his air passage. It doesn’t appear cancerous, but the surgeon will send it for a biopsy. It is, however, quite invasive with a complication of pneumonia.”

Ren nodded woodenly.

“Is there somewhere you can be reached?”

Her phone, she almost laughed.

“I’ll be here, my phone is broken.”

“Mrs. Takeda, it may be eight to ten hours.” The man in scrubs explained.

“I understand.”

He nodded and left.

Ren stared at the ceiling, then got up and paced. She was thirsty but had no money. A nurse took pity on her and got her a large cup of ice water and draped a warm blanket over her shoulders. She stood by the window watching the day fade out to black. The neon of the city glowing garishly. 

She missed the starlight of Sengoku. The way the moonlight would gently fall over Kai at night. 

Sasuke’s reflection was walking toward her in the window, dressed in modern clothes. Ren looked at her reflection…still in a damp hakama and a kimono, she must be a sight.

Then he was hugging her.

“I bought you some clothes, take this backpack and go get changed. We have a room at the hotel a block away. I have a sandwich and a bag of chips with a drink in the front pouch for you.”

He handed her a cell phone. “I already gave the number to the front desk, it’s just a burner phone, but it will be fine for now. He’s going to be in surgery at least another six hours Ren. Come back to the room with me and get some rest.”

She nodded, heading toward a bathroom to change.

She pulled the clothes out. He had grabbed her leggings and a long tunic shirt, not knowing her size. The slip-on shoes were a little large but not terrible. She used the toilet, marveling a moment at having a faucet that turned on, then stared at herself in the mirror.

She looked like death.

Ren’s skin was so pale it looked blue in the fluorescent lights. Black circles under her red-rimmed eyes marred her once pearly skin. Her hair was still damp and straggled, clinging to her back. She splashed some water on her face and dried off on a paper towel. 

Pull it together, Ren, just like a mission .

She nodded to her reflection.

Sasuke was waiting for her just outside the restroom door.

“I called us a cab.”

“It’s only a block, Sasuke?”

“It’s still pouring out there, come on.” He put his arm around her, leading her out into the storm.

Ren didn’t remember reaching the hotel or eating the sandwich or the tea she had washed it down with. She didn’t remember entering the large upscale room or taking off her shoes. She was in a plush comfortable bed now. Sasuke was on what appeared to be a laptop nearby typing away.

“Get some sleep Ren, I’ll wake you when they call.”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Just close your eyes,” Sasuke said softly, the light from the screen reflected off his glasses. Her eyes slid closed.

She dreamed.

She was in an endless winter, running through the permafrost dressed in furs and leather armor. Wolves ran by her side, and ravens flew above her head. The wind howled its fury in the night. The northern lights cast the sky in a swirl of greens, purples, and pink. Ren made no sound as she ran, she left no trace.

A man ran beside her, but he seemed to fade in and out of existence. 

She wasn’t sure where she was running to…or what she was running from. After a time, she stopped. The wolves paced around her whining; she couldn’t see the ravens against the midnight of the sky, but she heard them scream.

“What do you need, little bird?” The man in furs strode toward her, she could see the scar that ran over his one eye, turning it a milky blue. The other eye was clear and pierced through her soul like a shard of ice. It looked like her mentor Erik, but not. He was bigger, more imposing…just more. His presence felt smothering.

“Why am I here? Is this a dream? Erik?”

“You came to me.” He laughed. It was a deep booming sound, but his lips weren’t moving.

“Who are you?” The wind started to blow, but this time she didn’t feel cold like there was already ice in her veins.

“I am you, I’ve always been a part of you, my daughter. Just like you are a part of me. You bring me the souls of the fallen.”

Ren shifted.

“I am not that person anymore. I don’t need your darkness.”

He threw his head back and laughed. It rolled like thunder around her echoing into the eternity of the night. 

“You speak as if we are some great evil. We just are. It is not good or bad. It is not something you can escape or discard. Oh, your other half taught you to wall us away, but we are always present. We will always be a part of you. You don’t remember what you are, do you? So ancient that you’ve forgotten, reborn to our line of warriors so many times.” He walked closer, the scent of winter and ironstone drifted through the air, playing on the icy wind. Ren held her ground.

“What do you need?” He repeated that one ice blue eye pinned her in place.

“He’s dying, I need to help him.”

“Everything dies to be reborn again. Even you, little bird. We cannot halt death when it is someone’s time. You can carry his soul to me when he dies, he is an accomplished warrior and will be welcomed. Perhaps you will find him again when you are both reborn.”

“No.” Something in her felt that information wasn’t complete. “What aren’t you telling me?”

The great man frowned. “Your parentage is split this time. You ask the wrong wolf.”

She woke gasping.

Chapter Text

Her

The dim glow of electronics lit the room. Blue light from the laptop, the brightness of the alarm clock. It had been four hours. Sasuke was asleep in the other bed, the phone lay on the nightstand between them. Ren checked it for messages…nothing.

She got up and showered, reveling in the steamy hot water pouring over her battered self. Toweling off, she put the modern clothes back on. They felt strange, too tight, too synthetic. She had become used to the flowing pants and belted kimonos. She used a small hairdryer mounted to the wall to blow dry her hair. It lay in corn silk colored waves to her shoulders. Ren wandered to the window pulling back the curtain. They were up high, overlooking the city. It was night, but the view was not quiet. Lights from cars, from people from other buildings. She could see the flashing lights of a plane overhead. She rested her head against the cold glass. That dream. She remembered it clearly, compared it to similar ones she’d had before. She had no explanation, something Nordic? From her father’s heritage? It didn’t make any sense. Ren rubbed the bridge of her nose. She had never been particularly religious. She had been trained in what might be considered a shamanistic manner for moving energy, but she didn’t really place any thoughts in deific concepts. It had always been just another tool. The movement of energy or in her eastern studies was Qi, it all amounted to a similar idea. It wasn’t something she discussed much, and she only taught it to her upper tier students, like Shion. Students that she felt a kindred spirit in. Ren stared back out into a night that was far too artificially lit. She longed for Shingen, for their home. This wasn’t her world anymore.

“Ren?” Sasuke’s sleepy voice snagged her attention.

“Hmm?”

“It’s the middle of the night, go back to sleep.” He sat up, putting his glasses on.

“Weird dreams, I feel displaced.”

“I know.” Sasuke sighed, he took his glasses back off and gestured to her. “Come here, you can curl up with me.” He held the covers up, gesturing her under. She curled up with her back to his chest. Sasuke hugged her tight, then swept her hair to one side out of his face. She chuckled.

“Sorry, I’m not used to having all that.”

“Heh, it’s ok. I’m used to Asa’s hair and trying not to lay on it. It’s been years since I’ve seen you with longer hair though, I take it that was a Shingen request?” His breath was warm on her neck, the soothing in and out; she started to relax. 

“Yes, I told him if I felt comfortable, I’d let it grow.”

“Looks like you are pretty comfortable.” Sasuke teased sleepily.

“Yea, I guess I am.” She settled into her friend’s warm embrace and eventually drifted back to sleep.

 

The phone rang at 4am. He was out of surgery. Sasuke started to get up, but Ren stilled him.

“Just sleep, you can catch up to me later.”

“There’s cash on the table for you, get some breakfast.” He mumbled, turning over.

Ren took the cash, stuffing it into her small wallet full of obsolete cards and ID. She should probably stop by her bank and get a new card and get some funds of her own. They would need clothes and food. Shingen would need a phone. Her brain started ticking off inconsequential details just to stay busy.

She stepped out onto the sidewalk, it was cool for spring. She made a mental note to pick up a jacket. The walk took minutes, the city was just starting to wake. Ren’s senses were up out of habit, warning her where people are, sensing things out of place, listening for noises that didn’t belong. That last one was hard now, all the noises didn’t belong. She longed for the silence of the woods around Kai, her home. Ren looked up at the sky as she walked. The light pollution just colored it a slate grey. She sighed and passed through the automatic sliding doors of the hospital.

A nurse led her to a dimly lit ICU room where he was laying prone hooked up to a bunch of machines. The beep and whirl recording the ticking away of his life. Ren sat down, taking his hand. It was cold, she had become so accustomed to his constant low-grade fever and his flesh being hot that it surprised her. She cupped her other hand over his trying to share her warmth.

He looked pale, sunken, older. His auburn hair didn’t shine with the fiery warmth it usually held. Ren pressed her forehead to his hand. 

Come back to me, my Tiger. Don’t leave me alone in this life.

Ren sat up, leaning back into the chair by his bedside. She stared at the silver band on her finger, remembering his promise to her. Her eyes slid closed.

She dreamed. She needed this dream.

“I have questions.” Ren looked down, she was not a child this time, she was a kunoichi dressed in her snow-colored winter gear. A subtle white roll of energy surrounded her, Ren recognized it as her spirit. Briefly, she wondered how she could be so dark and so light in the same soul.

“Sit with me, my daughter.” The old man smiled, wrinkles formed deep creases around his dark eyes. He wore a plain brown kimono. An ancient tea set was before him, and he started the ceremony.

She respectfully sat before him, watching him go through the movements, participating when it was her role. Peace filled her soul.

When the tea was consumed, and the tools cleaned, he looked up.

“Ask.”

“Who are you?” Ren watched him intently, his image flickered, glowed.

“I am your mentor.”

“What am I?” 

He chuckled softly. “You’ve learned to choose your words more carefully.”

She waited, an eternity ticked by in the silence of peace.

“You are what you make yourself.”

“Who is the man with the wolves and ravens?” She needed to know what the hell was happening; these weren’t just dreams, were they? Was she slipping into madness?

“He is also a part of you. Ren, your soul is very old.”

“Is he evil?”

The old man laughed. “He’s no more evil then I am good, we just are.”

“I asked him if Shingen could be saved, he said I could carry his soul when he dies. What more can I do?”

The old man covered her hand with his, “You can hold it until his current body heals.”

“Hold it how?” She became agitated, “I don’t have time for word games and mysteries, he is dying. It feels like he is taking his last breath in my arms.”

“Hold it here.” He touched his hand over her heart, heat radiated from it.

“What am I? I’m human, right? This is a dream?”

He stopped smiling; his eyes were ancient. It felt like she was slipping into them. His voice surrounded her.

“Humans have called us a lot of names, gods, spirits, kami. They have spun stories that have lasted through time, they have lain with us to make children that are ghosts of what we once were. As beliefs fade, so do we. But those children, they hold a mortal soul to be reborn again and again. Sometimes they remember who they are.”

He took her hands, smiling once again. “Do you remember Ren?”

She shook her head slowly. “No.”

“Hold him in your heart, it will be enough.”

Ren opened her eyes, gazing down at Shingen’s sleeping form. She placed a hand over his heart, felt it beat, slow, and arhythmic. She could feel the rattle in his chest with each torturous inhale he took. Machines forced oxygen into his lungs.

She willed it to keep beating for her, she let the energy that flowed within her go to him. Ren heard the breath become easier. His heart beat stronger. She exchanged a part of herself and stole a part of him, keeping it safe within her. Her chest burned, her heart ached. Ren hoped it was enough, that her dreams weren’t just delusions of desperation. She rested her head to his shoulder and was lulled to sleep by the soft click whirl and beeping of the machines monitoring his life.

 

Ren wasn’t sure how long she stayed like that. The sun was rising, lighting the blinds that covered the window. A doctor entered the room.

“Mrs. Takeda?” He was younger than her, his voice hesitant.

“Yes.” Ren raised her head, blinking her eyes.

“Your husband came through surgery fine, but the tumor was very large, and his recovery is going to take time. As with any surgery, there is the risk of blood clots and infection, so he’ll be here for observation until he wakes, and once he’s stable, we’ll move him to a regular room for a few weeks. The good news is the tumor appeared to be benign, but we did send a sample to the lab, that should be back sometime tomorrow.”

“When should he wake?”

“Well, it could take a while, Mrs. Takeda.” The young doctor gave her a sympathetic look. “There is a decent cafeteria on the ground floor, why don’t you go have coffee and some breakfast. He’s stable for now. I’ll call you if there are changes.”

She nodded rising. Reluctantly Ren released her husband's hand.

 

Sasuke caught up to her in the cafeteria on the lower level of the hospital. She was listlessly pushing cold scrambled eggs around on a paper plate with a spork. Sasuke had a laptop bag slung over his shoulder. She wasn’t used to seeing him in modern clothes, everything felt disjointed. Sitting down next to her, he passed Ren a tiger-striped hoodie with cat ears on it.

Her lips quirked into a half-smile as she put it on, the sleeves ended in paws. At least it was warm.

“What am I five?”

He kissed her cheek, pulling the hood up so she had kitty ears.

“How is he?” Sasuke’s warm brown eyes were concerned.

“He looks like a corpse, he’s alive right now, but they don’t know when he will wake. He’s in intensive care until he does. At least he’s stable.” Ren sipped her cold black coffee, the bitterness coated her mouth.

“My apartment is being cleaned and should be ready tomorrow. It’s about a thirty-minute cab ride from here, though, so if you want to continue to stay at the hotel, I’ll cover it. I contacted my parents to let them know I’m not dead, and my professor to let him know my theories worked.”

She nodded. “Did we change anything.”

“I have found some small anomalies but for the most part nothing major. The Edo period started a little sooner. There was less war damage and death, more prosperity at the end of the Sengoku period. Shingen is now listed as one of four unifiers.”

Ren raised her eyebrow. “So, he lives?” Her voice was hopeful.

“Unclear, it seems he mysteriously disappeared shortly after the unification agreements, the Sanada clan stepped up after that but were not considered key in holding unification peace.” Sasuke pushed his glasses up. “I’ll pick you up a tablet today so you can browse the internet here at the hospital while you watch over him.”

“Not one with tiger stripes, I hope.”

“I make no promises.”

 

Three days had passed, and he still wasn’t awake. Ren sat by his bedside most days until Sasuke would drag her off to feed her and take her back to his apartment to get some sleep.

Apartment…he always understated everything. Sasuke made a lot of money off the patents for some inventions he had created. In a city where apartments tended to be tiny and building restrictions strict, he had a large, fourth-floor corner penthouse with a breathtaking view from the balcony. 

Not that she was enjoying it.

Ren stood, picking up her empty mug and moving from the balcony back into the house. Her ride should be here soon. She tucked a pink Hello Kitty tablet into her new Totoro backpack. Sasuke knew she tended toward utilitarian, everything. Preferably in grey or black. She was positive he took some perverse enjoyment in drowning her in kawaii. 

She considered contacting her grandparents in Kofu to let them know she was ok. But then shelved it. She was in enough emotional distress right now to not heap more on. Her stomach fluttered, and her hand went to it. Ren smiled, she was sure now. She guessed she was about four months along and would start to show soon. At least she’d be able to safely have her first birth in a modern hospital.

She threw some snacks in her bag, pulled on the kitty-eared hoodie, and went downstairs to wait for her cab.

 

 

Him

“Hey, Tiger.”

The first person he saw when he woke was Ren. Her beautiful silvery blonde hair was backlit from the window, making a halo of ethereal light around her. His hand was held warmly in hers, her smile glorious.

“Hello, my angel.” He croaked out, he was surprised by the roughness of his own voice. The room seemed blurry and swam as he moved his head. Strange noises and smells were everywhere. A woman with very dark colored skin bustled in.

“Well, aren’t you two just the cutest pair of lovebirds.” She exclaimed, she picked up his wrist, then swung some kind of cart around and started examining equipment. She tapped on buttons of some sort while she peered intently at a sizeable flat box.

There was a beeping sound, he tried to focus back on his wife.

“Ren?”

“You’re going to be ok, Tiger, the surgery was just really extensive. I’m here watching over you.”

He reached his up, catching a lock of her hair, twirling it around his long finger. “So beautiful.”

“Darlin, he’s gonna be in and out for a few more days, saying the strangest things. Don’t pay it no mind.” The woman spoke to Ren, her accented Japanese seemed so odd.

Ren chuckled. “He always speaks like that.” Ren splayed her hand protectively over her stomach, the room started fading. He struggled to stay with her.

“Shingen, I’ll be here, just rest.”

Chapter Text

Her

He was alive and awake…so far. The surgery had successfully removed the tumor blocking his air passage. It was now just a matter of healing. Ren left the hospital, stepping out onto the streets. Everything she had in this world was reduced to a bank account, that thankfully had a decent amount of money in it, and a lockbox. Ren pulled cash out of the bank first, getting clothes for both of them. She had a selection of knives in the lockbox along with a hip belt sheath. Gun laws were so strict in Japan, she never bothered even attempting to carry in this country. She shuffled through the fake IDs in the box, then decided to take them with her and burn them.

Ren paused, adjusting the strap around her waist. She was starting to gain weight, it likely wouldn’t be too much longer that she could keep this secret from him. Ren smiled, she already had the prenatal appointment made. She wanted to make sure everything was going smoothly before she told him. Hopefully, she’d be showing him an ultrasound photo soon.

She smoothed her hands down over her clothes. She had managed to buy what she typically wore and a pair of shoes that fit, but it all felt so wrong. She walked back out onto the street, hailing a cab to the hospital.

Him

Ren said it had been a bit over two weeks since they arrived. Sasuke had been by to visit a few times and left him a phone and a computer tablet with instructions on how to use it. Shingen found it exciting and caught on quickly but just didn’t have the stamina to puzzle through browsing for more than a few minutes. Just sitting up was exhausting. Usually he slept and waited for Ren’s company.

Shingen watched the sun come up through the window, marveling at the view of the city. He tended to stay quiet when she wasn’t present, fearful of saying or doing something strange to these modern people. Ren was late today, and he found himself longing for her. Every morning she would visit and stay until he fell asleep again. Then she would usually be there when he woke in the afternoon.

Shingen missed feeling her against him at night. Although the strange bed he was in did seem a bit small for two, perhaps if she laid on top-

“Hello, my Tiger.”

Ren’s white-blonde hair was wind ruffled hanging in loose waves past her shoulders. Her clothing ended at mid-thigh, and her shoes had a heel that made her beautiful bare legs look like they stretched on forever. Those shoes clicked in a seductive song as she walked across the hard floor to him.

The beeping box next to him picked up to a fast staccato.

“Easy there, Shingen, no need to get all excited.” She sat on the edge of his bed with a grin, leaning over to brush a kiss across his dry lips. Her smile was his whole world.

“Good morning, my goddess.” He wrapped his arm snug around her hips, enjoying the feel of her. “I missed you, you are a little later today.”

“I have a surprise for you, but you need to promise me to stay calm. The doctors said we need to keep that heart of yours relaxed while you heal.” She brushed his hair from his forehead, then held a piece of paper in front of him. The black and white image was blurry, the paper felt smooth and strange.

“This is our son. I had the scan done of my stomach this morning, the head is here, and you can see his little fist…” Ren explained softly, Shingen’s eyes teared up. His hand moved to cover her belly.

“You’re pregnant?”

“The doctor said I’m at about five months. I wasn’t sure when we were still in Kai, so I wanted to wait to tell you until I was positive.” She smiled, those beautiful violet eyes were so soft and tender. She was radiant. Ren was going to be a mother, they were having a son…his mind reeled.

“How do you know our baby is a boy?” His eyes studied the small picture, marveling that he could see his son before the child was born.

“Well, it seems he will take after his father.” She smirked, pointing to an area on the small image. “He was pretty cooperative with posing for his first picture this morning. Not shy at all.”

Shingen chuckled and held his arms out to hug her. Ren carefully leaned in, not touching his chest. He had all kinds of things stuck to him, monitoring him. A long line of stitches curved up over his chest to his neck. She embraced him like he was the most fragile creature in the world. As if he would break if she hugged him the way he wanted her to.

Ren placed her hand over his heart. “I love you.”

He took her hand kissing it, gently he caressed her stomach. It still felt flat to him, a wall of smooth muscle. “I love you, my goddess.”

“More good news, you are being moved to a regular room today. I spoke to the doctor, and he is pleased with your progress. You should be ready to leave in a couple weeks if all goes well. You are on restricted activity…no lifting, no excitement. He strongly cautioned against doing anything that might…” She coughed, “raise your heart rate or exert you.”

Shingen chuckled. “My Tigress, I will do my very best to be a good patient, so I can come home to you soon. I miss you.”

“I miss you too, Shingen.” Her violet eyes were so serious. “My nights are lonely.”

“As are mine.”

 

Her

Ren waited nervously in the hallway of the hospital, discharge papers in one hand. Six weeks had gone by, and the doctors were ready to release him. Sasuke had been busy discussing his wormhole time travel studies and working with his professors. She had been alone more frequently now then she had been in four years.

Nights were the worst.

She shifted her weight in the hall. She was wearing another short shift dress. Her belly was starting to gently bow outward, hinting at the new life within. Ren knew she was displaying her new curves for him. She’d seen Shingen’s eyes clinging to her, the way he watched her hips move. His hands always possessively touching her now. He got stronger every day, the glint of the tiger was back in his eyes.

Shingen stepped out into the hall, his auburn hair fiery in the late afternoon light.

“I believe I have this all on correctly?” He turned around slowly in front of her.

Ren’s breath caught. Shingen in modern clothes was a force of nature. The jeans hugged his strong thighs outlining the muscular curve of his ass in a way that made her mouth dry. The plain white tee shirt was tucked into his pants. Even after months of sickness, he still had the ripple of abs against the soft cotton shirt. The jacket was harder to find, Shingen’s shoulders were so broad, and he stood so tall, but it appeared she judged well. It clung to him like an attractive second skin. She was staring, she knew she should blink, but it just wasn’t possible.

Shingen put his fingers under her chin, tilting her up for a kiss.

“I’ll take that as a yes, my beautiful wife.”

He rested his large hand over her stomach, curving it gently.

“This looks good on you, my goddess.”

“The dress? I thought you’d like it.” Ren smiled, taking his hand to lead him to the elevator.

“Oh, the dress is nice too.” The elevator was empty, his lips closed on hers. Shingen pressed Ren to the wall as the door slid shut.

Chapter Text

Him

She laid dinner out for them on the high table, the chairs stood oddly well off the floor similar to the ones he had seen at the hospital. He found with his tall frame, it was more comfortable than the kneeling position he was accustomed to.

“Sasuke isn’t joining us tonight?” Shingen watched Ren move, her body looked so different, so enticing. Her breasts were larger, more rounded. Her skin glowed. Her hair really did look like it was made of moonbeams and magic, draping in a waterfall of silvery silk to between her shoulder blades. Her dress was snug displaying rather then hiding the pronounced curve of their child in her womb. Ren turned, fetching the teapot. Shingen’s eyes riveted on her bottom, he licked his lips…she had never been quite that full.

“No, he’s out of town for the next three days. He’s been giving a lot of talks on his scholastic findings of time travel with other scientists in his field.” She turned to face him, placing the pot on the table, when he managed to tear his eyes from those voluptuous hips, he found her smirking. “My eyes are up here, Tiger.”

“So they are.” He grinned, picking up his chopsticks. The meal was simple, much like they would have eaten at Kai.

“I figured I’d start you off slow since you’ve been on hospital food. We can explore the city tomorrow and try out some sweet treats.” Ren sat, digging hungrily into her meal.

“I was hoping for a sweet treat tonight.” His voice lowered suggestively.

“You have another month of keeping your heart rate slow, Shingen…the doctor specifically told me to limit our activity.” Ren was blushing, but her voice was firm.

“How limited?”

“Abstaining.” Her voice sounded rather unhappy about that.

“Mmmmm, what if I promised to go so gently my heart stays untaxed.” He reached across the table, brushing his fingers across the back of her hand. “I’ve missed you, my goddess.”

“I’ve missed you too, but I don’t want you hurting yourself and ending up back in the hospital. There are three bedrooms if you don’t think you can sleep with me without…” she gestured without looking him in the eye. “Then, you can use the third room.”

He quietly finished his meal, this was not quite what he had expected.

Shingen helped her clean up the dishes, following what she did in the kitchen.

“I do have a small treat for you, it will take me a few minutes to make it, why don’t you go relax on the balcony.” She gestured through some large glass doors.

Shingen stepped outside, gazing over the city at dusk. It held its own beauty, but he found himself missing Kai and the blanket of stars that would come out at night. He settled himself on one of the long chairs, letting his legs rest to either side.

“Here we are.” Ren joined him carrying two steaming cups. “This is hot cocoa, it’s made with chocolate and milk. She set the two cups on the table beside his lounge chair and started to sit in the chair to the far side. Shingen took her hand, guiding her to sit snuggly between his thighs. He took the cup in one hand, the other wrapped around her to absently caress her belly.

“Careful, it’s still very hot.” Ren blew on hers, and he followed suit.

Shingen sipped, it was sinfully sweet and delicious, almost velvety. “This is tasty, this is the good chocolate you spoke of?”

“Well, in one of its forms. There is a lot of different ways to eat chocolate.” Ren sipped hers with a contented sigh.

“Just as there are a lot of ways to make love to my overprotective wife?” His whisper caressed the shell of her ear.

“You aren’t going to take no as an answer, are you?” She grinned, taking another sip. Shingen caressed the curve of her breast, cupping the fullness in his hand. His thumb played gently over her nipple. There seemed to be some additional cloth between the dress and her flesh. His finger traced the edge of the undergarment.

“It’s unlikely. I have waited long enough.” He nuzzled warm lips against her neck, setting the cocoa down.

“You waited well over two years the first time.” Ren teased, turning sideways in his lap she set her cup next to his.

“I was a fool then, wasting precious time.” Shingen tipped her head up to meet his gaze, her eyes were such a dark shade of violet, pupils blown wide in passionate need. “Why deny yourself?” He ran his hand along her thigh, under her dress. Ren’s eyes slid closed. His finger encountered a little slip of fabric over her hip…what was she wearing under this dress? It felt silky but stretched, his fingers danced along the edge curiously.

“Shingen…”

He paused, sliding his fingers back along her hip, over the globe of her cheek.

“Tiger…?” Ren opened one eye. “What are you doing?”

“Goddess…what are you wearing under this dress? Enquiring minds must know.”

Ren snorted out a laugh. “Come on, let’s not do this on the balcony and give the neighborhood a show. We will likely be starring on the internet if we do.” She stood, taking his hand to lead him inside. “I give in far too easily to you.”

“I’ll make you thankful for that ease.” He teased, his hands stroking down her hips while she tried to walk. His large hands framed her gloriously round bottom.

“Shingen, I’ll ask again, what…are…you…doing?” The words squeezed out through a bubble of giggles as they passed through the glass doors, and he rucked up the fitted dress.

“This is attractive.” He ran his fingers under the lacy bit. The way it framed her ass and curved around her hip. He wanted to see the rest. He spun her in his arms to view the front. It just barely covered her angelic blond curls, the silk clung enticingly to her silky flesh. He needed to taste her. All the sweets in the world couldn’t compare to her on his tongue.

“It’s a thong…” Ren grinned. She seemed pleased by his reaction to her modern garments.

“Well, this looks so much better than a fundoshi.” His hands slid upward smoothly, divesting her of the dress. Ren pulled the fabric over her head. Delicate cups of silk covered her rounded full breasts, lifting them high. “And this?”

“A bra, most women wear them in this time.” She stood before him in the two skimpy garments, it was somehow more attractive then her being completely naked. He had the desire to take them both off with his teeth. A purr rumbled in his throat.

“I like it.” Shingen’s hands cupped her breasts possessively; they spilled over his palms now. He was right, she was much larger. Shingen’s eyes moved down, the curve of her pregnant belly was tight and smooth, His hand slid down over it, her skin was so soft. She moaned softly.

“Tiger…let’s take this to the bedroom.” She gestured to the walls of glass facing the city.

“You were never so concerned before?” He kissed along her shoulder, how he had missed that warm spice scent of her skin, the way her heated flesh tastes, the smell of them mingled together when they made love. It had been months, and he was ravenous.

“Sengoku didn’t have much in the way of video cameras.” She tugged his hand, heading to the bedroom on the far side of the living space.

 

The bed was high, on legs up off the floor. Shingen took off his shirt, dropping it to the floor as he followed her into the room. Her movement was hypnotic. Ren still had that graceful roll of muscle with every step.

Shingen moved behind her, sliding his hands possessively over her silken skin, fingers toying with the lacy edges of her undergarments. Ren moved to slide them off.

“No, leave them. I’ll take them off when I’m ready.” His voice was a husky whisper against her neck, he sucked gently then harder, leaving a hot red mark on her skin. His tongue lapped warmly against it.

He couldn’t get enough of the way she felt, every inch needed to be explored and reclaimed.

“Shingen, I’ll only do this if you give me top. Let me do all the work, and you just enjoy it.” Ren’s voice held concern. She turned in his arms, her hand pressed to his heart, then traced over the still red scar that ran from his neck to his sternum.

“When I’m ready, little bird. Let me take my time to enjoy this sweet treat you’ve gifted me.” He turned her back around, then dropped his jeans and undergarments that had started chaffing as soon as he became aroused. He brought her hips back to his, resting his cock in the cleft of her pert bottom. The silky lace was a new feel as he ground against her. His fingers slipped forward, pushing the fabric to the side, dipping into her soaked aroused flesh. He chuckled softly, bringing his fingers to his lips, making lewd noises as he licked them off slowly. He loved the way she tasted, always had, he could bury himself in her sweetness and never come up for air.

“You taste so good.” She trembled against him, leaning back into his broad chest. His hands went to her breasts, scooping them out of the fabric cups and thumbing her erect nipples. He looked down. He liked the way they looked, sitting just out of the cups, peeking deliciously. Ren cried out, trembling as he played and rolled those delicious nubs.

“Tiger…I’m really sensitive.” She bit off a soft cry, he felt a hard tremor run through her entire body just from that little bit of touch.

“I see that, let me ask you, something goddess. Would your body let you resist me tonight?” He gently moved her to the bed, his eyes drinking in just how beautiful she looked, how she glowed. He kneeled before her on the bed, one hand in that thick glossy fall of pale blonde hair.

“No, I’ve ached for you. And being with child has only made my hunger for you greater.” She admitted. “I thought I could resist.”

“Did you?” He trailed one long finger up her silk-covered slit. The fabric was soaked. Hooking his thumbs into the sides, he slid her panties downward, kissing the length her legs as he slid the tiny garment off.

He gazed back up at her, she watched him with half-lidded eyes. His tongue worshipped her thighs then moved higher to lathe her belly in licks and soft kisses. The roundness of her was even more apparent naked, he enjoyed looking at her, touching her seeing what they were creating together. Their son growing inside her. He nipped at her hip, then moved higher his lips claiming her nipple. A full-body tremble ran through her again. Ren moaned.

“Tiger, I need you filling me.”

“So impatient.” He teased.

“Now.” She pushed him down, straddling his hips. Shingen grinned at her insistence, he gently cupped her hips, thumbs tracing that smooth curve of her baby bump.

It was his turn to moan when she pressed him into her. Ren was unbelievably hot, so tight. She cried out in passion as he stretched her, she went down on him faster than she ever had before. She needed to be one with him as much as he need to be inside her. Her hips rolled slow and smooth. He watched her still lithe body undulating on his in an erotic display of rippling muscle and sensual female flesh. Her nipples flushed bright red like succulent berries against the ivory of her skin. His hand moved up to cup and tease them again, and he felt her clutch tight around his cock.

“I’ll come too fast if you keep that up.” She warned breathlessly, enjoying just riding him.

“That would be a shame if you had to climax several times, what a workout for you.” His laughter was deep; the very sound of it made her tremble.

“I’m only warning because you are the one that will have to ride it out without spilling if you want to last.” She grinned and angled herself to grind her clit against him, purring in satisfaction.

“I’ll just enjoy the view for now, then my goddess.”

Every stroke of her on his hard length was delicious. He filled his eyes with her wanton movements, drank in every expression, savored every little moan, and cry. He took in a deep breath, relishing in the fact that he could and was surrounded in the sweet scent of her arousal, the warm spice of her flesh. She leaned forward, and her long silken hair brushed against his bare chest. The feel of it like the whisper of angel kisses. His eyes fluttered half-closed at the sensation. Her small hands rested on his chest, one over his heart. A warm glow spread around them. Every roll of her hip and soft cry was musical thrumming through his soul. She flooded him with her love. Shingen felt like he was light-headed, floating almost dizzy with the sensual sensations flowing through his body. He looked up at his goddess, the fading sunset cast her in a golden glow, his vision was misty. Her body clenched around him, her head thrown back, Ren’s sweet song echoed the room.

He saw the ghost of large white-feathered wings spread from her shoulders, her hand over his heart tingled.

The wings beat once…

Twice…

He felt the soft, fragrant breeze from them over his dewy passion-soaked skin.

“My goddess…” his voice was reverent. Magenta flecked violet eyes gazed down at him, and then her body climaxed. Rippling and tightening around his, her strong thighs clenching against his hips. Her eyes never left his as she pulled him with her, he didn’t even try to resist. It had been too long since they had been one. Shingen filled her with his heat, holding her hips to his, burying himself deep within. He sat up, embracing her, holding her to his chest when she went limp.

His mind started to clear, Ren panted in his arms. Her skin was pearlescent but not glowing. He traced his fingers down her back, there were no wings.

A trick of the light to be sure, perhaps he was still light-headed from healing?

Shingen felt her smile against his shoulder.

“My Tiger…what are you doing?”

“Checking for wings, my love, for surely you were sent from heaven to be my savior.” He held her tight, feeling their child pressed between warm bodies.

She let out a contented sigh snuggling into his chest. “Welcome home, Shingen.”

Chapter Text

Her

She was surprised by how fast Shingen took to technology. It was rare he wasn’t glued to the tablet Sasuke had purchased for him. Looking up information, reading articles. She often found tabs open on different types of government and legislation, on agriculture, on improvements in weaponry. He studied various wars and their outcomes, looked at art, poetry, pregnancy tips…Ren was sure he’d miss having this much information at his fingertips.

With planning to go back to the Sengoku time, she had no issues with burning her life savings. They ate delicious foods, spent days doing “tours of desserts”. Ren’s craving for pizza was temporarily satisfied even if Japan wasn’t the best country to get it in. 

It was early summer, she lay on her side in their bed, watching him sleep. He looked better than he ever had. If he was attractive before, he was absolutely magnificent without the shadow of death, coloring his every thought. Ren swept his auburn hair gently to the side, placing a kiss on his forehead.

Storm grey eyes opened, quickly filling with soft adoration.

“Good morning, my Tiger.” Sometimes her love for him overwhelmed her. His hand reached out to stroke her ever-growing belly. This had become a morning ritual since their son had become active, especially early in the day. His eyes lit when he felt a soft kick. Ren grinned at her husband. “He’ll be strong like you.”

“And swift like you.” He leaned in kissing her, his lips lingering in the dawn light. With no dojo and becoming very round, he was getting spoiled at waking to her still in bed in the morning.

“What would you like to do today?”

“Well, we’ve worn out Kyoto…you said it’s only a few hours to Kofu? Perhaps we could spend a couple days there?” He curled a lock of her silvery blonde hair around one long finger. 

“Would you like to go to Tsutsujigaseki? It is a ruins, but it is still pleasant to walk around. We can get a hotel in town and stay as long as we like.”

“That sounds perfect, little bird, let’s get packed up and head out.”

She kissed his nose. “Go on and get a shower, I’ll check the train schedule and text Sasuke to let him know our plans.”

“You should join me.” He kissed her again, cradling her body warmly against his.

“My love, we will never leave the house today if I do that.” Ren grinned against his lips, she hoped her Tiger always had this appetite for her.

 

It was no longer in ruins.

Ren gaped in surprise as they entered the main gate to Tsutsujigaseki. All the buildings were intact, it had been made into a museum. The tourist crowds milled about in the early morning summer sun.

Shingen smiled proudly, she nudged his ribs.

“You knew.” There was an accusing tone to her voice. 

“I saw the pictures online and wanted to surprise you. I know you miss being home.”

There was a long line to get into the main building, Shingen took Ren’s hand, leading her around the garden pathways to the dojo. There was a bronze statue of “The Takeda Oni” in front of the building. The statue appeared to be leaping or flying through the air and had the face of a demon. A tessen in the left hand and a tanto in the right.

Ren scanned the attached plaque with a smirk.

“The mystical defender of the Takeda forces, the Takeda Oni was said to have slain two dozen archers before throwing herself in front of Lord Takeda Shingen, taking an arrow through the heart. After this brave show of fealty, she disappeared not to be seen again. There are still stories told that her spirit appears to the Takeda family in times of need.”

Apparently, the Takeda Oni and Lady Takeda were not connected in history.” Ren snorted in amusement. Shingen grinned, leading her inside the dojo.

The entire room was decorated in portraits and glass cases full of examples of weapons and armor from the Sengoku era. A museum guard stood unobtrusively off to the side. Ren breathed in deep, the building didn’t smell the same. The hours of sweat had been washed away by the years of disuse. Her eyes lit on the portrait of a beautiful woman with long black hair. 

“Look, it’s Shion. It says she started her own school here when she was only sixteen” Ren ran her finger over the small plaque that had Takeda Shion with her approximate birth and a death date…she had lived well into her seventies, teaching. “Shingen?”

He had left her side and was standing in front of a glass case at the center of the room. Ren could see two sets of armor were in it. His eyes were riveted to it.

Him

It didn’t surprise him to see his own battle armor in the glass case. It had held up surprisingly well considering the age. It stood on an elaborate rack; his nodachi was also there; however, the sheath was a replica.

It did surprise him to see Nobunaga Oda’s armor next to it. Ren reached his side, she quickly recognized both suits and let out a small oh of surprise. Shingen’s eyes went to the elaborate obi draped over the shoulder of Oda’s armor. A long braid of pale blond hair was sewn into it. It was obviously Ren’s, even dulled by age no one else had hair like hers. But her hair had never been that long.

“Rivals to Allies - It was not unusual during the Sengoku period for alliances to be fleeting. However, the Takeda Oda treaty was binding, and the once rivals created a unified peace across Japan that allowed for prosperity in regions that previously had only seen war. The peace lasted well beyond the deaths of both great men.” Ren read softly aloud. “It seems there are some changes.”

Shingen pulled Ren into his arms, her back resting against his broad chest. His hand slid forward, caressing her rounded stomach protectively.

“It seems there are.” When would Ren have given Oda her hair? What would happen that she would cut it all off when it had reached such a length?

“Come on, let’s go see the rest.” She took his hand, leading him away from the display.

 

They wandered back through the main hall a large statue of Takeda Shingen was in the courtyard, in full armor looking fierce. Ren studied it for a moment then looked to her husband.

“Wow they really do give you quite the growly face, don’t they?” Ren grinned.

“Well…at least I wasn’t given the head of a demon.” Shingen squeezed her hand.

“I believe they call it artistic license.” Ren smiled, pulling her husband down for a kiss.

“Mmmm, that must be, it’s not like anyone who actually saw the Takeda Oni lived to tell tales.” Shingen teased against her lips.

“So untrue, you are still here.”

They wandered down the halls, each room had either been turned into a display of period art and artifacts or a “way of life” style diorama. Shingen moved to their bedroom expectantly. He had seen the images online.

Their wedding kosode was the centerpiece of the room. Their desk sat where it had always been, but a bronze sculpture of ‘The Lady Takeda’ bent over it. The statue was dressed in formal kimono with long flowing hair. She was poised with a brush in hand, forever writing.

“Well, they got that part wrong. The end of the brush isn’t gnawed to bits.” Shingen leaned in, whispering to her. Ren elbowed his ribs.

“Perhaps I was more relaxed in later life.” Ren smiled, leaning into his side. Shingen glanced over the plaque on the desk. There was a brief description of how unusual the relationship was and that The Lady Takeda ruled as an equal by her husband’s side. While there were examples of strong wives behind daimyos in the Sengoku era, this is the only one that demonstrated a joint leadership.

Her

Ren read over the inscription and let out a small sigh. She had noticed the white braid on Nobu’s armor. This plaque meant he never did find an equal marriage. She was tempted to look it up to see if he had married at all. It felt a little strange, like creeping on an ex’s social media, so she hadn’t looked up any history since she’d returned.

She walked around to the front of the statue of herself. The face was just that of a generic Japanese woman with idealized beauty. It didn’t look like her at all.

 

Shingen took her hand, leading her out the back into a quiet corner of the gardens. The greenery was meticulously groomed, much more organized then it had been in their time. Shingen sat down on a bench, putting her across his lap. He’d done this a lot recently. His fingers feathered through her shoulder-length hair then downward, barely grazing her breast before settling against her belly. His thumb stroked her soothingly. He lowered his head, placing a kiss there for their child.

“I would like to meet your grandparents while we are here.” He said softly.

“Really?” Ren was a bit surprised. “Why? We are just going to disappear again. And with their great-grandchild.”

“I feel it is proper for them to know you married well and are taken care of.”

Ren chuckled. “So humble.”

“My goddess, have you looked up the Takeda name since we’ve been back?”

“I have not, I’ve actually avoided looking up too much specific history about us.”

“Well, the family is quite successful and very well known. Perhaps a call to invite them to lunch?”

“Shingen I haven’t seen them in close to ten years. They will be in their 80’s I don’t even know if they are in the same house.”

“All the more reason to do so then.” Shingen kissed her cheek, she sensed he wasn’t going to budge on this.

“I will call them.”

“Such an obedient, good little wifey you are becoming.” Shingen teased, snuggling into her.

She delivered a stinging slap to his shoulder, “Let’s head into town and get some lunch, this wifey is starving and eating for two. You may want to decide who you are and what you do if you are introducing yourself to my family. They will grill you, my Soba is brutal. You can’t tell them you are a warlord and the head of the Takeda clan.”

“Already covered, my beautiful wife.”

Chapter Text

Her

Ren stood at the front door to her grandparent’s house feeling like she was seven again. Her mother and grandmother had been extremely close, but Ren had never shared in that relationship. Maybe it was her western coloring, or that her grandmother blamed her father for taking her daughter away. She could never tell her grandmother what she did for a living, so she simply said she was a secretary for a law firm in Norway. Obviously, she should have been married by twenty-two to a wealthy, respectable Japanese man and pushing out babies.

Ren fidgeted.

She had never lived up to their expectations. Her hand hovered over the door, not knocking. Shingen finished paying the cab driver and walked toward her, Ren turned to face him. They had found a shop to fit him for a suit in Kofu earlier in the week. Shingen had his hair cut and styled this morning into something still medium length but more professional looking. She was in a stylish dress and low heels, Shingen absolutely loved her in attire that showed a lot of leg, and she was happy to indulge his tastes. The heels, however, were getting lower as the pregnancy wore on.

“My Goddess, you are staring.” He grinned, leaning down to kiss her. Shingen’s large warm hand rested gently at her expanded waist, fitting to the curve of her belly. She loved that he was always touching her. And christ, if he didn’t look like he just stepped off the cover of GQ.

She raised her hand to knock on the door again, but it swung open before she touched it.

There stood her grandmother, looking stern as ever. Ren bowed politely.

“Ren, it is nice to see you have decided to grace your family with a visit.” The woman gave her a slight bow back and gestured them in. She eyed Ren’s belly with a raised brow of disapproval while Ren removed her shoes and put on the house slippers provided.

“We are currently on vacation, and I know it’s been years. It’s good to see you, Soba.” Ren smiled.

“This is my husband, Takeda Shingen.” Ren didn’t miss the look of shock from her grandmother before her features smoothed out.

“Is that my Ren I hear?” a wizened elderly man came forward from the kitchen.

“Sofu!” Ren moved forward and embraced him. He hugged her back tightly, he’d always been her favorite.

“My girl, you have been gone too long…and what is this?” He gazed down at her belly in surprise.

“Sofu, this is my husband, Takeda Shingen. Shingen, my grandparents-“

“You married a Takeda!?” Suddenly her grandmother’s entire demeanor changed, Ren was a bit taken aback. The woman looked positively gleeful. “How very honorable Ren, I never would have expected this of you, come in, you must tell us how you met. Is this our first great-grandchild?” She patted Ren’s belly in an overly familiar way as she led her to the kitchen. Ren glanced back to Shingen in confusion, what the hell was going on? Her Sofu bowed low to Shingen and led him into the living room.

“Yes, we married privately last year. This is our first child I’m about six months along.” Her eyes flashed to Shingen in panic, she didn’t want to be separated. Luckily, she saw with relief that there were food trays for a casual lunch already set in the kitchen, she helped the older woman take them into the men already seated in the living room.

She leaned down near Shingen, setting the tray on a low table. “Something you want to mention, dear?”

Shingen grinned, whispering, “The Takeda’s are basically second only to the Imperial family and hold one of the wealthiest business corporations in the world. I lead the foreign acquisitions department.”

“Good to know.” She shot him a look that said there would be hell to pay later. 

“Please excuse me a moment, it was a bit of a cab ride from the hotel, and I need to use the facilities.” Ren glued a polite smile to her face and headed toward the bathroom. That was one thing about pregnancy that she was happy she wasn’t in the Sengoku era. She had to pee constantly. Shingen was already drawing her grandparents into conversation with his smooth charisma. He was the least of her worries. 

The house looked exactly how she remembered it the last time she had visited. She wandered to the bathroom, took care of things then looked at herself in the full-length mirror. She had to say the pregnancy was giving her amazing skin and hair as the tradeoff for being as large as a house. She’d never imagined hair could even grow this fast, it was going to be the same length as the high-born ladies soon. Ren checked her eyes and teeth in the mirror, then stood sideways, looking at her belly.

Why don’t you stall some more?

She could hear Shingen’s deep laughter from the living room.

Ren sighed if anyone could charm the world, he could. 

She stepped back into the living room, where everyone was laughing and relaxed. Ren took her seat, and Shingen gave her a wink. He had this under control, she was just going to let him be himself. Her grandmother was falling all over herself for him. It was pretty amusing to watch.

Ren started in on her lunch, she was ravenous. She swore some people said pregnancy made them sick. All it did was make her hungry…constantly. She was going to be elephant sized by the time this was done. She hoped Shingen still loved her at 500 lbs.

“Actually, the baby is due in early September, and we are planning on staying here in Japan until spring. After that, we’ll be moving around quite a bit, isn’t that right, my love?” Shingen touched her hand.

Ren snapped to attention with a smile. “Oh yes, we’ll be sure to visit though before we leave Japan so you can have some time with your great grandbaby.”

“Do you know the baby’s sex yet?” Her Soba had her eyes trained on Shingen.

“Yes, a son.” Shingen smiled proudly.

“Oh! How wonderful, and on your first try too, Ren. Good Job.” She had never been praised in her life by her grandmother, and now she was being praised for something she had zero control over? Ren’s eyes went to Shingen in disbelief, he was choking down laughter.

“Ren has been a model wife, so obedient and demure. It’s easy to tell she had impeccable upbringing and is well-schooled in our culture despite her split heritage. I am certain she will make an outstanding mother.” Shingen gave her a smooth wink. 

She was going to murder him, after sex…praying mantis style…chomp.

“I did try my best; with her father, it was always an uphill battle. Ren, I’m just happy to see you married a nice Japanese man. It’s good to see that one could overlook your unsightly albino coloring to take you as a wife. Hopefully, your son will take after his father.” The older woman nodded sagely. Shingen choked into his drink.

“Sofu, since Soba is so enamored with my husband, why don’t we take a walk in the garden. I could use the fresh air.” Ren stood stretching, she’d had about all she could take of her grandmother for the moment, and as usual, her grandfather quietly smiled and sat in the corner, watching everything. Ren offered him her hand, helping him to his feet and, with a smile at Shingen, stepped through the house to the tiny garden beyond.

Ren settled herself by the small koi pond after helping the older man sit on a bench.

“To be honest, Ren, I didn’t think you’d be back.” He patted her shoulder. “You were so far away.”

“You mean Norway?”

He chuckled.

“Ah Ren, you’ve been in Japan the last four years. Just not this Japan, yes?”

Ren glanced quickly at the man. She caught a glimmer of gold to his eyes that quickly faded. It could have been the reflection of the water off the pond. She shifted.

“What do you know, Sofu?” her voice was guarded.

“I know what your father was, Ren. I know what you are, I’ve always known.” He gave her shoulder a soft squeeze.

“I’ll be going back to that Japan in the spring,” Ren replied softly.

“Are you happy there, Ren?”

“I am, it’s a hard life but good. Shingen loves me, and I’d do anything for him.”

Her grandfather nodded. “He’s the Takeda Shingen, isn’t he? Not a descendant of?”

“Yes. How do you know?” She turned to face him, having to awkwardly move her entire body instead of just twisting. Her Sofu took her hands in his, they seemed to glow softly, she blinked her eyes.

“Ren, do you remember? Anything?” His soft brown eyes searched hers, she saw that glimmer of something other in them again.

“What are you trying to tell me?” Ren squeezed his hands gently.

“You are different, Ren, different like me. Your son will be different. You hold the old spirits in you, and so will the blood of your blood. I’m getting old, my girl, you need to remember.”

“Sofu, you aren’t making any sense. Are you saying we are spirits, like kami? Not Soba, though?”

The old man chuckled. “No, your Soba isn’t like us, but your mother was. Her power was so strong and so old she called your father to her across continents. She desired the strength of the wolf as a mate. Just as you desired a tiger. The women of our line have always been warriors, fierce creatures. A force of nature itself.”

Ren chuckled. This conversation was as wild as anything else that had happened in the last few years.

“You laugh, but you fell back in time to find him, didn’t you.”

“Well, it was all sort of an accident.”

“Ren, you know by now, there are no accidents. I’ll miss you when you go. But I will listen to the whispers to hear the tales of you.” He leaned down, kissing her cheek. “When it’s time, you’ll remember. Now let’s go inside before your Soba eats poor Shingen alive.”

She stood slowly then turned to help her grandfather to stand. “You underestimate how charming that man is to women, Sofu. She’s likely eating out of his hand.”

 

Him

“I did try my best; with her father, it was always an uphill battle. Ren, I’m just happy to see you married a nice Japanese man. It’s good to see one could overlook your unsightly albino coloring to take you as a wife. Hopefully, your son will take after his father.”

Shingen nearly choked on his tea. This was what Ren had to grow up with? No wonder she escaped with a strange man to Norway rather than stay with family in Japan after her father died. He was a bit shocked that ‘men are better than women’ beliefs were still prevalent in this day of age. Unsightly coloring? Maybe attractively exotic, with her pearlescent skin and those stunning eyes, was the woman blind to the ethereal beauty her granddaughter possessed? If anything, he was the lucky one that finally achieved the blessings of his chosen goddess.

Shingen sighed internally, happy that Ren would have some time with her grandfather. He’d entertain this shrew of a woman until it was time to leave. This type of female was easy for him to handle. Just smile and layer on the compliments. He leaned back in his chair, loosening one more button on the collar of his pristine white dress shirt. He longed for the comfort of a kimono. Perhaps he could talk Ren into finding a traditional shop and purchasing some to wear around the house. He found modern clothes to be too tight with a tendency to chafe. He also felt naked without a sword, but Ren had explained they were illegal to carry in this country and would get him arrested. She offered him a knife, but he declined. If the country was now safe enough that no one had a sword, then he would trust that he did not need one.

“Don’t you think?” The woman fawned on him. Shingen gave her a smile so warm the older woman flushed and batted her thinning lashes. He hadn’t been listening…at all.

“Well, what I think is that Ren and I have had a long day, and she does need her rest with our baby, so I’m going to go fetch her.”

“Of course.” The woman started cleaning up the plates as Shingen moved toward the garden.

 

“You are different, Ren, different like me. Your son will be different. You hold the old spirits in you, and so will the blood of your blood. I’m getting old, my girl, you need to remember.”

“Sofu, you aren’t making any sense. Are you saying we are spirits, like kami? Not Soba, though?”

Shingen paused at the door listening carefully to the conversation.

The old man chuckled. “No, your Soba isn’t like us, but your mother was. Her power was so strong and so old she called your father to her across continents. She desired the strength of the wolf as a mate. Just as you desired a tiger. The women of our line have always been warriors, fierce creatures. A force of nature itself.”

He smiled softly, leaning into the doorframe. Her grandfather was confirming what Shingen knew in his heart. Those visions he had when sick were real, not just the result of a fever dream. He didn’t care what she was, as long as she was his. He stood quietly, waiting for the conversation to end. Ren stood to help the older man up. At that moment, Shingen stepped forward to help.

“My goddess, let me help you.” Shingen nudged his wife to the side and took the old man’s hand in his, assisting him to stand. 

He chuckled, “see Ren, Shingen knows what you are.” 

Shingen gave the old man a conspiratorial wink. 

“How could she be anything but?”

 

They took a cab to the downtown area and strolled around a bit until Shingen noticed Ren’s steps getting slower. A glance at her ankles showed them swelling slightly. 

“Would you like to take a break.” His arm wrapped gently around her, he bowed his head his lips to her ear.

“No, Shingen, I’m fine.” Her voice was a bit sharp. Stubborn to a fault, he grinned.

“Well I could use a drink, why don’t we stop at that coffee shop there?” He nodded, guiding her toward it.

He pulled a chair out for her, and Ren sunk into it in relief, half sliding her feet out of the heeled shoes.

“Little bird, why are you so stubborn?” He stretched his long limbs before him unbuttoning another button on his shirt. He saw those pretty violet eyes glance to his bare chest.

Ren pulled the menu studying it briefly. “Well, …you just saw what I grew up with.”

“Mmmhmmm, your grandfather seems pretty wonderful.” Shingen perused the menu, a pot of calming herbal tea would likely be best, and something with chocolate.

“He is….” She bit her lip, then sputtered out “a model wife, so obedient and demure. Really Shingen?”

He could see this one coming miles away. He’d actually been reading what to expect during pregnancy blogs so he could be better prepared. Her mood swings were at least somewhat predictable for him. He was thankful she no longer carried anything sharp.

“My goddess, I was only saying what she wished to hear. In a few months, we will be gone. Why not leave her with a favorable impression?”

The table had a floor-length cloth on it. Shingen knocked his napkin to the floor, then on the way up slipped her foot out of its shoe, placing it on his lap.

“Now then, what would you like with our herbal tea?” He massaged her foot slowly, and she sighed with a grin.

“How are you possibly this good?”

“Chocolate it is. How about that seven deadly sins chocolate cake?”

“I hope you like me fat.” She muttered.

“Little bird, I love you no matter what. And frankly, your body right now is incredibly sexy, and every little change is just that much more enticing. You carry a life we made together inside you.” He dropped the first relaxed foot and picked up the second. “As witnessed right now, I can’t keep my hands off you.” 

“I’ll split one with you.” She conceded with a grin. He knew she couldn’t stay mad at him.

“I’m not sharing my chocolate with you. “ He teased, knowing she would devour the whole piece leaving him only with a taste. The waiter came, and he ordered for them both.

Ren smiled.

“Better?” Shingen placed her foot to the floor

“Yes, I adore you.”

“And I adore you, I’ll be back in a blink.” Kissing her forehead, he wandered off toward the restrooms.

Her

Ren paused a moment watching him walk away. She wasn’t sure what she did to deserve someone as wonderful as him, but she was happy to have him. Curiously she pulled her phone out, doing a google search for the name Takeda.

Her jaw dropped. Holy hell, it was not like that before. Takeda Corp had their fingers dipped into everything and was a worldwide powerhouse. The current CEO looked like Shingen plus a few decades. Nice preview of what was to come, she smirked.

Ren paused, tapping her fingers a few moments. She really hadn’t looked up anything, she typed her husband’s name into the search bar. Scanning the information quickly. 

Disappeared with his wife a few months after unification. One of the Takeda brothers married Shion. The clan moved forward into prosperity.

Hmmm, it didn’t seem to matter if they reappeared in Sengoku?

Ren glanced over her shoulder. Then quickly typed into the search.

Oda Nobunaga

Her eyes skimmed the passage, he lived well into his seventies, she breathed a sigh of relief. Nōhime…he married a beautiful, intelligent woman skilled in martial combat.

That was barren.

Ren winced.

Her finger skimmed a long list of sons and daughters. Confusion wrinkled her brow.

Then Ren saw the list of concubines.

“What is it, my goddess?” Shingen arrived back at the table, sliding smoothly into his seat.

“Oh, I just looked up the Takeda name, that is remarkable.” Ren closed her phone. The desserts and tea arrived, she was ravenous again. It felt like she was never going to be full.

“And that made you frown?” He took a bite of the cake and moaned. “They do have the best desserts in your time.”

“Well, no…I looked up Nobunaga.” Ren felt her cheeks flush in embarrassment.

“He marries and has heirs.” Shingen nodded, his grey eyes studying her while he took another bite.

“You looked him up?” Ren sipped her tea.

“I looked up everyone, information is kind of my thing, little bird.” He winked, continuing to enjoy his cake.

“I was hoping he’d find a partnership like ours. But it doesn’t seem like that happened.” Ren finished her cake off in a few bites, then scooped some chocolate drizzle off her plate with a finger.

“I was happy to not see your name on the concubine list,” Shingen replied softly. He put his fork down. “We both saw your braid sewn into his obi, Ren. It obviously will happen.”

“Maybe it’s not my hair, history states we disappeared.” She licked her finger off, then went back for more. Shingen rolled his eyes in disbelief. “Alright, with that color, it most likely is mine.”

“I was concerned,” he tapped his fork against the plate “that if I died, you’d go to him. I asked Sasuke to promise me you’d stay here in the future if I died. He declined but said he would make sure you were taken care of…that you were happy and wouldn’t fall to darkness.”

Ren leaned forward, wiping her chocolate-filled finger on his lower lip then kissed him.

“My Tiger, you know my heart is yours. Even if you pass before me, you still carry it with you.”

Shingen pushed away from the table, pulling her into his lap. A few people from surrounding tables glanced at them.

“Ren, I just love you that much. I’m sorry I am such a jealous man I swear I never knew I was before you.” He kissed her softly, his hand resting on her rounded hip, holding her snug to him.

“Shingen, everyone is looking.” Ren flamed red.

“Let them look.” He kissed her again like she was the air he needed to breathe. His arms held her tight, and everything in their world was perfect.

Chapter Text

Her

The late summer light filtered through the glass windows. Shingen had tucked Ren between his thighs, and the two of them were sharing a pint of fudge brownie gelato. Ren had given up on even attempting to control her appetite as the pregnancy drew to a conclusion. Shingen was more of an enabler than anything else. Ren glanced at the two other half full pints of gelato on the table. 

“Did you want the cookie dough one, my goddess?” Shingen took the spoon from her hand and scooped some out for himself. He had his tablet balanced on the back of the couch when his hand wasn’t occupied with gelato scooping it idly stroked her enormous stomach. Ren looked down. Apparently, their son was coming out full-grown and the same size as his father. 

“Maybe the mint chocolate chip?”

“Mmm, good choice, I like that one too.” Shingen’s cold lips touched her ear as he leaned slightly, placing the brownie container on the table and picking up the mint one.

“We probably should have put this in a bowl.” Ren grinned as he fed her a spoonful. She turned onto her side, awkwardly adjusting the uncomfortable pressure on her back. Shingen took another spoonful sighing in content. His hand rested back to her bowing waist. 

“Goodness, he’s active today.” He slid her kimono to the side, watching the skin of her stomach move as their son kicked.

The front door opened. Ren pulled her kimono quickly closed.

Sasuke was already blushing. He came through the door and turned, setting down his luggage, doing his best to pretend he hadn’t seen a thing.

“Ahhh, it’s the now-famous world jet setter! I didn’t think you were getting in until later tonight, Sasuke.” Ren slowly sat up with her husband’s aid. He then started cleaning up their gelato lunch.

“Well, I didn’t want to miss what apparently is a kimono party. Missing Kai?” Sasuke quipped, adjusting his glasses.

“Yes, honestly. Shingen just finds them more comfortable, and with this giant belly, it’s a more relaxed fit for me.

“How went your talks?” Ren looked her friend over. He looked weary.

“Well, the government has gotten wind of it, so things have gotten a bit messy. I’m dealing with it. At least nothing has gone public, but the main concern, of course, is someone drastically altering history.”

Ren rolled her eyes. “Who would do that?”

“You did.” Sasuke said pointedly, 'Lady Takeda'.”

“Ahhh, but in the long run, did it matter much?” Ren dismissed his concerns. She had started doing some research ad hadn’t come across anything that actually caused harm. The Takeda family being strong in the business world didn’t actually cause any serious issues. From what she could see, Japan was marginally more prosperous than before “So there is a fourth unifier now, did it make a huge difference?”

“It did to me.” Shingen smiled from the kitchen, he put the tubs in the freezer. “I’ll be honest. It makes me proud to see my clan has done so well. So, what is the government issue?”

“The usual.” Sasuke poured himself a beer from the fridge. “They want to weaponize it.”

Ren frowned. “What are you going to do?”

“Well, while I’ve shared the results of my research, I haven’t shared the detailed notes. So, unfortunately, instead of leaving that in this world, I’ll likely be bringing it all back with us.”

“You should write up faked documentation and give them that to get them off your back,” Shingen commented offhandedly, returning to Ren and snuggling her back against his chest. His hand went back to casually stroking her belly.

“Not a bad idea, actually.” Sasuke glance at the two of them blushed further then muttered: “I’ll be in my room if you need me.”

“Aww, Sasuke no stay here, I haven’t seen you in weeks. We didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” Ren immediately apologized, stilling her husband’s hand.

“Ren, it’s not the two of you. It’s that…it’s been almost five months with another seven to go. I miss Asa. I’m probably just tired, I leave for Tokyo tomorrow.”

“I know. I’d offer my lap…” She gestured at her globe of baby bump.

“But you no longer have one.” Sasuke’s lip tugged up. “I’m going to get some rest.”

Shingen went back to reading something on his tablet, Ren closed her eyes, settling into the curve of his chest.

“Ren, you are due soon, aren’t you?” Sasuke turned back to them as he reached his bedroom door.

“I hope so, I can’t possibly get any larger. Next week is the estimate, but it’s hard to pin down an exact conceived date, so it could be anytime.” Ren saw Shingen’s sly smirk and pinched his bicep. 

“Shingen, are you prepared for this?” Sasuke sounded concerned, and Ren knew why. Men in the Sengoku period typically weren’t involved with childbirth or rearing. Shingen had been beyond attentive for a man of any era. The fact that he had little else to focus on here besides regaining his health and caring for her may have had something to do with it.

“Yes, thanks to this wonderful bit of technology you gave me, I feel like I am.” He waved the tablet at Sasuke and smiled confidently.

           

Him

It happened four days later, and Shingen felt like he was far from ready. She had been out on the balcony, having tea when it started.

“Shingen, please grab my bag. It’s time.” She was dialing on her phone. He was halfway through making them breakfast.

“Are you sure, my-“

There was a small trail of water on the floor behind her. He turned off the stove and in a few long strides had her bags. He wrapped her a loose coat over her kimono, slid on her shoes, and practically carried her down the hall to the elevator.

“Shingen, I can walk. The contractions started earlier this morning, my water just broke, but it will be a bit.” She sounded ridiculously calm. Their baby was coming. His first son. He swore to himself to be a better father then his ever was.

Shingen’s mind raced. He laid a towel on the bench, then gently set her down to wait for the cab. “Does it hurt? What can I do for you?”

She gently squeezed his hand, violet eyes looked up at him full of love. “I’m fine.”

The rest of the day was a blur that would occasionally pause for him to marvel at. 

They arrived at the hospital. They waited in her room doctors came in and went out, he helped time her contractions. They walked. She cried. He waited for her to scream at him, to swear at him. He had read some women do, but not Ren. She seemed completely at peace. People bustled in and out of the room. The contractions got harder, the time shorter. Ren turned to him, taking his hand, her eyes seemed to glow with an ethereal wonder.

“Shingen we are bringing a soul into the world, I’ve taken so many from it. To bring one in is the most amazing feeling.”

He would never forget that look in her eyes.

Then doctors were there and so many people, Ren was crushing his hand and screaming.

Their son was screaming. There was a whirlwind of activity that left him dizzy.

Then they were alone. Just the three of them.

It was magical.

The boy was big, the nurse said, 4.5 kilograms. His hair was the white-blond like his mother. His eyes looked to be a pale blue-grey.

She smiled tiredly. “What would you like to name him, Shingen?”

“Katsuyori.” He stroked their newborn’s cheek in his mother’s arms.

She nodded and held their son up for him to hold.

Her

There was a soft knock on the door, and Ren looked up to see Sasuke there holding flowers and a stuffed bear. She shifted the infant in her arms and smiled broadly.

“Sasuke! I thought you’d be gone a few more days?” She kissed his cheek when he leaned over her.

“Shingen texted me the news, and I came back as soon as I could, Katsuyori, hmmm?” Sasuke tucked the soft stuffed bear next to her on the bed. “How are you feeling?”

“It went better then I expected for my first time, although he was on the large side.”

“Probably from all the gelato.” Sasuke quipped.

Ren poked him. “They should release me tomorrow. I apologize in advance for all the sleepless newborn nights we are about to have.”

“Well, I’ll still be traveling. I told Shingen to set the house up however is needed and gave him funds to buy whatever baby stuff was appropriate. I’m working on procuring a few items to take back with us, let me know if there is anything you’d like.”

“Antibiotics and painkillers in Sengoku would be great. I know they will only last a few years, but honestly, there were times I would have given anything for some meds.”

Sasuke chuckled. “I’ll see what I can do. Do you need anything now?”

“No, I have all I need. Do you want to hold him?” Ren smiled up at her best friend.

Sasuke pushed his glasses up, suddenly looking a bit shy. “Can I?”

Ren passed her infant to him. His look was a bit misty-eyed. “You’ll have this soon enough with Asa when we get back, Sasuke.”

He nodded. “I never thought I’d miss someone so much.” He fussed with the blankets the baby was wrapped in. “You are going to be a mighty warrior one day.”

“No pressure.” Ren laughed. “Are you still worried I changed things too much?”

Sasuke shrugged. “It’s done. Frankly, it’s interesting to see how Shingen not dying has changed the social-economic swing of Japan. Fascinatingly enough, arranged marriages went out of vogue earlier as well, so the dating scene isn’t quite as messed up as it was before.”

Ren laughed. “And you know this because?”

“I am getting a shocking amount of offers, I’m ready to buy a western wedding band just to fend them off.” Sasuke’s lip twitched in his usual small grin. He passed the infant back to his mother.

“Well, don’t let it go to your head, Nerdboy, you’ve got a lady waiting for you.” At that point, the nurse came in, Ren passed Katsuyori off to her and smoothed her blankets.

“I need to get going, Shingen was running some errands and should be here to visit shortly. Take care, Ren, he’s beautiful.”

Her smile glowed.

 

When she woke, Shingen was by her bedside cradling their son. 

“Hello, my Goddess.” He passed the infant to her, and she propped herself up to feed him. Shingen leaned over, kissing her cheek. His grey eyes had never looked so soft.

“You should have woken me, how long were you here?” It bothered Ren slightly that people were coming and going from the room without her waking, her senses were dulling.

Shingen studied her a moment.

“Ren, you don’t have to be the kunoichi here. It’s fine to be a mother, no one will hurt you. Just relax, you need to recover and let yourself heal.”

“I know,” She shifted the boy onto her other breast, the tender smile on Shingen’s face was everything. “I’ll be happy to be out of the hospital. I feel like we’ve spent too much time in one.”

“We’ll be home tomorrow. I’m here to look after you. I would never let anything happen to my family.” He kissed her forehead.

They were a family now, her heart felt like it would beat out of her chest.

The baby finished eating, and Shingen took him back. “You rest, I’ll watch over you both.”

Him

He had actually shown more restraint then he wanted to at arranging a “baby area” in their room and buying things. Sasuke had been incredibly generous, but Shingen decided since they weren’t actually staying long, he purchased the bare necessities, and then a few things he felt like would be useful to take back without being obtrusive. The “baby pouch” as he called it seemed like a must. He liked it so much he bought himself one, so little Katsu could just sit on his chest, keeping Shingen’s hands-free to do things around the apartment. Ren seemed amused by how insistent Shingen was at helping.

“You do know he can lay in the cradle, you don’t have to keep him on you.” She grinned from the couch while watching Shingen tray up a snack for them. He motioned her out onto the balcony, and they sat together to have tea. His son cradled to his chest, sound asleep in the pack. 

“I’ll enjoy it while I can, my goddess. You know, once we are back, I’ll be buried in diplomacy and paperwork. I see this as ‘family leave time’ as it’s called here.” He stroked the sleeping infant’s snowy blonde hair.

“I hope Shion is doing alright, I really miss her. How do you think she will react to having a brother?” Ren sipped her tea, watching him with Katsu. 

“I’m sure she is running Yuki into the ground with sparring. I imagine once Katsu is old enough, she will absolutely love having a little brother to teach.” He grinned, placing a kiss on the baby’s head. This was all just perfect.

“You know the leaves are turning and I’m feeling up to walking a bit more. Why don’t we take a trip to view mount fuji and see some of the local gardens next week before it starts getting too cold.”

“I would love that, little bird.”

Chapter Text

Fall went by quickly, and the winter snows came. Shingen watched the light snow out the window; his son was sound asleep in the pouch on his chest. Ren still teased him, but he really loved having his son so close. She had carried him under her heart for nine months; he didn’t see anything wrong with carrying his newborn next to his heart as often as he pleased while the boy was this small. 

Shingen marveled that this was the first year in memory that he wasn’t dreading the weather. It did help that the apartment was perfectly toasty, but the fact that his lungs were clear made all the difference. Katsu seemed to be a relatively quiet baby. Oh, there were nights of crying and being up at all hours, but for the most part, it wasn’t that bad. Even Sasuke seemed to enjoy taking a turn cradling his nephew during the rare times he was home. 

Shingen spotted Ren walking through the snow, heading toward their building bundled head to toe in warm winter gear. She had signed them both up at a local ‘gym’ and would now disappear there every morning after Katsu was fed. Shingen would typically go in the afternoon. After years of having to ration out his energy, the ability to push himself to the limits was liberating. When Sasuke was home to watch the baby, Ren would invite him on runs with her. While he found the activity bizarre…what were they running from exactly?... He did find it to be a good work out.

She still wasn’t up for intimacies, and after four months, he was beginning to question why.

They were affectionate, loving, but he couldn’t remember the last time she let him see her naked beyond a breast to feed their child…and honestly, while he loved watching her like that, there was nothing sexual about it.

The holidays had come around again, once Shingen found out this Christmas eve holiday was generally a night for couples. He had booked ‘Uncle Sasuke’ to watch the baby and planned a night out on the town. Including a suite at an upscale hotel that Sasuke recommended. A large beribboned box lay on their bed as a surprise containing a dress and shoes for her, a tux for him hung on the bedroom door. He couldn’t wait to surprise her. Shingen put the tea on and waited at the door for her to arrive.

Her

Ren walked through the frosty morning, enjoying the silence fresh snow brought. Her workout went well, she wasn’t comfortable with the body she was in yet, but she hoped maybe one day she would be again. Everything that wasn’t fat felt too loose, it both frustrated and disgusted her to the point where she was careful not to be seen naked. She’d rather have a dozen bullet and knife wounds then the baby paunch she was still sporting. Her movements felt clumsy and slow. She kept telling herself it takes time, even the weight loss after Azuchi took several months. But she wasn’t tending a newborn and getting no sleep then.

Ren looked up at the apartment building and saw Shingen at the window with Katsu snuggled to his chest. A grin pulled her lips upward. Their son was going to grow roots and stay there if he kept up that behavior. It was rare Shingen didn’t have the infant in the pouch, it was sweet. She wondered what would happen when they returned home in a few months.

Ren knocked the snow off her boots as she entered the building then took the elevator up to their floor. Shingen opened the door before she could even get her keys out.

“See little cub, there is our tigress.” Shingen’s lips lingered warmly on hers; their child cradled between them.

“You are going to spoil him.” Ren grinned, accepting the cup of tea Shingen offered her.

“Tonight, I’m spoiling you. Uncle Sasuke has offered to take baby duty. We are going out.”

“Are we?” Ren set the cup down a moment to remove her wet boots. “Where to?”

“I have a nice dinner booked for us and then a room at Suiran, Sasuke had recommended both places as relaxing and romantic. After this afternoon, there should be enough milk pumped that Katsu will be fine for the night.”

“Oh I have nothing to wear, and it’s Christmas eve-“

“My goddess, when have I not taken care of you? There is a box on our bed.”

Ren eyed Shingen curiously, then went to their room and opened a large box. Inside was a slinky form-fitting dress and heels. The garment was beautiful, but Ren doubted she could squeeze into it.

“Shingen, it’s lovely, but I’m not sure it will fit.” She held the dress up. Shingen looked from her to the dress, not seeing a problem.

“What makes you think it won’t? Why don’t you try it on now to make sure, if it doesn’t fit, we’ll go get you something else.” Shingen lifted Katsu out of the pouch and laid him comfortably in his crib. His eyes turned back to Ren expectantly.

“Oh well, I’m still sweaty from the gym, let me take a shower first.” She set the dress back in the box.

“I could also help you with that.” Shingen moved close, the warmth of his skin radiated against the coolness of hers.

“It’s alright. I won’t be long.” She dodged again.

“Ren…what is this really about? I know it’s normal to need time to heal, but it’s been four months since I’ve even seen you undress, since we showered together. You were never this shy before.” His arms went around her gently. 

“It’s nothing, Shingen.” She made to move past him to head toward the shower. Gently he caught her chin, raising her eyes to his. 

“You’ve never lied to me, why now?”

Ren sat down on the bed. Shingen moved the box sitting next to her. She looked away.

“I’m slow, I’m fat, my skin hangs. I don’t want you to see me like this. I was in peak athletic form for years and now… I just need a few months to tone back up.”

“Ren, I would find you beautiful no matter what shape you are in. And whatever marks or scars you may have on your skin from carrying our child are badges of honor. Goddess, if I have done or said something to make you think I feel otherwise, please forgive me.”

“I just-“

“I love you.” He kissed along her neck, hands sliding forward along her hips to her soft belly. Ren shied away, and he caught her tight, tracing his fingers under her hoodie to the bare skin.

“Shingen…”

“Every part of you.” He nuzzled into her neck, fingers stroking along her soft stomach then squeezing her plush hips. “I will love you when you are plump with our second and third child. I will love you when you are old and grey. Just because we met when you became my blade doesn’t mean I only loved you when you looked like that. I will adore you and stand by your side in every stage of our lives together. Am I clear?”

“Yes.” She smiled sheepishly.

“Then, how about that shower together, and after that, you can show me how stunning you will look in that dress.”

“Three kids, huh?” She grabbed her robe, throwing a teasing look over her shoulder.

“Oh, at least, my goddess.” He followed her to the bathroom with a sensual low chuckle. “More if you can be persuaded.”

 

Him

He had been right about the dress and was having a difficult time not playing a sensual game of fondling her succulent thighs under the formal white cloth of the table. The dark, plum-colored silk hugged every curve. It was reasonably demure, the skirt coming to the knee, but it was slit so every step she took exposed her right leg high up her thigh, leaving his mouth watering for more.

She wore crimson lipstick.

Shingen swore she did it on purpose. He couldn’t focus long enough to read the menu.

She had picked out different shoes to wear. The high spike of the heel looked sensually lethal, the red flash of the soles enticing. He wanted to feel her thighs wrapped around his hips with those spikes digging into his flesh as he thrust into the delicious tight grip of her heat.

“The steak looks good. What are you planning on ordering?” Ren’s tongue flitted across her red, painted lips. Her violet eyes were so dark with arousal; he could barely take a breath. 

Could they just leave now? Water and breadsticks were enough, right?

A sensual smile tugged up the corner of her lips.

That vixen knew precisely what she was doing to him. Shingen shifted, these damnable modern dress pants were so fitted.

Shingen leaned into her, his breath caressing her ear. “My goddess, all I want to taste right now is you.”

She shifted her hips, crossing her long legs to the side of the table. It took every ounce of willpower to not slide his hand up the stocking clad length. He glimpsed a bit of lace followed by a small triangle of her pale bare flesh above the sheer black stockings. 

What was his temptress wearing this time?

Shingen tore his eyes from her upper thigh and looked back to the menu.

“Steak is good.”

Her laughter was musical.

“Have I reduced my poetic Tiger to this?”

She took a sip of wine, her lips caressing the cool hard surface, a slight smudged image of that plump, soft skin left behind. He never wished to be a glass this much in his life.

Shingen chuckled softly; he saw her nipples stand against the silk of her dress at the sound. 

“It is simply nice to have you to myself tonight, my beautiful wife. Forgive me if it is not food that I desire right now.” He took her hand in his across the table.

Dinner was exquisitely formal with elaborately arranged dishes that resembled works of art more than nourishment. Dessert was a lover’s concoction for two that they fed each other with wanton abandon as if they were the only couple in the room. Romantic slow music played near a dancefloor, and he led her out to join a few other couples, swaying softly in the dim lights. Ren rested her hand over his heart. He leaned in, lips caressing her bare shoulder, breathing in the spice scent of her skin.

The ride to the hotel was a blur. He vaguely remembered her handling the hotel check-in process. She stepped into the elevator before him, that long slit sliding open teasingly.

The doors slid closed. He couldn’t wait any longer.

Shingen pressed her to the wall of the elevator, his chest to the low-cut back of the dress. He leaned in hand, tracing that tempting swath of bare thigh, toying with the lace, rucking her dress up to cup the deliciously firm globe of her bottom. She moaned, turning in his arms. Her lips meeting his, tongues sliding together. 

“Tiger…”

A bell dinged.

“Hmmm?” He slid a finger higher meeting no resistance, just slick warm arousal.

Ding.

“We should wait until we are in the room for you to undress me.” She grinned against his lips.

“My goddess, you aren’t wearing panties…” His finger slid inside her heat, and she gasped against his lips.

Ding.

“Less for you to take off.”

Ding.

The doors started to slide open. Ren smoothed her dress down, flushing. A middle-aged couple entered the elevator with a smile. Shingen took his wife’s hand and stepped out. 

As the doors closed, his arm dropped around the curve of her waist. He licked his finger off with a wink.

“You know, I actually miss the bump.” He teased as Ren fussed with the room card.

“You aren’t the one that had to carry that ‘bump’ around.”

“But it looked so sexy. Perhaps we could do that again?” He backed her through the opened door, showering her with kisses.

Ren laughed. “Easy there, Tiger, I think you love the mother better than the kunoichi.” She dropped her clutch on the dresser, running a hand through the length of her pale blond hair.

“I love you, all of you. Wife, mother, lover, kunoichi,” He lifted her easily, setting her bottom on the dresser. “Goddess mine.”

She purred at him, arms going around his neck, drawing him in. “Thank you for arranging our night off.”

“You are most welcome, although I admit,” his warm hands traced up her thighs, “my motivations were completely selfish.”

Her fingers undid his tie, unbuttoning the crisp white shirt.

“Were they? I would never have guessed.” The devil danced in her violet eyes.

“You should take my gift off so I can see what delicate little things you have framing your lovely body this time.” Shingen shrugged out of the tux jacket, laying it to the side. The shirt quickly followed; he knew she couldn’t resist the view he offered. 

“What makes you think I am wearing something?” She teased, her hands moving over his smooth muscled chest.

“This.” He flicked a finger along the pretty black lace then traced it up to the little snapped strap.

“Oh, that?”

“Mmmhmm.” He lifted her, setting her heeled feet back on the floor. She went to kick off her shoes.

“Please…leave them on.” Shingen’s voice was heavy with desire. His hands slid the zipper in the back down, letting the dress fall.

Ah, but he did love modern lingerie, maybe they could take some back?

She stood before him in a black lace confection that teased his senses. A peekaboo strappy bra with some sort of delicious lace belt with straps connecting to the silken hose. He wanted to feel the glide of all of that against his skin as he made love to her. Shingen’s mouth slanted down on hers hungrily, stealing her breath away and gifting his to her. He’d been so patient, but even that had its limits. Those chafing dress pants hit the floor. His shaft lay heavy on her stocking clad thigh. He moaned at the feel of it, rubbing against his swollen flesh.

Ren grinned against his lips. “Someone likes me all dressed up.”

He rutted against her, burying his face against her neck, that thick fall of gorgeous hair against his cheek. 

“Guilty…that does feel divine. Not as good as you feel, but mmm.”

His hands traced over the silk of her pale skin, lips tasting; he could never get enough of her. Shingen knelt, bringing her legs over his shoulders. He nibbled and kissed along the laced topped stockings nuzzling into the warmth of Ren’s inner thigh. He breathed deep, taking in her scent, wanting to hold it within his senses forever.

One long lick up her drenched slit, his thumbs hooked into the straps holding up her stockings. He glanced up, Ren’s head tipped back onto the mirror behind her, eyes closed in pleasure. Those berry bright nipples peeked through the black lace of her bra, standing hard in arousal. Blonde hair fell like a waterfall framing her beautiful breasts, he reached up, curling a lock around his long finger. Shingen’s mouth closed on her female flesh. Kissing, teasing, bringing those soft sweet cries of hers to caress his ears with her song. He lifted Ren bringing her hips closer — the taste of his love divine. Her hands buried in his hair, the heels of those sexy shoes dug into his back in the most delicious way. He welcomed it, the press of them harder as she came closer to climax.

Her silk-covered legs slid along his broad shoulders. She was lost in mindless pleasure, song so high and sweet for him. His name a refrain on her lovely crimson lips. Ren’s hand’s tightened in his hair, thighs gripping his shoulders, she trembled, falling back to lean against the mirror. He kissed his way over her hips, rising to claim that panting breath from her.

A slow kiss, she melted into it. Shingen loved doing this to her, filling her with nothing but him. 

He unclasped the dainty garment from her chest, lips seeking out her berry-colored nipples. He licked and teased at them, casting the garment to the side. Her breathing peaked again, her whole body shook. Another grin, so sensitive was his lover. He lifted her onto him, sliding into the heat of her embrace slow, over her shoulder he could see the smooth expanse of her back in the mirror, the plump curve of her bottom in his hands. The way her flesh moved so enticingly as he found his rhythm in their lovemaking. Her head rested to his shoulder with a sigh, the silk of her hair sliding over his bare chest sensually. She was rippling around him, his shallow strokes extending her pleasure. 

Another deep breath.

All of it was her. He could spend eternity breathing in her essence, spend a lifetime in the arms of his love, make a life with her at its center.

He ran his hands down her back, gathering her lithe form to him. Then easily lifting her, Shingen took Ren to the bed.

“Little bird, you feel too good.” Slow, languid strokes. Ren writhed in pleasure under him. Then those violet eyes opened, a smile on her crimson lips.

“Mmmm, you are the one that is treating me.” The words came out on a breathless murmur. He slid one shoe off, then the other, dropping them to the floor. His hands caressed up her thighs, sliding one over his shoulder, he pressed deep. Her mouth opened in a soft O, he covered it with a searing kiss.

Shingen paused a moment then ran the full length of himself into her slowly. Once buried, he kissed and licked her neck, leaving a trail of small red love bites on her alabaster flesh. 

The slow slide out, she felt amazing. Her song a breathless keening of desire. Ren’s voice alone could bring him. The rub of the lace on his tight abdomen was enticing. She was mindlessly gone, swept away. He so enjoyed that he could get her to this point.

He let that slow stroking build. Every movement for him was pure control; she fluttered around him again. He paused, kissing away the soft begging cries from her lips.

“Please…” he could barely hear her whisper, her voice gone soft with pleasure.

He took a moment to gaze down on his angel; her hands gripped the blankets, her body flushed with his tender loving. Long hair tossed around her in a silken spill. She was so damned beautiful that his chest ached with love for her.

“I love you.” He brought his hand down between them, tracing over her swollen nub as he took her. Her hips rose to meet his, and his cries joined hers. Shingen collapsed to the bed, pulling her tenderly into his arms, not leaving the warmth of Ren’s body. Their limbs entwined together. He kissed and held her relishing in that misty feeling their lovemaking always brought. After a few minutes, she looked up, smiling.

“I’ve missed you.” She nuzzled into his chest. Shingen chuckled softly.

“I figured it was time for me to remind you that we are lovers, that you are more than a mother.” He brought her hand to his lips, kissing lightly over her fingertips and then nipping her wrist at the pulse.

“What a reminder.” Ren grinned.

“You needed it.”

“I did, I get too focused. You have always been good for me.” She kissed his nose affectionately.

“Always?”

“Always, even when you were just a sexy warlord trying to get into his subordinate’s pants.”

Shingen laughed; it felt good to be able to breathe so deeply.

“My goddess, may I suggest a dip in the onsen? It’s out on a heated private balcony from the pictures I saw.”

“That sounds lovely.”

Shingen rose, grabbing the two bathrobes hanging in a small closet and some fluffy white towels. The balcony area was small, decorated to look like a natural stone area mimicking the hot springs that dotted Japan. The water was already perfect. Setting the towels down, he returned to their room. Ren was still stretched luxuriously on the bed, enjoying her post-orgasmic glow. He slid his hands around her waist to find the catch on the wide lace belt.

“Um, pass me a robe I’ll get that.” Was Ren blushing?

“My dearest love, I have seen every part of you, why the sudden shyness?” His hands caressed her, undoing the snaps and sliding the silk stockings off her long legs. He kissed and licked down her skin, enjoying the scent of them mingled.

“You haven’t since Katsu, I just-“

He found the catch, removing the wide black lace. Her stomach was still soft with the faded pink lines of childbirth, he kissed over them, loving every one.

“You are beautiful, every part of you. There is no reason to hide any of it. You bore our child Ren; you think I would find the proof of that unsightly?” Shingen picked her up bridal style, cradling her in his arms. “Every mark makes you that much more amazing. My goddess, that you have chosen to gift me with this life leaves me indebted to you, heart and soul.”

He nuzzled her, strolling across the room to the balcony then lowered her into the steaming water. Ren unfurled relaxing, and he stepped in to cradle her against his chest. The onsen was so warm, and the view was tranquil.

“Besides, you are nearly back to the shape you were in initially.” He nuzzled her neck.

“I’m not.”

“You are, and you are way too hard on yourself. Were you planning on stopping at one child?” His hands playfully caressed her now flat stomach.

“You’d put another babe in me so soon?” Ren laughed, that sparkle back in her eyes.

“Well, we did so well making the first one, perhaps a daughter this time?” He kissed her blushing cheek.

Ren sighed in contentment, “I would adore a redhaired little girl.”

“With your beautiful eyes, I would have to beat the suitors off of her.” He tickled his fingers along his wife’s ribs.

“Mmm speaking of which, before we go back, I have a request.”

“Go on.” Shingen turned her sideways on her lap so they could see eye to eye.

“I know in your era, clans are rife with sibling squabbles for power, and this sometimes resulted in exile or worse death. I want ours raised to love and support each other, no matter what station they end in. And I want any daughters to have the choice in who they marry…not just sold off for an alliance.”

“Done and done.” He hugged her close.

“Really?”

“Absolutely.”