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Hands to Hair 

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And still Youzen sat unmoving, staring blankly at the mirror. Taikoubou was silent, observing his reflection with that same odd emotion playing over his features.


"...Get out." The clipped voice that spoke the words didn't sound like his, it was so tight and hoarse.


Taikoubou sighed. "I was done anyway. Whatever - just think about it, okay?" He walked out of the room, whistling a jaunty tune.


The door shut behind him.





Damn him. 


Damn him to the deepest cauldrons of Unchuushi's experiments.


*Damn it*.


Just who did Taikoubou think he was, anyway?


It had been bad enough conceding his suusu surpassed him in ability and will from the first. Worse yet, with the progression of time, that he'd been unable to stop thinking about him even if he wasn't present. And now - now this? The only other person who had made him so aware of his fragility was Gyokutei Shinjin, and even then that had been comfortably within the bonds of master and pupil. He didn't want to consider what bonds there were, or, more accurately, what bonds he *wanted* there to be between Taikoubou and himself. 


/You dig your own grave, doushi./


Yet at the same time a wavering spark of hope flickered. *Could* he trust this person? Would it be all right to free himself, as it had been with his shishou? He desperately hoped so. He'd been wearing a mask for far too long, had been walking with a painted smile that chafed more with every time those green eyes met his own.


//Don't shut yourself up, Youzen. You shut out so many things other people have to offer.//


/I never wanted to, shishou,/ he thought wearily. /But by the time suusu came along, it was too late to stop what I’d been doing all my life./


//you don’t have to be what others want you to be all the time//


He remembered the look on Taikoubou's face after he had just removed his gloves, and suddenly, painfully, made up his mind. 



Taikoubou was perched on a rock ledge near his house, using Suupushan as a convenient cushion. Youzen paused at a distance, unsure of how to approach them, when Taikoubou opened his eyes and said something to his reijuu that had Suupu departing. 


The invitation was obvious enough. He hauled himself onto the ledge and sat next to his suusu, noting that Taikoubou had put his gloves on again.


"Hey," Taikoubou said, not looking at him. "You thought about it already?" 


He nodded, his throat suddenly dry.


"Any big conclusions, then?" Taikoubou sounded odd; with a start, Youzen picked out the faintest undertones of hurt in his voice. /My fault,/ he thought with a pang. /Oh, suusu-/


"That I'm not the only one who made sacrifices." He reached out a bandaged hand hesitantly, placing it on top of his suusu's glove. And Taikoubou finally turned to face him, something like wonder in his eyes. 


"I’m sorry."


"You know, then?"


"Not everything. But I do know that suusu doesn't take his gloves off for just anybody." He squeezed the gloved hand under his own as best as he could. "...Thank you."


"You aren't, and never have been 'just anybody' to me," Taikoubou told him quietly, with no trace of his usual flippancy. "And I only wanted to touch your hair."


"Suusu," he protested, feeling a slight warmth steal into his face.


"It's the truth." With a shrug, Taikoubou lifted his other hand, looking at it contemplatively. "Youzen, I don't wear these gloves just 'cos I think they look good. It's a last resort to prevent me from getting too close to anything or anyone so I still retain some objectivity when doing stuff. It's easier on both sides if I don't touch things with my bare hands, you know? The only," he bit his lip before continuing, "the only other person I ever took them off for was Fugen."


Youzen blinked.


"I can tell you," Taikoubou continued, "it hurts to see you parading round in plaster, okay? Especially when I’ve already seen what you are." Those green eyes pierced through him like emerald spears of light. "Youzen, *listen* - you don't have to be anything but what you want to be around me. You got that? I don’t want a Tensai Doushi. I don’t want a perfect doll. I want someone who's vain and admits he can’t sing. Someone who knows it’s okay to mess up now and then because not even sennin get it right every time. You *got* that?"


He swallowed. "Suusu, I -" 


A gloved finger placed itself over his mouth. "Never mind. Just tell me this. Do you trust me enough to let me know you?" 


"Suusu..." Avoiding that bright gaze, he hunted for the right words to say. "I want to. I really want to, but I…I'm too used to being what I am now."


"Are you happy being what you think you are?" Taikoubou asked gently. 


He stared into verdant depths, feeling a vague sense of light-headedness. "No."



Taikoubou reached up and touched his cheek briefly, a smile breaking over his face. "Then we'll just have to change that, huh?"


Youzen only nodded, the sudden wave of intense relief breaking over him rendering him incapable of speech. And since all he could think of afterwards was that Taikoubou really fit very nicely in the crook of his arms, and that he'd never known suusu smelt a little like fresh-cut grass, or a spring breeze that kept you warm even if you were sleeping outside without anything to cover you, it wasn't too important anyway. 


Somewhere in the Houshindai, Gyokutei Shinjin was smiling.


= owari = 



1) Timeline? Sometime after the end of vol. 23, most likely. Since Fujisaki-sensei never mentioned anything about sennin living conditions that I know of, forgive me for taking a few Creative Liberties here and there. =_=a
2) No one will believe me if I try to say this fic wasn't based on the premise that I think Bou-chan needs to lose his gloves Big Time, so I won't waste my breath denying it. >P oh, and forgive me for using such a dumb way to rope Bou-chan into brushing Youzen’s hair. *runs away*
3) C&C MUCH appreciated. I think Bou-chan in particular is flatly OOC. o_<

--Shi Lin




<辛苦了~~^^ bylakeside(雞蛋裡挑骨頭~^^b)>

海燕子殿真是辛苦了呢~ ^^;;
在此致上我的敬意和謝意~~ 真是太厲害了~~
翻譯總是會無法兼顧的嘛~ 可是我個人是覺得有很多地方抓得很棒哪~簡潔有力~比原作還精準~(小聲小聲~^^;;)

The invitation was obvious enough. He hauled himself onto the ledge…
呃~ 只是說說而已~ 其實也許海燕子殿早就想過了…只是覺得譯成"這樣的邀請真的夠古怪"比較生動吧~ ^^bb (我承認我滿龜毛的…汗~)
嗯…還有一段…He stared into verdant depths, feeling a vague sense of light-headedness.
他望進那翠綠的深邃之中,不禁感到一陣模糊的眩暈(或者要說頭重腳輕也可以吧~ 只是剛好和英文顛倒而已~^^bb)

老實說,如果我來翻也不會更好的,這裡只是提供一點小小的建議而已~ 真的很感謝海燕子殿的辛勞嘍~~ ^o^