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"Master Chen, it is time for your bath."
"I'll be there in a few minutes."
"If you do not hurry it will grow cold..."
I cut my hair sometime before it happened. I don't know why. I just did. I had been growing my hair out for a very long time, it was almost down to the end of my back. People said it made me look pretty, beautiful, even stunning. But after a while, I just...stopped caring. The truth is, I didn't cut it with any intent other then to end my own life, but I found myself to cowardly to even bring the blade to my neck, all I could manage was lopping off the hair I had worked so hard to achieve. In the end, even if I had tried, I knew that there was no way that I could kill myself. No way to really end any sort of misery and depression I had befallen upon myself...
The opinions on it was rather varied. Some liked it. Some didn't. I lost a few followers, while gaining a few who thought that maybe I was returning to my roots. As if I could ever do that without Master Ran's guidance...maybe they were right though. Maybe I didn't mind as much about losing my hair because it reminded me of the times I spent with Master Ran, and how I missed them so very much...I'm an adult now though, so even...even if Master Ran came back...what would I say? What would we do? I'm supposed to be taking care of myself now, Master Ran...can't baby me forever...
Even though I thought that, I still clung onto the belief that being more like my old self might be a good thing. but no matter how much I tried, I couldn't smile...I could be happy, bouncy and bubbly like I once was. Was this corruption, I thought? Was the brimming surface of what once was a clean slate dirtied by all the sins I had committed now? After losing my friends...after losing my family...I became...a bitter, needy cat.
"What?! What do you want?!"
"Chen! Please, let's talk thi-"
"There is nothing to talk about! Get out of my sight!"
"Are you just going to take everything I had and toss me aside?!"
"Yes! Because you're worth shit!"
...those words ring on and on in my head. What have I become? There is no way Master Ran would be at all happy with who I am now...
"Master Chen, please, reconsider--"
"Reconsider what? You know we can't offer them the funding they need!"
"But, they're, well, I mean, what if we--"
"No! We can't, don't you understand? We need to live too. If we can't help them then they have to suffer elsewhere."
...how could I say something like that? I...I just said to them exactly what I said to Mystia...is that how I truly am? I'm really a monster aren't I...
"What the hell is wrong with you? Why did you do that?!"
"He's a human! He has no right to stand up to me like that!"
"You filthy liar! How could you say that in this day and age?! This isn't the same Gensokyo you grew up in with your masters!"
"So?! What difference does that make?!"
"What difference? You should know, you fucking made this world the way it is now!"
...that's right. As a leader of one of the political parties, I helped shape Gensokyo into what it is now with the coming of the revolution. Despite that, I...
"...hey, your name is Chen, right?"
It was the first time anyone had talked to me just to talk to me since I cut my hair. People were afraid of my mental health, and were intimidated by setting me off.
"...yeah, what of it?"
...even though I acted bitter, closed in and mean...
"Oh, uhh...I wanted to say those earrings look really good on you."
I had several earrings since the one Master Ran had given me. One person, upon my inception as the leader of my group, gave me a duplicate to put on my other ear to look more refined, I suppose. I didn't complain, I used it as a sign that I was growing up, that I was evolving...when really, it was more of a sign that I was stumbling down the wrong path, that I honestly was not doing anything to be the least bit proud of at all. Along my original pair, I have three other pairs of different earrings as well, all brought to me by my suitors to replace the earrings I had. Of course, all of them meant a lot to me, especially my original pair, so I merely added them onto my ears. In the end, none of it was really fulfilling.
...my ears feel so heavy...
"I've thought about taking them off many times. I don't very much like them."
"...o-oh. I see. Haha, sorry about that then~"
He was just an ordinary human from the Hakurei clan, as plain as they come. He had very marginal spiritual powers, was deemed a civilian to most of the clan, and hadn't really done anything of note. Yet, despite this...
"Oh, hey Chen."
"You know, last time we talked, I forget to comment on your shorter hair."
"...it was a mi-"
"I think you look great! For some reason it really suits you. The look I get from your shorter hair is less of an intimidating woman and more of a...ah, how should I put it, more innocent and charming I guess?"
...I had become smitten with him...
"Oh, Chen, came to help me put away books again?"
"If you don't mind."
"Haha, for a great and almighty leader of youkai, you sure do enjoy working. It's so refreshing to see someone as diligent as you leading people, most of today's leaders are too lazy to do anything for themselves."
"...you really think that way?"
...if he had only known the truth...how much sitting around I had actually done...
"You've been coming by an awful lot lately, haven't you?"
"I'm trying to repair any loose ends my relationship with the Hakurei clan I might have...Master Yukari was a very important person to them, but of course, I'm nothing like her..."
"Really? I've never met this Yukari lady myself, but I think if she were here she would be cheering you on and telling you to do you best!"
...to do my best...yes, that's right. Even if Master Ran and Master Yukari would not be proud of me for what I have done...they would still smile...and tell me to keep trying. To always do my best, no matter what...
It took a sole human to make me realize that in the end, no matter how much I had grown up, if Master Ran, Master Yukari, and all my friends were still around, I would still be the very same as I was hundreds of years ago.
"...Ch-Chen? What's wrong? Why are you crying...?"
"Chen...Ch-Chen! Wait, hold on!"
"Uh! L-Let go of me!"
I would have murdered him on the spot. A human grabbing a youkai so dangerously like that...but...
"Chen, listen! You can't run away from your fears and sorrows like that!"
What he said...
"You're a leader of a powerful group, aren't you? You have to act the part. Not just for your subordinates but for yourself too."
What I did...
"There's no avoiding that you'll get sad, depressed, angry and mad at times, but running away from them or bottling them up just shows that you're weak. I know you better then that, Chen."
...every single word...
"I don't know what goes on back at your home, but it sounds like you've been coming here a lot lately to get away from it..."
"...is it because you have no one to talk to about your sorrows?"
He was such an uplifting young man. He would always smile in the presence of just about anyone, and his first impressions to every person he met was always that he was a very joyous, happy man. He was very polite, and exceedingly nice. He would bend over backwards for any of his closest friends. I found that out after a nice while of spending time with him. He would put off important things just to listen to me. I called him out on being absurd, and all he told me was that if listening to me was crazy, then he wanted to be craziest person on earth...
He was...such a fool...and yet...yet...
"Ah, hey there Chen! I see you took a lot of those earrings off finally."
"Yeah...I'm finally ready to move on."
"You still got one on though..."
"I told you, Master Ran gave me that one. I could never take it off."
"That's okay, since I think even with that one single one on-- no, especially with that one single one on, it makes you look very adorable."
I couldn't help it. I had turned my back to my friends, and I went on misguided without my family. I was afraid I would only hurt him, but I just...I...
"...I actually came here to tell you something..."
"Huh? What is it Chen?"
He may be a human. But he's...he's the only person that has ever made me feel this way. I couldn't stand down now. I would do whatever it took to get him to my level. I would spend the follow years researching, studying and finding ways to extend his lifespan, make him stronger, if only...if only so I could spent my time with him in peace. I would even go so far, if I had to, to make myself...human. To rid myself of what made me a youkai. Just to be with him...
"I...the truth is..."
With his help, I want to mend the wounds, regain my friends, search for my family, and return to myself what I had felt was missing for so long, to right all the wrongs that caused me to lose them in the first place. I wanted to atone for all my sins. With him, I would begin my redemption, and what he had shown me would be the catalyst for that. That thing...which I believe...is...
"...I love you."
The end. Tomorrow I'll hopefully get an update ready for one of my stories.