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A boy lies outside in the grass. A silent field outside the village, yet uncovered by the sun. At a glance, aside from being alone, nothing appears to be strange about him. Dresses like a human, and quiet enough to avoid most youkai’s attention. But if a youkai or any non-human continues observing him, they would find his stillness odd. Perhaps if he was staring up at the sky, it wouldn’t be strange. Instead, his eyes stare into blades of grass, all of which stand over his body, making it hard for any human to spot him at a distance.
This is how Yuuka finds him.
“And what is a young man like you doing out here all alone?”
Nothing but formality. There’s no reason to bring any malice to a greeting. Curiosity is as deserved for the boy’s strange actions as a human’s would be.
The boy’s head turns up—not to look at the sky—but to turn his eyes up at Yuuka. He says nothing, only stroking a blade of grass with his fingertips. Not to pluck it from the earth.
“Is there something interesting about the grass?” Yuuka ignores the fact that he doesn’t reply. “Do you like flowers? Plants?”
“I think the grass is nice.”
Is that so? Then….
A flower descends before him from Yuuka’s hand.
Yuuka faces an older woman who runs over. For a moment, she thinks the human thinks she might do something to the boy. The human woman coughs from the exertion.
“Sorry. Is he causing trouble?”
“No,” Yuuka’s eyes slide over to the boy in question. She presents a smile. “I was simply wondering what a human his age was doing all on his own. For a moment, I thought he might have been hurt.”
“O-Oh. That’s good….”
With a quick glance, the older woman calls over to the boy.
“Don’t make any trouble!”
Without hearing a response, she leaves. Yuuka approaches the boy lying on his palm once more. Her parasol taps close to the dirt behind his head.
“You seem to worry people.”
“I know she’s worried.”
A rather blunt reply, isn’t it?
The parasol taps at the grass in front of the boy. The blades lean over toward the tip, brushing across the folded hinges.
“Is that what you use?”
Yuuka listens in intrigue at the boy’s sudden question.
“Why, in what manner do you mean? I’m a youkai.”
Shutting his eyes, the boy releases a long breath of air through his nose. Not quite a sigh, but not a breath for air, either. Something creeps within Yuuka’s head.
“What do you mean by that?”
He turns back on his side, looking at the grass. “You get into fights with other people, right?”
“I do, on occasion.”
What could he mean by that? Isn’t it obvious?
“Because it’s part of the rules.”
The boy looks up at Yuuka after she speaks. Green eyes stare down at brown before the boy decides to stand.
“You should clean yourself off.” Yuuka inspects the dirt on his clothes. Unlike his prone form, he stares almost straight into her eyes with his height. Somewhat short.
“Alright. You too.”
There is something in how he stares down at the path. Rather than forward. Rather than at Yuuka.
“Why are you asking me?”
Fixing some of the charms hanging down, Reimu lowers her eyelashes at Yuuka standing in front of the shrine.
“It’s the human village. Surely you should know all the eccentric types that live there.”
“Are you calling me a weirdo?”
“Why, no. But the boy who sleeps alone in the grass brings some attention to himself, doesn’t he?”
“Oh,” a voice calls out in the shrine, “you mean that guy?”
Marisa pokes her head out from inside before stepping out.
“Yeah, he’s strange.”
“Really?” Reimu shoots Marisa the disagreeing glance. “He seems pretty well-behaved. Sure, he’s a bit quiet, but that doesn’t make him strange. We’ve even had a few conversations.”
“Really.” Marisa shoots back in both word and tone. “He doesn’t say much to me. Seems like he’s a bit crazy if you ask me.”
“Maybe because you talk like that?”
“I talk just fine.”
Yuuka spins her parasol behind her. “Is there something special about him?”
There has to be something for the way he acts.
Reimu resumes her work, fingers passing through paper.
“What would that be?”
“If I knew, I would’ve told you what.”
“You seem real interested,” Marisa jumps in.
“Humans can be interesting.” Yuuka turns around. “As a youkai, is that not why I came here to ask?”
“And as a youkai,” Reimu sighs over at her, “don’t cause any unnecessary trouble. That also doesn’t make me an expert on everyone in the village. Aren’t there other people for that?”
“Yes, but I thought fellows humans would know better?”
“Take a look at the person behind me. You think she knows any better?”
“Hey. I know plenty.”
Yuuka walks away.
The next day, Yuuka stares around at the humans in the village. Many non-humans also walk here and there, buying various things or talking with other individuals. She spots the person she’s looking for talking with someone else. He doesn’t notice her yet.
Or maybe he chooses not to notice?
“Good afternoon.” Yuuka smiles at the boy and Seiga, both of whom are sitting while eating a rice ball. The boy makes a move to turn, until he suddenly looks at the floor.
“Is there something you’re looking for?” the hermit returns a smile of her own.
The boy takes a large bite.
“I thought I would make acquaintance with this boy here.”
“Yes, he seems to be very interesting, doesn’t he?”
With their voices almost asking for the boy to include himself more, Yuuka takes a seat on his other side. He swallows without a glance at Yuuka.
“I never introduced myself. I’m Yuuka Kazami.”
“Sorry,” Yuuka leans over to address Seiga, “did I interrupt something?”
“No. I suppose I should leave. I just came back from an errand, and I ran into this boy.”
Seiga stands and claps her hands, vanishing the empty wrapper between them. She waves once before leaving. When she does, Yuuka turns back to Yakamochi.
“Is there something wrong with me?”
The choice for silence picks at something inside Yuuka’s stomach.
“I’m only trying to be friendly.”
The boy takes a deep breath. His eyes flick back and forth at Yuuka for a moment before he finally faces her. Yuuka giggles under her finger.
“So there is something wrong with me?”
Yakamochi shifts his eyes away at the ground for a second. The wrapper of his eaten rice ball crumples in his hands.
“I-I don’t hate you.”
“But you certainly act like it?”
“That’s not what’s wrong.”
“Then what is?”
A few seconds pass. Yuuka grins at the boy struggling to say what he wants to say.
But he can’t. Yuuka chuckles.
“A youkai? Yes, a lot of people seem to be afraid of me.”
The boy narrows his eyes at the ground, glancing back at the feet of everyone walking on the road.
Is he not afraid?
“I hear you speak with others just fine.”
“Can you not speak? Is there something wrong with you, by any chance? If that is so, then forgive me for not realizing.”
A silent moment passes. Yuuka doesn’t move, and neither does the boy. When it’s clear Yuuka isn’t leaving, he speaks.
“So you’re a youkai, then?”
“Oh, did I not just say so?”
Yuuka catches the slight way his head lowers. The way his eyelids droop somewhat.
What is that?
“I’m sorry, Miss Yuuka, for being so rude.”
But the way his eyebrows slant right after. That anger, that annoyance. That makes Yuuka feel better about herself.
And with a smile, she leaves.
The day after, Yuuka fires a ray of danmaku at a fairy. For a few minutes now, she dodges the easy shots and fires a few dangerous ones. The danmaku roars through the sky, the pressure pushing the leaves off trees below. No doubt the village in the distance can see the spectacle in the sky with how bright her attacks shine.
She could have left the fairy be. But not only did it try to prank her, it would be a good way to tease that boy lying down in the distance.
So that’s why she hasn’t finished the fight yet. Both to toy with the fairy and to display her power to him. The fairy’s clothes burn with the next ray that singes her. Yuuka keeps the smile on her face before her parasol fires another. A distant scream rings out as the fairy disappears, soon to revive somewhere after learning her lesson.
Opening her parasol, Yuuka spots her other target and floats down.
“Is it safe for you to be so close to a fight?”
The boy ignores this, refusing to look at Yuuka. Yuuka, on the other hand, smiles wider.
“Though, I suppose it’s understandable for you to stay where you are. Had I been serious, there would have been nowhere to run.”
“Is it fun?”
Yet, he still looks through the blades of grass while lying on his side.
“Is it fun to bully people like that?”
“I wouldn’t call it bullying. She offended me, after all.”
“But you didn’t need to play with her like that.”
“Danmaku is both play and fighting in one.”
“...And how would she feel, if it was more serious than she thought?”
“Are you trying to say something?”
The boy refuses to respond. Yuuka continues.
“It is the role of youkai to make humans fear them. The weak will fear the strong, and so the fairies are in their place. Is there something wrong with what I’m doing?”
After blinking hard, the boy turns on his back to look up at the woman standing over him. A smile meets a frown, and the boy can’t stand looking at Yuuka anymore. He flips back on his side, staring back through the grass.
“And what is so interesting about the grass?” Yuuka catches on. “Are you making a comparison?”
“No. It just doesn’t lie.”
“Lie?” Yuuka laughs once through her nose. “But everything I have said is true.”
But Yuuka continues to laugh. “Believe what you wish. Youkai kill, and humans die. If you refuse to believe in the cruel nature of Gensokyo, then perhaps you should do something about it. If you can.”
Her parasol spins behind her, and she floats off into the sky. She does her his whisper.
“So he hates you.”
Marisa throws a berry up and into her mouth while Yuuka sips her tea. Reimu also takes a sip from her cup, her eyes cutting over to the woman beside her.
“I’m telling you you shouldn’t bully humans. If you continue to pester him, I’m going to get angry.”
“But was I wrong?” Yuuka answers back. “That is the nature of Gensokyo, is it not?”
“Hey. What are you saying in front of two humans?”
“And my job is to exterminate troublesome youkai.”
“That does not mean the truth is different.”
“Well then,” Marisa sits up, “maybe it’s because he’s a human, you know? He’s scared, like you said he’d be.”
Scared? Was that the impression he gave?
“Yet you two do not seem to give that impression.”
“Well that’s ‘cause we know who you are, don’t we?”
Reimu speaks after another sip. “And because we know, I’m not going to sit here and listen to a youkai talk about how it’s going to bully someone. At least, I won’t if you might do more than bully him.”
Yuuka looks down at her tea. Her face is not smiling while she’s deep in thought.
...That is not possible, is it?
Another day, yet unlike the others. After spending the daylight thinking about it, Yuuka walks under the moonlight toward the village. But before she can reach the house she thinks she needs to go to, she spots someone in the grass.
“And what are you doing out here so late at night?”
“...The same thing.”
“Ah. So it’s safe even now, is it? I suppose there are more than enough individuals who can protect the village.”
With a giggle, she steps over the boy’s head and kneels down. Even when her knees touch the hairs on his head, he continues looking through the grass. Yuuka spots a flower in front of him.
“But there is a youkai before you. Does that not make you scared?”
Her hands grab at his head. One behind, the other on top. Almost gentle, if Yuuka didn’t say what she had just said.
“What are you doing?”
“There are very few people who are not afraid of me. And there are two types of individuals who are so. Those who have not measured their power against mine, and those who simply do not feel fear. Which are you?”
“I’m scared of my mother. I’m scared of the magician, when she gets angry at me. I’m scared of dying, and feeling pain.”
“But not me.”
Now, the boy looks up at Yuuka. Upside-down, there’s no trace of fear that she can see.
“I’m scared of you.”
“Now who is the one that is lying?” Her smile cuts wider. “There is something that prevents you from fearing me. You waver from me, yet do not run. You do not withdraw like the men in the village who see me. They may not run, but it is in their eyes. Their mind, their very being, withdraws within itself from fear. That is what it is to be weak, and my confidence in myself is what it means to be strong.”
Yuuka can see nothing but a boy who doesn’t fear her.
“Even other youkai run from me. The weaker who cannot triumph. Stronger youkai are wary of me. They would not think of fighting me if they can help it. They may not fear me, but they are cautious. Much like the shrine maiden and the magician, they are cautious not to provoke me. So which are you? Do you fear me, or is there some reason you are only wary of me?”
The boy still doesn’t respond.
“I have lived longer than you could ever hope to. I have power that you could never hope to obtain. That is a fact. I could end your life, even if I would earn the wrath of many who protect you and everyone here. Yet, I feel I must introduce myself in full to someone who does not seem to realize how dangerous a youkai is. Who I am and what I am will never change. I would not need to do anything akin to danmaku.”
Yuuka’s hands grasp the boy’s head tighter without causing pain.
“I can. Is that not the truth?”
“It is. But why are you lying, then?”
Yuuka doesn’t understand.
“What is this? Are you making fun of a youkai?”
“No. But it’s the reason why I enjoy looking at the grass.”
Yuuka listens as the boy goes on. Her smile disappears.
“The grass is what it is. It doesn’t lie. Except when a fairy makes it an illusion, but I can tell. My mother doesn’t lie when she says she’s worried about me. The shrine lady doesn’t lie. But you do. And I don’t like it.”
Yuuka’s fingernails press against the boy’s head.
“And who do you think you are speaking like that to? Do you think it a wise idea to provoke me? After what I just said?”
“I’m not trying to say bad things. It’s the truth.”
“You must not realize what you’re doing. You are a human. Do you want me to kill you?”
After the boy blinks, there’s something in his eyes—
“Even though you’re the same?”
...A moment passes where Yuuka understands what’s been said. Another passes for her to look deep within herself. A third passes for her face to reach the same level of understanding that her mind has reached. There is no smile. The intense gaze Yuuka gives the person below her transcends what she’s felt in Gensokyo thus far.
But even with her face as it is, the boy’s expression doesn’t change. His hands do rise up to his eyes, which close as he touches his eyelids.
“Only a few people know what I can do. You see, I can see the `truth` of everything. If something isn’t true, it becomes dark and disgusting. A bunch of worms or bugs swarm the lie. When nothing’s wrong, everything looks fine. But if something isn’t real, that’s what I see. When someone tells a lie, they’re covered in it. When someone stops lying, they disappear. That’s why I hate looking up at the sky of Gensokyo. That’s why I like the grass, and everyone who really cares about me. And that’s why I didn’t like looking at you. Even though I felt sorry for you, I didn’t know why you were lying.”
The words come perfectly to Yuuka. The boy swallows, opening his eyes. His hands rest on his throat.
“I know you can hurt me, but you’re covered in it more whenever you talk about being a youkai. Even so, I thought it was too sad. That’s why I asked specifically the other day, and that’s when I knew for sure.”
No one’s supposed to know. No one should know.
“No one knows.”
The hand behind his head moves over his hands over his throat.
“So what are you going to do?”
“I cannot kill you. That would cause...troublesome things.”
The tone in Yuuka’s voice is something she doesn’t recognize.
Anger? Surely. But fear? Fear…? Not toward this boy. But it is what he knows that is...that is….
“Then what are you going to do?”
The same question.
“I won’t tell anyone.” The boy removes his hands from his throat. “But, if you’re going to do something, could you do one more thing?”
Ask something from me?
“...And what would that be?”
“Could you...take away these eyes, too?”
So he doesn’t have to see anymore. That would not be an issue. That would make it easier….
Yuuka’s other hand moves over his eyes.
“I know you were lying about other things.”
It would be simple to get rid of both.
“But I don’t know why. I just thought that it was sad. And even though you act like that, I think you’re a nice lady.”
One for him. And one to keep him quiet.
“That’s why I wanted to stop. If it gets that bad, I don’t want to keep seeing you lie. I don’t...want to see any more lies.”
Yuuka’s hands press down on his eyes and throat.
 Do it.
 Do nothing.