Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, except for this plot line!

Summary: Just a one-shot angsty-ish fic, and it goes along with my lil online Seishi RPG buddies (includes myself as Chichiri, Kouji, Nuriko, Hotohori-sama, and Tasuki). Mits also plays the role of Kouji.

Characters: Chichiri and Kouji

Pairings: Kouji/Tasuki (tho, I'm a fan of Tas/Chi, but this is for RPing ^^)

            Clang.

            I stopped in the middle of the dirt path, my staff ceasing its constant clanging.

            It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, and there was not a cloud in the sky. All around me sprouted beautiful flowers of any color in the midst of healthy, green grass … each catching the light breeze that swirled in the field. I looked up and shielded my eye from the light.

            "It's almost…too nice of a day no da," I sighed, and continued walking. I was meeting four other friends in the regular spot just a little ways from where I was presently.

            But … I walked with a slight lag. I was unsure…would I be able---?

Soon enough, I stopped again, but for a different reason.

            Thud. Thud. Thud.

            I turned my head. "Nani no da?" What was that? It was getting closer…

            Thud. Thud. Thud.

Slipping my mask out from the front part of my kesa, I put it on. Before I could turn around, I was attacked from behind. I jumped as my arm was gripped, rather tightly, and was whipped around.

It was Kouji. He was --- he was crying … but why?

He was hysterical. "Ch-Chichiri! Have ya seen Genrou??" He unintentionally gripped my arm tighter, and had a crushed piece of paper in his other hand.

It took me a moment for all of this to register …

"N-nani no da?" I shifted, so I could straighten out my twisted body. "What are you talking about no da?"

He flattened out the paper with both hands and handed it to me, and so I took it, and read it.

It was a note … from Tasuki. It told Kouji how he had left on a short journey, for about three days, and how … he loved him.

I'm glad I have my mask … because I feel sad, for numerous reasons.

I look up, and he takes the note, and hides it away in a pocket inside his cape.

"He also left me this …" He motioned to one of Tasuki's necklaces around his neck. "…until he got back." He looked back at me, back at my perpetually smiling face in hope, but collapsed and sat on the dirt.

Really, I didn't know what to do, or say.

Except…maybe…try and relate.
            I looked away and quietly took off my mask, and hid it back. I then kneeled somewhat in front of Kouji, with one hand on my staff to prop me up.

"Kouji…" I tried to peer at his face, but he was more interested in the ground at the time. So I set down my staff, sat on my knees, and tried again.

But … he didn't move his gaze.

I reached out my hand and gently tilted his chin up, to make eye contact. He wearily let himself give in.

My eye grew sadder upon seeing the dull, empty look in his eyes. It was as if, there was nothing there…

"Kouji no da…" I hadn't removed my hand, in case he would let his head drop again. "The others will be here shortly no da. You have to cheer up no da …"

He didn't say anything; he just looked away.

"It's only for such a short while no da … you have to look happy for when he comes back, no da!" I tried my best to smile.

His dead eyes looked back at me. I could sense sadness, but there was absolutely no emotion in his face, his expression.

Feeling his head stay in place, I removed my hand and placed it over my other in my lap. I needed to talk … badly.

"Kouji-kun no da…" I peered at him sadly. "Are you only happy when Tasuki is around no da?"

His eyes wavered. "I don't know…"

"Because…I get the feeling that's true no da." I hadn't moved my gaze.

"Oh…" He mumbled, staring at the individual little pebbles in the dirt.

There was a pause. My hand in my lap gripped the other one tightly as I began to speak again.

"Do you know … how hard it is to watch you two together no da?" I couldn't keep my eyes focused, so I looked down and stayed down. "And Nuriko and Hotohori no da?"

He blinked once, as if coming out of a stupor.

"…Because…it's not easy no da."

He looked at me steadily, this time.

"What you're feeling no da … is what I feel regularly no da." I squeezed my hands together again. "It's a sad feeling, isn't it no da?"

The rosary beads knocked together, making a soft clink sound, as I looked up at him.

"I'm happy for you, Kouji-kun no da," I blinked away tears forming in my eye. "I'm also happy for Nuriko and Hotohori." I wish I could put my mask on … but I couldn't … I had to stay strong for Kouji.

"It's just … something like this … gets to someone after awhile no da."

"But ta stay pure…isn't tat the way of a monk?" Kouji asked quietly.

"Hai…demo…" I looked up at him with an eye glimmering with sadness. "Some rules are just meant to be broken, no da."

Another pause.

"But if ya break even one rule, ya break them all, don'tcha?"

I lowered my head again as I felt a tear run down my cheek. "Then so be it." I wiped it away quickly with the back of my hand. I couldn't let him see my guard down …

Kouji peered down at me, a slight smile wavering on his lips. "Hey … why don't we make ya a bandit, like what Genrou and I did ta Nuriko?"

"Demo…that still wouldn't change me…no da."

"But if ya fall in love, and drink, and do otha bandit stuff, ya'd be so much happier, 'Chiri." He paused. "If ya aren't happy with bein' a monk, then why continue?"

I touched my scar tenderly. "'If I fall in love' no da?" I laughed bitterly and quickly wiped away another stray tear. "What's love, no da…"

Kouji sighed and looked up at the bright blue, cloudless sky and closed his eyes. "It's th' most wonderful feelin' in tha world, 'Chiri. It's when ya care about someone deeply, and ya'd do anything ta help them, and ta make them feel better…" He looked at me with slanted, emotional eyes. "…and ta make them feel happy."

I stared at him reluctantly. "N-nani?" I buried my face in my hands, concealing the tears running down my face. "I don't understand…"

He then gripped my shoulders roughly, and shook me. I was surprised, but kept my face covered.

"Yeah, ya do!! Ya don't know it, but ya do!"

I shook my head. "Iie…I don't get it, not in your sense, at least…"

"When Mitsukake died…weren't ya there, crying for him?" He still gripped my shoulders, but spoke gently. "What did ya feel then?"

I brought my hands away from my face and stared at them.

"I was angry … and sad." I then brought my right hand up to my cheek, and touched it. I did the same with the other. My face was so wet from crying…it didn't feel right.

He nodded. "Ya love yer friends, 'Chiri." He cupped my face in his hands and raised it, looking at my tearstained face. I could have sworn a glimmer of shock and sadness flickered through his eyes. He smiled again, totally losing his rough bandit exterior.

He brushed the still-falling tears away with his thumb. "Look 'Chiri … yer cryin'."

"G-gomen ne…" I sat back. "I'm not helping you at all, am I?" My heart wrenched as I realized that … when it was Kouji suffering originally…in the end…

He shook his head. "I tink…ya need it more than me right now, pal."

I looked away quickly, feeling an onslaught of more tears running down my cheek. And yet … no matter how much I tried to stop them … they just kept coming.

"I-I'm sorry … this is so stupid…no da," I managed to throw out, my voice cracking miserably at the very end. I wiped my face off with my sleeve once more and reached inside for my mask, slowly pulling it out.

"Oh no, ya don't."

I stopped, the mask gripped in my hand. His voice was icy cold …

"I've always hated dat thing…" And he grabbed it from my hand.

"D-demo…"

He cut me off. "Would ya stop hiding yer damn feelings already?!" He looked at the smiling mask bitterly, and stuffed it in another pocket inside his cape.

"I've got to stop this…I'm usually the one to keep things in high spirits. I need to forget this, and be happy again!" I paid no attention to my ignorant tears.

"Ya gotta stop acting, 'Chiri."

"N-nani?!"

"Ya heard me. Stop th' actin' crap."

I paused. "But…that's how I learned." I wiped my face again, but that didn't really help all that much. "When I was traveling, I didn't know love. I made mere acquaintances, no real friendships … because I was always moving." I sat back up on my knees again. "I needed to keep happy, and to hide my horrible scar, from those whom I met. I was always meeting children, who looked up to me, and I needed to give them happiness, and … that's how I learned." I gripped my hands again. "I just had to put my troubles aside…and be happy, for the sake of others."

"Bullshit."

I froze, and looked up at him.

He looked at me sternly. "Yer gonna get used to not wearin' that damned mask from now on."

I didn't move.

"Yer gonna learn how ta be happy, fer real." He patted his cape, where the pocket containing the mask was. "No more masks, okay?"

I slumped over and touched my face with my fingers. "I-I'll need some help…" I felt like such a child.

Rustle.

He sat next to me and patted my back, and patted it so hard; I went toppling forward onto my face. He laughed and smiled down at me.

"Yeh got a good teacher, I'd have ya know." And he grinned as I looked at him. I had a bandage crisscrossed across my nose, and a dumbstruck expression on my face. I must have looked so childish…because, tears were still coming.

He smiled sadly this time and pulled me into a comforting hug. "'Chiri…" He started seriously. "I've decided that yer gonna be a bandit, jus' like me, Genrou, and Nuriko!"

"N-nani?!" I sputtered into his cape. He couldn't be serious…

"Ya heard me!" He grinned and pulled away, looking at me. "It's gonna be fun, just yeh wait!" He stood up, and helped me up. I wobbled at first, being caught off-guard.

I was overwhelmed. "…Arigato no da!" What now?

"Now…we just gotta find ya someone…" He winked, and I blushed a little.

"N-no da…" I picked up my staff, long forgotten on the ground. He looked at me when I rose again.

"Now, wipe yer face, and let's get goin'! Nuriko and Hotohori are probably getting' pissed as hell waitin' fer us!" He looked back at me and smiled.

I wiped my face, again, feeling like a helpless child, and looked back out at the flower field, and the perfect blue sky.

"It is…too perfect no da."

Clang.