Completed: 15-FEB-2003
Last modified: 23-JUN-2012

23-JUN-2012 note: No major changes to content. Only minor format and typo corrections

C&C always appreciated! ^_^

SUMMARY: A short and quick one-shot fic about Touda's release from his imprisonment and his motivations for accepting Tsuzuki as his master.

Title: To Be Yours
Author: Madamhydra
Fandom: Yami no Matsuei
Type: one-shot
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 3300
Warnings/Content: Spoilers for the Gensou Kai story arc; minor DS (dominance/submission) themes
Disclaimer: Yami no Matseui is the copyright and property of its creators and legally associated parties. Used without permission. Not for profit.

AUTHOR NOTES:
- This fic was inspired by scenes from Volume 10 and my friend's scans of Part 75. You can find scans of human-form Touda ::massive drool:: in my image gallery at:

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CREDITS:
- Many thanks to Jo-chan, my fellow Touda-obsessee, for providing the scans of Part 75 that inspired this fic!
- Theria, for providing all the wonderful translations of YnM! ^_^

o-=-==-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o

Come on now, try and understand
The way I feel under your command

- "Because the Night" by 10,000 Maniacs

o-=-==-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o-=-=-=-=-o

There's no need to be afraid.

I'll let you out of here

Come...let's go together, Touda...

o-~-~-~-~-o

Touda, the great black fire serpent, despised criminal, and condemned prisoner, sat on the cold stone floor and waited. Somewhere upstairs, he suspected that a battle of epic proportions was in progress, with Suzaku, SohRyu, Tenkuu, and perhaps even the Golden Emperor getting involved.

However, within him lay the conviction that the eventual winner in this particular war of wills would be a slim, deceptively harmless-looking Shinigami.

Tsuzuki Asato. He who would be his new master.

And so Touda stoically waited for the others to accept the inevitable. For one who had spend untold years confined in the darkest, dankest depths of Tenkuu, what did a few more hours or days matter?

o-~-~-~-~-o

A low rumbling broke the silence, echoing throughout the chamber.

With his face hidden behind a curtain of long, tangled hair, Touda permitted himself a cold little smile as he listened to Tenkuu's ponderous voice.

The palace shikigami finally concluding his long speech by saying, "Those are the conditions the Golden Emperor has set for your release, Touda. They are not negotiable. Accept them or return to your imprisonment."

"..."

"Well?" the palace demanded impatiently.

"Yes."

There was a long pause, then Tenkuu rumbled, "That's it?"

"Yes."

"You accept all of them?" the palace demanded suspiciously.

"Yes."

"In exchange for your release from imprisonment, you agree to accept Tsuzuki as your sole master, to serve and obey him in all things. You also agree to submit to whatever steps and procedures are deemed necessary to enforce your compliance. You agree to do all this?" the palace shikigami persisted doggedly.

"Yes."

"Very well." Tenkuu sounded noticeably disgruntled. Touda suspected that the palace had been hoping that such restrictive set of conditions would be refused. However, Touda could not be so easily deterred from what he desired.

"But do not think that you can renege on this contract, Touda! You have not been pardoned, nor forgiven! You shall continue to serve your sentence, merely in a different setting and a different manner."

"I understand that perfectly."

"Tsuzuki has rescued you from eternal darkness, and for that, you owe him your utmost obedience. Dare to betray him and you die!"

"Are you quite through with the lecture?"

"For now," came Tenkuu's grudging reply.

Stones shifted and a narrow stairway rose from the floor in front of him.

"They're waiting above to install the control devices."

Touda stared at the stairway. It wasn't fear or uncertainty that made him pause, but rather a peculiar sense of anticipation. He wanted to savor this moment, to burn it into his memory. A new beginning, a new existance. From this point on, he would no longer be simply Touda.

He would be Tsuzuki's Touda.

He started up the steps.

The sooner it was done, the sooner he would see Tsuzuki again.

His new master. Now and forever.

There would be no other.

o-~-~-~-~-o

How long had he existed, buried in that inpenetrable darkness, amid the relentess drip of water and the cold, steely rattle of chains?

How long had his world consisted of no light, no hope, and no dreams?

Then, in a single instant, to have both chains and darkness shattered...

After years of blindness, to see once more... To see brilliant violet eyes that held no fear, a warm smile that dared to welcome the blackest of beasts, and an outstretched hand that offered salvation...

How could he not surrender to that sort of power? How could he resist the gentle fingers that reached out to stroke his hair and the soft voice whispering its solemn promise...

Come...let's go together, Touda...

o-~-~-~-~-o

During the ensuing procedures, Touda could hear the faint rumble of grinding stones, the creak of settling wood - Tenkuu, continuing to express its subtle, but unmistakable disapproval regarding his release. How like a building, to be so stubborn...

The Emperor's technicians had just finished their work when Touda heard the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps and a commotion at the door. He rose to his feet, just in time to see his new master burst into the room. Before he could kneel, Tsuzuki pounced and gave him a frantic hug.

"Wah! You're all right! I was so worried...!" Tsuzuki babbled, sniffling onto his chest.

Behind his new installed visor, Touda blinked in bemusement, then bluntly asked, "Why?"

"Huh? Why what?"

Touda noted dispassionately that his new master looked silly, foolish, and altogether adorable when confused.

"Why were you worried?" he said, with just a touch of impatience.

"Why? Why! You looked terrible when I got you out of that horrible cell, and then I had to leave you alone for hours and hours just so I could try to convince everyone that you should be released. And after we got all that settled, they wouldn't let me see you until they were finished with all the silly precautionary measures they insisted on!"

In mid-ramble, Tsuzuki suddenly went quiet. Touda remained perfectly still as Tsuzuki reached up and touched the recently installed visor with cautious, tentative fingers.

"Is... is this...?"

One of the technicians said cheerfully, "Yes, that's the newly installed control device. Part of it, anyway. The rest of it is..." He suddenly fell silent as the other technician hastily elbowed his collegue after noticing Tsuzuki's visible distress at the mention of control devices.

The first technician, now clearly flustered, coughed loudly and said, "Anyway, we're pretty much done. All that's left is the hair..."

"What about his hair?" Tsuzuki demanded sharply, glancing at the long strands that trailed down Touda's back and coiled along the floor. Like Touda himself, the hair had been given a brisk, rudimentary cleaning, but it still remained badly tangled.

It was Tenkuu who unexpectedly spoke up.

"It's part of the conditions for his release, Tsuzuki. Don't you remember?" the palace shikigami rumbled.

"Yes, but... Surely it's hardly necessary now!" The shinigami's protest was accompanied by a pleading look toward the ceiling.

"He agreed to it," Tenkuu rumbled back. The cutting had been one of the most adamant conditions of Touda's release. A shikigami's hair represented many things - prestige, status, but most importantly power. Aside from the pure humiliation factor, the Golden Emperor's demand would make Touda's subservient position blatantly clear.

"But..." The pleading tone in Tsuzuki's voice became even more pronounced, and bordered on a pathetic whine.

"Touda agreed to all the conditions the Golden Emperor set forth for his release. That includes cutting the hair!" Tenkuu said with unusual hastiness. Instead of appearing firm and implacable, the palace sounded rather like a person on the verge of losing an argument.

It amused Touda to hear the stolid palace become so flustered and wondered how the other Divine Commanders, notably Sohryu, managed to cope with such a... undignified... master like Tsuzuki. However, he eventually lost patience with all the pointless arguing.

"I agreed, so get on with it," he said flatly.

The first technician started to pick up a pair of shears, but halted when Tsuzuki spoke with unexpected decisiveness.

"No."

"But sir...!"

"Leave it to me." As both Tenkuu and the other technician started to object, Tsuzuki said firmly, "I'm the one who asked for Touda's release, so surely it's my responsibility to make sure all the requirements for his release are met? I should've been the one to..." He lifted his hand as if to touch Touda's visor again, then lowered it, clenching his fist. "At least allow me to do this."

After a moment of silence, the palace said, "Yes, of course. Excuse us for usurping your prerogative."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to sound so rude and ungrateful, but..." Tsuzuki flashed a quick, apologetic smile up at the ceiling, then grabbed Touda's hand and dragged him out of the room.

o-~-~-~-~-o

When they emerged outdoors, Touda winced at the glare. Even through the visor, the light was still bright enough to make his eyes water. But even as he hesitated, Tsuzuki's hand coaxed him forward. For just an instant, he reflexively resisted the gentle pull...

"Trust me."

He shrugged, lowered the hand he had flung up to shield his eyes, then allowed his master to lead him wherever he pleased.

A few minutes later, Tsuzuki stopped and said, "Sit down here." Once Touda seated himself on a stone bench, the shinigami touched his cheek and said worriedly, "Are you okay? I thought you might like the fresh air, but would you prefer to be indoors where it's darker?"

Touda shrugged again. It didn't particularly matter to him. If his master wanted him to sit outdoors, then outdoors he would sit.

Tsuzuki said, "Wait here a bit. I'll be right back!" and scampered off.

He waited. And waited. And waited.

o-~-~-~-~-o

Over two hours later, Tsuzaki finally returned. By that time, Touda's eyes had fully adjusted to the bright sunlight and he could see that Tsuzuki was happily swinging a basket from one hand, a decidedly sheepish grin on his face.

Touda started to stand up but Tsuzuki gestured for him to remain seated.

"What took you so long?"

Touda had never been interested in learning to read the subtleties of human facial expressions and body language - something that would certainly change, now that he had a master - but no one could misinterprete the almost ludicriously guilty expression on the shinigami's face.

"I got lost," Tsuzuki mumbled.

Touda stared at his master for moment, then said, "Why didn't you just ask Tenkuu where to go?"

"I didn't want to bother him with such a little thing. Besides, I think I annoyed him with all my pestering."

"What does Tenkuu's annoyance have to do with anything? You're its master. Tenkuu is yours to command, even for something as trivial as guiding someone who has absolutely no sense of direction."

"Buuuut..." Tsuzuki's shoulders drooped in obvious dejection.

"Idiot," he said under his breath. Touda stared at his master for a long moment, then said, "Besides, Tenkuu's not annoyed at you. He's angry at me."

"Why's that?"

"Tenkuu enjoys holding grudges. It has never forgiven me for the damage I inflicited upon it during the great war," Touda replied indifferently.

"Oh." Tsuzuki cocked his head slightly and gave Touda a thoughtful look.

"I'm certain that SohRyu, Suzaku, Tenkuu and others have told you of everything I've done in excuriating detail. Loudly and repeatedly."

Tsuzuki rubbed the back of his neck, and looked skyward with a vague expression. "Now that you mention it, so they did."

"Apparently you didn't listen to them."

"Of course I listened to them. It would've been rude not to."

"But you still persisted in your request."

Tsuzuki glanced back down at Touda and smiled. "Because I couldn't just leave you there, in that horrible place. And I made you a promise."

With that profoundly simple statement, Tsuzuki circled around the bench and started to gather up handfuls of Touda's hair. As he did so, he made a soft, tsking sound of dismay.

The shikigami waited impassively for his master to fulfill the Golden Emperor's final condition and start cutting. But to his surprise, Touda instead felt the slow, careful tug of a hairbrush.

"What are you doing?"

"Don't worry. I used to brush my sister's hair all the time, so I know what I'm doing," came the absent-minded reply.

Tsuzuki took his time, patiently and systematically working out all the tangles and knots instead of simply and painfully yanking them out. Touda found the sensation of Tsuzuki's fingers sliding through his hair, combined with long, steady strokes of the brush, to be strangely... comforting.

Finally, after nearly half an hour of steady methodical work, Touda forced himself to say, "Why are you wasting your time with this when you know that you'll have to cut it all off anyway?"

"I don't mind," Tsuzuki said softly. "And it's worth the effort."

The oddly soothing movements of the brush stopped, and Touda went still as Tsuzuki gently ran his fingers through the now smooth cascade of hair, before delicately resting on the sides of his visor.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Touda," came a broken whisper.

"What for?"

"I... I wanted to set you free. But all I've done is put you into a different sort of prison."

"I don't care."

"But you heard the conditions they set! To be forced into complete and total obedience...," Tsuzuki said with unusual harshness in his voice.

"The master commands, the servant obeys. That's no different from what's expected from any other shikigami."

Touda could sense Tsuzuki vigorously shaking his head in disagreement.

"But it IS different! Other shikigami have a choice whether to accept a person as their master or not!"

"I had a choice."

"Submit to enforced servitude or remained imprisioned for all eternity in that black pit? Like that's any sort of choice!"

"It's still a choice, and one I made. I could have refused to accept the Golden Emperor's conditions. I didn't."

Tsuzuki fell silent for a moment, then said slowly, "I... yes, I guess I see what you mean. But still..."

"Now what?" Touda, with a definite touch of exasperation.

"It's just that... Well, that of all possible people to be your master, you ended up stuck with me. I just think you deserve better. A better master, I mean."

"..."

"Because normally a shikigami gets to test a prospective master's worthiness, right?"

"So?"

"So, you didn't have the chance to do that." Tsuzuki laughed half-heartedly. "And I hardly qualify as anyone's choice of the ideal master."

"What makes you think that you haven't been tested to my satisfaction?"

"Uh... well, I... ummm..."

"How did you know where to find me?"

"I... ummm...," Tsuzuki floundered.

"I know none of the others would have mentioned my name to you. And I doubt that you came across my name by accident."

"... No, I didn't."

"So why did you look for me? And how did you find me?" Touda said relentlessly.

"I... I heard something... crying?" Tsuzuki paused, then corrected himself. "No, not crying. Calling. Something... called to me."

o-~-~-~-~-o

Power calls to power. It was an elemental truth.

And in Tsuzuki Asato, underneath that gentle, kind, easy-going surface, power ran deep and dark, like the current of a great underground river.

Who could refuse to answer such a summons?

No wonder, then, that the other Divine Commanders - consciously or more likely not - found Tsuzuki fascinating and irresistible. No wonder that they should all choose to surrender themselves, each in their own way, to him...

...just as Touda himself had so recently chosen to do.

For himself, the pull was even stronger. Because just as power calls to power, darkness calls to darkness. His own black fires of Hell, drawn to a power even darker, more merciless than his own.

But the true nature of their bond would remain his secret, as long as Tsuzuki's true power remained unrecognized and unaccepted by Tsuzuki himself. And only time would tell if his master could endure the dichotomy between surface and core, the conflict between the gentleness and kindness of his heart and the ferocity and ruthlessness buried in his very soul...

o-~-~-~-~-o

"And so you found me," said Touda.

"Yes. I didn't have a clue who you were until I asked Tenkuu, and then I bugged him until he let me in to see you. Um... I actually had to order him to do it," Tsuzuki said with the air of someone determined to make a unpleasant confession.

"You promised to release me from my prison and you succeeded. I consider that a convincing demonstration of your power."

"But... but that wasn't anything extraordinary! I mean, I basically made a total pest of myself. I bet they agreed to release you just so I'd leave them alone!" Tsuzuki muttered.

"I very much doubt that, considering that the Golden Emperor and the others swore to see me imprisoned until the end of time," Touda countered impassively.

For a brief instant, Tsuzuki's fingers tightened fretfully on Touda's hair.

"But I didn't manage to set you FREE!" the shinigami protested again.

"You gave me the opportunity, the freedom, to choose my path. It is enough for me."

"Your... path?"

"To be yours. That is my choice."

He sensed Tsuzuki freezing in shock, then felt rather than heard his master take a deep, shuddering breath that bordered on a sob. Touda patiently endured his master's hug as Tsuzuki held him close and buried his face against the hair he had so gently stroked and tended.

Finally, after a few minutes, Tsuzuki straightened, then reached into the nearby basket to remove a long knife. He unsheathed the razor-edged blade and gathered up a large handful of Touda's now silky smooth hair.

But when Tsuzuki hesitated yet again, Touda said, "What are you waiting for?"

"I... Are you sure this is what you want?"

"Yes."

"But..."

"Do it." So I can be yours, forever...

With slow, deliberate strokes, Tsuzuki began slicing through the heavy silken mass of Touda's hair.

o-~-~-~-~-o

[ Epilogue ]

When Tsuzuki was almost finished cutting his hair, Touda abruptly asked, "Where did you find a hairbrush and comb?"

"Oh, I borrowed them from Suzaku-nee-san," Tsuzuki replied cheerfully. "I'm sure she won't mind."

Touda grimaced.

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The Full Disclaimer:

All names, likenesses, and rights of Yami no Matsuei and its characters are trademarks, copyright, and property of Yoko Matsushita and legally associated parties. The characters and associated materials of these works are used WITHOUT permission for the purpose of entertainment only. The author of this work claims no ownership, part or whole, of the original plot and characters. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit.

All original portions of this work is considered to be the sole property and copyrighted to the author Madamhydra. No part of this work is to be reproduced, altered, or adapted in any way without the author's express permission.

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