Disclaimer: I don't own Houshin Engi. No, really, I don't. No, seriously… Do I look like a 30-something Japanese man to you! Oh… wait… You can't see me. Only two more chapters after this, but they may be a little slow in coming.

Chapter three: Separation Taikoubou

When I was twelve, my family, my tribe, my whole way of life all died. I was tending the sheep in a field far from my village when I saw the smoke. I later found out that Dakki had sent soldiers to take the Kyou prisoner. To bury with the dead emperor.

That was when Genshi Tenson-sama came to me and made me a doushi. I didn't want anyone else to have to experience what I did. At first, I thought only of revenge, but soon I saw a larger picture. Sendou and humans were not meant to live together.

The saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely" is true. No matter how many people are given that kind of power, some of them will abuse it. With sendou, when that happens, it is humans who suffer.

We couldn't go on living the way we did, not for long. We spent our days high above the mortal suffering of earth, living in peace and happiness. We didn't suffer from illness or hunger.

We were like Dakki.

We weren't actively hurting the humans, and we weren't living luxuriously off of their hard work, either. But by having the power to help them and doing nothing, we were letting them suffer. It was just a more passive form of damage.

I won't lie. I enjoyed our peaceful time together. I've often missed those days. But I knew I didn't deserve them.

When Fugen told us what was going on in the human world, I started thinking. I knew that no matter what, we couldn't go back to those days. I started training you again, hoping we could at least stay together.

Every day made me more sure of what had to happen.

Fugen later told me that I worried you in those few days after he gave us the news. It was strange to hear it; it sounded almost like he was scolding me. He also said he told you about my past, and that's why you made the decision you did. He didn't have to tell me, though. You didn't have to tell me, either. I knew.

"Shishou-sama?" you asked me one day, your voice small like a child's.

Your voice didn't sound like that when you were young, I reminisced.

"Shishou-sama?" you repeated, snapping me from my reverie.

"Yeah?" I replied, making sure my voice didn't sound soft.

"I've been thinking… about all of this."

I listened silently, waiting for you to continue.

"Shishou-sama," you went on, clearly fighting the urge to bite your lip, "you've got something important… real important… to do. Way more important than teaching some useless little doushi. You already know that, though."

Your eyes looked a little too shiny, a little too pink.

"I can't be interfering with you helping all those people. I'm just a hindrance. I'm making things harder for you…"

I wanted to say that wasn't true, but I knew you wouldn't believe me. You were right, to an extent.

"We need more sendou on our side," I said after a while. "Good ones, like you."

You smiled and shook your head, one long peach braid flopping over your shoulder.

"It'd kind of you to say, but I'm doing more harm here than good. So tomorrow morning, I'm gonna leave with Fugen."

"…I see."

"I'm gonna get stronger, Shishou-sama. I can already use a paopei, so I can train on my own. I'll get real strong, so I can help you help the humans. I'm not gonna be a burden to you any more."

I nodded, slowly, and you turned away.

"I… I'm gonna make dinner now, okay, Shishou-sama? So don't come in the kitchen."

"All right…"

That night, we ate dinner. We talked and laughed about old times. But no matter what we said, it felt fake. Underneath it all, there was this vast awkward silence, a knowledge of what morning would bring.

Fugen slept somewhere else that night. I never did ask him where. I doubt he was any happier about the situation than we were, and he probably didn't feel right sleeping under the same roof.

The next morning, I got up early. You were still asleep when I slipped into the kitchen. I made our breakfast, and burnt it a little. Normally… you would've made a face and laughed, but you just smiled and said it was good.

After breakfast, the silence returned completely. You packed up some food to take with you, and your few clothes.

"Well," you said awkwardly as I stood facing you.

I couldn't help but think about how you had changed. And then I realized you had known me half your life.

You chewed on your bottom lip for a while, not looking me in the eyes.

"Momo…"

You looked up.

"Be careful."

You nodded.

"One of these days, I'll be able to help you, Shishou… no, Taikoubou."

It was strange to hear you say my name, but I smiled a little.

"I know."

You bit your lip again, then rushed forward and threw your arms around my neck. I hugged you gingerly, not sure of what to do, After a while, you let go and picked up your bag.

"Goodbye, Momo," I said softly.

"Goodbye… Taikoubou."