Note: This story stems from two things... the first was my rather humourous man-to-man conversation between Katsushiro and the other samurai in "Have You Ever...?", while the other is a series of PM conversations I have been having with Jun-I. One thing that she pointed out (and after much thought, I realized she was right) is that when Nasami deals with other women, she is more masculine, whereas when she deals with men (specifically, the samurai), she is more feminine. And yet, as untraditional as Nasami can be (and certainly not for lack of opportunity), she is still chaste. It wasn't until I gave the subject a great deal of thought that I realized that the biggest reason for this is that deep down, Nasami is uncomfortable with herself as a woman. This story was written to explore why.


Beautiful In His Eyes

"Sanae-san?"

"Yes, Nasami-sama?"

"Do... do you mind if I ask you something?"

"Of course, great samurai, anything you wish."

"I... I don't feel comfortable asking this, but I... I don't know who else to turn to."

"Is it about your injuries?"

"No... well... I guess, in a way, yes."

"What do you mean?"

"Well... you never knew me before I was injured. We only met briefly during the battle, and afterward... anyway, I was never what you might consider beautiful beforehand, not like Yukino-san or Kirara-san or you... and now..."

"Why would you consider us beautiful, but not yourself?"

"You've met Yukino-san... elegant and graceful and... so comfortable with herself as a woman. And Kirara has all the loveliness and innocence of youth, while yours is the serene beauty of maturity. But me... I feel so... deformed. Worthless as a samurai, and even less... as a woman."

"Oh, Nasami-sama, no..."

"It's... it's just something I can't stop thinking about. Every time I see my face in the mirror, every time I see my body when I bathe... I just... I hate myself."

"You can't think that, Nasami-sama."

"Look at me, Sanae... a face and body full of scars... I can't even walk... how could anyone want me now?"

"Do you honestly believe that? Yes... yes, you do. I can see it in your eyes."

"What man would want this, when he could have so much more?"

"Kambei-sama would, and does. Hasn't he already proven that to you so many times before?"

"But... but what will happen when he sees..."

"I don't understand."

"What will he think when he actually sees me... sees me as I am..."

"You mean ... oh... you've never been with-"

"No... never. And now... now I doubt I ever will."

"But why have you never taken a lover before now? I know that samurai often do."

"Male samurai do. Female samurai do not. It's not fair, but that's how it is. Well, some do, but I never did."

"And you think that if Kambei-sama sees your body, he'll-"

"He'll not want me. It's one thing to want a woman in silk and steel, it's another to see her wearing only scars and tattoos on a battle-torn body."

"Have you ever talked to him about this?"

"No..."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm... afraid."

"Nasami-sama-"

"I... I sometimes think I would give anything to be beautiful... even for just one night. Beautiful and innocent and whole. Anything instead of... this."

"Let me tell you a story, great samurai... when I was in the Capital, every day I was made to look beautiful. I wore the finest clothes, was untouched by dirt or sweat or blood. I wore makeup every day, and was waited upon hand and foot. And yet, not once in all time, did the Emperor ever tell me that I was beautiful. Not once did I ever see it in his eyes. Now I work in the fields, laboring under the hot sun, and I sweat and toil and bleed in peasant clothing. But when I look at Rikichi, I can see it in his eyes that to him, I am lovely. Even when I would never believe it myself... he does. And that is all that matters."

"But Rikichi is your husband... and he loves you. He has always loved you."

"As Kambei-sama loves you. Maybe you can't see it because you have never seen it before, maybe because, as you said, you're afraid. But when he holds you, when he smiles at you... I see the same thing in his eyes that I see when Rikichi looks at me."

"But what will happen when we-"

"Do you want him?"

"Sanae..."

"Do you want him, Nasami?"

"Yes..."

"Even though his hands are rough, his hair is touched with silver, and his own body is scarred and tattoed like yours?"

"Yes..."

"Why?"

"Because they are a part of him."

"Then love him... love him with all of yourself, scars and tattoos and injuries and all. I almost lost Rikichi because of my own fears. But he never stopped believing in me... as I know that Kambei-sama believes in you. Give him that chance, Nasami-sama, I'm begging you. Don't let your fears do to you what mine almost did to me."

"But how can you be so certain that he... that he would want me?"

"I can only believe what I see, great samurai. And I've seen how tenderly he holds you. I've seen how he follows you with his eyes, and smiles when he doesn't think anyone else is looking. And even if you don't recognize desire when you see it in a man's eyes, I do... he wants you, Nasami-sama. Not for the innocent girl you might have once been... but for the samurai woman that you are now."

"Are... you sure?"

"Yes, Nasami... I am sure."

"What... what is it like? To be... loved like that?"

"To be honest, it's different for each person, but I think that from what I've seen in Kambei-sama's eyes..."

"Yes?"

"When it happens... I think that all three of us will be the ones envying you."