Title: Blind Spots.
Summary: Tayuya, Jiroubou, Kidoumaru and the ties that bind. This love story falls flat. (Seconhand Faith universe, but not.)
Notes: A spin-off of the Secondhand Faith universe. For those who haven't read it, the basic premise is that Oto was left heavily depopulated after the war with Suna and Konoha so, in an effort to bring up a new generation of young shinobi as quickly as possible, all of the women in the village were required to produce at least one child before they were twenty-one. As I said, this is related to Secondhand Faith, but not actually what happened. A darker possibility.
Jiroubou sometimes watches Tayuya when she's with Kidoumaru and feels his stomach clench in a way that has nothing to do with hunger. She is crude and offensive in both her manner and her refusal to act as a woman should, and the way she drips curses from her tongue and glares from her eyes makes him wonder what hitting a woman would be like. Her superior prowess on the battlefield is an insult to both her femininity and his masculinity and his sensibilities scream against her rough edges and rougher hands.
But in the afternoon when the dripping skeins of sunlight touch her hair and make it burn with a phoenix's flame, Jiroubou looks at her and wonders how someone can want to hold a person close enough to hurt, close enough that skin and flesh melt into each other seamlessly with the viscosity of honey and milk.
He doesn't touch her. He doesn't look her in the eye and give voice to these feelings. He carries on making his disapproval known and blunting her wrath when she turns her barbed tongue on him. But he also drowns in this foreign, silent misery as her stomach swells and Kidoumaru, Kidoumaru, is the one allowed to force her to sit down and discuss baby names and the drawing up of new wills.
Jiroubou is the largest of them all, but still invisible.
Kidoumaru sometimes watches Tayuya when she's with Jiroubou and, in a quiet, wistful way, wonders what he needs to do to really piss her off. Not that Tayuya's anger is anything pleasant to be the subject of, being venomous and caustic to the extreme, but there are times when he almost longs for her to demonstrate as much emotion – however negative – as she does when she argues with Jiroubou.
Reason states, he knows, that he has no just cause to feel this way (he wants to say 'jealous' but he's too fond of Jiroubou and has too little claim on Tayuya) because, looking at it, he's the father of her child and he's the one who has the best chance of actually getting the firebrand to do what they need of her with the least obstinacy. On a good day, he'd like to believe he has her respect (a delusion, he knows, but one he needs to have faith in to last another day in her acid company) and that's all anyone can ask of Tayuya of Oto, but still he watches and listens while they bitch and gripe and shout and feels that he is missing out.
When it comes to Jiroubou, Tayuya is passionate. Angry, yes, but still passionate. Kidoumaru tries to place his palm over the taut bulge of her belly and she shrugs him off with an absently irritated look and goes to pick a fight with Jiroubou now that pregnancy hormones are a temporary excuse for her permanent bitchiness.
Loneliness hammers at Kidoumaru's apathy and, in time, it will win.
Tayuya doesn't watch Jiroubou or Kidoumaru because it never occurs to her to be anything other than self-sufficient. From the day Orochimaru plucked her from Suna's slums to the day he died and left her as one of Oto's leaders in a time of chaos, she has always affirmed that she needs no-one and wants no-one. The world crushed her into a diamond-like density and she intends to stay that unbreakable.
So she fights with Jiroubou because he tries to tell her what to do and because she fucking hates the disapproving twist of his lips when she spews out curses as a fountain does water. And she chose Kidoumaru to be the father of the child she had to according to Oto law because he was the most tolerable specimen of the lot, however much of a smartass. But it's not as if she lets either of them in. They don't get to know about the nightmares that plague her and leave her edgy for days afterwards. Neither of them are aware that she sometimes wonders, sudden nerves gnawing at her gut, whether she'll fuck this kid inside of her up. And they don't know what Orochimaru did to her when she was too young to understand how to say no.
Or maybe they do – Orochimaru wasn't all that picky – but the point is that she won't be sharing that with them any time soon. She doesn't need them after all.
Tayuya isn't happy because she doesn't know how to be happy – it wasn't included in her education. And she isn't unhappy because melancholia isn't programmed into her emotional make up. Tayuya, in the end, just is.
(What she doesn't realise is how much of just being Tayuya requires the presence of Jiroubou and Kidoumaru. And it's unlikely that she ever will until fate and circumstance wrest them away from her.
Their days are numbered.)