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[personal profile] ink_stained
Day #8 -

Title: Rumor Has It
Fandom: Natsume Yuujinchou
Characters: Hinoe, Nyanko-sensei (Madara), Tanuma Kaname, Natsume Takashi
Rating: G
Words: (+/-) 779
Summary: Hinoe and Madara discuss the likelihood that Tanuma and Natsume are lovers.
Notes: Written for [community profile] fic_promptly - the prompt was 'youkai gossip and misunderstanding human interactions'.

“Stay out, Nyanko-sensei. Tanuma and I need to talk, and we won’t have privacy with you around.” The human boy closes the sliding door with a snap and leaves no chance for rebuttal.

Madara huffs and waddles away. He was supposed to be the kid’s bodyguard, and this is how he gets treated?

He dips a paw into the ayakashi pond that Tanuma cannot see and swats at the fish that come too close. It’s always Tanuma these days, beside Natsume, talking with Natsume, laughing with Natsume, and he can’t help but think it’s stupid. The boy is useless, even weaker than the boy with Reiko's face.

“Upset, Madara?” He doesn’t have to look to know Hinoe is somewhere in the trees behind him. The stench of tobacco alerts him to someone else’s presence. “You’ve been replaced.”

He makes a lunge for a fish and misses, falling into the water. “A great ayakashi like me does not get replaced.”

“Then what do you call it?” Hinoe muses aloud as she takes a drag from her pipe. “Face it, Madara. Natsume isn‘t Reiko. He likes humans.”

“He likes being a busybody,” corrects Madara. He shakes off the water from the pond and then cleans the filth from between his toes. The water is tainted with the smell of a human, the one alone with Natsume, and he can’t stand it. He growls and shakes his fur again, but it doesn’t help. “To Natsume, that human is nothing more than a way to fill his loneliness.”

Hinoe hums noncommittally. “I think he’s in love, and what a shame. With Reiko’s face, he could have anyone.” She disregards the skeptical look from Madara, because Madara is always skeptical when it comes to matters of the heart. “But he should be with someone powerful. We both agree on that, don‘t we?”

The real reason Hinoe is here makes itself apparent. She wants Madara to do something about Tanuma’s proximity to Natsume - and probably to have a laugh at Madara’s expense as well.

“What makes you think he’s in love?” Madara asks, but it comes out as a hiss in his lucky-cat form.

“It’s obvious,” Hinoe comments dismissively. “The time they spend together is increasing. Natsume gets defensive if youkai target the boy. He gets jealous when humans touch the boy. And they sleep together. Doesn’t that make them lovers?”

Madara laughs. “They spend time together because Natsume worries too much! He gets defensive because Tanuma can’t protect himself! He gets angry when humans mistreat his friend. That’s not jealousy, you misled woman! And sleeping in the same room does not mean they are sleeping together. They sleep beside each other!” All right, he admits, he likes to watch Natsume a little too much, but at least he doesn’t misconstrue the facts.

“Oh. Then what are they to each other?” Hinoe raises one delicate eyebrow and Madara scoffs.

“Friends. Just friends.” His tone is insistent. He doesn’t want to consider losing Natsume to humans; he has already lost to humans once. “I won’t let some human have what’s mine,” declares Madara haughtily.

“Oh. Perhaps it’s you who’s in love, then,” Hinoe notes. “How boring.” In truth, she finds it anything but and it shows in her smile. “Does Natsume know how you feel?”

Madara tries climbing the tree, just to swipe at her smug face, but his efforts are in vain. “Don’t misunderstand, fool! Natsume is property, a toy, not a love interest.” He grimaces at the thought.

When he glances up, Hinoe isn’t focused on him at all. Her gaze is on -

He turns his head and freezes. Natsume is standing there in the doorway, looking less than pleased. “I’m a what?”

Well, this is a disaster. Madara quickly feigns ignorance and hopes for the best. “No, no. I love you, Natsume!” Hinoe snickers from her place in the tree. “I just have trouble expressing my feelings.” His ploy doesn’t work and he feels the full extent of Natsume’s fist of pain.

When he regains consciousness, Hinoe is still there, poised on her branch and watching his every move. “By the way, I was right. If you hadn’t been so busy declaring your undying love for Natsume, you would have noticed how red his lips were. How do you explain that, Madara?”

Madara gives up. He has been defeated by humans again.

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August 2012

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