title: night music
fandom: Nitaboh
characters/pairings: Nitaroh/Tawaraboh, Nitaroh/Yuki
rating: G/Teen
warnings: vague sex
summary: Nitaroh takes on an unusual student with a problem.
notes: for monitorscreen, for this request on fic on demand.

He didn't turn away anyone who came to him to learn as a policy, remembering too well the frustration and pain of being denied simply because of something meaningless like rank. As would be expected, though, most of his students were poor, blind children and young adults, many of whom had to start from the very beginning. He let them live with him only if they didn't have anywhere else to live or any means to obtain housing.

He didn't expect the bosama to come to him.

Tawaraboh, though, knocked on his door when it was past dark, and Nitaroh was already putting his younger students to bed. The sense of pride that came from the other shamisen player was palpable, but the man went to his knees and asked to be taught.

Even monkeys can copy, Nitaroh said. You must find your own sound.

He agreed readily, and so Nitaroh was left without being able to think of a reason to turn him away, but it was a problem, right from the start. Tawaraboh was used to warmer and more comfortable bedchambers. He was used to more filling meals. He was used to someone washing his hair and clothes for him, and generally taking care of him every step of every day. Nitaroh joked under his breath to Yuki that someone probably held it for him when he had to pee, which caused her and the two students helping near the fire to laugh. However, when they were playing the shamisen, Nitaroh had no complaints whatsoever, and was even glad for the bosama's gentle assistance with the other students. It was true, not everyone learned the same way, nor did all of their students have the same passion, but they all needed to be able to play for their livelihoods, so especially for those that needed instruction in the basics, Tawaraboh was surprisingly patient and helpful.

In fact, Nitaroh... did come to think of him as another teacher, not a student. He woudln't even begin to know how to teach Tawaraboh, after all. The man had all the techniques. He only needed to listen to Nitaroh, it seemed.

He could listen to Nitaroh play all night long.

He wanted to listen to Nitaroh play all night long.

Nitaroh was sure that his luxurious life was at least partially responsible for his dissatisfaction with his shamisen, so he was content to let Tawaraboh stay with him, assuming that it was a far more ascetic life than Tawaraboh had ever before experienced. However at night, the pampered bosama had fantastic difficulty sleeping on such thin mats, and the longer he couldn't sleep, the more he wanted to hear Nitaroh's shamisen.

Night after night, he got told to shush and was ignored, but after more than a week without a decent hour's sleep, the bosama became more and more insistent. He crawled right over to the futon where Nitaroh was sleeping with Yuki and pulled on Nitaroh's nightshirt.

Please. Please let me hear it. Please!

Yuki sighed loudly in frustration, and ordered Nitaroh out of bed. Begrudingly, Nitaroh took Tawaraboh outside, carrying his shamisen. Gallingly, though, Tawaraboh hopped along aside of him like a child who had won a prize at a festival. His lack of remorse only further soured Nitaroh's mood.

He took Tawaraboh to the shore where he sat with Tomekichi so often, and made him sit in the grass without helping him down. That didn't please Tawaraboh, but he did so anyway. Nitaroh took a deep breath...

He inhaled the air, and the sounds all around him; the rushing water where his father made his living, the birds and insects that chirped and buzzed around them. When the landscape was made of sound, night and day were as markedly different as if the sun and moon were still participants. Such a deep and complete night was filled with peace and solitude.

Nitaroh began to play.

What Tawaraboh needed to learn, if Nitaroh was asked, was that emotion was a more important part of the shamisen, a part of music, than technique, or notes, or anything Tawaraboh had learned. Nitaroh let the night come into him through his nose, and exhaled it with his fingers. When the music flowed in such a way, he felt connected to the water and the earth and even the sky, and, in his own place in the universe, he felt happy.

He could hear Tawaraboh breathing, could hear the way his breath hitched and caught, could hear the way he parted his lips and moistened them. He often wondered if Tawaraboh would sing, because his voice was lovely and deep, but only female voices were prized as entertainment.


Tawaraboh moved closer to him, and his bachi responded with percussive gestures. Tawaraboh's hands went to his shamisen, caressing the skin and the back of the neck. Nitaroh nearly gasped at the invasion.

Tawaraboh's silky hair slipped down onto Nitaroh's hands and he dropped his bachi. He reached up to touch Tawaraboh's hair... it was unmanly, he thought. Even the way he wore it, down around his shoulders. Yuki told him that Tawaraboh was very handsome, and he wore his hair that way to gain the favor of women who liked to look at him as much as or more than they liked to listen to his music. That struck Nitaroh as being very sad, however...

He couldn't deny that touching Tawaraboh's hair was pleasing, even more than Yuki's. It was soft, almost like the fur of a cat, but incredibly silky. He licked his lips, and dug his hands into Tawaraboh's hair. Tawaraboh's hands, in turn, covered his face. He wanted to ask if appearances mattered so much to Tawaraboh. Maybe he lost his sight at such a time that he had already developed vanity. Maybe he wouldn't like the shape of Nitaroh's face, since Nitaroh had never considered it. He wanted to speak, but the water and the sounds of the woods were intoxicating when combined with the tribal beat of his heart. The sound of their bated breaths as Tawaraboh moved closer to him was a seductive melody.

Tawaraboh moved in and kissed him. It was clumsy and wet, without a single bit of refinement. Nitaroh was worried about his shamisen between them. He clutched at Tawaraboh's hair.

I want to play like you do, Tawaraboh begged.

I want to hear the song you play when you discover your passion, Nitaroh sadly replied.

The shamisen was set aside.

They did not return home until dawn. Every night after that, then, Nitaroh waited until everyone was in bed, and then he kissed Yuki goodnight, and took Tawaraboh and their shamisen outside. Yuki worried that he was overworking himself, and Tawaraboh was developing calluses and split ends. Nitaroh knew that Tawaraboh spent more time smoothing his fingers over his hair. Nitaroh comforted his wife, though. He slept during the heat of the day. Tawaraboh was helping with the instruction of the students.

Music in the night could be addictively beautiful.

When the weather changed, Tawaraboh found it impossible to stay with them. It was too cold, and he had gone too long without creature comforts. He needed to return to his group, and continue to earn his own living. They parted shaking hands, a gesture that lingered. Tawaraboh asked him, almost desperately, if he could come back sometime. Nitaroh assured him that he would always be welcome, and he could feel Tawaraboh's relief.

By the next summer, though, Yuki had given birth to his child, and when Tawaraboh came to visit, he stayed in the inn in town.