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Curiosity Killed The Cat

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Tanya and Yangcha were alone once again. Not in her chambers this time, but rather at the steps overlooking the immortal flame. It had been almost a week since Tanya’s gift to Yangcha, and although he would comment on something briefly, Yangcha had still remained quite silent. Tanya didn’t want to push him, but the more time she spent with him, the more curious she became. 


She turns to face him and he stares right back. Tanya points at the mask covering his face. “Isn’t that annoying to wear all the time?”


Yangcha blinks at her. It’s the first time she’s directly asked him a question since she said he could talk to her. 


For a moment she thinks he won’t answer. No, he replies. I’m used to it.


“Do you ever take it off?”


Yes. When no one is around.


Tanya makes a point of looking around the empty cavern before meeting his gaze again. “Well, no one is here now.”


Yangcha furrows his brow, his eyes making a quick dart around the room as if to confirm what he already knew. Is that an order?


She sighed and gave him an exasperated look. “No, it’s not an order. You don’t have to take it off. Although, I am curious as to what you look like without it.” She cocks her head to the side in thought. “Perhaps less intimidating?”


Tanya pouts a little when he continues looking at her that same indifferent look in his eyes. Apparently he doesn’t find her attempt at humour very amusing. 


It’s not supposed to be taken off.


She returns his deadpan look. “It’s not supposed to be something people wear in the first place.”


For a moment, Tanya thinks she sees him flinch slightly, but his eyes remain steely. 


Yangcha blinks slowly as he thinks over her words. Then, hesitantly, with stiff movements, he reaches up to his face and tugs at the strings so that they fall loose. He pulls the mask away from his face and lets it dangle from his fingertips at his side. It takes a few moments for him to look back up at Tanya.


Tanya barely manages to stop the gasp from escaping her lips. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was expecting, but this wasn’t it. She supposed that Yangcha had always had a certain handsomeness that came with his youthful eyes, well-built frame and mysterious demeanour, but with his face constantly covered it was difficult to tell. But now, with the mask gone, she can’t help but admit that he’s slightly more handsome than she expected.


A handsome face doesn’t take away all the damage he’s caused, Tanya scolds herself. 


She clears her throat and looks towards the immortal flame, flickering but never dimming.


“That must feel better,” she said, still not looking at him. She sees his reflection in the water, however, and watches as he looks down at the mask in his hand as he opens his mouth to take a deep breath of air. 




From the way he tenses slightly, Tanya can tell that that wasn’t something she was supposed to hear. She pulls her lips together to suppress a small laugh. 


It’s unfair that you can hear my thoughts but I can’t hear yours.


This time she does let out a soft laugh. Instead of replying properly, she turns to him and sticks out her tongue. 


Yangcha laughs; a soft, breathy laugh that causes his eyes to thin and his front teeth to be exposed. For a split second, Tanya’s heart stutters.


She raises her eyebrows in surprise. “Oh? Did you just laugh?”


Yangcha averts his gaze to look at the flame and then at the water. Anywhere but her. 


The corners of her mouth lift up in amusement. She looks back at the flame. “Don’t be embarrassed. You have a nice laugh.”


She turns her attention to his reflection again as he turns to look at her. His face isn’t clear, but she can easily imagine the confused look. Tanya is well aware that she confuses Yangcha, and she thinks that she very much likes that.