You are not connected. Please login or register

Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down Message [Page 2 of 3]

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei’s eyes narrowed as Shinako leaned forward, putting just enough of herself on display to get the point across. She, of course, feigned ignorance to her actions, apparently hoping to fluster him by raising the stakes with a more… overt tactic. Of course he was going to look, but in the spirit of competition he would not let his eyes linger down the front of her dress for more than a moment. He locked eyes with her immediately after, tilting his head forward and furrowing his brow slightly as if to mock her for believing he would be caught off-guard by a simple display of cleavage. As if this was the first time a woman had played up her sexual appeal in an attempt to stack the deck in her favor.

Confident in his ability to shrug off such an amateurish move, Kyohei did not anticipate the act of leaning forward in such an intentional manner to be a diversion, causing him not to expect the words that would follow. Point Shinako. Up until this point they had merely been exchanging feints and feeling each other out, but in that last exchange their bout had begun in earnest, with Shinako landing the first touch. A wide-grin took hold of the man’s face, causing him to bow his head for the briefest of moments and let out a single, amused huff. The act was equivalent to conceding the round in their clash of not-so-subtle suggestions and the Uchiha silently chided himself for letting his guard down. As their server approached the table, he unknowingly acted as referee, separating the combatants and allowing a brief respite between rounds.

The contour of Kyohei’s raised cheek brought on by his grin was the cut inflicted when her lunge connected cleanly, her weapon drawing first blood of the match. He was not ignorant to the fact his adversary was more than skilled enough to know that she had gained the upper-hand, but the Uchiha was not one to deteriorate so easily under pressure. He would not fall on his back foot, but instead go on the offensive once more when their meals had been served. Shinako’s last attack may have grazed him, but a single point would not decide the match.

Kyohei watched Shinako as she went through the motions of using the steamed towel and accepted a towel himself once the waiter had turned to him. He took his eyes off of her in order to allow the table to be set before him and reached up to hand the towel back to the server only to find it not being taken. He looked up towards the waiter only to find the man gawking across the table at Shinako. The sound of a particularly exaggerated moan caught Kyohei’s ear and pulled his gaze back towards Shinako, finding the source of the waiter’s dumbfounded expression in the process. Kyohei observed the overtly sexual first bite, his eyes catching a glimpse of another young man at a nearby table gawking at her as well in his periphery. One on each side, the men seemed mesmerized, their eyes bobbing up and down with each subtle chewing motion, finally tracing a path down her neck with their gazes as she swallowed. The Uchiha rolled his eyes at the mens’ pitiful display, but secretly using them as an excuse to draw his own gaze from Shinako, instead glancing only from his peripheral vision.

Kyohei watched the two men, the waiter and the young man from an adjacent table, waste no time performing tactical retreats, unintended casualties of Shinako’s assault falling back to tend to their wounds. It appeared as though his opponent was not deeply pre-occupied with potential collateral damage brought on by their duel; she played to win. Her offensive sequences possessed both a primal ferocity and unerring precision, making their battleground nothing short of perilous for himself and all those unfortunate enough to get caught in the duo’s blade work, as evidenced by the two men that had just fled the dining floor. Upon their first meeting he had not thought her capable of felling lesser men with a mere flourish as she had done just moments ago. She was dangerous, but that danger only fed into Kyohei’s competitive nature.

“Laying it on a little thick, aren’t we?”

The Uchiha glanced backwards for a moment after catching her gaze once more, making his reference to the two men she had just dispatched. Like a fencer assuming their starting stance, his voice would shift back to a tone better suited for this form of combat; deep, smooth, and only mildly sultry. Each word was spoken with purpose and intensity. Each sentence was a lunge aiming to pierce her so far impregnable defense. Her technique was too refined to hope for a glancing blow. She had finesse, but did she have finishing power?

“If I knew you were capable of making men run like that I would have let you deal with that situation in the gym yourself. You obviously didn’t need my help. But I would caution you against assuming me to be like them. There is a cost to boldness. The last person who failed to watch their step around me found themselves with my fingers wrapped around their neck. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that. I question how active your tongue would be once the rest of you felt a squeeze.”






924 | 9894


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
“Why Kyohei, whatever do you mean? If there’s another way to appreciate such a delicious dish I don’t want to know about it.”

His reach directly for physical threats was not surprising to her, but she got the impression that he was not quite there yet, even if his face betrayed a slight embarrassment at her antics. She had gotten past his initial stone-wall defense, and that was the hardest part, in her reckoning.

“Besides….”

Shinako smiled devilishly and reached up to flip her hair more neatly over her left shoulder. The gesture was a vestige of the time when her hair was always perfumed with orchid, and it generally allowed her suitors to get a tantalizing whiff of her. Now that she was a Shinobi and could not afford to strip her hair with lye every time she wanted to smell nice, the tactic only produced the slight and natural scent of her skin. She was marginally disappointed with the diminished result, but did not let it show.

“….there’s nothing wrong with an active tongue….and what makes you think that a girl like me hasn’t been….’squeezed’ before?”

Her tone was absolutely scandalous. The dulcet throatiness of her voice conveyed a sense of obscene pleasure at the thought. It was a dirty trick, but the field was open for play, and she would be damned if she didn’t do her best. In her mind, Kyohei had a lot further to go before he proved he was not like the others. Her mind could not stop itself from flying back to the darkness of a cave, illuminated only by the moonlight trickling through the sheet of a waterfall. Her face had been wet with the sheen of the river and then with her own tears the night when she found out that her Jounin sensei only valued her as a sexual object. She had become much better at playing this particular game with people as heartless as Shinobi.

She feigned disinterest, dismissing the implications of her luridly sensual words with a shrug as she took a bite of the delicately steamed and spiced vegetables that accompanied her fish. Pacing herself, she laid down her bamboo sticks and picked up her sake again. As she sipped, she evaluated Kyohei’s reaction, deciding that it was best if she let her innuendo hang in the back of his mind for a while.

“So, where do we go from here? I’m sure a gentleman like you doesn’t fall into bed just after dinner.”

This allusion was far subtler, and might leave him questioning whether she had truly moved on from the shady references to intimate behavior. It was the perfect trap, and allowed her to even further hide behind her own innocent performance. Although, she could not help but wonder what the actual answer to her question might be. As cavalier as she was in her demeanor, the situation actually held the potential to implicate her opportunities as a shinobi. She had little hope of ever rising above the largely ministerial rank of Chuunin to the more specialized Jounin roles, and she had to begin performing to expectations on missions like this.

She imagined herself, down the line, in some dead-end job, administering to the scrolls in the library, or coordinating the food deliveries for a festival. The very idea of it almost made her cringe, but she could not quite let go of the idea of life as a Shinobi. Then, in the midst of the images of humdrum scenes of bored security, she saw the fierce and determined eyes of a Sound Shinobi glinting in the low-light of the forest. Suddenly, she swallowed hard and almost reached for her sake before realizing it was already in her hand. She sipped it and hoped that Kyohei had not caught on to her fleeting moment of panic as she pushed the dark thoughts to the furthest reaches of her mind.

655/8,575


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Just when Kyohei had thought himself prepared for any tempting words that might cross Shinako’s lips, she had once again switched up her plan of attack. With a flip of her hair, his opponent sent her next assault wafting through the air and through his nostrils. The scent was not artificial and overly perfumed, but something much more subtle that seized at his senses on a more primal level. For the first time in their bout she had landed not a glancing blow, but a solid strike. The Uchiha pushed the embers she had managed to alight in him down, smothering them with willpower and pride, and searched his mind for the clever remark that would even the score, but Shinako did not relent.

If there was one weapon in Shinako’s arsenal that Kyohei was unprepared for, it was that voice. He had seen enough skin and heard enough innuendo in his life to remain unfazed by all but the most extreme cases, but he had no answer for that. There were some things that were hard to fake, either you have it or you don’t, and Shinako had an instrument that hit all of the right notes for Kyohei’s ears. His opponent was able to leave him in a state that was rare for the Uchiha, speechlessness. Most who knew Kyohei professionally would attest to the fact that he wasn’t much of a talker, but that was almost always by choice. Shinako had succeeded in bringing him to a halt altogether.

Kyohei’s cheeks turned a faint shade of pink, notably short of a full on blush, but certainly indicative of the rise in temperature he felt flowing from his ears down through the rest of his body. He parted his lips and exhaled as if he had been preparing to speak, but, despite his hopes, no words crossed his lips. As much as he would have loved to have a witty comment in response, Shinako’s sensuous assault had hit its mark and achieved the desired effect, at least in some capacity.

“Alright, you win.”

Kyohei threw his hands up to shoulder height, palms facing outward in surrender, followed by an exaggerated sigh as if releasing the steam that had built up inside of him during their exchange.

“As much fun as our little game was, I don’t think going any further bodes well for me. I believe the restroom is already occupied.”

His eyes shot a knowing glance towards the doorway leading to the restroom for Shinako to follow, making clear reference to the man who had been an unexpected casualty of her scandalous tactics before returning to locking eyes with her. What followed, unexpected even by Kyohei, was his mouth curling into the first genuine smile he had done all day. It was also likely the first smile he had enjoyed since his return to Konoha, a gift he had hoped to bestow upon Risu who was now distinctly absent from his life since the event nearly a year before. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time something made him smile, a somber thought he pushed down into the depths of his mind as quickly as it came as to not spoil his rare good mood.

From the corner of his eye Kyohei took note of the waiter, hostess, and a handful of other staff members staring at their table from over the short wall that served as a divide between the entrance to the restaurant and the dining area. They had become so entranced in the steamy exchange between the two diners that they had stopped working entirely, almost leaning over the divide by the end of it as if to ensure they did not miss a single word. A quick glance around would find some diners at nearby tables in the same state. This woman really couldn’t help, but draw all kinds of unnecessary attention to him today, could she? And here he was supposed to be keeping a low profile.

“Besides… we seem to have an audience.”

Kyohei casually turned his head towards the gaggle of staff members watching them intently off towards the entrance, causing them to spring up in shock, snapped out of their trance. The lot immediately turned to face different directions, fiddling with menus, trays, and anything else nearby in an attempt to appear busy. He then turned towards the dining area, eliciting a similar response from nearby diners, couples sitting up straight and turning to face each other while awkwardly fiddling with their silverware to appear engrossed in their meals. He couldn’t help but chuckle at the ridiculousness of it all.

Despite his defeat in their duel of nerves, Kyohei felt a need to address the last sentence Shinako had muttered. The smile left his face as an expression of curiosity took hold of his features, but not the mood, as evidenced by his eyes. While a certain amount of intensity was always present in his gaze, it was now decidedly less penetrating, harshness and icy overtones qualities replaced by more soft and warm overtones.

“So how exactly does this work, anyway? I was told you were assigned to me, but I didn’t get the full details of the assignment like I’m assuming you did in your briefing. There is no telling how long the investigation on me will even go on for, either, so we might be stuck together for a while. It’s going to be past normal business hours when we get out of here and I can’t imagine you’ll be coming home with me. Even babysitters need their beauty sleep, isn’t that right?”






954 | 10848


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
Shinako shrugged again, both at the suggestion of an audience and at his question. She truly didn’t know. It seemed odd to her that she would be assigned to tail a Shinobi from the Hidden Leaf. She had not known that the higher-ups assigned this type of detail until she had been given her briefing. On a logical level it made sense that they might sometimes want to keep an eye on allies of the village, but something about it felt slimy to her. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to tell him what she had been told….probably.

“I’m to keep my eye on you until the next shift starts, at approximately midnight tonight.”

That left them about five hours to fill once they had finished up at the restaurant. As promised, Shinako had no intention of bothering him beyond those interactions incidental to her job. There was no curfew in effect tonight, but she hoped that he would be safely at home by the time the end of her shift rolled around. Even if that wasn’t a particularly realistic goal, maybe they would at least be in a location in which her replacement could easily locate them.

“We’re short-handed, so the night-shift has been curtailed. It’s generally done by someone who was on a short assignment during the day. I’ll be expected to replace that person in the morning if I’m not reassigned, giving me about 8 hours of sleep and preparation time.”

The prospect did not thrill her. After stressful or strenuous activity, Shinako liked to sleep in, sometimes remaining in bed up to twelve hours at a time, lounging, reading, or practicing self-care. Since her return from the forest, she had not had adequate time to recover. Mental and physical exhaustion still threatened to overwhelm her, though the reinvigorating effect of the restaurant was still bolstering her.

“It’s not some black-ops detail. We are to remain engaged with you and try to keep our interactions relatively social. If I had been on time this morning I may have trained with you, but nothing of the covert surveillance brand.”

The portion about training was an outright lie. The notion of training that morning almost made Shinako physically ill. She was not known for vigorous training to begin with, and had scarcely so much as sparred since leaving the academy. Every technique she had learned was essentially just a mental and functional improvement on tricks she had learned in the academy. She often ran to maintain her fitness and cardiovascular health, but the very idea of training with a higher ranking Shinobi was off-putting to her.

She sipped her sake and set it down again, glad that the conversation had moved into something effortlessly substantive. She began eating in earnest now, putting the food away quickly and efficiently. There was no way that she would be able to finish it all, but she was certainly going to try. She was starting to feel the heavy, comforting warmth of the alcohol now.

500/9,075


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei allowed a moment to pass, giving Shinako the opportunity to begin working on her meal while it was still hot before continuing. He still lacked a particularly strong appetite and ignored his meal as he figured he would have when he placed the order. The grilled fish before him would likely remain intact the entire evening, or at least until a staffer threw it away at the end of their meal.

“The very fact that it’s not some black-ops detail is what is so unusual. Simply because of my position and access to classified case files within the Military Police, one would think that the administration would assign someone with equal security clearance to the task if they were insisting that the shinobi be from outside of the force. The chief has always fought pretty hard to keep things in-house.”

The Uchiha paused to reflect for a moment, using the act of taking another drink from his glass to fill the time in-between. Fortunately, she seemed to be busy enough with her dinner that a brief respite from the conversation would not be an unwelcome thing.

“Oh well, I guess I shouldn’t complain. You’re better than one of those insufferable ANBU ops hovering over my shoulder. Even if you are trouble, you’re at least entertaining. ‘Keeping things social’ isn’t really their MO.”

Noticing his glass feeling particularly light, Kyohei peered down to see that the bottom of his glass was becoming visible once again, a tragedy. He placed the glass down for a moment and reached over for the small bottle that was now at least half empty by his estimation. The stuff wasn’t particularly strong compared to what he usually drank, but he figured if he kept drinking it would eventually have the intended effect.

“As far as where we go from here, I have been away for a year and I did say we’d do things your way tonight. Besides, since you did ‘win’ I suppose that you’re entitled to some sort of prize."

Kyohei’s tone was relaxed and even more than just a tinge playful, finally having come around to his companion. It might have been the alcohol finally starting to kick in or maybe he was actually finding himself enjoying her company. He didn’t know quite which one it was just yet, but he figured it didn’t really matter.

"I’m all yours until midnight.”






414 | 11262


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei’s tone was intriguing, but Shinako let any discussion of its implications slide. At the very least she had some modicum of control over the situation now. She begrudgingly thanked her step-mother for teaching her that dirty tactics often paid off. The Kunoichi smiled to herself through bites of her food, hearing the cold, steely bite finally leave Kyohei’s voice. She almost reached across the table to touch his hand as an act of thanks, but thought better of it.

“I’m very glad we’ve been able to move past our differences enough to get along. You seem like a fine Shinobi, Kyohei.”

Shinako gave a soft smile, looking slightly tired, but allowing her relief to radiate through her features. With the air cleared, it finally felt like she was sitting down to a friendly dinner with a friend instead of an embattled supply stop in enemy territory. Having eaten her fill, Shinako laid her utensils to rest and refilled her glass. She very seldom left good sake unused.

“However, as I said before, I don’t want to be a nuisance. I assume you must have paperwork, or other matters to attend to. If you’d like, I would not mind keeping my watch while you went about your duties.”

It was another subtle attempt to push him towards going home. That was the course of action that would make this night go smoothest for her, though, as she thought about it for a moment, she could imagine why a black-ops Shinobi wouldn’t want to go home. She wondered at how often Kyohei was alone, and felt quite sad about it. When she returned home, it was to the place where her heart had always known rest and comfort; she would never have trouble sleeping in her father’s house, even in his absence. Shinako wondered if there was anything like that in this world for Kyohei….for most Shinobi. She thought better of shuffling him off for her own convenience.

“Then again, if you’re truly at my disposal, we could go watch the deer herding for a few hours. They’re beautiful in the low light.”

Watching her family’s deer was truly one of her favorite activities. The Nara clan had always had a special relationship with the deer, using their bones and antlers for all sorts of medicines. In exchange, the Nara had always kept the deer safe from predators. One of the esteemed founders of the Nara clan, and the first to utilize his shadow for jutsu, Lord Shikashige had often summoned deer to fight at his side. Shinako had spent many hours as a girl attempting to mimic the movements of the majestic animals, fashioning antlers from household materials such as broom-handles and fire-pokers. She smiled at the thought.

“I could show you where I grew up, and we could put the day behind us. I’m sure the house received a shipment of fresh ice today. It’s probably still quite warm out.”

She was really just testing the waters to see what Kyohei might like to do. It was a play at getting him to reveal a little bit about himself. As she thought back to the file she had been handed, she remembered how almost everything had been redacted; no likes or dislikes, no hobbies. She knew almost nothing about her partner, and this was an opportunity to learn more.

560/9,635


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei felt the piercing sting of irrational concern at the thought of anyone else entering his apartment as it was. It was not as if he was embarrassed of his living conditions or was unclean. In fact, his apartment was nearly spotless due to its misuse. After he returned and was placed on leave until further notice he truly had nothing to do, leaving him plenty of time to clean the dust of one year’s worth of stagnation from his apartment. Other than that, he tended to actively avoid being home when not required to be. What he wanted to avoid were the questions that would undoubtedly follow if an even moderately curious person had entered his place of living. And at this point Shinako had already shown that she wasn’t going to be easily scared off or pushed away. He had no desire to explain why he was sleeping on the couch when there was a perfectly good master bedroom just a few paces away, or why all of the pictures that decorated the house were turned downwards, rendering them unable to be viewed. He had told her that he would go along with what she wanted, but that was the one thing off the table.

“Well, considering the fact I’m on admin leave and not even allowed back in my office until the investigation is done, I’m fairly certain neither of our chain of commands wants me doing any paperwork. Besides, I can’t imagine you would get much pleasure out of watching me lay around my apartment. That doesn’t sound like much of a prize.”

The pace of the conversation seemed to flow much more smoothly now, without the posturing and banter aimed at attempting to fluster the other participant. Or at least, not too much banter. Kyohei smiled at Shinako and shot a glance down towards the sake bottles on the table. His mind returned briefly to his suspicions of her and her selection for this assignment. A pretty face and some suggestive words couldn’t have been the entire plan. Even if she was not made aware of it herself, Kyohei had too much experience working with the administration to believe their intention was for him to have fun. She was even drinking on the job, an act that was taboo in most of the professional world. He pushed that idea aside upon remembering how little heed so many officers of the military police to that social norm. Shinobi did always do things a bit differently and their time together was supposed to be “social”. Maybe he was just reading too much into it. He double tapped the back of the nail on his right index finger against the glass bottle beside him, causing an echoed ringing sound to be produced from the now practically completely hollow jug.

“And I think we’ve passed the point of doing things strictly by the books considering how empty these bottles are.”

Kyohei was relieve, at least, that she had provided an alternative activity so that he did not have to scramble to explain why his apartment was off-limits. Animal watching wasn’t exactly in his list of favorite activities to do. He had always entrenched himself so deeply in his work that he was often chided for not “stopping to take in the sights” or “being too serious”. Whenever he tried to “slow down” on his own, his mind would just run rampant with thoughts of what else he could be doing. But even so, this was probably preferable to souring the evening by allowing her to act as furniture in the background of his life. Either way, he wasn’t lying when he said he wasn’t allowed to do work. Maybe the lack of a case to be grinding away at would make a difference.

“As I said, I’m all yours for the night. When you’re ready, lead the way.”





663 | 11925


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
The reference to how much they had imbibed made Shinako smile again as she flagged down the waiter. The man had never really gotten past spectating, and scurried over rather quickly, giving his deepest bow yet and stealing a closer, furtive glance at Shinako. She ignored it and asked him for the check, along with two orders of Hanami Dongo to carry out. There was strong, Nara green tea at the estate, and she was developing a bit of a sweet tooth. Seeing how little Kyohei had eaten, she was unsure if he would indulge with her, but ordered one for him just the same.

When the waiter returned, Shinako produced her coin purse and paid him. The restaurant was reasonably priced, and she would have paid twice the amount for its usefulness in making Kyohei less confrontational. The other diners around them were finishing up their meals and preparing to leave as well, and as Shinako stood she felt the effects of the alcohol all at once, causing her to giggle a little bit and steady herself by reaching out for the waiter. The man blushed profusely and bowed over and over again as Shinako waved goodbye, gathering her belongings and the sweets she had ordered. She gave a quick nod to Kyohei.

“It’s not a long walk out to my home. We’ll head there and see if we can’t relax for a little while.”

The young woman’s shadow slid into its natural position as she led the way out of the restaurant. Her keen hearing detected a slight thud and an exhalation of air, which she estimated to be the hostess striking the waiter to chastise him for his transparent behavior. It was almost as if the restaurant were letting out a collective sigh of relief at their departure.

As Shinako had expected, the night air was still very warm, though the burn of sunset had dissipated the humidity quite a bit. It would be a very dewy morning. The forty-five-minute walk would take them past her administrative offices, and she would be able to leave a note for whoever was to relieve her, letting them know where to find the unlikely duo.

“I’ll have to make a quick stop by headquarters, but it’s on the way. It should take us a little bit under an hour to get to the house. We don’t have to talk on the way, if you don’t want to.”

Like a good house-guest, Shinako did not want to overextend her partner’s hospitality. She tied her forehead protector in its customary place around her hips, layering it with her sash. Now that she was walking again, she noticed the dull, pounding ache in her legs returning. Her arrival at home could not come a moment too soon. She had passed many of the physical fitness tests at the academy simply by virtue of the fact that she was an adult, and in moments like this it showed. However, she continued on with a sigh.

500/10,135


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei had intended to interrupt and pay for their dinner, but Shinako was swift and the waiter too distracted by her still to acknowledge any attempt the Uchiha made to step in gracefully. All he could do was roll his eyes at the server whose senses seemed to be absent when interacting with the Uchiha’s dinner partner. He still wasn’t happy about her paying for the meal, but it would have been undignified to forcefully interject and show her up in front of the entire restaurant, especially with how many eyes seemed to be throwing glances their way since the duo’s previous exchange. Considering what Kyohei would have assumed the average age of the other diners seemed to be based on appearance alone, it was strange to him that they would be so enthralled in their conversation. However provocative they had been before, they hadn’t exactly broken the mold. Not that it mattered at this point.

The Uchiha let out an amused hug at the sight of Shinako’s legs wobble ever so slightly beneath her as she rose, needing to reach out to the server and use him as a pillar to balance herself as she found her footing. Once she had risen from her seat Kyohei would do the same, answering her nod with one of his own as a sign of acknowledgment. Despite the fact that they had both consumed what he assumed to be a virtually identical amount of sake, he had no compromises in his balance or difficulty upon standing. Alcohol tolerance aside, it was likely due to the sheer difference in size and muscle mass that the effects of the alcohol seemed to hit Shinako just a bit harder. It had certainly loosened him up, but he was not yet at the point where his motor skills or balance began to be compromised. He just hoped that she wasn’t such a lightweight that she passed out before their night was done. The last thing he needed was to have to explain to whoever was meant to relieve her why she was unconscious. He quickly dismissed the thought as just the effects of the alcohol allowing his mind to wander.

Once they had made their way outside of the establishment Shinako mentioned needing to stop at her own administrative building, which he more or less had to agree to regardless since she was the only one who knew how to get to where they were going, but it wasn’t an issue. It did, however, give him the opportunity to bring up something that was. Kyohei shot a glance down towards her hands and pointed to the small bag containing her dessert order from the restaurant.

“That’s fine, but you should let me carry that.”

It was bad enough that he had allowed her to pay for dinner, but she was even carrying the bags on top of that. This wasn’t exactly a date, but that didn’t mean that Kyohei had completely cast aside any sense of propriety. His mother would have turned over in her grave if she saw him simply allowing the situation to go on as is. He could almost feel the sting of her index finger and thumb clamping down on his earlobe as she had done when he was a child. The Uchiha would hold his outstretched arm at her side as they walked, palm facing up, while he himself turned his head forward as if to insist that he wasn’t willing to discuss the matter. His considerate words and tone betrayed the rough exterior he attempted to put forward, allowing just a hint of his embarrassment about the situation to peek out as he tried to relieve her of a bit of her burden.

Assuming she had complied, the duo would continue on in silence for a few moments. From the corner of his eye he could see an irregularity in Shinako’s movements, prompting him to turn his head slightly to get a better look without being too overt. He watched her for a paces, following a familiar sign of discomfort, similar to what she had displayed before dinner. He didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now that their situation had changed he paid closer attention to the almost indecipherable drag in her gait. She was tired.

“Hm? Are you alright? You’ve been walking pretty gingerly since we left the gym earlier.”






748 | 12673


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
Shinako gave a small bow and handed over the parcel. It seemed as though his masculinity was offended by her carrying the food, and she was slightly sorry that she had not gotten a better look at his expression as she had paid for the meal. Of course, she had offered to buy dinner from the outset, and she justified any offense that she had given on that pretense. She thanked him for his consideration all the same.

“Thank you, Kyohei-san. You’re very kind.”

A few moments later, it appeared as though he had noticed her physical condition. She wasn’t exactly surprised, as the senses of Shinobi were keen to weakness, but she was somewhat taken aback that he would mention it. She waved her hand as though to casually shoo his concern away, coming up with a lie on the spot.

“I got a little bit more exertion than I bargained for in some thick underbrush on my last assignment. It’s nothing that a bit of rest won’t cure.”

She kept her lie as close to the truth as possible without going into the details. In truth, she had run through that purported brush for almost three days, and had consumed all of her leave time in an ultimately fruitless pursuit. She tried not to think about the boy, Gantetsu, and was unsuccessful. He had been in her thoughts ever since the fateful day she had caused his death. The continuing physical pain was only a reminder of the true wound she carried; the wound she had inflicted.

She walked on in silence for a little while longer, careful not to limp. She did not want to appear weak, or to spark any more conversation about her exhaustion. Mercifully, they were approaching the administrative building. It was open twenty-four hours, and its fluorescent lights looked almost green in the twilight as they approached it. She would just leave a note at the front desk, which would be delivered during briefing.

“I just have to duck in for a moment….”

She touched Kyohei lightly on the shoulder as she passed him, and gave a warm smile.

“….don’t go abandoning me while my back is turned.”

With that, Shinako carefully opened the door and strolled into the reception area. She was careful not to pass too close to anyone, lest they smell the scent of sake on her. It wasn’t a certainty, but there was always the possibility that she would be chided for imbibing while on duty. Instead, she picked a corner of the long reception counter and tore a sheet of loose-leaf from a communal note-pad. Using a pen from one of the many cups sitting on the desk, she penned a note for her relief in her fine script.

*To Whom It May Concern,

Uchiha Kyohei can be found at the home of Nara Shikanaoe, out in the Nara forests. I am still keeping an eye on him, and will do so until you arrive. I eagerly await your coming.

All the Best,

Nara Shinako*


She folded the note carefully and wrote her Chuunin supervisor’s name on the front of it, so that it might be delivered to him, and placed in the proper file. Thinking it better not to enter his office in her current state, Shinako left the note with the receptionist, who barely acknowledged her presence. With the deed done, Shinako exited the building.

570/10,705


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Shinako’s reaction to what he deemed a harmless and even thoughtful question raised red flags in Kyohei’s mind. She said all of the right words and on the surface even her gestures and smile reinforced her insistence that nothing was out of the ordinary. However, this was not the first time that something had felt “off” about her, bringing about a lull in the conversation immediately afterwards as she suddenly became less eager to chat. The rubbing her of arms, the somber look in her eyes when things happened to draw just a bit too close to the wound, on their own they can be shrugged aside as one-offs, but together they’re a pattern.

Shinako seemed fairly intent on keeping it to herself, however, so Kyohei wasn’t going to push the issue right away. He also took notice of the surely intentional change in her stride, which only further pushed her desire to try and cover up whatever was bothering her. Fortunately, they were coming upon the administrative office. When she entered the building to handle her business, Kyohei merely posted up next to the door, arms folded, and awaited her return. At least, that was what he had intended to do before the familiar clanking of aluminum caught his ear, drawing his gaze to the floodlights that were turning on with the setting sun just across the street.

A wide, cheesy grin took hold of the Uchiha’s face as he half-ran over to the chest-high chain-link fence just at the bottom of the grassy hill across the way. The hill was not particularly steep, appearing as if the minor slope was man-made, perhaps to accommodate the field just over the fence, but it might have made it slightly difficult for Shinako to immediately locate him upon exiting the building. Kyohei leaned over the top of the fence to get a better look at the Little League baseball game that was taking place. Several yards off to his right were the dugouts and bleacher seats, but he preferred the view right where he was, with a clear line of sight to the batter’s box. It was a shame that the game seemed to be almost over. Children’s games were always cut a few innings short and they likely didn’t want them to continue playing after dark. Judging by the scoreboard, he had managed to stumble in just as the last few kids were taking their at-bats. Kyohei tossed on last look over his shoulder towards the door to make sure that he was still within view of the administrative building before turning his attention back to the game. Just because Shinako was working didn’t mean that he couldn’t have any fun.






467 | 13140


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
It took Shinako several moments to locate Kyohei, and a moment of panic almost took over her. Something in her did not believe that he would attempt to flee, but she supposed there was always the possibility. She stepped out into the street with her head on a swivel, checking her immediately apparent sight-lines before attempting to resort to her tracking techniques. After a few moments of searching, she located Kyohei’s back against the lights of the field and let out a relieved sigh.

The Kunoichi readjusted her sash and set her shoulder with a slight shimmy, gathering herself after the slight moment of alarm. She brushed a few stray strands of hair behind her ears and then set off towards Kyohei. As she approached, she was sure that he could hear her undisguised footsteps, but she placed her hand on his lower back briefly as she took up the space to his left, to announce her arrival. Crossing her arms, she leaned on the fence and took in what was going on. She had never really understood baseball, though mostly because she had never had any interest in the sport. However, she remembered attending her brothers’ games as a girl.

“It’s not an exciting game, is it?”

She let out a small laugh with the rhetorical question. She squinted slightly against the light, feeling how it stretched her shadow far into the street.

“I do like the uniforms though. I always root for the more colorful team.”

The children in the field wore the regalia of their teams, one side in a deep, royal blue, and the other in white. As she understood it, they had both home and away uniforms. It had been a point of great pride for her brothers to maintain their uniforms in a crisp, clean condition. In a way, the scene made Shinako wish that Shinobi wore uniforms. Of course, there were still some Jounin who wore the standard-issue village flak jacket, but the vast majority of Shinobi had moved away from any sort of regulated gear.

“When I was in secondary school, my girlfriends and I would go to the games to look at the older boys in their tight pants.”

She sighed and rested her chin on her left hand, angling her face more towards Kyohei as though she were about to tell him a secret.

“There’s something much better about the children at play, though. No strutting or showing off. It’s sport in its purest form. What I wouldn’t give to recapture that innocence.”

She looked out over the field again, taking in the wide ranges of emotion she saw there. The bliss of the winning team, and the disappointment of their faithful opposition; the stoic coach and his animated counterpart; the umpire trying to keep everything together; it was a world with strictly structured rules, but with infinite possibilities and permutations. In the end, the result was fairly certain, but the emotions shared by the children on that field were anything but mechanical. Shinako wondered if Kyohei had ever played, but something about that question seemed a bit too personal for her to ask.

525/11,230


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei could not help but let out a single guffaw, followed by a brief snicker at Shinako’s final words. Of course he knew what she actually meant, but his mischievous side couldn’t just let the opportunity pass him by.

“Ha! There’s something incredibly amusing about Miss ‘feeling the opposite of aflame’ who spent her teenage years ogling boys in baseball pants talking about recapturing innocence. It’s nice to reminisce about the good old days, but I think innocence is a bit overrated. There are certain kinds of play one can only enjoy once they’re no longer bound by the idea of innocence. I think you can appreciate that.”

Kyohei pulled back off of the chain for just a moment to mimic Shinako by folding his arms and leaning back onto the fence. He turned his head in her direction as he spoke, shooting a sly smirk her way as he poked fun at her for their little game at the restaurant. A part of him was interested in picking up where they had left off earlier, but ultimately the Uchiha decided against it. It was certainly fun, but it was more than a little careless to engage an opponent that he didn’t think he could actually best.

His devilish grin subsided as he turned his head back towards the field before them, a contented smile taking hold if his features in its place. He would lower his own head, resting it on his forearms atop the fence, resulting in the duo being about eye level.

“I disagree that it’s not exciting, though. People think baseball is boring because it isn’t as fast-paced or physical or other games, but that’s part of the reason I like it. Baseball, at its core, is a strategy game. Skill and intellect will do more for a baseball player than lifting some weights ever will. Each at bat is like a duel between the pitcher and batter, a game of wits where the better strategy almost always wins in the end. I don’t find the thought process behind an at-bat to be vastly different than a game of chess or shogi. Back when I was a kid, before I joined the academy I wanted to be a baseball player. That ship has sailed for me now, but I still get a kick out of the game. Back when I was an adjunct instructor at the academy I used to help coach the kids. I wouldn’t mind doing that again when this whole investigation is over...”

Towards the end of his monologue, Kyohei found himself revealing more than he had originally intended, caught up in the nostalgia of the moment. The last sentence he spoke betrayed a faint sense of longing, like a man getting a glimpse at what could have been. The Uchiha felt a sharp surge of embarrassment at the realization of how freely he was speaking, causing his cheeks to flare red and emit an almost comical amount of heat. He found himself unable to turn to look Shinako in the eye for a short while afterwards, instead keeping his eyes out towards the teams cleaning up their respective dugouts, and nuzzling the lower half of his face into his sleeve in an attempt to hide his shame. He remained that way in silence for just a moment before freeing his mouth once more and attempting to shift the conversation away from himself.

“So… do you want to talk about what is actually bothering you, or are we sticking with the underbrush story?”

From what little time they had spent together so far, Shinako seemed almost as stubborn as he did, although decidedly more friendly. He didn’t think she would suddenly become unable to hold in her problems with a single mention, but he figured this was as good a starting place as any. His time as a detective with the Military Police had seen him interview and interrogate all different kinds of people. If there was one thing he could identify, it was someone with a story to tell.






691 | 13831


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
Shinako caught Kyohei’s blush and smiled at it. Of course, growing out of her innocence was ultimately something that she treasured. It was a part of her, just as it was a part of every other adult who had learned to live with complexity. She supposed that her penchant for provocative conversation was just another badge of having grown up, and he was right to recognize that. But still, there was something alluring about the idea of recapturing her enchanted youth, back before….

And then he was asking about her time out in the forest again. His touching story about his childhood dreams had led her to drop her guard, in the mistaken belief that they had left that line of questioning behind. However, what Shinako had done was dangerous. It had looked, on its face, like desertion and dereliction of duty, and had the, albeit extreme, potential to start a war. Ultimately, it was the shame of the fruitless venture that kept Shinako from talking about it. Taking a life was bad enough, but knowing that she would never be able to make up for it was by far the worst part. She had a permanent mark on her soul, and that was what she truly envied about the children in the baseball field; they were unstained.

“Our dessert is going to get soft and soggy, Kyohei-san….”

Shinako’s voice was low and tired, possessing none of the musical color it had held in the restaurant. She gave a weak smile and turned away from the game, ignoring his question altogether. Not only did she lack the desire to answer it, but she was not sure she knew how. There would inevitably come a point in the retelling of the story in which her reasoning, or lack thereof, would be too difficult to justify. It reminded her of Lord Shikashige’s poem:

*A child asked of me, what is the grass, fetching it to me with full hands. How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.*

The incident was still raw, and vivid, and Shinako could not engage with it right now, so she walked away. She left the invitation to have tea and dessert at her home on the table, and hoped that Kyohei would not see her abrupt pivot as too strange or, worse, rude. Not that she was considering his feelings in the moment, but she did have a job to do still. She fidgeted a little bit, adjusting her sash and making sure that she was not betraying any of her continuing pain in her gait.

Uchiha Kyohei certainly was a perceptive one. He reminded her of the time she had attended a birthday party at the Inuzuka compound, and had seen their dogs training in the kennels. They were puppies, just like any other, but they were sharper, more refined….almost predatory. The trainer had reminded the girls that they should do their best to not reach into the cages.

500/11,730


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
“Right. So underbrush it is, then.”

In an instant it felt as if the rapport and pleasant mood between the two Konoha shinobi had been stripped from the air around them. Shinako’s message was clear. Kyohei was fairly adept at picking up subtleties and the fact that his companion was trying to actively avoid whatever it was that was gnawing at her would not require a detective’s eye to deduce at this point. Considering how carefully the woman had shown herself to select her words and actions up to this point, the act of ignoring his question entirely was without a doubt an intentional response.

If Shinako didn’t want to talk about it, Kyohei wasn’t going to force her hand or even press the issue. At the end of the day, they were still mostly strangers and she was not the one under investigation. During his time working with the Police Force in Konoha he had learned how to crack a tough case, and that often involved getting a (usually unwilling) witness or suspect to talk. No two cases were ever the same and neither were any two witnesses. Some required the use of force, intimidation, and aggressive interrogation techniques in order to get them to speak. On the other hand, there were those who would shut down under that kind of pressure, instead requiring a softer touch. It was force of habit for Kyohei to attempt in his mind to deduce where on that spectrum Shinako stood, but ultimately he decided upon neither. Whatever she was holding in, it was clearly a personal matter. She seemed like a normal enough girl, he was sure that she had friends or people close to her that she would tell if it was really such a problem.

Still, when Kyohei pushed himself up from the chain link fence he would notice Shinako once again correcting her gait in an attempt to mask any signs of her discomfort. She was a decent actress, he would give her that, but after having seen her attempt this once before, the tells were clear to the Uchiha. He sighed softly as he searched for a solution to the predicament he found himself in. Shinako was a seemingly stubborn and proud woman. These qualities were not necessarily “bad” on their own, but they would prove problematic in the sense that she was unlikely to accept help from him easily, especially now that her guard had been raised once more by his prodding. His real challenge was to get this girl to stop making whatever was physically ailing her worse without appearing to be questioning her ability to take care of herself. Strangely, she reminded him of Risu in this regard. Risu was strong and stubborn almost to a fault. She didn’t need a knight in shining armor to swoop in and save the day, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t use some help or a nudge in the right direction from time to time.

“Wait.”

With her back still turned to him as she walked away, Kyohei saw an opportunity to show Shinako that she wasn’t the only person here that could do a little acting. Gripping the side of his left thigh before she turned, he would put his plan into motion. It was likely that she did not want to appear weak by succumbing to whatever discomfort she was experiencing, so she wasn’t going to do anything to help herself. The Uchiha wasn’t going to be winning academy awards anytime soon, but he was more than familiar with pain and its effects on people to mimic it correctly. Hopefully it would be over quickly.

“I guess I overdid it at the gym earlier today. I tweaked my leg while I was working out, but it had subsided, so I didn’t think anything of it. All of the walking must have aggravated it. I’ll be fine to continue, but I should probably try to stay off it of if possible. There’s a place that still does Cycle rickshaws just up the street. Mind if we take one of those the rest of the way?”






701 | 14532



Last edited by Kyohei on Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:44 am; edited 1 time in total


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
The man’s ploy was transparent enough that Shinako figured it out after a few moments of genuine wonder. His movements were authentic enough, but she highly doubted that Jounin injured themselves in training, especially in the gym. However, despite her willful turning away, he had continued to reach out in an attempt to make meaningful human contact. It made her smile broadly.

“I’d like that very much.”

It was in that moment, watching him clutching his leg and faking an injury, that Shinako decided she liked Kyohei. Being assigned to him the next morning would not be a bad thing. The fact that he had noticed her exhaustion and offered to make concessions for her was far more kindness than she had come to expect from her fellow Shinobi. However, spotting an opportunity to gauge his commitment to the act, Shinako rushed over, making a clucking noise with her tongue as a mother might when looking at her child’s skinned knee.

“It’s not very far. Please, allow me to help you.”

She reached out without a moment’s hesitation and grasped his left hand, throwing it over her shoulders and tucking her head under his left shoulder, that she might act like a crutch on his left side. She almost laughed at the ridiculous gesture, but insisted despite any protestations he might have. She wrapped her right arm around his waist, steadying herself against his ribs as she grabbed his right hip. The scent of sake on their breath became very apparent in the tight space, and Shinako would have been lying if she’d had to say she did not quite like the smell of it.

“It’s my sworn duty to make sure you don’t come to any harm. It appears I’ve failed, but at least I won’t leave a man behind.”

Her tone was stilted and ridiculous, as though she were saving him from some far-off battlefield. There was nobody around to see, but the people of Konohagakure might have been quite alarmed to see two Shinobi walking shoulder to shoulder in the market district, limping along and supporting each other. It reminded Shinako of the strength drills in academy, in which they had been tasked with carrying their partners several hundred meters to simulate the stress of battle. Her partner had been a nine-year-old boy, and she’s had very little trouble. Kyohei was a bit larger, but she imagined that he could carry her own weight much better than her academy partner had. Shinako swayed her hips forward and backward, as though building up to a start.

“One….two….three….”

On the count of three she took a step forward towards the rickshaw stand, exaggerating the cooperative nature of their current situation. She was roughly familiar with the location that Kyohei had indicated, though she would have to let him lead after they had made it up the hill. She gave a fake and cheesy grunt, as though straining under his weight, even though she had not taken any of it.

500/12,230


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Everything had gone according to plan at first. By feigning his own injury, Kyohei had successfully devised a plan to get Shinako to take it easy without having to give up face. He should probably have been embarrassed, and under normal circumstances he would have. Kyohei most often thought it shameful for him to allow his own problems to become an inconvenience to others. Strangely enough, he usually did not hold others to this same standard, often criticizing subordinates and students for not seeking help when they need it. Maybe it was an ego thing. He felt he was different, that he had to be better, that he had to do more, and that more should be expected him. He knew it was a bit hypocritical to expect others to behave in a manner that he would not himself, but it was just one of his quirks that he had no interest in correcting. Situations like these were the almost sole exception to that attitude. In order to protect or deflect humiliation from others he felt the temporary shame was acceptable… up to a point. That point would be reached just moments after he proposed his plan to Shinako.

“W-wait! What are you… you really don’t have to…”

Kyohei almost leapt away from Shinako as she forced herself under his arm to support him, even against his obvious protests, but stopped himself from pushing off of his ‘injured’ leg and blowing the cover of his act. His face flushed a bright red hue due to the humiliation of the act, but went along with her overzealous display with the intent of protesting further once they were en route, this time being more insistent.

“Th-thank you…”

Kyohei managed to sneak a show of gratitude through his gritted teeth. Thoughts of regret began to run through his mind, prompted by the sheer humiliation he felt in this situation. Even with his thorough training, the Uchiha was unable to hide the look of embarrassment on his face. Once they began moving, however, he would notice that despite her show, she was not actually taking any of his weight to support him. Immediately he deduced that she was privy to the fact that he was faking his injury and was playing along with his game… or rather, raising the stakes just as she did back at the restaurant. He was beginning to think that this woman simply enjoyed seeing how far she could push him.

The blush would leave his face, as would the embarrassed expression, once he realized what was going on. His mind went back to his ‘defeat’ at the restaurant and his competitive nature began to flare up once again. With no plans of losing to her twice in the same evening, determined to even the score, Kyohei would begin to allow her to take on some of his weight as they began making their way up the hill. He assumed it was still fairly pedestrian for her as he still supported the majority of his weight on his own, but his real intention was to meet her challenge with his own. He wanted to see if she would back down once her bluff was called.

Ultimately, however, it was unlikely that Kyohei would take it much further than simply leaning on her a bit to let her know that he’s onto her as well. The last thing he needed was for her weary legs to give out under them both and wind up hurting her when the entire point was to provide her some relief in the first place. Once they ascended to the top of the hill he would point out to the establishment that was now within sight.

“Right over there. You can’t miss it. It’s the only building with rickshaw carts parked out front.”






643 | 15,175


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei’s blush was enough to indicate that Shinako had achieved her desired effect. As a woman, she had learned to subvert the traditional gender roles sometimes in order to make a point, or when she was being patronized. It was almost second nature to her to prove that she didn’t need any special treatment. As a Kunoichi this skill had intensified greatly. However, she sensed that Kyohei meant well, which was why she had not become angry at his charade. A little bit of chivalry was nice every once in a while. As they neared the top of the hill, Shinako let out another exaggerated groan.

“UUUUGH! It’s a good thing I’ve had so much practice with the Ino-Shika-Cho formation….”

She took the fact that Kyohei shifted just enough of his weight on her shoulders to be annoying as a sign that he was still game for the unique style of play they had developed.

“….do you know how hard it is to carry an Akimichi around?”

She felt slightly bad about the cheap shot at the vaunted Shinobi of the Akimichi clan. They did, after all, rely on calorie manipulation for their techniques. The only Akimichi Shinako knew personally were women and girls, and all of them were much thinner than their male, ninja counterparts. At any rate, nobody was around to hear the rude jab.

Shinako had to blow her bangs out of her face to lay her eyes on the rickshaw station. There was nobody outside, but the neon sign indicated that they were open for business. Shinako took a firmer grasp of Kyohei’s wrist and grabbed the back of his pants, quite intentionally pulling the seat of his pants up toward his back in an attempt to make him uncomfortable.

“Don’t worry, Kyohei-sama. We’ll make it.”

The Kunoichi intentionally used the overly deferential “sama,” as though she were carrying a lordling on her back. It was in this fashion that they made their way towards the rickshaws, a little bit over a block away. Despite the fact that she was having fun and only pretending, the combination of the exhaustion and the alcohol had her panting slightly. Still, she would not let Kyohei draw away, as she had yet another brilliant move in mind. She was careful to match her stride to Kyohei’s which was a bit difficult with the height difference. The going was not smooth, but it truly wasn’t that far to go. Shinako had to milk everything she could out of it.

As the odd duo came within fifteen meters of the closest rickshaw, Shinako began to see signs of life within the building, illuminated a faint yellow by the lights from inside. They probably did not get very much business after the dinner rush had died down, and would probably be grateful for a long fare out of the city limits. It was with this understanding that Shinako justified what came next.

“HELP! We need a taxi, STAT!”

The dark-haired woman did her best damsel in distress voice, and saw the silhouette of a person inside the building stir immediately.

“Don’t worry, friend! We’ll make it! Please, anyone, he’s so dreadfully injured!!!”

The wooden-slat door slid open and a burly young man peeked his head out, shooting a confused look around the street as his eyes adjusted to the low light. When he laid eyes on the approaching Shinobi a look of confused urgency registered on his face. Without hesitation, he rushed out into the street. Dressed in a grey and white kimono with a rope head-band, the young man was the very image of working-class chivalry. He had almost made it to them and taken a hold of Kyohei before Shinako gestured him away with her head.

“No no, I’ve got him. Can you have the cart ready quickly?”

The young man stopped in his tracks, looking back and forth from Shinako to Kyohei in a moment of abject bewilderment. This was probably the strangest thing he had seen all week. The urgency of her last request seemed to sting him. With an almost effortless motion, the man took about two steps to his left and picked up the handles of the nearest cart, continuing to watch his strange patrons with eyes bright with incomprehension. As they closed the remaining space, Shinako collapsed to one knee and gave Kyohei a weak shove towards the compartment of the carriage, imparting an air of finality to her dramatic act. She almost broke into laughter.

750/12,980


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
“Yes, unfortunately. I do.”

Kyohei rolled his eyes at the Akimichi comment. Yes, he did know exactly how difficult it was to try and lug around an Akimichi that was put out of commission. His best friend in the Academy had been an Akimichi, and they had even been placed in the same team together immediately following graduation. Their partnership would continue all the way into their time together in the Military Police before Kyohei’s disappearance. Despite his incredible physical strength and intimidating size, even by Akimichi standards, Torifu was a complete pushover. He was the biggest kid in their class and he still managed to get bullied as a child. It was always Kyohei that did the fighting, with Torifu being the one sniveling about scrapes and bruises in the aftermath. Kyohei often scolded Torifu for being soft, but in the end there was a part of the Uchiha that cherished playing the role of protector. Perhaps it was because he experienced loss that he took to the role even at a young age.

The man let out a surprised grunt and almost jumped up as he felt the seat of his pants riding up behind him, pulled upwards by Shinako’s suspiciously placed hand. Kyohei’s immediate response was to leer in her direction, making her aware of his discontent with her antics without saying a word. However, she did not relent, a fact not lost on the Uchiha as he chided himself in his mind.

This is what I get for trying to be nice.

It was not until she began to call out for help from the workers inside that Kyohei’s embarrassment began to slowly be replaced by anger. His own stubbornness and desire to ‘win’ would not allow him to break role and reveal his feigned injury, but he was beginning to feel less and less like playing around. There was such a thing as too casual, where one’s actions became careless and discourteous. He had given her more leeway than he allowed most, going so far as to give up face on his part to relieve her of some discomfort so that she didn’t have to, only to have it thrown back in his face. Being publicly humiliated for his attempted act of kindness was a swift reminder why he kept people at arms distance in the first place.

Once he found himself in the rickshaw cart, Kyhohei slid himself as far to the opposite side of the single bench as possible. The Uchiha would position his body to lean away from the seat Shinako would surely take, laying his elbow on the side of the cart and resting his head on his palm with his knuckles almost sealing his lips shut. He turned his head to look out of the side of the cart, still reeling from the embarrassment he had just been put through, his cheeks still bright red. He even went so far as placing the small paper bag containing their desserts between them on the cushion to act as a barrier in case her hands decided to wander again. He’d had enough pulling on the seat of his pants in that short walk to the cart to last a lifetime. He hoped this defensive would be enough to buy him a reprieve. In his mind, he had managed to maintain his feigned injury even throughout Shinako’s relentless assault on his pride and as far as he was concerned that was a victory. After all, his plan was originally to get her off her feet without showing her up, which he had done. Although, at this point, he was unsure if it was worth the suffering.






621 | 15796


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
Shinako climbed into the back of the rickshaw and the young man pulling the cart began to move, immediately falling into his practiced and professional demeanor of deliberate indifference to what was going on behind him. The Kunoichi took a few moments to reach up and fix her hair, restringing the elastic band that held her ponytail in place. It took her a few moments to recognize the distance that Kyohei had deliberately placed between them, though once she noticed it, reading his body language was not difficult. He was unhappy with her antics. The way he looked out over the other side of the rickshaw allowed Shinako to drop her pretenses and frown a bit as she mulled over just what to say.

In the past hour or so, Kyohei had committed to remaining under her supervision without attempting to escape. The prospect of him consenting to the arrangement for another day was still doubtful, especially now that she had offended him. Shinako leaned back against the seat of the taxi and heaved a sigh, content to sit in silence for a little while. For several minutes, the only sound that seemed to resonate in all of Konohagakure was the grinding of the rickshaw’s wheels, driven by the steady foot-falls of the dutiful young man who pulled it. Shinako closed her eyes briefly, though she forced them open again so as to avoid falling asleep. There was something in her that wanted to reengage with Kyohei, and she was able to think of a passage from Lord Shikamatsu that might work. The moon hung clearly over the fair-haired man’s shoulder.

“And so the night passed as it always did—in slow motion, with plaintive glances at the moon, hanging over my lover’s shoulder. Every minute wasted was a minute in which I failed to find her. ‘Lover, do not be startled if Lady Moon should whisper your name. I give it to her every night, hoping she will tell you to turn back to me.’”

The woman’s brown eyes took in the streaming light of the moon, reflecting it back into the shade of the rickshaw. Her tone was not the exaggerated seductive tone that she had used back in the restaurant. Instead, Shinako sounded like someone who had placed her faith fully in language, and was in love with words. The sound was low, rich, and practiced in the way that a beloved hobby might be practiced. She uttered poetry with the same care that a coin-collector might polish his prized pieces. Speaking the passage brought a slight curl to the right corner of her mouth, though the gesture did now quite break into a smile. The expression was wistful and more than a little bit weary.

Shinako watched to see if Kyohei’s eyes would be drawn up to the moon by the passage. It was halfway through its waning cycle, as it had been full about half a month ago. Still, it shone brightly over the village.

500/13,480


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Despite most of his peers believing Kyohei to be in a perpetually sour mood, this was not the case. Very rarely did the Uchiha allow himself to surrender so fully to impulse or raw emotion that he considered himself truly enraged or depressed. The modern day Uchiha stressed the idea of emotional stability and control to their young, a sentiment that Kyohei recalled hearing from his father and others around him back to his earliest memories of shinobi training.

While extremely powerful, and often negative, emotions such as anger, grief, and fear acted as a catalyst for those who carried Uchiha blood, rapidly amplifying their abilities and manifesting their power in an aggressive form well suited for combat, it did come at a cost. It was taught that even back to the earliest progenitor of the Uchiha Clan, Indra Ootsutsuki, those who bore the Sharingan, while possessing tremendous power, were also prone to being consumed by that same power they coveted and cherished so greatly. Reliance on powerful emotions was a shortcut to power, often being temporary and addictive in nature. Too common a tale it was, a man of crimson eyes being tempted to take just one more step into the darkness to attain their goals, only to shortly find themselves one step too far and free falling into the abyss.

For those reasons, compounded with the general value placed on cool-headedness in his occupation, Kyohei found himself almost completely incapable of dwelling on negative emotions for too long. While this often proved to be a benefit to him, being capable of compartmentalizing negative feelings or memories to prevent them from hindering his work, it also would, on occasion, work against his own wishes, such as struggling to place himself in the shoes of another long enough to truly understand emotions he could not relate to or when his initial anger compelled him to seethe and reject the woman beside him, but finding himself either unable or unwilling to retain that same intensity for more than a few moments. The prolonged silence that hung between he and Shinako only emphasized Kyohei’s inability to perpetuate his mask of discontent. Much to his surprise, he had found her company up to that point rather enjoyable, leaving a part of him desiring to allow himself to enjoy her company further, but having already lost to her once that night, his pride did not allow him to turn and face her once more.

Shinako would be the first to breach the wall of silence between them, reciting what he could only assume to be a pre-scripted verse of poetry. Kyohei could not speak much on the subject of poetry himself, never having truly taken an interest in the subject in his younger years. And as he grew older, there always seemed to be less and less time to dedicate purely to exploratory or leisurely activities. Her words, at the very least, were pleasant to the ear, but he was unsure if that was a product of the passage or the voice reading them.

As she began speaking Kyohei would feel his head pulling back towards her, stubbornly fighting the urge to listen and instead maintain his façade. His efforts would, however, only be partially successful, as he could not stop himself from turning his head just far enough in to get a view of Shinako as she spoke from the corner of his eye, now facing the road ahead of them rather than the opposite direction. Her voice was a lure that the Uchiha had so far found himself unable to resist. It was different now, the seduction noticeably toned down and replaced with an emotion he could not quite put his finger on just yet. Just as it had done back at the restaurant, it pulled him into her trap, even though he might not have realized it completely in the moment. Before the end of her monologue he had found himself turned back in towards Shinako, his gaze aimed just beyond her shoulder at the moon whose name she had invoked with her words. There was a name he wished to give to the moon, but kept it to himself, having been long since stripped of the ability to generate such faith.

Kyohei continued to stare for a few moments still before noticing that the words had stopped and he had put himself in a vulnerable position, open to Shinako, once more. His gaze fell back down from the sky, resulting in him locking eyes with his companion who had appeared to have been watching him. He recoiled just slightly as his expression changed from one of longing to one of embarrassment once more, however this time devoid of the anger he had displayed previously. Without a word he would reposition himself within the cart once again, still resting his head in his hand atop the cart’s side. This time, however, his attempts at distancing himself from Shinako would be less dramatic, his head and body faced forward towards the young man pulling with only his gaze desperately looking the opposite way for a means to escape.

“You broke the silence first this time. That’s against the rules of Mysterious Ninja Club, so now we’re one and one.”

His tempo having been disrupted once more, Kyohei decided to speak up after a moment. This time, however, he made direct reference to the little game they had been playing all night, that had previously gone unspoken, directly. Calling this a win on his part was a stretch, but he was willing to take any victory he could get against this point against Shinako who had controlled their pace since he conceded control to her back outside of the gym. He was not the kind of person who was fond of the idea of not being in control, but strangely, he didn’t mind her so much.

“…You should eat your dessert before it gets soft and soggy. We’re still a few minutes out.”






1009 | 16805


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei’s willingness to re-engage was heartening. Perhaps it was that both of them were getting tired, but it seemed as though things between them were getting easier now. Shinako did not have to commit to being the very model of a devoted Chuunin in order to connect with him anymore. The false bravado had been stripped away, and she was just a woman again. She thought back to her defiant move earlier, when she had stood up to Kyohei and boldly tied her forehead-protector around her brow. Looking back, the events of the day seemed almost silly, and brought a slight smile to her face. Just hours earlier she had doubted that Kyohei would warn her if her hair was on fire, let alone caution her that her dessert would be ruined.

With delicate fingers, Shinako reached down and broke the gummy seal of the paper food bag, producing a slight crinkling sound. Her left hand disappeared into the vessel for a few moments and then reemerged with two skewers of sweet and sticky Dango. Of course, she would have preferred to wait until they had arrived at her home, where they could drink warm green-tea with the delicious sweet confection, but they had spent quite a bit of time dawdling. Her original plan, it seemed, would be foiled, but the substitute was not disagreeable. Taking her own skewer in her right hand, Shinako offered the one in her left to Kyohei.

“There’s no way I can eat two. Will you share with me?”

She made the request sound as if he would be doing her a favor, realizing that he might still be reluctant to eat. Back in the restaurant, the taciturn detective had barely touched his food. In many Nara households, sharing food was a sign of care and affection, a trait that they had no doubt picked up from the Akimichi somewhere along the way. It was for this reason that Nara women, overbearing as they tended to be, were food-pushers. Shinako could almost hear her grandmother’s indignant tone at dinner time when she would, as a teenager, refuse the matron’s offering of a second plate. Somehow, Shinako had not expected the subject of her relatively mundane assignment to evoke such a feeling. She bit into the syrupy dumpling as though to demonstrate to Kyohei that it tasted good.

A little bit of the caramel sauce escaped her lower lip, dripping to her chin and drawing a short laugh, even through her full mouth. The sound was muffled and came more from her nose, so as not to expel any Dango back into the car. Almost embarrassed that she had made such a childlike move, Shinako raised her wrist to her mouth to obscure the mess that she had made, smiling through her eyes and hoping that Kyohei would free her other hand to deal with the sweet muddle around her mouth.

The rickshaw was pulling farther away from the streetlights of the village now, and the ambient noises of the electric generators faded away as they moved off into the outskirts where the noble families of Konoha lived.

520/14,000


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei’s gaze would be drawn back to Shinako after hearing her prompt regarding sharing in the dessert she had purchased. He had remembered her alluding to them eating the Mitarashi Dango once they had reached her home, but at the time he had no intention of doing so, causing him to hesitate as she held her offering out towards him. He looked at her skeptically for a moment, until she took a bite from her own skewer and began to struggle with a bit of sauce from the confection dribbling down from her lip. With a giggle she would immediately motion to cover up her spill, an unexpected display of modesty considering their interactions up to this point. The duo had somehow successfully navigated the rocky waters of their initial meeting, or so it seemed. The Uchiha’s inner skeptic did not allow him to respond without at least considering the possibility that this was another calculated ploy on her part. In the end, however, he decided to set aside those thoughts, at least for the moment. Shinako seemed to have passed the point of defensive posturing, so he felt it appropriate to at least attempt to do so in kind. The harmless, clumsy display from the previously poised and shrewd woman was strangely humanizing and a welcome sign to a man who had been trained for most of his conscious life to look for “the enemy” everywhere he went.

Kyohei was still not particularly hungry, nor had he ever had much of a sweet tooth, but the rekindling of their rapport after a brief snag compelled him to meet Shinako half way. With a weak smile he crossed his left arm across his body and accepted the dessert from his companion, freeing her hand to take care of the situation going on below her lip. While he assumed she was cleaning her chin from the stray trail of caramel sauce, Kyohei would spend several moments analyzing the confection that he had accepted. Holding the skewer facing skyward he would carefully inspect the item, as if it were evidence for a case. Sometimes he couldn’t help his skepticism. Rolling the base of the skewer between the tips of his thumb, index, and middle finger he would take in the view from all sides, immediately followed by turning the skewer to a horizontal position and doing the same type of visual inspection. This in turn was followed by a quick sniff and a gentle shake to see if it would fall apart, conducted over the side of the cart to prevent flying caramel sauce from claiming any more victims.

It seemed silly, considering how common a dish like this was in the village, but Kyohei had never before eaten this particular kind of dessert. From what he could discern it was supposed to be a kebab with sweetened baked goods rather than meats. Once he was satisfied with his inspection of the dessert’s surface he would have to determine how he was actually supposed to eat it. When eating kebabs, with each piece of grilled meat or vegetable separate from each other, he would simply pick off a piece at a time, but the doughy balls on the skewer seemed to be attached to each other, making that a bit more difficult as he would have to rip the caramel coated pieces off. In the end he would decide to imitate Shinako and bite it from the side directly. The taste was surprisingly pleasant, causing the Uchiha to let out a contented humming sound. The texture was soft and chewy, almost like a dumpling, which he found to be enjoyable. As he was busy chewing and analyzing the new experience, however, he would not notice the dab of caramel sauce at the side of his mouth, left over from touching the dessert as he awkwardly tried to bite it from the side.






654 | 17459


____

Shinako

avatar

Special Jounin
It was a relief that Kyohei was so cooperative in allowing Shinako to empty her hand. With her unburdened appendage, the Kunoichi reached behind her back and into her tool kit. After a moment of blind feeling, her fingers located a handkerchief, neatly folded amongst the cold, sharp forms of her weapons. She always packed a bit of silk next to her steel, both to help keep the instruments of war quiet and for situations like this. It was considered a social faux pas to be caught out and about without a handkerchief, and Shinako had never quite let go of the tradition.

She pulled the neatly folded square out into plain sight, and its black and silver paisley shimmered in the moonlight; it was not an expensive thing, but was finely made, and reminded Shinako of her father. However, she did not think about that in the moment, and used the napkin to wipe the sauce from her chin before it could get sticky, producing another slight laugh as she did so. After the mess had been cleaned, she wrapped a corner of the kerchief neatly around the index and middle fingers of her left hand, tucking the body of it against her palm with her thumb. This way, she would be able to dab at the corners of her mouth if she were to have another incident.

Shinako looked up in time enough to see Kyohei take his first bite from his skewer, and was pleasantly surprised that he made a sound of enjoyment. She had not taken him as the sort to enjoy sweets, based on the hardened and maintained appearance of his body, but it would have been rude to bring dessert only for one. It was dark in the rickshaw, so it took Shinako a few moments to realize that Kyohei had made a similar mistake to her own, and now wore his dessert on his face. Almost without a thought, Shinako angled herself towards him, shifting her hips on the seat and bringing her left leg up between them so that she could bring her left hand up to his face without discomfort. Taking another bite of her Dango, the young woman gestured to the spot on Kyohei’s cheek where the smudge had taken form. There was only a moment of hesitation before she reached forward with the handkerchief in an attempt to dab at the spot.

It was only after she had taken action that Shinako realized how personal and rude the gesture might have been. It was not uncommon for her, as of late, to forget that there were boundaries between strangers. Normally this desire for closeness and authenticity led, at worst, to awkward conversations with bar-patrons, but this was far more familiar, and thus far less appropriate. Shinako did not pause before reaching out to Kyohei because, deep down, there was something in her that wanted to touch and to be touched with something other than steel. In many ways, she was the handkerchief amongst Kunai.

505/14,505


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A

Kyohei

avatar

Special Jounin
Kyohei tilted his head slightly and shot a curious look Shinako’s way when she shifted towards him and made a pointing gesture towards her face. His initial thought led him to believe that she was asking him for confirmation that her face had been cleared of the mess she had made on herself just moments before. Seeing no residual caramel in the area, Kyohei nodded in response, a common gesture of affirmation, before returning to his own skewer, cutting through another small chunk of dough with his teeth. With both of them currently pre-occupied with the Dango, the Uchiha felt no need to force conversation just yet, instead allowing events to transpire as they would and setting his gaze towards the road ahead.

Barely a moment would pass before the relatively peaceful moment would end, signaled by an outstretched arm moving towards him from the corner of Kyohei’s eye. His reaction was instinctive, drilled into him through relentless training and borderline paranoia instilled in him due to the nature of his work. Without a thought the Uchiha’s mind registered the unannounced approach as a threat, his Sharingan becoming active and his left hand crossing over his body as he shifted in his seat to face Shinako, losing the skewered confection he had held previously somewhere along the way. Adrenaline shot through his veins as his fight or flight response was triggered, causing his breathing to become slightly heavier.

Kyohei’s eyes shone a deep red, almost tinting the air directly surrounding his eyes with their crimson glow. His Sharingan first trained their sights on the nearest point of threat, Shinako’s outstretched hand, to which his own left hand responded by swinging up and wrapping around her wrist. Noticing the lack of a weapon he did not grip forcefully as if to disarm, instead cradling her wrist in his palm to stay it as his gaze shifted to her face. He paid little attention to her initial reaction as he locked eyes with her, crimson eyes glaring as if casting an accusation of betrayal. His gaze may have been directed at her eyes, but his actual intention was to read the sum of the movements of her face for signs of hostility or intent before she could properly process his actions and manipulate her face to deceive him. He found none.

It was only after his instinctive response had deemed her intentions non-threatening that his analytical mind took back over. He remembered the gesture she had made previously and his silent approval only to come to understand that he had misinterpreted her meaning. She was holding the napkin she used to clean her face off in her hand, not a weapon. The face for which she had gestured for permission was his. His eyes widened with a tinge of dread at the realization set in, returning to their original color as the anger-fueled crimson hue subsided.

“… I’m… sorry. I didn’t…”

His voice contained neither panic nor anger, but instead escaped his lips in almost a whisper, bleeding remorse with each slowly spoken word and unintended pause. For the second time that night Kyohei had been left speechless, this time by his own doing. In this moment, as he struggled for words he became more aware of his hand under her wrist and his eyes shot down there to avoid the shame of meeting her gaze again. He never had been the greatest conversationalist, although he was not completely inept. He always preferred actions over words, but the power of words was not lost on him. In his line of work there was a lot of talking, but his positon allowed him to be on the listening end of the conversation more often than not.

Kyohei didn’t know what to say beyond sorry, but he wished that he could undo his extremely guarded reaction and return to how things were between them just before, just as the walls and masks were coming down. If he didn’t have the right words, he felt it worth a shot to try something else. Rather than release her wrist and withdraw again, he extended his fingers and wrapped them all the way around, tightening his hold to a gentle squeeze. He wouldn’t hold her if she broke away, but if she did not he would nudge her arm back on the path on which it was originally set, towards his face.

“Go ahead…”






749 | 18208


____

Sponsored content



View previous topic View next topic Back to top Message [Page 2 of 3]

Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum

Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden belong to © Masashi Kishimoto.