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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Dearest Kyohei,

I hope that this missive finds you doing well, and enjoying what, I hear, has been a triumphant return to duty. I am sure that the rigorous schedule of a detective presents the opportunity for excitement at every turn; I shall not go into the comparisons between your career and the harrowing duties of an Administrative Chuunin, so as to avoid raising any hint of green in your temperament. Many a close friend has expressed jealously recently at descriptions of my leisurely, petty pace.

As you may have guessed, this is a social letter, not a follow-up of our short stint of forced togetherness. I must confess: I was not expecting to enjoy our time together, but I have come to think of you as a friend. Having so much time on my hands these days, it seems a shame to not put my gratitude for your companionship and insights to paper. I think, in these past few days, about a poem that Nara Shikamaru penned about a conversation he had once with Akimichi Choji, when the latter showed up unannounced while the former tended garden:


There is time to talk.
I leave my shovel in the soft ground,
blade-end down, and five-feet tall,
and plod up to the stone retaining wall
for a friendly visit.


I’ve always thought that the poem was a little bit sad. Walls should not separate friends, and Shikamaru often wrote about that very topic as he learned to use Earth Release techniques. I suppose that I hope this letter, and perhaps more to come, can cross the wall of time and distance between two new friends, and find their friendship well and intact. I eagerly await your response, and hope that I have used your time sparingly.

In Sincere Friendship,

Nara Shinako


300/300



Last edited by Shinako on Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:51 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Word Count/Formatting)


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
Dear Shinako,

You really are old-fashioned, aren’t you? I can’t remember the last time I received a hand written letter through the mail. Somehow I feel like a phone call would have been easier. In a strange way, though, it was nice getting a letter. Being a bit traditional isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I didn’t grow up in an environment where these kinds of things were valued, so it has been unexpectedly enjoyable to have these small experiences with you. I hope our interactions can continue into the future.

Unfortunately, my work has not been particularly exciting since I was re-instated. Once the investigation was over I assumed I would be able to get right back to how things were, but as it turns out the reinstatement process comes with a virtual sea of paperwork that I must navigate before I can begin taking cases again. I’ve never spent so much time behind a desk in my life. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that you’ve been the most enjoyable part of this whole process, so feel free to send me as many messages as you’d like. I could certainly use an occasional lifeline to get out from under all of this administrative work.

I know that you’re a fan of poetry, so I wish I had an insightful poem for you like you always seem to have for me, but alas, I’m not quite as talented as you are in that area. I suppose I should thank you for the letter. If you’re ever in the mood to break away from your jetsetting life as an administrative worker, you’re always welcome to put on your shining armor, get on your white horse, and come and rescue me from my desk (bring something to drink).

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best,

Kyohei Uchiha

P.S. But seriously, the Chief expressly prohibits alcohol within HQ, so if you do decide to show up on your lunch break or something, you’ll have to sneak it in. But I’m sure that shouldn’t be too difficult for you. You’re a shinobi after all.






375 | 375


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Dearest Kyohei,

Am I that? A Shinobi, I mean. I have had my doubts recently. The Nara have always been slightly more inclined toward the intellectual pursuits the Hidden Leaf has to offer. However, at my desk from day to day, I often find my mind wandering. It latches on to nothing of any import, and my pursuits are far from the rigors traditionally associated with Shinobi. That is not to say that I am not succeeding here; just that the bar is rather low. Your cooperation with my supervisory duties has opened a world of paper-pushing possibilities here.

In fact, my Jounin Commander has put my name forward as a candidate for the Uniform Strategic & Tactical Exam (USTE). I’m sure you had to take it in order to rise to your rank, though the notion of studying for it seems tedious. It’s rather difficult for me to imagine you studying, Kyohei-san. I write with a smile, as I imagine your brow furrowing seriously over long-range variations on the Manji Formation. It always seemed to me that the greatest Shinobi maneuvered by brilliant instinct rather than by practiced precision. The more I look into this ever-shifting, multifaceted world of ours, the more appreciation I have for the dedication it takes to do what you (we?) do.


Have you thought on the thousand, thousand acres of the Land of Fire much?
Have you reckoned its brown earth; soft in places; stone hard?
Have you practiced so long to learn to read, and felt
so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop a day and a night with me,
and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
the good of the earth and fiery sun.
-Nara Shikamatsu


I suppose I mean to say, please do not lament your time turning the slow cogs of the administrative mechanism. You have already accomplished more than most may hope to do in a lifetime. Besides, without these short periods of down-time often serve to give us perspective on matters we do not see clearly in the field. Perhaps get out of the office for a walk every now and then. Should I get out from under the alabaster towers of paperwork which have become my daily routine, I might just find occasion to join you.

With Hope,

Nara Shinako

P.S., I may just have to take you up on your offer to make trouble in your office.


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
Dear Shinako,

What makes you think that intellectual pursuits aren’t a part of the shinobi world? We have an entire intelligence division here at HQ. I would guess that a good number of them have never put their life on the line out in the field, but that doesn’t make what they do less important. I don’t question their identity as shinobi because their role is different than my own.

You shouldn’t be so concerned about the title of a shinobi. I’ve been on this path since I was old enough to remember. The image of shinobi as jutsu slinging, kunai chucking heroes is a fantasy. I’m afraid that the reality of the job is far more mundane. My job entails plenty of paper work in between those exciting deployments and field work (I may or may not use my Sharingan to memorize parts of documents without actually having to read through them). We train because we fight. We fight because we must. War and conflict are a reality of the world we live in, but only a part of it. Sometimes we do things that we aren’t proud of or don’t make us feel like noble heroes, but we accept the world for how it is in that moment and move on, armed with new knowledge and new perspective to hopefully make our worlds just a bit better for next time.

Getting caught up in philosophical questions like “What does it mean to be a shinobi?” can be interesting food for thought, but is ultimately irrelevant. “Shinobi” is just a word. We’re people. Most of whom are a far cry from what I imagine a “real” shinobi looks like in your mind, but all interesting in their own way. Nobody is born to be a shinobi, it’s simply a job they take in their lives.

When I look at you, I see only Shinako Nara, a woman who just so happens to be a kunoichi of Konohagakure. But more importantly, I see my friend, someone who I care for. This is the part where you feel honored, by the way. The people who can boast such a claim are few and far between. I hope that through me you can see that shinobi, even the most abrasive and grumpy of us are not beyond redemption. Or is it perhaps that a part of you still sees me as the monster you pulled away from on the night of our meeting?

As someone who does consider you a friend, I hope that you loosen up a bit. For how much progress we made between our first meeting and the end of your assignment, I couldn’t help but feel as though despite your smile and playful remarks, you still felt as if you needed to defend yourself from me. There are certain things that you can’t talk about to people that have never been there. I’m sure that your civilian friends are nice, but they won’t understand what you go through as part of this world. I may not be quite as sharp as you, but I’m a good listener. A professional listener in a way. Dwelling on your concerns won’t help them be quelled, but maybe allowing someone else to shoulder some of the weight for you could help. There is a reason that most shinobi work in teams. Everyone needs someone to support them.

If you’re looking for a little more excitement out of your work, have you ever considered joining the police force? I’m sure that we could use someone like you somewhere. Maybe even out in the field if you think you need to experience that aspect of the shinobi lifestyle first hand a bit. You’d have to work around your sore calves, though. But I am quite the masseur, if I do say so myself. If you’re ever suffering from that same kind of prolonged soreness like you were during your assignment with me, I might be able to help you work it out.

I have to travel to a town about a day out for a case starting tomorrow, so I may not receive your next letter until the week’s end. But I hope I’ll have one waiting for me nonetheless. I’ll speak to you soon.

Best,

Kyohei






736 | 1,111


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Dearest Kyohei,

I thank you for your kind words. Your strength is not unlike a beacon, seen from afar, which gives others hope as they journey into the night. I am immeasurably glad to call you my friend. However, I feel you misapprehend my meaning. I fear Shinobi not because they are unfeeling monsters, but because they are people just like you and I. People can do all manner of terrible things in the name of peace. Perhaps I can make myself a bit clearer with a story.

When I was younger, and we were on the verge of war, my father received a letter from a close family friend, telling him that everyone opposed to the war should send bags of rice to the Hokage. They were to include a note that read, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.” My father sat me down and explained to me that the real enemies of the Shinobi in this world are not hungry. They can’t be.

I thought on this, a few months ago, while on a routine espionage mission up near the Hidden Sound Village. Seeing those boys, clad in grey, patrolling the forest like child soldiers, my heart hurt for them. I knew then that my father’s words were true. My enemies are not the hungry, knife-wielding monsters who prowl the woods. They are not standing in lines for food, or drills; are not stretching rations, or waiting at the docks to claim the pieces of the bodies of their dead.

My enemies ride in carriages to parties. They are not tied up in pens underneath the ANBU installations. They are not young children who pierce my body with swords, or burn me with flames. My enemies eat meats and vegetables at tables in Teppanyaki restaurants while music plays, and lights cast shadows of flowers and leaves upon the walls. They wear gowns, and suits, and rings to talk of war in neat, folded languages that will not stain their dinner clothes or tousle their hair. My enemies use words like “casualties” to speak of murder.

They do not lose their children in our wars; to our hands. We don’t burn their houses, or demolish their streets. They don’t come home to find their beds overturned and their lamps broken. They don’t ever come home to find that Shinobi have killed their families, or disappeared them. Shinobi don’t hold Kunai to their throats. Their children don’t walk a constant field of mines….often exploding.

I cannot, as you suggest, accept the world as it is in these moments. Even when I go to the safety of my daily job in the mornings, I am not absolved of guilt for the pain us real Shinobi cause. This is no wedding, or romantic feast. I will not send Inuzuka Kenta, or perhaps Uchiha Amaya when he is gone, rice from my own kitchen to make a petty political statement.

As I pen this missive, I look upon a jar of rice in my home, where you stayed a few hours, and I am transfixed by the thousands of beautiful pieces contained within, like a watcher of some homemade, dry aquarium of grains. While I watch, I work on my next assignment of sending out nearly 20 letters containing the names of Konoha Shinobi dead since last year. I know, as I write, that there are even more dead than we have counted.

My letters will not contain the names of family from Wave Country, trying to pass the bounty checkpoint in an old, run-down wagon; a teenager from the Land of Rivers caught in the Land of Fire, on some forest path after curfew. In the next six months, I will send more letters, and I promise you they will not say the name Gantetsu, from the Hidden Sound, disappeared under the current of a River just fifty miles from home; as if the blood of these lost were any less red. We will go on living in Konoha, as if their skins melted by our flames were any less skin, and their bones broken any less bone. These were not political, or military leaders. They weren’t soldiers.

Every time we strap on our hitai-ate, we make our peace with eradicating others for the comfort of aristocrats we will never meet. There are young men and women who will never walk home again, or smell their mothers’ hair again. They won’t lay amazed eyes on the sea again, or hear anyone sing at their weddings. They won’t be showered with rice. They have names that mean “born at night,” or “lost boy,” and their mothers never knew how true those names would become. There was no place for them in the Shinobi world, and so they burned. A bag of rice will never bring them back.

I suppose I have never considered myself a Shinobi because I cannot, even from my desk, convince myself that any of their deaths were really necessary. I cannot imagine the intimacy with which a life leaves its body. Even then, in the fury of a Katon technique’s detonation, when the flesh crackles and the skull is burst, and the body’s indivisible country of organs flames out into the atmosphere; even then, in so quick a departure, there must be something that sings in them as one hand waves ‘be well’ to the other hand….’goodbye’. Perhaps their ears hear as they are flung into the field, and do not feel so separate from their hearts as they stop beating.

Sometimes, when I wake at night, it is their names that I call. When I speak in the fields I know they are listening, and I call their names for as long as I can before I must return. Their thousand, thousand names.

Perhaps I have rambled, and for that I am sorry. I hope you can forgive me. I, too, will be away from writing for a short while, but do not hesitate to respond. As always, I look forward to news of your life, its many joys, and hopefully few disappointments.

In reverence,

Nara Shinako


1,020/1,725


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
Dear Shinako,

You should never feel the need to apologize to me for expressing how you feel. I would not be much of a beacon if my light dimmed as you navigated the darkest and most clouded of waters. I understand the feeling of disdain for certain aspects of this world more than you know, but one must accept the world for what it is and understand it before they can affect true change.

We come from two very different backgrounds, you civilian of noble background, and myself, from an unnoteworthy branch of the Uchiha Clan, forced into a life of conflict before I was able to construct my own view of the world. I would be lying if I said the fact that the illness that blights this world is as clear to you as it is to me does not provide me with some modicum of comfort. When you have known nothing else, it can be difficult to discern the truth, even with these eyes. There was a time that I wished I was born into a different family, into different circumstances. I felt like I had my choice stolen from me before I could even make it, and maybe that was the case. Because of my blood, there will always be those that see me as a weapon, a tool to advance their interests, but I do not blame them. They themselves are a product of this world, one I intend to change.

I must admit I find it difficult to adequately convey my ideas on this subject in letter form. This kind of thing isn’t really in my wheelhouse. Perhaps we can pick this subject back up where we left off when we next meet. I hope that time is not too distant into the future. I must admit, I got quite used to having you around during your assignment. It was a nice change of pace to have a companion and not just a colleague.

As an aside, I was hoping that you might share with me the story of Hidan, the Jashinist, that is passed down within your clan. Or, look into it if you don’t know off-hand. I have taken an interest in the subject of late and was hoping that since I now have a Nara in my circle that I might take advantage of the opportunity. I only ask that you keep this inquiry between us for the time being. As always, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best,

Kyohei






424 | 1,535


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Dearest Kyohei,

Once again, I find myself incredibly grateful for your comforting words. I often had conversations with my Jounin Sensei, Uchiha Tenzo, about how he was viewed as a weapon for the circumstances of his heritage. It is easy to forget how relatively uneventful my short life as a Shinobi has been, and how low the expectations have been.

I find it quirky and refreshing that you would ask about the Legend of Hidan. It’s something of a horror story told to Nara children to keep them out of the woods, though it is based on a story in the journals of Nara Shikamaru, one of our most famous ancestors. Sometime during the reign of the Sixth Hokage, just before the Fourth Great Shinobi War, the brutal and cunning Akatsuki attempted to gather the fabled Jinchuuriki for a foul plot. As a display of power, they entered the Land of Fire, and a team was sent to hunt them down.

Shikamaru, and his Jounin Sensei Asuma were part of the special team. They found two Akatsuki members, the Chimera Kakuzu and the Immortal Hidan, near a remote checkpoint. As the best fighter amongst them, Sarutobi Asuma engaged Hidan. The battle was fierce and bitter, but Asuma managed to decapitate Hidan with his famous Flying Swallow-tail technique. Much to the surprise of all gathered, Hidan did not die! Instead, his severed head cursed Asuma from the ground while Kakuzu sowed it back on. The fight was ultimately the end of Asuma.

Hidan cast a Jashinist curse on Shikamaru’s master, and sealed their fates together. It is said that every soul stolen led Hidan a little bit further from achieving his ultimate rest, and Asuma’s was no different. He sacrificed the old Jounin to his dark god while his student watched. Shikamaru attacked in a rage, but was no match for the two Akatsuki Shinobi. Akimichi Choji and Yamanaka Ino arrived just in time to help drive the evil men back. It was in that moment, over Asuma’s body, that Shikamaru vowed revenge.

When the time came, and Shikamaru once again determined the location of the Immortal Hidan, he enlisted the help of Choji, Ino, and the Seventh Hokage, Sharingan no Kakashi. He devised a plan, impressing even the masterful Hokage with his tactical prowess. While his teammates distracted Kakuzu, Shikamaru battled Hidan, leading him deep into the shadows of the Nara forests.

He knew he would be unable to kill the Immortal, so he allowed Hidan to think he had completed his Jashinist ritual. While Hidan mutilated himself to please his twisted god, Shikamaru trapped him with shadows, binding him to the trees of the forest, to be guarded by the Deer for all of eternity. So long as the Nara bloodline tends to these forests, the vengeful ghost of Hidan will be confined to them.

At least, that’s what we tell the younglings. I write this letter in the heart of the Nara Forests. My family owns the plot of land reputed to house Hidan’s body, as well as the original foundation of Shikamaru’s home. There is a lot of history here, and I would love to show it to you someday soon. I think you are right, and that friends should not be apart for this long. How would you like to meet next week for a drink or two?

In Friendship,

Nara Shinako


565/2,290


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
Dear Shinako,

I believe that our brief history has shown us that the notion of our meeting consisting of just “one or two drinks” is selling ourselves short. I hope that your time in administrative incarceration has not turned you away from the stuff. It would be a tragedy for me to have to find a new drinking partner so soon after I just found you.

On a more serious note, I tend to arrive at my office quite early in the morning, but I’m free to sneak out midday for lunch and my evenings are typically free if I so choose. If that’s a schedule you can work with, I’d be glad to see you again. If not, you can always sneak a little something into my office with you like we discussed before. Lord knows I could use a little mischief to liven up the days I’m bound to my desk.

And thank you for the story, as well as the offer. I look forward to taking you up on that soon. Although, isn’t the Nara Forest protected? Even as a member of the Military Police’s special investigations division, the hoops that I would have to jump through to get that kind of clearance is staggering. Is it really ok to just invite me, a stranger, in so casually? I wouldn’t wish for my presence to create any difficulty for you.

I very much look forward to our reunion.

Best,

Kyohei






250 | 1785


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Dearest Kyohei,

The forests are heavily monitored, as the proprietary secrets of the Nara Clan’s medicine are found there. However, you are in luck, my dear friend. Every Nara Shinobi, from the most tender of ages, receives special training in evading the watchful eyes of our parents and slipping off into the woods. I’m sure the punishments might be severe, but I am up for a little bit of adventure if you are.

In anticipation,

Nara Shinako


Shinako had sent the letter two days ago, and a lack of reply in that space was not uncommon. Both she and Kyohei, as they had indicated in their correspondence, were often busy with their day-to-day lives, and all of the obligations of being Shinobi. However, with a bit of scheduled leave coming up, Shinako had decided that she would forgo another trek into the woods and make good on her promise to visit the detective.

The Kunoichi had risen early from bed that day to prepare for a day out. Instead of her normal cleansing regimen, which saw her erase ever trace of scent she could, she showered in a steamy deluge of orchid-scented perfume. Though she combed her hair, she did not bind it into her customary tight ponytail, letting it cascade over her shoulders naturally, with the upper portion pulled away from her face and fixed with an ivory comb. The red kimono she picked was not elaborate, and fell short of formal length at both the leg and arm, so she wore black leggings to match the trim of the flowing garment. She tied the waist together with a black sash. Lastly, she applied a bit of light make-up to hide the dark bags that had been growing under her eyes as of late, and to make her lips a little bit pinker.

Shinako spent an hour in the kitchen, preparing slices of cured meat and cheese in a basket for an in-office picnic. The baker had delivered fresh bread, and she ate a hunk of it for breakfast before wrapping it in wax-paper and stowing it in the basket. Finally, a trip to the cellar produced a healthy-sized bottle of Awamori. She packed it, along with a bottle of oolong tea for mixing, in a plastic-lined bucket of ice so that it might be cool when the time to drink it came. The dark-haired woman hummed an old, traditional tune as she worked, getting the job done efficiently, but without a rush. It was, after all, a surprise. There was no predetermined meeting time to satisfy.

Donning her black, heeled shoes and a pair of bug-eyed sunglasses, the Kunoichi set off down the road. It was a pleasant walk into town in the early morning, and even the weight of the picnic basket swinging from her right arm was not enough to interrupt her almost daily pattern of meditation as she walked. Unlike her normal musings, today Shinako thought of pleasant things. The weather was a little bit crisp, and was growing colder, but it wasn’t windy enough for the slight chill to bother the people of Konohagakure just yet. By the time she had entered the town-proper, Shinako was in a winning mood.
The market district was bustling, and the merchants waved and smiled, always encouraged to see the gesture returned. Many of these people were permanent fixtures on Shinako’s daily commute to work, but she could see the few moments of searching taking place in their faces as she passed. This Shinako was barely recognizable, as they were used to seeing her in simple, functional clothing with few flourishes. The bright young woman in red who seemed to almost bob down the street, heels clicking against the pavement of the sidewalk, was a welcome relief from the dutiful but dour Kunoichi who normally appeared.

It wasn’t long before she reached the police headquarters, and by that time she was humming once again. She hadn’t thought about it, but as she approached the burly Chuunin standing outside, she became aware for the first time that she had left her tools and weapons at home. Much to her surprise, the big man smiled at her as she approached, a nicety which she promptly returned, giving a shake of her hip at him as she nodded toward the door for permission to enter. The man continued to beam as he stepped aside and opened the entryway for her, eagerly watching her go by.

Shinako removed her sunglasses as she entered, allowing her eyes to adjust to the slightly lower light. With graceful ease, she moved toward the information desk, shooting another sociable smile at the administrative Chuunin behind the desk. They were of the same rank, but she was not wearing any indicia of her position, so she was deferential.

“Hello there, good morning. I’m looking for Uchiha Kyohei’s office? I believe he’s expecting me? Just tell him that Shinako has arrived.”

The man looked down at a time-log briefly, casting a slight glance at Shinako’s waist as he perused the record. She noticed, but ignored the slight tourism. After a few more moments, the man coughed and engaged again.

“Um….I’m sorry, miss. He’s not in today.”

865/3,155


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
Exhausted from an unusually long day at the office, even by a detective’s standards, Kyohei plopped himself down on the fluffy, charcoal grey sofa that sat just past the entrance to his apartment, in the center of the living room. For a moment he was reminded of the day he purchased the furniture he was currently using, dragged by Risu to go shopping to furnish his living space. She was quite critical of how scarce decoration of any kind was, claiming that the space felt empty and not “lived in”. Spending very little time in his apartment before they started dating, outside of sleeping, he had never felt compelled to furnish the place, but since he was then frequently sharing the space with her he had softened up to the idea. As exhausted and unwell as he felt at this time, he found himself grateful that this couch was waiting for him.

On the glass coffee table positioned directly in front of the couch Kyohei ungracefully dropped a file full of documents relating to the case he had been trying to crack open for two weeks now, since he had been dispatched to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder of a retired Konoha shinobi. The man was a medical researcher who had worked closely with some of the medicine producers of the Nara clan nearly three decades before. In his old age he mostly tended to his garden in a small civilian settlement miles away from the thick forests or walls surrounding Konohagakure. None of his neighbors even knew of his previous life as a shinobi, which resulted in the Konoha Military Police Force not even being called until after local authorities were already conducting their investigation.

During the autopsy a strange symbol had been carved into the man’s body, presumably by the murderer, that the local authorities could not identify. It was not until they reached out to the Land of Fire’s larger law enforcement agencies that the symbol was identified as the primary calling card of the Cult of Jashin, an extremist group that sought immortality through the worship of a dark deity. The group had at one time been considered a serious threat to public safety, engaging in violent attacks, brutal murders, and even human sacrifices according to the records, but that was more than two centuries prior. The cult was believed long since dead, with the symbol showing up only rarely and usually by some psychopaths or occultist followers hoping to illicit fear in the general public, but those were all isolated incidents. Logic should have dictated this was more of the same, but Kyohei was not ready to put this file on ice.

For the night, however, Kyohei acknowledged the need to take a break. His head had been pounding all day, along with a general feeling of fatigue, fever and even slight nausea at times, all symptoms he had been exhibiting for the better part of a week now. Stubborn and distrusting, Kyohei had to be virtually knocking on death’s door to go to the hospital of his own accord, often waiting for his illnesses or injuries to sort things out on their own, or allowing the precinct physician to prescribe him something in passing. He was not currently taking any prescriptions or medications, which caused the resident physician at HQ, limited in her ability to diagnose due to Kyohei’s reluctance to sit in her office for an examination, to go off observation and suggest he might be coming down with flu like symptoms. In his mind, if it was just the flu there would be no problem waiting for it to get better on its own.

Now with a moment of free time, Kyohei retrieved a notepad and pen from his briefcase, as well as the last letter he had received from Shinako, intending to pen her a response and have it sent out from the office the next morning.

Dear Shinako,

I can’t help but feel like you’ve become more and more adventurous since our initial meeting. Breaking clan rules and sneaking into off-limits areas doesn’t seem like the kind of thing the Chuunin that stubbornly insisted on “doing their duty” the night we met would be keen on. I hope I’m not too much of a bad influence on you. I mean, I do, I just don’t want to take the blame for it if we get caught. Considering how you walked into your admin building to drop off a message while on duty with alcohol still on your breath, you were probably a bit rebellious before we met. I quite like this side of Shinako Nara.

Do me a favor and rest up before that little excursion though. I doubt we’ll be able to flag down a rickshaw cart to carry us through if it’s so off-limits. And since I finally heard about exactly what you did to those men to cause that commotion at the gym, I feel like me having to carry you might end badly. One slip of my hand and I end up in a vice-grip? No thanks. Remind me to bring my cuffs, so that I can keep your hands in a place where they aren’t a danger to those around you, aka me. I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best,

Kyohei


As he finished transcribing his thoughts to paper, the pounding in his head would worsen to violent throbbing, preceded by a pain in his chest so sharp that his vision turned double. His mouth was suddenly bone dry, which he aimed to remedy with a bottle of water in his case, but in his dizziness he knocked it off of the table, spilling its contents to the floor. His body began to feel heavy, which only worsened as he dropped to his knees to pick up his mess. Struggling to keep himself upright, Kyohei leaned against the glass coffee table, using it as a prop as the room around him began to darken and blur. A loud thud would complete the process as he fell to the floor between the table and the couch, completely unconscious.







1040 | 2825


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Shinako’s left hand lay flat against the desk like a sheet of paper, while her right curled into a fist and lay beside it. Shifting her shoulder, she hiked the handle of the picnic basket a little higher into the crook of her elbow. As she leaned forward over the desk, her dark eyes followed the receptionist to where he had retreated down the hallway to perform a quick check of Kyohei’s office, just to be sure. Apparently, her friend was absent without having scheduled his leave, but the man at the desk had assured her that if he were on a covert mission the precinct might not have been notified. Still, something deep inside of Shinako told her to worry. They had taken to warning each other before disappearing for a few days.

The administrative Chuunin returned, shaking his head. The two nodded and exchanged smiles, but no more words. Shinako donned her sunglasses and moved toward the exit, where the guard opened the door for her again. Lost in thought, she nodded her thanks absentmindedly. The basket bumped rhythmically against her hip as she calculated her next move, even if only to the extent of breaking the sight-line to the police headquarters. There was a slight sting of embarrassment associated with walking into a place so confidently, only to be told that she had come in vain. Once she had rounded the corner, she perched on a bench to collect herself.

There was always the possibility that Kyohei was on assignment, and that the nature of the detail was secretive enough to bar him from disclosing it. However, that seemed unlikely. He had only just returned from administrative leave, and had not mentioned any in-depth fieldwork. The Kunoichi pursed her lips as she allowed various scenarios to play out in her head. Many of them ended with her never seeing Kyohei again, or reading another of his letters; they scared her, but in a strange way she understood. If she thought she might be going off on assignment to her death, she doubted she would trouble those who she cared for most by warning them. Shinako swallowed hard at the thought.

Shinako sat for about fifteen minutes, intermittently sighing to herself. The sunlight as noon approached was pleasant, and it was warm even in the mid-morning. Resigning herself to another day of quiet solitude at home, the young woman was glad that the returning journey would be a scenic one. Before departing, Shinako’s hunger got the best of her, and she opened the basket to retrieve another hunk of bread. It was then that her dark eyes fell upon the bottle of Awamori she had brought along.

Before she could rationalize, Shinako was up and moving toward the residential district. A few months ago, when she had first received the assignment that had brought her path to cross with Kyohei’s, she had been given a folder with his name, photo, and address. While passing his apartment building, she had often thought of dropping in before deciding against it. Now, unsure of her friend’s whereabouts, she felt a sense of regret at not having paid a visit after looking up to see the lights on some nights. It was the least she could do to leave a small gift.

Shinako’s sashay became even more pronounced as her pace quickened. The building was not far away, and she seemed to remember the way even better than she had previously reckoned she might. A few more nods and greetings passed, and after about ten minutes Shinako had reached her destination. The building was unassuming, and rather plain; in a way, it fit Kyohei’s style perfectly. She exhaled an incredible heat as she imagined the place burning down.

From the street, she could see Kyohei’s window, dark against the beige façade of the exterior, almost opaque against the morning sun’s shine. Pausing for a moment to take it in, Shinako inhaled confidently and pushed her sunglasses a little bit higher over the bridge of her nose. Without another moment of hesitation, she opened the exterior door and entered. Not willing to halt her momentum, the young woman opted for the stairs. Kyohei lived toward the top floor, but Shinako figured she could use the exercise anyway. The detour would give her a little bit more time to think through the note she might leave at the door.

It wasn’t until she opened the door to Kyohei’s floor that she realized she had been rushing. The stairway was wide but steep, and had left her slightly out of breath. The excitement of leaving a surprise brought a smile to Shinako’s face. Her preparation and planning would not go completely unrewarded. If….when….Kyohei returned from wherever he was, he would find a token of her affection waiting at his door. Something about the gesture seemed far more in keeping with their letter-writing than an unannounced visit.

Kyohei’s door was at the end of the hallway, and Shinako beamed as she crossed the distance. As she stopped at the threshold, her hand instinctively rose to knock, but she thought better of it. Even if the man were home, an impromptu visit might be a little bit aggressive. Shinako didn’t want to appear too rude. Instead, she removed the bottle of booze from her basket and stooped to place it just to the side of the welcome mat.

As her ear came closer to the door, Shinako heard a rustling sound inside and went still to listen more closely. After a few moments, she was able to determine that Kyohei (or someone else) was, in fact, within. Shinako smiled, a mischievous idea coming to mind. She stood and opened the window at the end of the hallway before returning to the door. As children, she and her closest brother had sometimes played doorbell ditch. With a wide grin, she rapped three times on the door and prepared to bolt. Just before taking the leap from the window, she heard a fourth thumping sound from the interior of the apartment that piqued her sense of alarm.

Moments later, her ear was pressed against the wood of the door again, listening to the stillness. It had sounded like a body had hit the floor, and now the only thing the Kunoichi could hear was the thumping of her own heart against her ribs. She leaned into the door and knocked again, straining to perceive any sort of reply. When nothing came, she knocked again and tried the doorknob before stepping back and thinking through her options. She dropped the picnic basket on the doorstep and exited the hallway window. Shinako focused her chakra toward the bottom of her feet and rushed around the side of the building to Kyohei’s window.

Cupping her hands around her eyes to shield them from the light, Shinako pressed her nose to the glass and peered inside. It took her a few moments to scan the area, but the figure of Kyohei lying prone between the couch and table was unmistakable. With a gasp, the Kunoichi tried to window, only to find it locked. Without hesitating, she located the latch and poured her chakra into her shadow, lifting it from the side of the building in a slick, black tendril. The shadowy finger easily slid through the cracks in the weather-proofing and turned the lever, allowing the Kunoichi to throw the window open and step inside.

The Inton conversion gave her a sense of calm, but was not quite enough to dull her sense of panic completely. The moment of peace was enough to allow her to take in the situation before diving in. Kyohei did not appear to be injured from this vantage point, though the sound she had heard must have been him struggling. A second glance revealed a spilled bottle of water and the likely culprit for all of this. At the far end of the table was a bottle of military ration pills, the sight of which caused Shinako’s eyebrow to raise in an arch. The most any one Shinobi was ever given at a time was three pills, and the bottles were generally only distributed to unit commanders.

The young woman removed her sunglasses and scarf, bending down to check Kyohei’s temperature and pulse. His fever and low heart-rate were telltale signs that tended to confirm her suspicion. Shinako pushed the table aside and gently turned the fair-haired man over to his back, visually inspecting him for wounds and signs of alertness, though she found none. She would have to break his fever before it began to cook his brain.

Shinako doubted that she would be able to transport her friend very far, but there was a relatively good alternative available. Rising from her crouched position, she located the bathroom taking a few moments to turn on the cold water in the shower. As she moved, she thought about how to do what came next, and retrieved her silk scarf upon re-entering the living space. With a deep breath, she steeled herself and crossed the room back to Kyohei’s position on the floor.

Being careful not to jostle him, Shinako placed the back of his head on her lap as she laid her scarf across his chest and looped it under his arms, forming two cloth handles just behind his armpits. The makeshift sling would allow her to get better leverage against his larger frame. With another deep breath, Shinako heaved upward, wrapping her shadow around Kyohei’s waist for extra support. She was surprised at how easy it was to pull herself to her feet with her friend’s limp body in tow. It only took her a minute or two to make it to the open shower-stall. The water was freezing cold, but she barely felt it as she backed into the stream.

As Shinako took a seated position at the back of the stall, Kyohei’s upper body fell across her outstretched legs, stopping his head from hitting the tiles. The cascading water fell across his neck and chest, flooding the floor of the shower and drenching them both. Deep concern spread across the Kunoichi’s face as she scanned her friend for signs of life. Shinako began to shiver as the icy water pooled on their clothing and beaded on their hair, her left hand pressed flat against the base of his throat like a sheet of paper, and her right curled into a fist just beside it.

"Please don't leave....I've only just found you."

1,750/4,905


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
Kyohei would be consumed by the familiar feeling of floating down, feeling the weight of his body slowly descending towards the abyss below. The very air around him felt heavy, adding weight to his limbs and heavily restricting their mobility. It was all the Uchiha could do to curl his fingers as he continued to fall down into the endless blackness before him. Strangely, there was no sense of fear or discomfort as he hurdled into the darkness, but rather a strange sense of relief. He had no sense of time in this place, but it would not take long for Kyohei to succumb to the weight of his eyelids, resigning himself to his fate and accepting whatever awaited him at the end of his fall. There was solace in surrender.

The emptiness that Kyohei had yielded to would soon be filled with a scent both familiar and foreign. A thick, almost sweet, floral fragrance wafted through his nostrils and took a firm grip of his olfactory. This was not the perfume that he had once known, but it was similar enough that he could still not help but be drawn to it. Once more the Uchiha would begin to struggle against the resistance that fell over his person, his eyelids fluttering open, revealing to him a source of light shining above him, almost beckoning him towards it. In that moment it became easier to move, as if a weight had been removed, and allowing the detective to reach his hand out towards the light. These efforts would be in vain, however, as the light was out of reach, and slowly growing further as his descent continued.

As Kyohei fell further and further from the light his eye lids would once more grow heavy, but rather than submit he would now resist the call of the darkness below. The Uchiha struggled just to keep his eyes ajar, allowing the thin rays of light from above to snake through his lashes and he could feel his body succumbing to the call once more. In that moment, however, he would feel a hard yank on his body, although he could not identify the source. The sudden force jostled him from his daze, if only temporarily and halted his descent, although still short of regaining control over his body. In suspension he would remain for a short amount of time, feeling himself being pushed about, but being unable to move himself or identify the source. A wave of cold ran over his face and body, completely shocking the fair-haired man out of the trance he was in, causing the world around him to begin spinning. In the following moments he could feel the liquid entering his mouth and trickling down his throat, causing him to choke.

~~~

Laying across the legs of Shinako on the shower floor, Kyohei began a weak coughing fit, his body expelling the ice-cold water that had begun to trickle down his trachea. The cough would cease fairly quickly, but weakened and disoriented by fever the man would feebly struggle to orient himself to his surroundings. Feeling the pressure of hands by his throat, the Uchiha would weakly raise an arm and place his hand over Shinako’s, gently squeezing as he was unable to generate any strength to pull it away.

Kyohei’s chest would begin to expand and contract rapidly as panic set in, unable to control his body or identify who or what was around him. His breath was labored, gasping for air through his mouth as he managed to open his eyes, if only slightly, to look up at the person above him. His eyes were glazed over with a dazed look, a clear indicator to anyone around him that he was still not fully present. Through his lashes he could see the silhouette of a woman, and as the scent of orchid once more filled his olfactory, the Uchiha began to calm himself. He could not make out the face he was gazing up towards, but the perfume, fair skin and long, dark hair reminded him of someone dear, causing him to call out in what was barely more than a whisper.

“…Risu?”






700 | 3525


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
As Kyohei coughed, sputtered, and started back to consciousness, Shinako pressed her arms tighter against him, drawing him into an icy embrace and moving his airway from under the direct stream of the water. Here she was, trying to help, and had ended up unintentionally waterboarding her patient. She surveyed the possible damage for a few moments before deciding that a little bit of water was the least of their worries. Besides, it appeared that Kyohei was coming around, though his eyes looked almost like glass. They reminded Shinako of a deer’s eyes, just before death, lying against a bed of fallen leaves and a pool of its own blood, growing cold. He flush of heat welled up in the woman’s throat, spreading to her face. Gradually, brushing the wet hair out of her friend’s eyes, she began to softly cry.

It was a relief to hear Kyohei speak, but in the cascading roar of the shower, Shinako could not quite make out what he had said. Perhaps “It’s you.” Her father had often spoken about the need to respect a person’s privacy in the event that they should speak incoherently when incapacitated. In fact, she had often sat by her father’s bed and struggled against the temptation to lean in closer to hear his whispers when a particularly bad fever gripped him. The thought found Shinako’s left hand pressed against Kyohei’s heart, and her fingertips attuned to its irregular beat; almost like a willing stranger, tapping out a message against the other side of a trap-door. Shinako was determined not to lose that message.

Her hand lay on Kyohei’s chest as it might have when she had felt awe, or reverence; perhaps to the sea, or to some other beautiful thing she had seen one….felt once. For years she had come to sit this way while writing a letter, and had never considered just how natural this hand placement was. Even now, the thought only grazed the surface of her mind, intertwined with the hundreds of other thoughts spiraling through her mind.

“It’s me. I came by to surprise you today. Can you tell me what happened?”

If Shinako could get her comrade talking it would be a major coup. Of course, even then he would not be out of the woods. Recovery from the particular type of chronic poisoning Shinako suspected could take months. Sometimes, people who had overused the military ration pills would return to their normal lives, but with a pronounced deficit in both their physical and mental endurance. The thought of a less vital, more irritable Kyohei only brought more tears to Shinako’s eyes. She smiled through the tears in an attempt to comfort her ailing friend.

“You’re safe now. Try to talk to me.”

460/5,365


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
“It’s me… What happened… Talk to me…”

The delirious Uchiha was only able to make out bits and pieces from the woman’s face that seemed to echo through his head, in no small part due to the acoustics of the hard bathroom tiles as well as his own semi-conscious state. The timbre of Shinako’s voice was rich and smooth, having an almost calming effect that would dull the edge of the initial panic Kyohei felt. The man knew the voice was familiar, so much so that he felt slight frustration at his mind’s inability to associate with it a face. When he heard the words “It’s me”, he was taken by a moment of disbelief, but he had no desire to question anything that would bring Risu back to him.

Kyohei’s large, dialated pupils remained too clouded to make out a face, but would rapidly lose the ability to do so as his eyelids grew heavy once more. His limbs became overwhelmed by the force of gravity upon them, no longer feeling the sensation of cold water droplets, as if his body was once more being dragged into the abyss. Although his eyes began to close and the light once more began to fade from view, the fair-haired man resisted as best he could, refusing to be pulled away from her again. With what strength he could muster the Uchiha turned his neck in towards Shinako’s body in her embrace, weakly pressing the side of his face into her, hoping any connection between them might stay the call of the darkness below.

In his weakened state he could hold this position for just a moment or two before the strength left his body. Once more he found himself supported by nothing more than Shinako’s lap, a more welcome landing spot than the cold, ceramic tiles below. If the voice’s confirmation was not evidence enough, the embrace he felt assured Kyohei that the woman above him could be none other than Orochi Risu. There was no one else that embraced him that way. The thought of being so close to her once more put the Uchiha completely at east, his face expressing this in an expression of absolute peace, with a weak smile beaming up towards his rescuer, although his closed eyes could not communicate the same happiness in turn.

“You changed your perfume. That’s not lavender…”

His hand that had shifted down from his throat to his chest with hers still seemed to be receptive to his command, pressing as tightly as he could, still too weak to be even an inconvenience to a person of average strength, her hand onto him, as if afraid she would slip away.

“I’m sorry… I couldn’t get them back... Don’t leave... I don’t want to be all alone again…”

Kyohei wanted to be heard, straining his voice to produce as much volume as he could to be audible over the sound of the shower head raining down on them from above. Even so, he was only just so. Within himself, the Uchiha could not decide what was more frustrating or painful, the guilt and loneliness welling up inside of him or the inability to piece the memories and words together the way he wanted to. His mind remained conflicted, one half struggling to resist the pull of unconsciousness and the other to piece together fragmented memories to reconcile the emotions he was feeling.






586 | 4,111


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
“I’m sorry… I couldn’t get them back... Don’t leave... I don’t want to be all alone again…”

Shinako didn’t understand. It was probable that Kyohei’s brain was overheating, causing too much delirium for anything coherent to come through. The line about lavender made it relatively clear that he thought she was someone else; perhaps a woman he had known, or loved. That he was able to articulate any reasonably patterned speech was a good sign, indicating that he had likely not experienced a cerebrovascular incident….at least, not a serious one. His hand gripped hers, though his muscles felt weak.

It had been a little over five minutes, and Shinako’s body was beginning to shake uncontrollably with the cold. In the moment she barely noticed. She pressed the back of her right hand to Kyohei’s neck, and though it was difficult to tell, it seemed as though he was cooling down. She was probably the least qualified member of her family to handle this situation. It was difficult not to wonder if there was some magical household tonic she could whip up from the cabinets, but that sort of thinking only exposed her incompetence. Thinking about it more logically, Kyohei’s problem was likely chronic; the result of a gradual build-up of toxins rather than a high-dose concentration in his digestive system.

“You’re not alone, Kyohei. I’m here. I….”

The dark-haired woman didn’t know what to say, but a blush came to her cheeks as she thought about who his brain might be having this conversation with. She felt the need to correct any misunderstanding, even if the man might not remember it later.

“It’s Shinako….I’m….I always wear orchid.”

It would be helpful to get him to engage. If he could regain motor function, getting him to medical aid would be much easier. Perhaps she could signal a neighbor to call for help, but it was the middle of the day, and it was likely that everyone was engaged in their daily activities. Drawing her mind away from that for the moment, Shinako examined Kyohei again, noting that his blood-pressure still felt low, from the feel of his arteries and heartbeat. His face was placid and relaxed, but his weight was not slack against her, as it would be if he were unconscious. His vascular system could use a boost, and she doubted that he would have any drugs lying around which might do the trick.

“I….can you smell the orchid? Take a deep, deep breath for me.”

Shinako spoke slowly and deliberately, channeling her chakra into her breath to replicate the perfumed scent that she always used. With her olfactory Genjutsu, she might be able to increase Kyohei’s heartrate a little, and counteract some of his lethargy.

455/5,820

Chakra 170/200:

Shadow Gathering Technique: Ended this turn, C-Rank

Heavenly Scent: C-Rank


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
“Shi…na…ko?”

Shinako’s name escaped the dazed Uchiha’s lips as a fragmented whisper, his clouded mind struggling to piece together all of the information he could. Was he mistaken? It would explain the perfume, although he couldn’t recall Shinako having a preferred fragrance during the short time they had spent together. Each subsequent word spoken by the dulcet voice revealed pieces of a familiar face to Kyohei’s mind, never revealing the full picture. But he had heard confirmation come from her own lips, hadn’t he? Perhaps Risu’s return to him was too good to be true after all.

Lost and weak, Kyohei surrendered himself to the melodic instructions given to him, inhaling as deeply as his weakened body would allow. On the first breath Kyohei inhaled, pulling in the scent of orchid wafting from Shinako’s body. The aroma filled his airways, so much so that he felt his lungs opening up to their normal capacity. As if some primal desire had taken hold of him, the Uchiha’s body responded, its pull towards the source of the scent more powerful than the pull of the darkness still whispering to him from below. His first exhalation was delayed, not wanting to let go of that intoxicating aroma, but after a few moments his body’s mandate to survive overruled that desire. As he exhaled the man felt as though he was rising along with the breath leaving his body, his limbs, once nearly paralyzed by the pull of unconsciousness, felt weightless. Suddenly the abyss below him did not seem so near.

As Kyohei finished exhaling his deep breath, the need to fill up his lungs called once more. Now slightly more alert than before, it felt as though the fragrance that rode the air he breathed had become sweeter and more vivid, as if he had drawn nearer to its source… or further from unconsciousness. He breathed more deeply than before, allowing the invigorating effects of the aroma to flow freely through him once more, removing the weight from his eyelids and chest the same way it had done for his limbs in his last breath. As the man exhaled his eyelids would slowly open, allowing him to make out light sources and shapes, but still too unfocused to see in detail rather than shadows.

With his free hand, the Uchiha sought the source of the voice, guiding his hand through the air and seeking confirmation that any of this was even real. His hand first found Shinako’s shoulder, although with the clothing as soaked and cold as it was he could not identify it as such. He would trace the slope of her shoulder with his fingertips until reaching the side of her neck, which despite being cold from the freezing shower above, he could still make out as skin. Kyohei pressed his still-warm palm against the side of her neck, allowing his hand to contour the shape of her jawline. The sensation of her chilled skin meeting the warmth of his own was as real as anything he had felt so far.

Kyohei’s third breath was not as deep or invigorating to the body as the previous two, his physical restraints having already been lifted. If the previous breaths had been aggressive, primal pulls at his desires, the third was a sweet whisper designed to draw someone already teetering on the edge all the way over. With this breath the seemingly impermeable fog that clouded his mind began to disperse, returning to him the finer applications of his senses, at least what his current level of strength would allow. For the first time he felt the same cold that Shinako had and could feel every drop of water crashing against him. He heard the crashing of water against the shower floor and for the first time could recognize the sound. The man looked up and could, for the first time make out the face staring down at him from above; not Risu, but Shinako. Strangely, the disappointment he expected to come from this realization did not arrive.

Perhaps a part of Kyohei had already accepted that Risu was not coming back, but as the sweet scent of orchid perfume filled his olfactory, Kyohei could not think of a person he would rather have woken up to than Shinako. She had always been beautiful in a classical sense, and the duo’s witty exchanges had never withered in the face of sexuality, but for some reason she seemed… different? If the water wasn’t so cold he would have blamed a steamy shower making everything seem a bit more intense. He still didn’t know what was going on, but the look of concern on Shinako’s face probably meant it wasn’t great, especially since he was the one waking up on the floor. Weakly, the Uchiha smiled up at Shinako, as if to let her know he was okay and even took the opportunity to tease her in a manner that had become so typical for the duo.

“I’ve never seen you without your ponytail. Do you have a hot date or something?”






867 | 4,978


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Shinako smiled again, glad to see Kyohei alert. He recognized her, at least, but she was skeptical of the sudden progress. Her Jutsu had reinvigorated the man, but it was only a temporary fix. They would have to seek medical attention soon. She shrugged off his comment about her hair, engaging in the banter to put him at ease, but not taking her focus away from the task at hand.

“You’re almost as good at ‘witty’ as you are at ‘unconscious.’ Try not to move.”

The woman shivered as her central nervous system reacted to the temperature difference between her skin and Kyohei’s hand. He was still very warm, and that worried her. It was strange, though, that he would produce such a comforting gesture while she attempted to save him. Shinako nuzzled his hand between her cheek and her shoulder, tightening her grip around his chest as a precaution should he attempt to stand up.

“I think you’re suffering from chronic toxicity syndrome, induced by the military ration pills which I assume you’ve been eating like candy.”

Shinako’s voice remained low and calm as she adopted the bedside demeanor she had seen her father and brothers utilize a few times before. When she spoke that way, she sounded more like a mother, or a geisha….some strange and yet imminently rational mixture of the two. She would have to make sure that Kyohei drank some water soon; in the cold of the shower, it would be impossible to tell how much he was sweating. By her count, it had been about twenty minutes, maybe half an hour, since the critical incident. However, if she remembered correctly, he might have been experiencing symptoms for days before passing out. It was not far-fetched to think that he might have been overheating and losing fluids for up to an entire week, not unlike a viral sickness.

“Your blood-pressure is dangerously low, and your heartbeat is irregular. We’re in the shower to break your fever.”

She tried her best to explain everything, so that her fair-haired patient wouldn’t have to strain too hard to understand the gravity of the situation. The last thing the occasion could afford was a sudden panic, though Kyohei seemed as though he would remain calm.

“Once you cool down, we’re going to get you to a hospital, where someone who knows what they’re doing will be able to help.”

400/6,220


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
Kyohei listened to Shinako’s explanation, unsurprised that there were consequences of his prolonged use of military ration pills as meal supplements, but skeptical of the severity she seemed to attribute to it. He had hardly been taking the pills like candy, as she put it. The Uchiha had possessed no appetite or desire to eat since shortly after his return to the village and had simply been using the pills to sustain himself. Their use was not typically intended to be used beyond a three day period, but it wasn’t as though he was stuffing fistfuls of pills down his throat. Whatever effects she was attributing to the pills were probably more a result of stress, as far as he was concerned.

“No. I don’t do hospitals.”

Defiantly, Kyohei brought his free hand back to his side, attempting to use his elbow as a support beam to prop himself up against the tiles. His attempt at raising himself would be foiled by Shinako’s hand holding him down, an inconvenience he found to be particularly troublesome. Regardless of what he thought about the situation, it was apparent to both of them that the Uchiha was operating at a fraction of his normal strength, small enough that he doubted he had the capacity to produce the force needed to free him from her hold. All he could manage was to raise his neck and shoulders off of his caretaker’s legs, at great discomfort to himself, in an effort to show her he was capable of managing.

“All I need to do is take it easy for a bit. I’ll have the department’s physician check me out tomorrow when I go into my office if I’m not feeling well. I’ll be fine, really. I’m always fine. Let me up.”

He doubted that his initial attempts at reasoning with Shinako would be satisfactory to the kunoichi. One thing she had certainly shown to be since their very first encounter was headstrong, an endearing quality when displayed against others, less so when it involved him being forced to go to the hospital. But Kyohei’s aversion to hospitals was not just talk. The man completely avoided hospitals unless absolutely necessary, either to support someone else or if he was knocking on death’s door, a scenario he did not consider the current situation to be. The cold, sterile environment, beeping of life support machines, and cries of patients or the ones they left behind had only painful associations for Kyohei. The Uchiha probably felt more at ease on a battlefield than a hospital bed.

“… At least deactivate your jutsu.”

The unnaturally powerful aroma of orchid was still emanating from Shinako, hitting Kyohei’s senses like a wave with each breath she took and work she spoke. While he was still drifting in and out of consciousness he didn’t have the ability to think about it, but now that he was awake, it was clear that this was not a natural occurrence. The effect it was having on his already vulnerable body was pronounced, quickening his heart beat and heavying his breathing, along with another less benign symptom of sexual attraction that was made only more pronounced by the water soaked clothes covering his lower body, making it impossible to mask anything beneath clothes. If he remembered correctly, this smell and these effects matched the description given to him by the two officers who claimed Shinako had assaulted them on the first day Kyohei met her.






591 | 5,569


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Shinako relaxed her grip, allowing Kyohei a little bit of space to sit up. She didn’t want him to feel trapped, and certainly didn’t want to bully him in his current state. At his request, she assessed his heartbeat once more, feeling that its beat had resumed a strong, regular rhythm. Surveying the rest of him, she saw a telltale sign from just below his waist that his blood-pressure had likely returned to normal. Confident that her technique had more than served its purpose, Shinako allowed her chakra to return to its natural flow. The scent of orchid still hung in the air, but seemed to lose its uncanny luster.

“I can’t make you go, but you’ve done quite a bit of damage to yourself already. Maybe it’s time for some conventional wisdom.”

Once again, her tone was kind but firm. She lifted her right hand from his chest and used it to brush stray strands of wet hair from her face, and then from his face in turn, before gently returning her hand to its original position. As she inhaled, a slight smile touched the corners of her mouth. That Kyohei was able to resist and argue was a victory she had not expected after finding him strewn so negligently on the living-room floor. Her tremors now were near-constant, and she was reaching her physical limit.

Shinako shifted her hips delicately from under his shoulders, bringing herself to one knee and then standing. She eased his head to a relatively comfortable position against the wall. A few more minutes in the shower would do him good, though his fever might not break completely.

“I’m quite cold. I’m going to dry off, and see if I can’t find something to rehydrate you.”

As he was alert, and seemed to fully understand what she was saying, Shinako felt confident that she could leave her friend to his own devices for at least a few minutes. However, as she turned to exit the room, she made a point of turning back and shooting a hard glance over her shoulder.

“Try to stay still.”

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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
“The linen closet is the first door on your right. There are towels there. My bedroom is the last door on the left. You can wear whatever you want until I dry your clothes.”

As he spoke, Kyohei took advantage of his new position propped up against the wall to raise his right arm, index finger weakly extended, and pointing to the hallway behind her, a gesture that should have been clearly visible to Shinako before she turned away. Once his companion had left the room, an amused smirk would catch the right corner of the Uchiha’s lips. Who would have thought that he would ever be directing anyone to the location of his linen closet. His apartment didn’t even have a linen closet until Risu had begun spending nights there regularly, when she quickly began questioning why his place of living seemed so empty. She said it didn’t look “lived in”, a sentiment that a younger Kyohei couldn’t even begin to understand.

The apartment was spacious, but when Kyohei first became a tenant as a teenager, he could never even have imagined a place of living as more than a functional necessity. It had a roof and walls to keep the weather out, a bed for him to sleep on, and an assortment of extremely basic furnishings that he picked up as needed. The level of comfort the space afforded was not even a consideration, as he spent little time there. The fair-haired man viewed it more as a landing spot between missions, not a home or a sanctuary, at least until Risu came along. It was she that pushed him to decorate and do the things that some would say make a house, a home. It was an annoyance at first, but unexpectedly, it turned out the Uchiha had a talent for homemaking, and before long leapfrogged Risu for that role in their relationship. He himself even found it strange for someone like him to take to domestic duties, a hobby that he kept to himself for obvious reasons. He wondered if perhaps coming from a broken home himself had given him an appreciation for all of the small things that he thought would make Risu want to stay that extra five minutes in the morning before heading off to work, but that was a thought he kept to himself, even from her.

Now alone in the shower, Kyohei would willfully ignore Shinako’s suggestion of remaining still, instead using both arms to push himself up against the shower wall so that he might sit up straight. Now that the fog that had previously clouded his mind was dissipating, he himself was beginning to feel the effects of the cold water, but not nearly as strongly as the effects of Shinako’s jutsu. He trusted her, so he assumed that she only had good intentions if she felt that using any jutsu on him was necessary, but the after-effects were certainly inconvenient. The Uchiha made sure to slide his back down the wall just far enough that his lower half would still be under the freezing shower, dousing the fire that had been ignited while he was unconscious.






536 | 6,105


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Shinako slipped quietly down the hall, wishing she had thought to take her shoes off before dousing herself. She steadied herself against the wall of the living-room and bent down, removing the shoes and placing them on the mat by the front door to dry. After that was out of the way, she easily located the linen closet by following Kyohei’s directions. The deep navy bath towel she chose smelled fresh and crisp, and the woman immediately used it to dry her face, sighing at how soft it was. Her next stop was Kyohei’s bedroom, where she noticed more photograph frames turned down on their faces. As she shivered, she made a mental note to investigate that odd feature later on.

As Kyohei was still largely incapacitated, and might need to call out to her, she left the door cracked. Shinako wasn’t terribly concerned with her own privacy in the moment. Her friend likely wouldn’t be moving very quickly, and she trusted him. Her clothing was entirely soaked through, so she stripped down completely, taking several minutes as her clothing sucked against her skin and stuck to her. After her wet clothing had been removed, the towel was barely necessary but for her hair. She would have to thoroughly scrub her body with a strong, lye soap to remove the scent of her perfume and her Jutsu.

After a few moments of fishing through the drawers, Shinako located a loose white t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants with a draw-string. She figured that loose clothing was as modest as she could be without the padding of her bra to mask the effects of the cold. Lastly, she donned a pair of thick socks, sighing with pleasure at the warmth they brought on almost immediately. Already feeling much better, Shinako scooped up her clothing and carried it out to the balcony, where she hung it to dry on Kyohei’s short clothesline. Nobody was home, so a woman’s undergarments hanging in the sun would find no neighbors to scandalize for at least a few more hours.

Shinako almost laughed at the thought of nosy old women gossiping about the strapping young Police Detective and his afternoon visitors. She’d be sure to tease Kyohei about it later, but for now there were important matters to take care of. As she moved back inside, Shinako took a few moments to locate Kyohei’s tea-pot and set some water to boil. If her stubborn friend would not go to the hospital, she could at least render a tea which might be likely to ease his pain and his fever. She wrapped the towel around her neck, allowing the tail ends of it to cover her chest as she returned to the bathroom and laid eyes on Kyohei, frowning at how much he had moved.

“How are you feeling now? Any better?”

475/7,045


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
It took several minutes for the physical effects of Shinako’s jutsu to fully purge themselves from Kyohei’s body, the stimulation from the ice-cold water doing less to relax him than he had hoped. Fortunately, Shinako seemed to be in no rush in drying herself off, giving the Uchiha ample time to no re-orient himself to his surroundings and the situation at hand. The last thing he remembered was sitting down on his couch and beginning to write a letter in response to Shinako, but everything after that until he woke up cold and in her lap just a few minutes earlier. His thoughts immediately raced to Shinako’s comments about his use of Military Ration Pills, which he would admit he was not using as traditional instruction dictated, but he wouldn’t classify his use of them as grossly excessive or abusive. There was likely more to the story of how they ended up there, but the Uchiha would push those thoughts to the back of his mind, deciding it wiser to allow the situation to settle down a bit before probing Shinako for answers. Despite her usual commanding demeanor, she did appear to be worried about him, at least as far as he could tell. He decided it might be best to allow her to take the lead a bit.

When Shinako did return to the bathroom to check on Kyohei, a quick scan of his clothes draping loosely over her confirmed that she had been successful in following his instructions. In the detective’s mind this told him that he was at least still able to piece together intelligible sentences, which was always a good sign. The fair-haired Uchiha, in the echo chamber that was his shower, could only barely make out Shinako’s inquiry from the doorway over the reverberating sounds of the falling water. Stretching out his left arm, he would use the tile wall behind him to keep himself steady as he stretched to pull down the shower handle, bringing an end to the freeing downpour and filling the room with a silence that had not been present since he regained his consciousness. Without the constant stimulation of the ice-cold water, the man was now able to be more present to the condition of his body. Still soaked from shower, and combined with the fever, Kyohei could feel the chills running through his body and causing his hands to shiver slightly.

“Yeah, I’ve been through worse. I should be able to walk this off, no worries.”

Determined to retake control of the situation he found himself in with his body, Kyohei shifted his weight over to one side in an attempt to raise himself up off the floor and meet Shinako standing. The Uchiha managed to turn over on his front side, getting himself on all fours and planting one foot on the ground to serve as an anchor as he pushed himself up. This would be as far as he could go on his own, however, as his arms wobbled and faltered beneath him when he made an attempt to push himself up. While he was able to keep himself propped up in this manner, it seemed as though his strength had still not returned in a complete enough manner for him to raise himself up of his own power.






563 | 6,668


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Shinako heaved a heavily exasperated breath as Kyohei tried to regain his feet, but ultimately crossed the short space of the bathroom to help him, reaching under his nearest shoulder and hauling him upward. It wasn’t a difficult task, and she was surprised at how much strength he had already regained. Her dark brows furrowed with worry that he was still moving too quickly, and being too dismissive of the danger.

“Overdoses like this have ended careers, Kyohei. You ought to let me take you to the hospital. One of my cousins could have a look at you.”

They had both learned how stubborn the other could be, and her suggestion was more of a probe at this point. If she could keep him talking, it would be easier to continue to assess his mental state. There was always the possibility that the large man would fall unconscious again, and then he would really be in trouble. However, once she was sure that he was steady for the moment, she released her hold of his arm. As she recalled, it was important for his sense of pride that he be allowed to at least attempt to succeed or fail on his own. Shinako could make her peace with that. The way she saw it, the most pressing dangers he was facing now were not in her control. A fall or two wouldn’t really harm someone in Kyohei’s physical state of conditioning.

Shinako stepped back and crossed her arms, pursing her lips and looking on disapprovingly as Kyohei made his next moves. She certainly didn’t want to give off the impression that she was pitying him; she wasn’t. There was far too much respect between the two of them for that. She clicked her tongue, like a Nara mother determined to let her child learn by trial and error. With that, she turned and walked back into the kitchen.

“I’m going to put on some tea. You should have some.”

It did not take long for Shinako to find a mesh pot steeper and the ingredients she needed. In addition to the customary green tea leaves, she found dried yarrow and peppermint, both of which would go a long way toward breaking a fever and possibly making her friend more alert. As her mother used to do, she added a pinch of ground black pepper to the mix and ground the ingredients against the palm of her hand over a bowl. Once they were fine enough, she enclosed them in the steeping basket and lowered them into the pot for just a few minutes, until the rich scent of peppermint permeated the air. The aroma had an immediate nostalgic effect.

450/7,495


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

Kyohei

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Special Jounin
After Shinako helped Kyohei to his feet he extended his right arm towards the wall beside them, using it to support himself and keep him steady as he attempted to move about on his own. Once again she took the opportunity to express her concern and inject her suggestion of visiting the hospital into the conversation. Under normal circumstances, Kyohei did not like to repeat himself and was even less fond of having others repeat things to him after he had already made his position clear. The Uchiha could not bring himself to be upset with Shinako, however, as he knew that her persistence on the matter came from a place of care and concern. The red coloring and puffiness had begun to fade from her eyes, but the distinct characteristics of a person that had been crying had been plastered all over her face when he was shaken from unconsciousness. It had been a long time since anyone was prepared to shed a tear for the officer. The brunette’s concern for him had successfully caused the typically inflexible Uchiha’s stubbornness to give.

As Shinako slipped away to the kitchen with the promise of tea, Kyohei drudged out of the restroom and into the hallway, his right hand gliding across the wall to steady himself. The Uchiha’s first stop was the linen closet he had previously directed his companion to. The man pressed his head against the wall to take the place of his hand which he had drawn back in order to peel his jacket off, grunting under his breath at the abnormal amount of effort the simple task seemed to require. After slinging the jacket over the top of the linen closet door, Kyohei’s two hands would then fall down the length of the plain, white t-shirt that clung to him like a second skin, roughly pulling it over his head with little care for the garment which he stretched with his handling. The wet undershirt would join the jacket over the top of the closet door before he pulled a large bath towel from the closet, draping it over his shoulders like a shawl.

Continuing to use the wall for support, Kyohei made his way down the hall, passing the opening leading to the kitchen where Shinako stood and instead making a right, directly into the living room. With some difficulty the man was able to steady himself long enough to reach the backside of the sofa from the edge of the hallway, which he promptly rolled over, landing with his back sinking into the cushion and leaving enough space at the end of the couch above his head for Shinako to sit. Still somewhat chilled from the combination of fever and not being completely dry, he would pull the sides of the towel over his head and chest like a cocoon. As the detective laid there, the strangely pleasant sound of Shinako rummaging through his cabinets in the kitchen filled the silence. The Nara kunoichi’s disapproving look replayed in his head while he waited for her to join him in the living room, pulling at a feeling of guilt for not being more considerate of her concerns in this situation. He hadn’t even properly thanked her for what she was doing. When she did step into the living room, tea in hand or not, he would pull the end of the towel covering his face down and address her.

“…You’re right. Listen, I don’t like hospitals. Can you just… stay for a while? If you still think I need to go to the hospital after we rest a bit, I won’t fight you on it.”






619 | 7,287


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Shinako

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Special Jounin
Shinako poured the tea carefully into mugs. She had not bothered to look for a traditional tea-set, as she doubted a modern man like Kyohei even owned one, and now was not the time for ceremony. She turned off the stove and scooped up the porcelain vessels with a deep breath to center herself. At least Kyohei was not be as obstinate as before, and had expressed a possible willingness to compromise if he had to.

“I’ll stay for as long as you need me, but I won’t watch you throw your future away because you’re afraid of needles.”

Her tone was full of artificial mirth as she entered the living room and set both mugs on the coffee table. Having been trained as a home-maker, Shinako was pleasantly surprised to find that Kyohei owned a set of coasters. More and more, she was piecing together the fact that there was the touch of a hand at work here that did not belong to her gruff and stoic friend. Perhaps it had something to do with the picture frames all around the living space. In fact, Shinako was relatively sure that it did, and decided it was best not to upset Kyohei with questions about that.

Seeing that he had left her a spot on the couch beside him, Shinako lowered herself into unceremoniously, as she had often seen her brothers do after long days at work, or tending to the herds. She let out a sigh as she crossed her legs under her in a full lotus position. Kyohei’s hair was still wet, and his towel obscured her view of his face slightly, but that didn’t bother Shinako. What did bother her was the heat she could still feel radiating off of his skin. Medical shinobi could take care of a fever in a matter of minutes, and could likely remove the toxins from his body efficiently over a period of days. All Shinako could do was make tea and hope that her friend didn’t pass out again.

She bottled all of her concern and pushed it to the back of her mind, mustering a smile as she reached down and pulled the towel a little bit further from his eyes. He still seemed alert, though she could not tell in this light if his pupils were responding to light normally. She decided not to worry about that.

“You should have seen your co-workers when I showed up to the precinct to surprise you today. I suppose they’re not used to receiving visitors on official picnicking business.”

Shinako let out a single chuckle, a rasping sound far different from the musical tinkle she used in her daily social life.

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

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