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Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 3sxvXxB





Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

The obnoxious ringing of the digital alarm clock atop Kyohei’s nightstand cut through the previously silent air as the time hit 5:30 a.m.  Buried in pillows and a duvet the Uchiha began to stir in his bed, grumpily tossing himself about at the unwelcome noise shaking him from his sleep.  Lying flat on his back the man groaned as he placed his left hand on his forehead, pressing down in an effort to soothe the pounding headache ailing him, no doubt an aftereffect of the previous day’s events.

“Hrrmmmm… Morning already?”

Kyohei bemoaned the alarm, speaking in the deep, gravely voice that came when he was on the cusp of sleep. On any normal morning waking up at this hour would have been natural behavior for the shinobi who routinely woke himself from bed in the earliest hours of the morning to get a head start on his work. On this morning, however, his body was still suffering from the effects of the drugs he had been taking, making even getting himself out of bed a chore. With his right hand the man reached out to the nightstand over the edge of the bed, feeling around blindly until he found the button to acknowledge the alarm and put an end to the noise.

The room now silent once more, Kyohei took a pillow from the head of his bed and used both hands to smother his own face with it, using it to muffle an extremely annoyed groan. Once he had taken that moment to vent his frustrations the Uchiha tossed the pillow to the side and simply laid on his back, staring intently at the white ceiling of his bedroom. Perhaps the one comfort the man had this morning was that the day was one of his scheduled days off-duty, giving him ample time to relax. The problem with that was he had spent almost all of his off-days at the office anyway since returning to the job. The man had little semblance of any familial structure or friend group left in this place. He was lone, just as he’d always been. Sometimes it made him wonder why he even bothered returning. He had seen his name on the memorial outside of Police HQ. In his absence that is all he had become, just another body left on the field of battle. The man doubted anyone in the village’s lives would have been negatively impacted by him remaining K.I.A. In that moment Shinako’s face ran through his mind, causing the thoughts in his mind to disperse and silence to flood the space once more.

As the red, digital numbers on his clock hit 5:35 Kyohei chided himself silently for moping like a petulant child and picked himself up out of bed. Self-pity never came to his rescue before. It never put food on his table or a roof over his head. It never cleared his mind of negativity. Why would it start now? The only thing he could do right now to begin resolving his issues was to begin his day.

Kyohei’s morning routine was always the same: brush teeth, shave, shower, coffee, breakfast, training, office, and as far as he was concerned in that moment, today would be no different. Upon entering the bathroom the Uchiha took his usual place before the sink, grabbing his toothbrush from its stand and the tube of toothpaste from the behind the faucet, ready to begin his morning ritual. As he tilted his head down to apply toothpaste to his brush, however, his eyes wandered towards the mirror above the sink and caught a glimpse of the door behind him, from which behind the towel shinako had used to dry herself the day before peeked out. The man paused for a moment, staring at the towel through the mirror intently. It had been a long time since the presence of anyone but himself lingered in this apartment. The man considered for a moment stopping what he was doing and putting the towel where it belonged, where he would have put it, but stopped himself. For some reason he preferred it that way. The thought made him anxious, but was not entirely unpleasant. Once again chiding himself for being distracted, he turned his focus back to the task at hand.

Next on the list of Kyohei’s morning routine was the shave, which he would move right on to after placing his toothbrush and toothpaste back in their proper places. The Uchiha covered his face in a thick, white lather and raised the safety razor to his cheek, only to have his eyes once again wander in the mirror, this time towards the shower rod on which the sweatpants Shinako had borrowed the day before hung neatly to dry. The moment of Shinako’s lips pressing against his skin as he held her replayed in his mind, causing him to tighten his grip around his razor. Was she just going to be everywhere today?

After shaving and rinsing the excess lather from his face, Kyohei immediately turned around and sought something with which to dry his face. Without thinking he turned towards the door and ran the towel hanging from it over his nose, mouth, and chin. It was not until a whiff of orchid flew through his olfactory that he recoiled and realized what he was doing. He pulled his face back for a moment and glared at the towel, but after a moment of deliberation he pressed the cloth back against his face and continued to use it to dry, enjoying the scent, although he wouldn’t even admit it to himself.

“What am I doing?”

Kyohei scolded himself for his behavior once more before hastily exiting the bathroom and making a beeline for the kitchen, putting off his shower until after breakfast just to get out of that room faster. As the Uchiha loaded up the coffee machine his eyes would find the bottle of alcohol Shinako had left him the day before sitting on a shelf in his kitchen.  The man shrugged it off and turned away from the shelf, opting instead to head to the fridge to find breakfast and distract himself. What he would find in the refrigerator, however, was the sliced cheese Shinako had brought for their spontaneous picnic the day before.

“…”

Reluctantly, Kyohei accepted the fact that he was not simply going to be able to ignore whatever was going on between he and Shinako, grabbed the container of cheese from the shelf in the fridge and placed it on the kitchen table. Once his coffee was done he would fill his largest mug and sit at the table. He stared at the cheese on the table as if he were staring down an opponent on the field of battle, neither side willing to yield. This stare down would last until the rumbling of his stomach echoed throughout the room, prompting the Uchiha to simply pop a slice of cheese in his mouth.

“Fine. I’ll go see her today.”






1,194 | 1,194


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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
By the time the clocks read 5:30, Shinako was already up and about. It was back to work today, so there was no need for an extended routine, though her shower consisted of a careful purge with a strong and scentless lye to remove the scent of yesterday’s perfume. She could still smell a hint of orchid in her hair, though she doubted that anyone would give her a hard time over it. So long as it was gone by the time she reported for assignment later that month, it was harmless.

She had slept fitfully, bothered by dreams that now began to fade from memory. Something about the Naka river, and the boy she had killed. The dreams were always about him, though she could no longer remember his face. Sometimes she wondered if she had ever really seen it. Staring blankly, and trying to sort through her thoughts in preparation for the day, Shinako ate a hunk of cheese and a few slices of bread for breakfast, taking it cold, alongside hot tea. As she reflected on her dreams, she remembered falling asleep with thoughts of Uchiha Kyohei in her head. The Yamanaka had done many studies on dreams, and had concluded that people tended to forget dreams they had early in the night. She wondered if she had dreamed of Kyohei.

After a few moments, she pushed such thoughts aside. She wasn’t ashamed of them, and they didn’t make her uncomfortable, but she simply didn’t have the time. Absentmindedly, she wiped a crumb away from the plain grey front of her office uniform, allowing it to fall to the floor. Her father’s estate had made arrangements for the maintenance of the home, though Shinako had curtailed the maid’s visits to once a week. She could hardly stand being alone in the large house, but the thought of others intruding somehow seemed more unbearable.

With a sigh, Shinako rose from the table and collected her satchel and toolbelt. It had always seemed odd to her that office workers were expected to be armed, but the village’s Shinobi were a military, after all. As she tied her kunai pouch to her left thigh, the weight of her new Kunai knives seemed odd. Yesterday’s state of unpreparedness was far more natural. Shinako could feel the corners of her mouth pulling downward into a frown, and could sense a day of Juubei from two cubicles over dropping by every so often and begging her to smile. The thought almost made her roll her eyes.

The morning air was crisp and clear for her walk to the administrative building, and she passed the usual faces, offering the usual greetings. From her vantage-point on the street, Shinako could imagine time in the administrative building passing as it always did; in slow motion, with a thousand plaintive glances at the clock as she worked on some menial task. She wasn’t in a particularly good or bad mood, but after the excitement of the previous day, the idea of spending any more time filling out paperwork was highly unappealing. That aside, she managed to fix at least a semi-pleasant look on her face as she entered the building and ascended the stairs to her third-floor unit.

Assignments that day were sparse, and Shinako had built up a lot of good credit. During the morning briefing, Juubei sat next to her and spoke in hushed tones about some girl he had ‘almost’ taken home last night until the Jounin administrator asked him to quiet down. Juubei was about Shinako’s age, but had been a Chuunin for far longer, as the vast majority of workers in this office had. He had entered the academy as a child, as most did. Today he smelled of booze and latex, and Shinako could not get away from him quickly enough. She received a routine assignment consisting of logistical planning. She would finish it before Jounin Commanders began to trickle in with their administrative requests around 9. After that, she would simply make herself busy with whatever came across her desk.

~~~~~~~~~~

Just as Shinako was putting the finishing touches on a supply line plan, an early Jounin visitor entered the office. As was the routine, all Chuunin with a clear line of sight stood and either gave a salute or a short bow, alerting Shinako of the visitor even from her cubicle near the far-end of the floor by the scraping of chairs and shuffling of papers. A few minutes later, the Commander would be gone, and a new task would be on the floor. Shinako flipped the placard on the outside of her cubicle to display an open circle rather than a dark square, indicating that she was available for assignment.

Just then, she heard Juubei creeping down the line saying something about red envelopes and field testing. Luckily he did not stop by her cubicle, but his message was one of interest. Shinako wondered what was going on, but knew better than to stick her head up and ask questions. The gossip would make its way around, as it always did. Even now, she could hear the chairs scraping as the Commander exited the administrator’s office.

Her keen ears caught the sound of heavy boots, different from the combat sandals worn by members of this unit. Even stranger, they were approaching the back of the office rather than exiting. Shinako kept her dark eyes down, placing her finished work into a large envelope and putting it in her ‘out’ box. A few more moments passed before her administrator was standing at the mouth of her cubicle with a Jounin Commander dressed in the heavy coat and boots of the Interrogation Force. Shinako stood and offered a curt bow, which the man gruffly acknowledged. The administrator spoke.

“Commander Wori is here to administer your scheduled field test, Shinako-san. It shouldn’t take too long, and then you can get back to your duties.”

A puzzled look crossed Shinako’s features for a moment before the taciturn commander extended a single slip of paper, about the size of a playing card, on a silk handkerchief. It was then that Shinako remembered that she was scheduled for elemental testing.

1,035/1,035


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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
By the time Kyohei had completed his morning routine and left the house the weather had become surprisingly pleasant, sunny and clear, but not too warm that his current outfit was burdensome. Despite being his day off, the Uchiha had decided to wear his field uniform as a member of the Konoha Military Police Force, only in part because it was simple and required little thought on his part. Beyond that, for what the man had planned for getting his way this morning, appearing as if operating in an official capacity would be particularly helpful. After all, just because it was his own off day didn’t mean that everyone would be available to follow along without a little nudge.

The Konoha Military Police Force’s often chose to wore uniform variants that excluded the most more traditional flak jacket and forehead protector look required of junior officers. In Kyohei’s case, his primary armor consisted of a charcoal grey cuirass fastened together by a smoke colored belt and shoulder guards with a raised collar to protect the wearers neck, all held together by steel bolts. Beneath the armored piece the Uchiha wore standard KMPF attire including black tactical pants and a black shirt with the Military Police Logo on display on the right arm and both sleeves rolled up to mid forearm. On his hand and feet the detective wore black combat boots and black, fingerless gloves with metal plates covering the back of his hands. The dark, dramatic appearance of the outfit made no effort to blend in with typical civilian clothing and made clear his position as an officer of the Military Police.

Still too early in the morning to expect Shinako to be at her desk, Kyohei decided to make some preparations for the day. Taking his time as he made his way around the village, stopping by certain shops just as the “Closed” signs were turned to “Open”, Kyohei was in no particular rush. It would take some time, but the Uchiha would complete his preparations as the clock approached mid-morning and make his way over to the Administrative building in the center of Downtown Konoha, not far from Police HQ.

In his most serious tone Kyohei would ask the secretary at the front desk where Shinako Nara could be located. Upon seeing the uniform and Konoha Military Police Force logo on display the woman would acquiesce to his demands, giving him the floor and desk number where the subject of his inquiry could be located. Content with how simple this all turned out to be, the man’s brief period of self-satisfaction would soon deflate as he found an empty desk. Upon asking around he would be informed by a neighboring office worker that Shinako had been whisked away for field training in the facility out back. Familiar with the location, the fair-haired man would make his way to the roof of the building from which he had a bird’s eye view of the scene down below, but not before giving all of the Nara’s surrounding co-workers a serious and vaguely ominous story about how their beloved Shinako was to be brought in for questioning as part of an urgent investigative matter.






544 | 1,738


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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
After a few tries at causing the chakra induction paper to manifest a result in her cubicle, Commander Wori had grown impatient with Shinako’s seeming performance anxiety. She had tried to explain that the paper did not pick up on chakra which naturally converted to a Yin imbalance, and that she had never used an elemental technique in her life. Wori had found that explanation unsatisfactory, and had removed her from the building to ‘escape the prying eyes’ of her coworkers. The Commander’s impatience in that moment had quickly shifted to a sort of naked suspicion. Many people in the village were under the impression that the Nara were constantly calculating, or playing some sort of angle; especially the no-nonsense workmen like Nori who had never had a day of intellectual schooling in their lives. Somehow, Shinako managed to convince herself that the misunderstanding was her fault, and apologized profusely as they made their exit.

At 5’7”, she looked Wori almost directly in the eye, though the man’s broad shoulders showed their muscles even through his heavy coat. As they took to the stairs, Shinako’s administrator stayed behind to attend to his duties. Wori reached out a hand, as if to collar Shinako, and then seemed to think better of it. Perhaps he saw her shadow pivot unnaturally on the linoleum floor, like a kick-boxer sitting down in preparation for a powerful counterstrike. Shinako noticed the man’s hesitation, but didn’t say anything further. This test should have taken a few minutes out of his day, and here she was inconveniencing him.

Once they reached their target location, a set of sheds behind the building housing the backup electrical generators, Wori sighed and removed his dark blue beanie to wipe his brow. Shinako figured it must be cold wherever the Interrogation Team worked. Seeing his sandy mop of hair, several shades lighter than her own, Shinako noticed for the first time that Wori was ruggedly handsome. He grunted again as he replaced his cap and removed a plastic case of induction paper from his coat pocket. He withdrew one thin sheet and offered it to Shinako with a gloved hand. Shinako furrowed her brow over her dark eyes and began to explain again, to which Wori only shook his head and thrust the paper at her more insistently. She took it between the index and middle fingers of her right hand.

Several moments passed with no result. Shinako began to shake her head and shrug, but Wori coughed deliberately to silence her, clearing his throat and interrupting.

“Have you noticed any abnormalities in your chakra recently?”

Shinako began to protest before the man bulled on.

“Feelings of intense anxiety or mania? Abnormal thoughts of harming yourself or others? Intense cravings or desire; stubbornness?”

What was this, some sort of psychological evaluation? Wori seemed skeptically perturbed once again, and was searching Shinako’s face for any hint of deception. Then the realization of what he was doing dawned on her. She was intimately familiar with the secondary effects of chakra conversions, and often dealt with the sense of emptiness brought on by Yin release. The elemental natures had similar, sometimes quite pronounced effects, though Shinako could not say for certain if she had experience any of them. She hadn’t quite been feeling herself, but she doubted it was due to the advent of any latent natural affinity.

By then Wori had finished his checklist and waited for Shinako’s response. She pursed her lips and continued to shake her head, eyes falling apologetically to the dusty patch of grass on which they stood. As soon as she took her eyes off of the Commander to offer a bow, a sharp concussive force collided with her right cheek, knocking her over backwards with stars in her vision. She heard the rustle of a coat as Wori readjusted himself, and looked up to see that he had stricken her with the back of his right hand, fist balled tightly in a practiced blow. A numb heat pulsed through her face, followed by a throbbing pain in her jaw. Tears stung her eyes as Wori leaned forward, kneeling over her now supine legs and pinning her down.

Shinako was caught completely off-guard. Wori had disarmed her somehow, perhaps with a Genjutsu technique while he was speaking. Halting words came to the tip of her tongue, but did not take form as the man reached into the dirt behind her, bringing his face within mere inches of her own. The next moment, a wave of intense heat washed over her as Wori seized her hand to reunite it with the chakra induction paper. The reaction was almost instantaneous, and sent Wori stumbling back, spewing foul curses as a small inferno engulfed the slight sheet of paper.

800/1,835


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
From atop the roof of the administrative building Kyohei had clear view of the area below and all of its on-goings. The Uchiha raised his right leg onto the ledge of the roof, leaning forward and resting his folded arms on his knee to peer down at the area below. Generally abandoned at this time of day, it took barely a moment for his eyes to fall upon two figures standing beside the generator containment units constructed out back. The first person to come into view, much to his delight, was the woman he was searching for, Shinako. The second, however, quickly took the wind from his sails as he identified Wori from the village’s interrogation division.

Wori was an unsavory little man whom Kyohei had been forced to interact with more times than he cared to recall since his return to the village. That wasn’t exactly saying much, however, as even one encounter with the man was considered burdensome by the Uchiha. Because Kyohei himself was an enforcement official, the investigation conducted on the Uchiha upon his return was placed in the hands of the Konoha Torture and Interrogation Force. Mori was among the members of that group tasked with locating and extracting information regarding his disappearance. The Uchiha could respect a person who did a job that may require the use questionable measures for the sake of maintaining peace and security, Mori was one of those people who just always seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. The detective had pulled his records following the completion of the investigation and taken note of the carious complaints filed and disciplinary actions taken for his use of unnecessary force and improper conduct.

The fact that Mori was out here doing basic testing that could be conducted by any Joe Schmoe admin or Academy Instructor likely meant that he had found himself pulled from field work for improper conduct… again. That he of all people was the one who was out here with Shinako made Kyohei feel uneasy to say the least. The test seemed simple enough, a chakra nature affinity test using chakra paper. Villages had been using that method for centuries. It seemed, however, that the paper was failing to have any distinct reaction to Shinako’s chakra. Unsurprising give that the Nara clan’s natural talents tended to lie within the sphere of Yin chakra manipulation rather than the physical Yang manifestations represented by nature manipulation. It was entirely possible, likely even, that her chakra simply had no particular leaning to an elemental nature, but Mori did not seem satisfied with that result.

Kyohei looked on with an unamused expression as Mori continued to aggressively push the issue about the chakra paper testing, not willing to accept the obvious answer standing in front of him. Even as his displeasure with the scene began to compound the Uchiha remained silently perched atop the building. Shinako wanted to be a better shinobi. He would be doing her a disservice by swooping in to rescue her from any confrontation. She needed to be able to deal with stress. After all, they were only words…

At least they were only words, until Mori decided Shinako needed a bit harder of a push towards his desired outcome and struck her down to the ground with the back of his right fist. Kyohei shot up from his casual pose at the sight of the action and leaped up onto the ledge of the building himself. Reflexively, the Uchiha’s Sharingan had activated, responding to the powerful surge of anger that swept over the man after seeing the woman struck in the face so abruptly. The final straw that would thrust the man into action was Mori pinning Shinako to the ground to force contact with the nature sensitive paper once more.

Shunshin no Jutsu.

From the roof of the Administrative Building Kyohei would vanish in a blur, re-appearing in the several feet of distance created between Shinako and Mori as the man stumbled away from the flames. Mori had thrown the sheet of paper up into the air as he recoiled and released the combusting parchment to spare himself the burn, leading it to now float downwards as more and more of the paper vanished, consumed by the orange embers. Holding his hand out in front of him, palm faced up, the Uchiha allowed the small remnants of the paper to land on his glove before burning out completely. Extending Putting the ashes on display to Mori by extending his arm, Kyohei’s crimson eyes narrowed into an angry glare. His eyes moving from the pile of ashes in the Uchiha’s palm up his arm to the man’s Sharingan, the Interrogator experienced what could only be described as the sense of dread that overtakes a man staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

“There’s your answer.”






821 | 2,656

Refernce Material for Kyohei's Uniform, since Shinako has never seen him in one before.:
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 5Itblmd


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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
The intensity of the flames and the flurry of motion left Shinako disoriented for several seconds as Wori pulled away. When she looked up and began to make sense of the situation, Kyohei was there, much to her confusion. He wore armor, and had fire in his eyes and his hand. But what was he doing here? The woman’s thoughts were still fuzzy as she pulled herself up onto one elbow, and then back to her feet. The same look of apprehension that seemed to follow Kyohei everywhere played across Wori’s features, though the stout man stood his ground. Shinako instinctively grabbed at her aching jaw, fighting back further tears. The Commander removed a red envelope from the inner pocket of his jacket and dropped it where he stood, collecting himself with a contemptuous shake of his head, glaring daggers at Shinako.

“Nara Shinako, report for reassignment.”

Shinako knew next to nothing about Wori, but she could tell from the gesture that he was not a fighter. Ambush tactics like the ones he had used on her had likely served him well throughout his career. Her breath was so hot it felt as though it might combust at any moment. She could smell smoke in the air as the Commander whirled on his heel and strode back up the path to the administrative building. Shinako watched his back as it retreated, making sure he was actually leaving. Once he had gained enough distance, she bent down to pick up the red envelope from where it lay in the dust.

As she reached for her orders, Shinako turned away from Kyohei. Looking out across the generator sheds, she began to wipe away her tears with the back of one sleeve while feigning interest in the letter. After a short while and some rustling to cover the sounds of her sniffles, Shinako shoved the unopened envelope into the front of her jacket. She was already feeling emotional and out of control, and couldn’t stand the thought of reading what was possibly her death warrant in front of Kyohei.

At that thought, a sudden flash of anger gripped her, and she almost whirled around to face her friend. She had to bite the edge of her tongue to stop herself. She finished cleaning her face. He had no right to see her like that. Was he stalking her after what had happened the day before?

400/2,235


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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
Kyohei continued to stare down Mori as the interrogator attempted to resist the Uchiha’s intimidation and held his ground. The Uchiha bent his knees slightly, dropping into an athletic position in preparation for a fight as his Sharingan followed Mori’s hand into the inside of his jacket. Turning his hand over and allowing the charred remnants of the chakra paper to fall to the earth below, Kyohei’s fingers began to retract into a fist as the man in front of him began to slide whatever he had been concealing out from beneath his layer of clothing. Rather than a weapon, however, what he retrieved from his inside pocket was a red envelop. One which he would drop at his feet as he addressed Shinako directly and turned to make his exit. Still worked up from moments before, the Uchiha continued to glare at Mori as he walked into the distance. Only when Shinako passed by in his periphery would the man snap out of attack mode and become present to the situation once more.

Immediately Kyohei would step forward to tend to Shinako after Mori’s attack, reaching a comforting hand out toward her shoulder as he approached. That hand, even with its good intentions, however, would fail to make contact as the Uchiha stopped in his tracks in response to Shinako turning away from him. He hesitated for a moment, long enough to notice all of the small details; the wiping of her face and eyes, the muffled sniffles and the rustling of cloth and paper that attempted to mask it. The man, unsure of how exactly to approach a situation like this, remained in silence for a moment, allowing Shinako that time to deal with whatever she was dealing with that she insisted on hiding from him. Once that moment had passed, however, he continued on to place his right hand on her left shoulder in an attempt to offer some form of comfort or support.

“Are… you hurt?”






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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
“No, I’m fine.”

It was a lie. The ache in her jaw was beginning to radiate into the entirety of her head. Her cheeks were flushed with the swirling emotions of the moment. It was best to keep her guard up until she could figure out what was going on here. She still didn’t turn to look at Kyohei until she was sure that her face would not betray too much emotion beyond the outrage of having just been attacked. Even when she did turn, she did not meet his gaze directly, intentionally avoiding the unsettling fury of his Sharingan. Remembering her promise not to hide the ball from him, she determined it was best to simply ask what she was after.

“I don’t need a bodyguard following me around. What are you doing here, Kyohei?”

She didn’t bother to disguise the indignation in her voice. If her paranoid feelings turned out to be substantiated, then Kyohei deserved every ounce of rebuke she could muster. If there was some innocent explanation for why he was here, armed, and at the ready then she felt she deserved to hear it. She scanned the back pathways and windows of the administrative building for signs that other people were watching them, spotting a few gawkers who quickly busied themselves or averted their glances. She pursed her lips, certain that quite a few people had just witnessed her public humiliation. Her hamstrings tensed just to keep her in place. Running away from the situation would only ensure that she lost more face.

Crossing her arms in a standoffish posture, she shrugged Kyohei’s hand away. Her eyes fell to the ground between his feet; body-language that said she would stick around long enough to hear him out, but also that she was feeling hurt and not in the mood to be touched.

305/2,540


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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“I… yesterday… I messed up your plans, didn’t I? For the surprise picnic.”

The typically resolute Uchiha fumbled his words as he began an attempt to explain himself, like a child trying to explain away a broken lamp. After the first few words Kyohei righted the ship, but that would hardly resolve the situation. He wasn’t sure what he had done wrong, but the scene was all too familiar to him; going out of his way to make plans thinking he was doing something good only to have his efforts rebuffed. He’d never been adept at this kind of thing. It was partially why he preferred to spend so much time in solitude. He had acted on impulse and was now the “bad guy” in this scene, despite his best intentions.

“I wanted to make it up to you. I thought you might still want that picnic, so I came here to pick you up.”

Kyohei simply shook his head in disapproval of his own explanation. In his mind there was no right way for him to explain what he had planned without embarrassing himself. Only when he said it out loud did he realize how stupid and presumptuous his idea sounded. He had thought it a good idea at the time, but clearly his presence was not welcome here.

“It was supposed to be a surprise… this wasn’t what I had in mind.”

Kyohei rubbed the back of his neck with his right hand, signifying his discomfort with such delicate situations. Everything seemed so much easier to him when he thought he was going to be confronting Mori. In conflict, everything always seemed so much clearer. He was good at fighting, at killing. It was the only thing he felt good at anymore. The Uchiha could plunge a blade into a man’s chest and watch the life fade from his eyes without so much as flinching, but when confronted with the prospect of being the source of Shinako’s displeasure he stammered and struggled with words. It was humiliating. It reminded him why he didn’t do things like this in the first place.

“I should have known better than to show up unannounced. Sorry… I didn’t mean to be a bother.”

Kyohei bowed his head once apologetically as he spoke, holding the lowered position for a moment before raising himself up once more. The Uchiha’s gaze fell to Shinako once more as he stood there, taking a pause to gauge her body language once more. Her arms still crossed and her gaze still averted, it was clear that the Nara woman was still closed off to him. The man’s frustration at his own inability to get through to her effectively began to pile on and pushed him to turn away and make his exit. About two steps into his departure, however, the detective stopped and began to pat down the storage compartments of his pants.

From the large side pocket on his right leg Kyohei would pull out a paper bag with its opening tightly rolled shut. Inside the bag lied an order of mitarashi dango wrapped neatly in wax paper. After having made his preparations for the picnic earlier in the morning, the sweets were a spur of the moment decision after seeing the dish being advertised in the window of a shop. Upon seeing them he recalled the first night they met and his first regrettable moment with Shinako where he reflexively seized her wrist in the back of a rickshaw cart. How ironic that he now held an item that he had purchased to make amends for a past mistake after causing the Nara to not even be able to bring herself to look at him. He took 3 steps back towards her location and held the paper bag out by its rolled up top for her to grab.

“Here, now we’re even. Just do me a favor and get wherever he hit you checked out by someone later, ok?”






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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
Shinako rubbed at the back of her neck as Kyohei spoke, but stopped when she realized that she was sympathetically mirroring his display. His explanation of why he was there was innocent; almost sweet, in a way. The tall, fair-haired man reacted as though Shinako had kicked his puppy, and she realized she may have been overacting, projecting her anger and humiliation over what had just happened onto Kyohei. She still couldn’t stand to meet his eyes, but she began to pay earnest attention, listening to the little sounds of him tapping against the egg-shell that encapsulated her world; listening to him trying to break his way in. Before any of those little sounds could make sense, they had to be heard. By the time he began to walk away she still could not muster a smile, but the hard look on her face had faded.

Then, inexplicably, he turned back. When he had apologized, Shinako had felt instinctively that there was really nothing to apologize for. He had only done what she had done the day before. She reached out to take the bag, and through the scent of smoke she could already smell its contents. Forgiveness was easy when there was nothing to forgive.

Shinako let out a slight sob, reaching out and placing her left hand atop his, not grabbing the bag, but moving closer to her friend in his attempt to comfort her. Attempts at keeping from crying went out the window as she slid her arms over his neck and shoulder, placing her forehead on the padded outer surface of his armor. She pressed herself to him, feeling very small, as though she could hide from the obvious looks of her coworkers. Life had taught her that weakness was something to be ashamed of, and in that moment she felt a deep sense of shame, for both the situation and her harsh words. If she was going to feel ashamed, she might as well seek out what little comfort was being offered.

“I’m sorry….I didn’t mean it.”

The woman sobbed a few more times before pulling her hands in close to her face and chest. She didn’t want to look up to find that Kyohei was disappointed in her as well.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
A muffled sound from Shinako caught Kyohei’s attention, his eyes opening wide as the Nara’s hand passed right by the paper bag he offered and made contact with his own. Surprised by the sudden change in attitude as tears began to roll down her cheeks, Kyohei hesitated for a moment to react as Shinako wrapped her arms around him and buried her face into the breastplate he wore. He froze as she tightened into her embrace, slightly embarrassed by the suddenness of the contact and sure that those from neighboring buildings were still watching, but that embarrassment would quickly fade as he realized what was going on. Determined to act as some form of support for her the Uchiha extended both of his arms beneath hers, wrapping them around her; one hand cradling the back of her head and the other pressing against the middle of her back.

“…It’s ok.”

Kyohei squeezed Shinako tightly and held her there, unsure if that was the appropriate response. Outward displays of emotion were not the Uchiha’s strong suit, but he decided that a woman like Shinako wouldn’t cling to him of her own volition if she wasn’t looking for some form of response… a reassurance that he would be there to catch her if she fell. He lacked the ability to properly explain it, simply acting the way that felt right at the time. He lowered his face to the top of Shinako’s head, the lingering scent of orchid inspiring memories of the previous day. As he whiffed in the remnants of Shinako’s perfume the Uchiha pulled her in just a bit tighter, deciding to return the previous day’s kiss as his lips tapped the top of the woman’s head.

“I know you didn’t. It’s ok.”






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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
“Can we just….go?”

Shinako began gently shoving Kyohei back up the side-path, toward the administrative building. She stayed close, and kept her eyes fixed on the neatly packed dirt, afraid of what she would see if she looked up. Her shadow’s natural boundaries did not change, but to her supernatural sense, it felt like a curled fist, ready to lash out at any moment. She wanted to scream out at the people standing around; to defiantly ask them what they were staring at. However, such an impetuous action would only brand her even further; as what, she didn’t know.

The whole situation reminded her of ambush simulations in the Ninja Academy. She remembered always feeling like they were too easy. There were not enough angles from which her fledgling classmates could have attacked to defeat her longer limbs and superior strategies. This is what they should have felt like. Someone at the Academy should have been preparing young Shinobi for situations just like this, in which they were unsure of what they were possibly facing. It felt like she was standing at the center of some great and terrible maze, and the only way out was to begin moving, lest she be pinned down and never escape.

She grabbed Kyohei by the hand and realized she was leading him now, wiping tears away from her face with her right sleeve. She reached up behind her ear and deftly released her hair from its tight bun, allowing it to fall across the left side of her face to shield it from the view of the administrative building. Shinako was moving with a sense of purpose now, though she didn’t know where she was going. Her heart was pounding in her chest, though, affirming that she was too alive to die here.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“Anywhere you want.”

Kyohei allowed himself to be nudged back by Shinako, following each step forward the woman took with a smaller step backwards of his own, providing only enough resistance that the two of them would not topple over as she continued. The Uchiha would dig his left heel in and stop their movement only after the Nara had let her hair down in an obvious attempt to obscure the gazes of prying eyes. As she took hold of his hand the Uchiha would drop the paper bag holding the mitarashi dango to free his hand and lace his fingers between hers. Within only a moment of stopping he would crane his neck down to place his face beside hers, using his own head to provide a makeshift shelter for the woman.

“Let me borrow this.”

Withdrawing his hand from the webs of Shinako’s hands, Kyohei would dexterously manipulate the woman’s fingers with his own. Each of the joined hands would form one half of the Tiger seal, the requisite for the technique that would be their escape.

Shunshin no jutsu.

Tightening his embrace of Shinako as chakra surged through Kyohei’s body, vitalizing his muscles in preparation for high-speed movement, the Uchiha nudged Shinako’s head to nest into the curve of his neck. Using that moment where her eyes would be covered the man moved like a gust of wind and within a moment she would be whisked away from the gazes of outsiders she so dreaded. They had landed in an alleyway several buildings over beside Police HQ, one gated in and labeled off-limits to unauthorized personnel due to its access to the Hokage Rock monument.

Having landed in the alley with his back pressed up against the building, Kyohei no longer felt the need to resist the frustrated shoving of Shinako, instead allowing his back to slide down against the wall and gently easing her down with him. The end result would be the Uchiha seated against the wall, legs bent at the knee, allowing Shinako to continue to lean into him. The man released her hand from his, sliding his hand down the woman’s arm to her elbow which he would lift with his palm to place her arm back over his shoulder. He would pull his head back slightly, no longer feeling the need to provide cover for the Nara while they were alone, allowing her bodyweight to fall into his chest as he hugged Shinako.

“It’s just us here… we can stay like this as long as you need.”






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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
Shinako was familiar with the body-flicker technique, but was not skilled or strong enough to use it to transport others. The sudden flurry of movement never ceased to make her stomach turn, and she let out a short yelp, followed by another sob. When they arrived at their destination, she lost her balance as Kyohei’s body gave way, falling into him before she could struggle to regain her composure. Once she was sure she wouldn’t be sick, Shinako looked around to survey their new surroundings, guessing that they were only a short distance away from the site of the humiliating attack.

“Great, now you’ve kidnapped me.”

The statement was made through her tears, and had a watery quality to it, though Shinako managed to choke out a chuckle afterward. She felt miserable, and would be in quite a bit of trouble for taking an absence without putting in for leave, and all she could do was joke about it. She didn’t know how to feel better, so she just leaned against Kyohei’s shoulder and closed her eyes for a while, her body occasionally shaking with the emotion of it all. Something inside of her felt volatile, like it was going to explode. Pulling her arms more tightly around Kyohei’s neck, she wondered what it would be like to strangle Commander Wori.

A few months earlier, she had used her shadow to choke a boy unconscious in the forest up near the Land of Sound. It had been necessary, difficult, and tragic. Now, to find herself fantasizing about doing it to one of her countrymen flat out scared her. She had wanted to become a Shinobi, for emotional reasons that seemed so remote now, with all of the other things she might have done. She imagined herself as a match-maker, forcing the most unlikely romances she could all across the village. Or as a politician, quelling the evils of caste warfare that kept the rich in their castles and the poor scrounging for food. Instead, she had become comfortable in the rat-infested bowels of the Shinobi world; had listened, and and seen, and learned. Yet, after all of it, she had not become like the wounded people who surrounded her daily. Wori was a monster, and there was no way she truly wanted to become like him. Shinako attempted to consciously slow her breathing, and was moderately successful. Soon the sobbing stopped.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“So call the police.”

While the distress in her voice and tone was clear, Kyohei was glad that Shinako was still composed enough to make an attempt at humor. The Uchiha smiled at the woman in his arms, even though it was apparent that she would not see it as she rested her head, eyes closed, on his shoulder. Perhaps it was that security in knowing it would forever remain a secret that allowed him to show emotion so freely. As the Nara leaned onto him the man would begin to stroke her hair, gently moving his hand down her silky brown hair in sync with their breathing.

Kyohei pondered what was going on in Shinako’s mind as he watched over her, furrowing his brow each time as he occasionally shook. The Uchiha wondered silently whether or not he should say something in an attempt to comfort her as she sobbed, ultimately deciding against it. There are those who insist that talking solves all problems, but in his experience there are times when the most helpful thing a person could provide was somewhere safe to just vent out one’s frustrations and emotions without commentary. He hoped to provide that to Shinako in this moment. It was not until after she seemed to calm down, as evidenced by the end of her sobbing that the man would contemplate speaking once more. Careful not to try and force things too quickly while she might still be vulnerable, Kyohei would wait a few moments in silence with her before tilting his head back and letting out a deep, deliberate sigh, clearly designed to grab the woman’s attention.

“I dropped the bag with the dango back there. It’s starting to look like we’re never just going to be able to eat that particular dessert in peace.”






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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
“Or do much of anything in peace….”

The sound of Kyohei’s sigh in her ear was muffled through his armor. Their voices sounded nothing like they had the previous day on his couch. Sensing that the time was right, she patted him gently on the shoulder, indicating her intent to separate before she did. When she pulled away it was a deliberate movement, but not a sudden one. Her shadow lingered over his, maintaining an invisible contact that only she could feel for several seconds after their physical contact had ceased. She wrung her hands as she paced the narrow alleyway, peeking out occasionally into the empty street.

Shinako had often been feeling like she was being followed, and that same anxiety gripped her now. What if this whole ordeal had been a test, and she was failing it right then? She ran both hands through her disheveled hair, shutting her eyes tight and wishing the world would disappear. She must have looked like a mad woman as her mind raced through it all again, never stopping on any detail, and unable to make any sense of it.

“Maybe I should go back to work. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Shinako dropped her arms into a tight hug around herself, and leaned against the wall opposite Kyohei, opening her eyes and looking at her friend. She shook her head and forced at least half of a smile. It was the best she could do just then, and she only did it because she thought it was what her friend would have liked to see. Just afterward, she cast her eyes at the ground again, hating herself for the silly gesture; for every time when she had smiled or joked when she didn’t feel like it. Everything about her felt weak.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“Back to work? Now what kind of kidnapper would I be if I allowed that?”

Kyohei would raise himself up from his seated position, placing his right hand on the ground below in order to act as a stabilizer as he leaned forward and jumped up, pulling his feet beneath him. The Uchiha would stretch both arms back behind his head when pressing up from his squat, crossing them behind him and holding that position as he observed Shinako pace back and forth. Even though the tears had stopped and some semblance of stability had been restored within her, it was clear that nothing was truly ‘okay’ at that moment. The woman seemed to be struggling to process and make sense of everything that had transpired and how she was supposed to feel about it. He wondered if he should have perhaps taken her somewhere further; somewhere that she could be more distanced, at least geographically, from the source of her problems.

“Come on, I barely even wear this uniform while I’m at work. I didn’t put it just for show. Consider yourself the subject of an official police investigation and that’s all those nosy co-workers of yours need to know.”

Kyohei shined a smile at Shinako, only partially joking about having worn his uniform in order to give him an excuse to whisk the woman away with him. Despite the woman’s own smile she offered from across the alley, the Uchiha felt little comfort from the façade. Instead of simply taking the gesture at face value the man would walk across the alley to the wall where Shinako had propped herself up against, stopping directly in front of her, within arms’ reach of the Nara. Carefully, he raised his right arm up over his head, only lowering it to gently place his hand atop her head, careful not to make a mess of her hair any further, although he didn’t particularly mind seeing a less polished side of her.

“You don’t need to fake it for me. I told you yesterday, didn’t I? You don’t have to deal with things alone anymore. It’s my turn to help you.”






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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
As always, Shinako thought that the oddly infantilizing gesture of resting his hand on the top of her head should have been insulting. It never was. Kyohei’s kindness showed through so genuinely whenever he did it, that she could scarcely reprimand him for it. The notion of needing help was not exactly exciting, but she could not say that it was untrue.

“I know, I’m trying to be….”

She stopped mid-sentence with a sigh. It would not do to rely on anyone else too much for emotional support. She turned her head away, and to the left, raising her hand to her cheek. The flesh there felt hot to the touch, and Shinako could tell that there would be quite the bruise left over. Her voice became small; a distant and lonely island.

“….I don’t know what I’m trying to be.”

Even with Kyohei, likely her best friend in the village, she felt like she was wearing a mask. She had lived her entire life here, and yet she couldn’t think of anyone else she had connected to on a level as deep as she felt with him. The thought sparked an almost instant and crushing awareness of the envelope tucked away in her jacket. There were assignments one could be asked to do which literally required a mask, and the reality of those positions was not too remote. She had seen ANBU Shinobi gliding through the trees on patrol, moving almost like ghosts. Consideration for those shadowy details started at Specialist rank, which Shinako was not far from attaining.

The woman’s dark eyes moved upward, finding the face of the Third Hokage between the awnings of the buildings that winged the alley. Sarutobi Hiruzen had been Hokage twice, and both times somewhat reluctantly. His whole life, he had done what was needed of him. One of his greatest regrets in life had been sharing his knowledge and skill irresponsibly, leading to the rise of Orochimaru. It seemed to Shinako that if, by some imaginative stretch, she were to discover great and powerful Shinobi secrets, she would see to it that they were buried with her.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
Kyohei didn’t know quite the right way to answer Shinako’s words. In his heart of hearts the Uchiha wished he could provide her the answers she sought and given her some semblance of peace, but there was no telling what those answers were or if they even existed at this moment. What the man could do, however, was at least make an attempt to provide some sort of comfort. It was not as if he had not tried to communicate to her that she need not hesitate to lean on him, but he knew as well as anyone that it was never that simple. Even so, he would continue to make the point even if only so that she never felt the offer was off the table.

“Well, that’s ok too. I still don’t think you need to try and be anything else, but I’ll be here to help you figure it out. However long it takes. Alright?”

Kyohei would lower his hand from Shinako’s head, instead tracing the side of the woman’s face down to her cheek where she had placed her own hand, pressing tenderly on the spot where she had been struck only minutes before. The Uchiha places his hand over hers, almost completely covering the woman’s smaller hands, before wrapping his fingers around hers. The man would nudge her hand a way, silently urging her to allow him to see the mark that had been left behind by the strike. He would gently caress the spot, frowning upon feeling the stinging heat radiating off of her skin.

“Come on, let’s get something cold to put on that.’

Kyohei was under the assumption that Shinako would prefer to be exposed to as few prying eyes of the outside world as possible, which meant that going to either of their places of work, while nearby, was out of the question. Instead the Uchiha’s mind wandered to the cooler he had prepared as part of his attempt at surprising the woman earlier. So much for that idea. Removing his hand from her face, Kyohei would turn about halfway into the alley and reach out towards her lowered hand with his own, not going so far as to grab it as if asking permission or reciprocation from her side to lead her away by the hand.






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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
Shinako could not fathom why Kyohei would want to be around such a pitiful thing, let alone keep touching her. She wanted nothing more than to be buried under layers and layers of blankets, hidden away from the world, and yet he kept trying to draw her out; kept taking her by the hand and reassuring her. Taking her back away from the wall, she allowed Kyohei to lead. Some ice for her face sounded amazing, though she was sure the heat coming from her bruise would melt it extremely quickly. Her mind’s eye moved back to the burst of flames which had issued from her fingertips earlier. There were no blisters or burns on her hand.

The Shinobi of the Hidden Leaf had been breathing fire for centuries, and were more likely to exhibit that particular chakra nature than the Ninja of any other village. Still, the notion of spouting flames to engulf the foes of the Land of Fire was entirely unappealing to Shinako. As she pondered, a visible wisp of smoke escaped her nostrils as her internal temperature rose once again.

“Something cold sounds good.”

Her voice was still sad and stifled. Her cheek was beginning to swell in earnest now. She gripped Kyohei’s hand tightly and tried not to think about it. As they walked, Shinako moved her shadow to cover her friends in a connecting gesture only she could feel.

“I’m so thirsty.”

When her father had fallen ill, between his periods of lucidity, all he ever asked for was water. Perhaps Shinako was similarly unraveling, as evidenced by the burning in her lungs. Maybe this was all one long stretch between periods of lucidity, when she would look up and find that she was too far gone, and that she was slipping away.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
Kyohei would lead Shinako through the back alleyway, coming upon a chain link fence at the very end of the enclosed space nestled behind the central administrative buildings of the village. At the center of this fence was a wide, segmented portion attached to a hinge allowing it to swing open. The Uchiha fussed with the worn, metal latch that held the gate shut for a moment before finally managing to pop it open. The area beyond the fence sat at the very base of the plateau on which the faces of The Leaf’s earliest Kage were permanently etched in stone, shaded from the sun at this time of day by the mass of earth towering over it. All around the area were maintenance and construction materials, denoting that this was one of the storage areas for upkeep of the monument.

Walking clear past this storage area, Kyohei would bring Shinako up to the stone siding of the monument’s base, standing in front of a set of steel double doors with no handle. With his free hand the Uchiha would reach over to the side of the doors, pressing a single button with an upward facing arrow shape. After the briefest of delays, the sounds of metal machinations would churn through the air, followed by a high pitched “ding” before the two steel doors slid apart, revealing a rather large steel box with another set of identical doors on the opposite side. With a gentle nudge he would pull his companion inside, the doors sliding shut behind them almost immediately. The man would reach down into the neck opening of his armor to pull out the lanyard tucked beneath his undershirt, offering it to Shinako.

“Hold this for a second.”

Once Shinako complied, Kyohei would use his free hand to slide out his identification card and dip it into a small black mechanism beside the steel doors they had just passed through. The mechanism would produce a small, green light beside it before ejecting the card and illuminating a series of unmarked buttons alongside it. Retrieving his card with his free hand, the Uchiha would press the top-most button on the panel, setting the elevator into motion, and turning to the woman beside him.

“Sorry we have to use this elevator. Using the Body Flicker to travel long distances too many times in a short period of time drains chakra really quickly. I’m not trying to have a repeat of yesterday with you peeling me off the floor. Just uh… keep me bringing you this way between us, okay?”






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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
Many people in the village had no idea that the elevator even existed. In fact, so far as Shinako knew, there were at least three of them. However, every time she had ascended to the top of the Hidden Leaf’s beloved landmark, she had made the climb on foot. As a young girl, it had often taken her several hours during the course of a day’s hike with her father to reach the public area on the top, far from where the Doton workers conducted their maintenance. It made sense that the Military Police would have access to such a short-cut. Still, it felt a bit like cheating.

“Your secret’s safe with me.”

Shinako’s voice seemed far away, though at the mention of yesterday’s ordeal she did take a few moments to size Kyohei up. From what she had seen of his condition, this type of recovery was nothing short of miraculous. She handed his lanyard back, taking his hand at the same time. A bead of sweat was beginning to form on the front of her neck, and she leaned into her friend to steady herself. Shinako didn’t normally suffer from motion sickness, but the entire day was beginning to feel like it was moving upward and outward far too quickly. She let out a frustrated noise, somewhere between a sigh and a grunt, closing her eyes against the dizzy sensation.

Her first guess was that she had a concussion from Wori’s sucker-punch. That, combined with her rising anxiety level was mixing a strange cocktail in her body. She took a deep breath in through her nose, allowing the air to cool her sinuses and settle her roiling stomach.

“Besides….what’s life without a little bit of trouble anyway?”

Though she didn’t say it, she was grateful that Kyohei was there. She could only imagine how terrible she would be feeling were she sitting at her desk at the moment.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“What’s life without a little bit of trouble, huh?”

Shinako’s words would cause Kyohei to let out an amused huff which would gradually evolve in an outright burst of laughter. The source of the Uchiha’s amusement was the irony of those words in particular coming out of the woman’s mouth. Just one day prior, before she herself arrived on the scene to save the day. He had been writing a letter in response to one of her own and had noted his own musings on this sudden rebellious streak that had emerged as their relationship deepened, a letter that he had missed his opportunity to give her before she left the day before. Given the excitement of yesterday’s events it was unsurprising that such a minor thing had slipped his mind. He had only remembered the letter when he came across it in his briefcase later that night, but did manage to remember to bring it with him today. The letter sat tucked in an envelope left with the rest of his belongings atop Hokage Rock. It read:

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


Kyohei’s laughter would continue for the remainder of the brief elevator ride, halted only by the familiar ringing sound indicating they had arrived at the desired stop. The steel doors would slide open revealing a platform high atop the plateau, only a railing separating the safety of the ground beneath their feet and the long drop back down to their previous location. A long ramp led up the left side of the platform, granting access to the courtyard in back of the Kage museum, an area generally considered off-limits to the public, but was the destination of this whole excursion he had planned.

“Well, here we are.”






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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
“If you laugh too much without telling the joke, a girl may think you’re laughing just to flatter her.”

As they arrived at the top of the monument, Shinako took in a deep breath of the air. It wasn’t exactly what she was used to, so tainted by the ozone scent emanating from the electrical and mechanical workings of the elevator, but it was a bit better than the smell of the streets below. But even here she still felt like she was going to burn alive; the heat rising from her skin threatened to turn her into a living conflagration.

Breaking away from Kyohei, Shinako stepped out onto the sparse lichen that padded the top of the red rock. With deft fingers, she reached under her chin and undid the rest of the buttons fastening her jacket. A moment later she flung it aside with abandon. The wind at this altitude threatened to catch it and carry it clear off the face of the cliff, but the weight of the garment dragged it back down to earth before it could escape. Shinako watched it go, standing in her camisole, enjoying the sensation of the breeze like tiny bundles of floating feathers encircling her shoulders. She pulled her hair back into a high ponytail to allow the gust to touch her neck, holding the almost wanton pose for several moments as she began to gaze over the city.

It was a rare moment in which Shinako’s self-consciousness completely faded; such never lasted long, but were always thoroughly necessary. As she came back into her normal mode of awareness, Shinako dropped her hands to a more modest position, crossing her arms and taking a few steps back toward Kyohei.

“You promised something cold?”

When last she had checked, vendors were only allowed atop Hokage Rock during the most lively festivals, and only with the strict approval of the Doton shapers. There was a small medical building for emergency first aide that likely had cold packs, though she couldn’t imagine why Kyohei would bring her all the way up her to retrieve one. The Kunoichi frowned as she realized that her friend was probably planning something else, and that his plans for a picnic likely hadn’t been so thoroughly thwarted as he had let on earlier. She bit her tongue, however, rationalizing that it was, at least, a very nice gesture.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“Do as I come off as the type to engage in flattery for flattery’s sake?”

Kyohei would make is way off to the side of the platform as Shinako pushed onwards towards the railing, seemingly taking in the view, and pick up the jacket the woman discarded. The Uchiha did find the behavior to be a bit strange, but given what she had gone through this morning he had little interest in questioning her actions. What people needed to do in order to make themselves feel better and process their own emotional turbulence was their business. He, of all people, was hardly in the position to comment on or question other peoples’ methods of coping, especially not after the day before.

Once Shinako was satisfied Kyohei would signal for her to follow him up the ramp, nodding in acknowledgment when the subject of a cold item to help with the swelling was repeated. At the top of the ramp the duo would find the verdant garden area behind the Hokage museum, a meticulously maintained courtyard typically used only for ceremonies or events of the museum itself. Rather than enter the garden itself directly the Uchiha would make a hard right, skirting the waist-high hedges of the garden and leading the way to an open area near the edge of the plateau. It was here that he had planned to hold their little day trip.

Immediately Kyohei would make his way over to the far side of the area where he had asked the garden’s maintenance people to stow away his belongings, including a cooler he borrowed earlier in the morning. Reaching his hand into the ice the Uchiha would retrieve a beer can which he intended to use as an improvised ice pack. From his duffle bag beside the cooler he would retrieve the letter he had written to Shinako that he had yet to deliver. Since she was asking about it, he might as well hand it over now.

“Here, try this.”

Kyohei took the chilled can and tapped it against his cheek on the same place where Shinako had been struck, driving home his point without needing to spend any more time explaining it. Once the Nara had taken the can he would present the folded sheet of paper to her with his opposite hand.

“Here, this is the joke. I had meant to give you this yesterday before you left, but it slipped my mind. I was writing this to you yesterday before you came. I figured I’d hand deliver it. Give me a second so I can set the blanket down so we can sit.”






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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] 4aXt5ek

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