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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
Shinako gratefully accepted the cold can of beer with her left hand, exaggerating her thanks in her facial expression and with a dainty bend of her hip. Instead of pressing the beverage directly to her face, she adroitly popped the top with her index finger and accepted the letter with her right hand. Drawing the opening to her lips, she took four long gulps, finishing almost half of the fizzy liquid inside before nuzzling her cheek against the chilled aluminum. With a soft smile, she opened the letter and began reading it as Kyohei spread the blanket across the ground. As he smoothed the corners, Shinako looked over the edge of the page, surveying his gear to guess whether he had brought his handcuffs. She bit the inside of her lip, unsure of why her mind would stick to that particular line. She shoved the mental image away, sitting one hip down to take a corner of the blanket. Careful not the bend or tear it, Shinako placed the letter back in its envelope.

“I keep all of my letters in the same box I’ve had since I was a girl. Nobody writes anymore.”

Tilting back her head, she took another sip of beer and looked out over the city. The older portions were made of all wood and paper. The fire brigades were constantly running timed drills to suppress fires should they break out, so quickly would the flames spread. They were all living in a tinderbox town. The Kunoichi pursed her lips and turned away. She laid her back against the blanket and looked up at the sky, tilting the mouth of the can upward and keeping it flush against her skin.

Shinako felt like she could sleep for hours. The kiss of the midday sunlight against her skin was intense, and she felt like she was roasting; languishing. She lifted her right hand to shield her eyes from the sun, allowing the shadow to soothe her. For weeks now she had felt like something was consuming her from the inside, and now she had an inkling of what it was. So far as she knew, it was incredibly uncommon for Shinobi to develop an elemental nature without training this late into their lives.

“It’s a good day for a picnic.”

The dizziness she had felt on the elevator was beginning to return. She closed her eyes and let out a sigh.

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Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
Once the blanket had been laid Kyohei scurried over to the far end of the clearing from whence he had came with the ice-chilled beer can for Shinako, intent on bringing the cooler over to their chosen location. The cooler was a wheeled model, with a built-in extending handle which the man used to pull it along. He would position it just off the top of the blanket for easy access without eating up space. As he returned to the woman’s location he would begin to respond to her musings, doing his best to sound somewhat upbeat despite how unnatural it felt.

“People haven’t written letters for years. I don’t know that I’ve ever had to actually send someone a handwritten letter before I met you.”

Kyohei let out an amused huff, teasing Shinako for her antiquated interests. Having finished with his preparations and taking note of how quickly his companion took to making herself comfortable, the Uchiha decided to do the same. Grabbing hold of the edges of the armor surrounding his neck the man would pull the piece upward and over his head, disheveling his hair as he struggled with his clothing. Once Kyohei had liberated himself from his field uniform he would place it down on the furthest corner of the blanket from the woman as to not have it be in the way.

Free from the rigid confines of his body armor Kyohei plopped himself down on the blanket, purposefully choosing a location right beside Shinako. The blanket itself wrinkled slightly as the Uchiha positioned himself, pulling his legs beneath him to sit in the lotus position facing her. The man would lean forward, bending far enough over the Nara that his head and shoulders would come between she and the sun, his body casting a wide shadow that covered her and shaded her from the harsh sunlight. To support himself and prevent the awkwardness of falling on top of Shinako, he pressed his arms into the blanket below, locking out his elbows to create a solid base.

Before saying a word Kyohei would run his eyes across Shinako’s face, the corners of his lips curling downward into a subtle frown as his gaze fell upon the spot on her cheek where the beer can was pressed. Without thinking the Uchiha would find himself mirroring the woman, raising one hand from the blanket to his cheek and rubbing a non-existent injury to the same spot on his own face.

“Are you okay?”






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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
Opening her eyes, Shinako looked up at Kyohei, a deep sense of weariness washing over her. She reached up with her right hand and combed a section of his hair flat, matching his frown. She gave a small shake of her head, averting her eyes and indicating a negative answer to his question. Her hand dropped back to the blanket, as though too heavy to keep airborne. From the corner of her eye, she could see the red reassignment envelope sticking out of her jacket pocket, where Kyohei had sat it down.

“People complain about the bad things that happen to them; that they don’t deserve them. But they seldom mention the good things, and what they’ve done to deserve those things. I think….”

Shinako sighed again, twisting the fabric of the blanket between her slender fingers. She could feel the cool sweat of the beer can condensing against her cheek, a fine trickle beginning to run down toward her ear.

“….I have to figure out what I can fix and let the rest go. If there’s nothing to be done about it, it’s not really a problem….just….another aggravation.”

She wasn’t making a lot of sense. With her head as fuzzy as it was, and Kyohei leaning over her, it was difficult to organize her thoughts. Maybe it was time to tell someone how she had been feeling lately; about her will to disappear.

“I keep thinking that I’ll wake up some sunny morning and yesterday won’t count. But yesterday is all does count. What else is there? These lives we’re living are made out of the days they’re made out of, and nothing else. I keep thinking I could run away, and change my name, and cut my hair, and who knows what else….Start over, maybe? And then, every morning, I wake up and I’m the same girl lying there.”

Shinako shook her head again, and closed her eyes. She wanted to vanish into thin air.

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____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“Yesterday only matters as far as getting you to today.”

Kyohei shook his head and righted himself, straightening his back and no longer shading Shinako from the sun above. The Uchiha himself looked skyward, taking a moment to gather his thoughts. He had never been much of a scholar or wordsmith himself, making his bones as a warrior and relying on his strength to get him through. Any explanations he tried to make would probably come off as juvenile to a properly educated person like her, but he couldn’t simply remain silent in this situation.

“…That probably doesn’t make much sense. I mean, at least for me, dwelling in the past or looking out too far into the horizon just isn’t something I find myself doing. The life of a shinobi is not famous for being particularly long. I’ve lost people close to me. It’s hard to maintain relationships. It gets lonely. There’s a reason that defection is so common in the shinobi world. It’s hard. Sometimes even the strongest of us have doubts and feel insecure.”

Kyohei moved to lean back and lay down on the blanket beside Shinako, squinting to shield his eyes from the sun as he faced the sky. The man placed his left hand on the center of his abdomen and reached out across the blanket with his right, seemingly seeking out the woman’s hand in turn.

“Obviously memories of the past can be nice or painful… and everyone has a dream they work toward… but in the end, yesterday is gone. Nothing we can do can go back or change what has happened. We can hope for tomorrow, but we can’t know if anything will come with it. All anyone has for certain is right now, so I just try to stay as present in the moment as I can. I don’t want to get so caught up in yesterday or tomorrow that I find myself missing out on what I can do that’s right in front of me. I don’t want to regret not doing something I could have, so I just do what feels right. Whatever consequences I may have to deal with tomorrow are just part of the path I’ve chosen.”

Kyohei paused for a moment before rolling over onto his right side in order to face Shinako beside him on the picnic blanket. The Uchiha let out a deep sigh and curled the corners of his lips into his best smile, although it was still a weak offering. He never was one to be accused of smiling too often.

“My life may not be what some people, or even I, would consider perfect, but it’s not so bad. How could any path that led me here, with you, have been the wrong one?”






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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
“If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a bundle of good luck strolling around….”

Feeling Kyohei lay down across the blanket from her created a stirring in odd places, but she ignored it for now. It had been a long time since she had been touched, and there were a lot of chemical accelerants coursing through her veins after such a day. Still, when she felt his hand reach for her, she gladly entwined her fingers with his, keeping her eyes shut loosely against the sunlight. She crossed her legs at the ankles, just for good measure.

That was how it was and always had been with Shinako; a series of small deprivations, accumulating end to end in no short string. A phrase she had been considering a lot recently flashed through her mind. ‘Many small lies.’ She found herself gripped by the sudden belief that a person could, bit by bit, steal away their own life, though it seemed to her that it would not benefit them more than anything else they might steal. She had always done the best she could with the life she had, and yet it wasn’t quite hers. There were moments in which she felt like a stranger; a spectator in her own story.

Shinako tilted her head forward, raising the opening of the beer can to her lips and slowly leaning back until the can was empty. Her thirst seemed unquenchable, like a fire in her chest. Whatever was written in the contents of the new red envelope, it likely meant that she would have to breathe fire soon, like Sasuke or Jiraiya….like her own father. It was a skill she had only ever seen Doctor Nara Shikanaoe exhibit a few times in his life, as an honorary salute at funerals for his kinsmen. She wondered if he had ever turned his inner fire against an enemy in some story he had never had the heart to tell his children. She wondered if she would ever tell anyone about the boy she had killed, and how that story would start. A crunching sound broke the silence as she crushed the beer can and discarded it by the edge of the blanket.

Rubbing her ankles and soles together, Shinako deftly shed her sandals, enjoying the sensation of the cool air on her bare feet. It was enough to think that for every small deprivation, every small lie, there was a little bit of truth yet to live. But it wasn’t like she hadn’t felt the cool air between her toes before.

“Sometimes….”

Shinako’s voice was very quiet now, like smoke that the wind threatened to carry away. She hoped that Kyohei would move closer to hear it. She hoped that anyone would hear her.

“….I think I’ve felt everything I’ll ever feel; maybe everything there isto feel. That from here going forward I’ll not feel anything new just….lesser versions of things I’ve already felt.”

Opening her eyes, she looked over at Kyohei. There was no sparkle to be seen in her dark orbs, but there was honesty, if that was what he wanted.

520/6,540


____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
“You’ve never seen everything, felt everything, experienced everything… The world is so much bigger than Konoha. I don’t think I was even able to fully appreciate it myself until I was dead here. For those from the Five Great Shinobi Villages, this life is normal. It’s all they know. It’s almost unimaginable that there are places where this whole lifestyle, being a shinobi, isn’t even a thought.”

Kyohei’s mind wandered to what little he could recall from his time away from Konohagakure after his failed mission in pursuit of Enaka’s most senior lieutenant, Hataro. So much of it seemed foggy, but he could not mistake the distinct sense of peace he felt in being away from the village. If he were to be honest, there were moments in his absence in which he felt quite strongly that he might prefer to stay “dead” in the eyes of the village he had been a captive of for so long. Ultimately, however, one could never solve a problem by running away or refusing to confront it. Returning to Konoha, no matter how unpleasant it might have seemed at the time, was the only path through which the Uchiha could pursue his ideals.

“Children are just children, not assets or tools of war. I wouldn’t mind seeing Konoha becoming like that. Sometimes I feel like the era of the shinobi has run its course. To see a world where people like me are no longer needed. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing to strive for.”





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Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
“It seems to me like generation after generation of Shinobi strive for peace. But peace maintained by threat is not really peace.”

She thought about what Kyohei said about other places where children could be children, and wondered where those places were; what they might look like. The next instant she was wondering what it was like to see anything through Kyohei’s eyes. It was rumored that the Sharingan saw to the truth of things somehow better than the average eye.

“How….I mean….”

Shinako’s head was still fuzzy, and she was beginning to feel the effects of the beer she had imbibed so quickly.

“Does the Sharingan see the truth when it comes to things like that?”

She knew that Kyohei probably couldn’t tell her much about his Kekkei Genkai without risking at least an unofficial clan sanction for crimes and misdemeanors. It certainly would have been uncomfortable for her if someone had come asking around about her family’s Hiden techniques. However, with just the two of them there, it didn’t seem like so much of an intrusion.

“Can you tell when someone is lying, or trying to manipulate you?”

It seemed like an extraordinary skill to possess. Shinako had always reasoned that someone who could literally see more had a lot more to think about. It stood to reason that Shinobi would intentionally mystify such a skill, and claim that they could see through lies. Shinako pulled herself up to her elbow, moving closer to Kyohei to make up for the slack she was taking out of her arm. She realized that there was a more pressing question that was eating at her.

“What do you see when you look at me?”

The expression she wore was pensive and slightly bothered, as though she might be walking into an answer she was afraid to hear. Every time she had seen Kyohei’s Sharingan, it had unnerved her so much that she had looked away without thinking about it too much. However, if there was any bit of truth under her façade, maybe Kyohei stuck around because he could see it.

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____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
If there needed to be a threat, there was no peace. A threat implied that the opposing party still had a choice in the matter. Man is a fickle, self-serving beast. So long as man is allowed to believe that there is a choice, that what would await them on the other side of a declaration of opposition was anything short of utter hopelessness and absolute defeat, they would eventually corrupt even the most pure Utopia. The annals of history left no ambiguity on the matter; mankind as a whole made no qualms about sacrificing peace at the altar of human greed.

Logic, love, rule of law, and harmony alike had all proven to be failed experiments. They may walk on two legs, speak a common tongue, build great structures, but mankind was a species of beasts all the same. Treating them as anything more had only inflicted further tragedy upon this world. At their most base levels, all beasts understood one thing, survival. An eagle felt no need to threaten a field mouse, both sides understood the dynamic of their relationship. They understood power. Power was the only true North Star to follow in pursuit of peace. This was what Kyohei knew to be true, but the Uchiha also knew that most others had not the privilege of seeing this world for what it truly was. Some things were better kept to himself, for now.

“Eyes that see the truth of this world… it’s not something so simple as flipping a magic switch and having clarity. The Sharingan will reveal what truly is, but what it means and what to do with that knowledge is often a matter of interpretation. Ultimately, the Sharingan is still simply a tool, only as good as the one using it.”

Locking his gaze with hers, Kyohei would activate his Sharingan and gaze into Shinako’s eyes, hoping to provide her whatever answer she sought.

“When I look at you I see the same thing I saw the first night we met, someone who’s lost and hurting. Someone who’s looking for something, something they probably can’t even identify themselves just yet. Someone who’s struggling to find some sense of normalcy after everything important to them just seemed to fall apart. I see someone who I can’t always bring myself to look away from, maybe because I feel like they’re going through something like I am and as much as I try to play tough I don’t want to be alone anymore. I see you have something you want to keep hidden because you’re afraid, but I don’t see a liar if that’s what you’re worried about.”






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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
Shinako didn’t avert her eyes, though something about the intensity in Kyohei’s Kekkei Genkai once again made her shiver. When he mentioned that he did not see her as a liar, the corners of her mouth turned downward in a deep frown. He was right about her, in a general sort of way that she was glad he had picked up on….all except for that last part. She kept her gaze level, even though she felt unnerved, chewing the inside of her bottom lip.

In the next moment she almost reached out and touched the front of Kyohei’s shirt. Instead, she folded her hands across the front of her white camisole at the navel, wondering if his eyes could see the way her shoulders tensed. She squeezed her knees together as regions far lower and more secret began to spasm. Her whole body felt sore, and overexposed; raw and blushing with heat, like the bruise growing on her cheek. The problem with Kyohei’s eyes was that Shinako knew exactly what she wanted them to see.

“I do worry, sometimes.”

The understatement was meant to be comedic, though the woman’s scowl didn’t change. Even if she had been wearing his armor, Shinako would have felt unprotected before the heat of Kyohei’s eyes. Humor seemed like the best escape. Though, she didn’t exactly want to escape. She squeezed her right hand inside of her left until her knuckles were white.

“….about all kinds of things. I wish I could see what you see.”

Shinako swallowed hard, feeling the heat rise in her throat, spreading across her face. Her words expressed the reality of what she was feeling, if not exactly directly. She felt a sense of intimacy with Kyohei which she had not felt with anyone else in a long while.

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____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
Even now Kyohei could see something eating away at Shinako from the inside, her body language broadcasting an uneasiness that her words seemed hesitant to reveal. And in that moment the normally supremely confident Uchiha found himself at a loss for what to do to put his companion at ease. He was a soldier, fighting was all he was ever trained to do, and in the life of a shinobi problems that could not be solved through superior force were the stuff of folklore. Despite that, here he was staring a problem in the face that he lacked a weapon or jutsu that could force down the woman’s defenses.

All Kyohei could think to do was use his arm beneath him to push himself up slightly, enough to scoot himself forward on the blanket and close almost all of the distance between he and Shinako. The Uchiha’s Sharingan did not deactivate, but instead would only stare more deeply into the woman’s eyes as he leaned his head in towards her, gently tapping his forehead against hers and keeping their skin pressed together. His free, left hand would then fall over her clasped hands, squeezing them himself and cradling her outer hand in his palm as if to reassure her that she did not have to rely solely on herself.

“Tell me.”

Kyohei’s spoke in a hushed tone as if asking Shinako to reveal a secret that no one else should hear, even though they were completely alone.

“People only ask that kind of question when they are already worried about what the other person might see. They’re looking for the other person to either confirm or deny it. You already decided what there was to see before you asked me, didn’t you? Tell me what you wanted me to see… or what you were afraid of me seeing. I want to know you. I want to know all of you.”






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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 4aXt5ek

Shinako

Shinako


D-rank
“People in this village lack good mirrors. When I look into mine, I want to see a faithful sister and daughter. I want to see a productive and efficient citizen….maybe a Shinobi.”

As Kyohei moved forward, Shinako shifted her left hip toward his right, flattening herself slightly on the blanket. She freed her right hand and cupped the back of his shoulder, threatening to pull him on top of her if he did not resist. Her voice in these close quarters was raspy and almost breathless, having lost all of its practiced luster.

“I don’t see any of that, and I wondered what the Sharingan sees.”

Many metaphors were used for the Sharingan, and the mirror was the one which had always appealed to Shinako; the idea that a Shinobi’s aggression could be defeated simply by showing it back to them, reflected in an eye that could see all of it for how paper thin it was. Looking into Kyohei’s eyes, Shinako could imagine herself crumbling.

“I can’t see into myself clearly anymore, and I hoped that the Sharingan might do better. All I see is murk. Inside, outside….illusion and shadow. I sound like I have a concussion.”

Nuzzling her forehead against Kyohei’s, Shinako remembered the sense of heat she was feeling. Her hair was becoming damp with perspiration, and she closed her eyes tightly for a few moments to fight a spinning feeling she felt coming on.

“But….”

When she opened her eyes again a moment later there was more than a hint of intensity in them, as though they might burst to life in red and black at any moment.

“If something doesn’t change, I know I’ll only wind up mad or dead this way. Knowing very little, of even myself, and getting that little bit wrong too. Sometimes I wish I knew how to go crazy. Sometimes it seems like I’ve just forgotten how; like it’s just beyond my reach, and if I could just….see it….”

Shinako’s voice trailed off again.

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____


Ninjutsu: S|Genjutsu: A| Fuuinjutsu: B
Inton: A|Katon: A
Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 Image10

Kyohei

Kyohei


D-rank
Kyohei would find his shoulder being pulled from across Shinako’s body, tilting his towards her. Rather than allow his weight to come crashing down on top of her the man raised his left leg as his body tipped in her direction, his knee landing in the space between her legs to prop himself up. Supporting his upper body with his two elbows pressed against the ground on either side of her, the Uchiha would simply allow her to speak, as unable to extract a clear message from what she was feeling as she was. He could not make her see something different than what she saw and he could not wave a magic wand to change what she was feeling. It was clear enough from the events that transpired that morning that she was not exactly having a tremendously good time of late.

“Maybe you’re trying too hard to make sense of what you’re feeling instead of just letting yourself feel it. There’s a reason that shinobi tend to indulge in vices in their personal lives. We live lives where every decision we make can be the difference between life and death. Sometimes you just need to stop thinking about it and let go.”

Before continuing Kyohei would separate he forehead from Shinako’s, lifting his head in order to look her in the eye. The Uchiha shifted his weight slightly in order to readjust his left arm, propping himself up with his hand rather than his elbow and giving him some freedom to do with his right arm as he pleased. The man cupped his newly freed right hand and placed it over the still red spot on the side of her face.

“If you want to learn how to go crazy, stop trying to remember and just do it. Decide what you want and just go for it, even if you think you shouldn’t, like nothing else matters. What do you want right now? I don’t have any plans other than you. We can do whatever you’d like. Go crazy.”





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Chapter III: A Moment's Respite [Shinako/Private/NK] - Page 2 4aXt5ek

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