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1A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:16 pm



It was just another day in Konoha. The light shone down, unobstructed through a cloudless sky. The forest that surrounded the town, thick and unyielding save for the roads that had been made to allow the travel of commerce, added a cacophony of sounds from the birds and animals brave enough to stay so close to the hub of humanity. The people themselves, vibrant and happy to have been chosen to host this years Chuunin Exams, were enjoying the influx of business that it brought. Vendors came from all over to push their goods, and ninja from other villages got to see the power and unity of the Village Hidden in the Leaves. While it certainly came with its own risks, as they had invited enemy ninja into their village and they could essentially do whatever they wanted while there, it also allowed for the village to spy on these ninja. They could see not only the future of each village through their Genin, but also the Chuunin and Jounin that were assigned to train and escort these young talents.

That was not, however, to imply that the Genin from outside the village were always with supervision. Even now, in the middle of the day and between rounds, Jukei found himself wondering alone through this vibrant village. It was so much different than his home village of Iwagakure. It seemed so much livelier, with the people confident in their own security as well as their own futures. There seemed to be zero concern that there were so many unknowns within their home, as if even if every outsider revolted at once they would be put down in a moment. Having been from the outside himself, many might expect Jukei to feel some sort of annoyance or need to compete in order to spite this. It was to the contrary, actually. He was forced to think of his home village, and wonder why it did not experience this level of prosperity and confidence. What made the two so different? Was Konoha simply a powerhouse, and Iwagakure a village that had survived simply due to heritage?

These thoughts echoed in his mind while his feet carried him near the outskirts of the village, approaching a bench that was positioned in such a way to allow proper view of the village, allowing people to take a seat and enjoy the fruits of their labor. His feet took him to this empty seat, and it was there he sat to look inwards. He worried not about hiding his identity, his Iwa headband tied neatly around his head, symbol visible from beneath his bangs. While he sat there, his mind still mulling over their previous thoughts, he enjoyed the unique peace that this village had about it.

And he thought.

2A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty Re: A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:59 am



Long brunette locks swayed with each of the young woman's deliberate steps. Her pace was slow, a sentiment to her aching body. With each stride, there was a soft jingle of a bell that was affixed to her Ramen cart, which she wheeled behind her.

While the young woman wasn't exerting the same energy that the Chuunin Exam participants were (they were doing a much better job representing their clans, of course), she had been hard at work, diligently preparing countless bowls of ramen to the patrons that had gathered in Konoha for the big event. She was lucky to have found a spot with foot traffic, among the sea of vendors that had settled in-- most of which were hoping to turn a profit from the large crowds that gathered for the event.

The stream of customers had been fairly consistent throughout the exams so far, and it had kept her busy. So busy in fact, that she had only caught the murmurs of the crowd when it came to the results of the different rounds. Of course her ears perked whenever she had heard the names of her fellow Iwa members... her heart swelling with pride when she heard the chanting of their successes, and grief, at the moments of their hardships. The energy that these exams brought to the bustling streets of Konoha was likely not one that she would forget.

The young woman had nearly run out of ingredients midway through the second-round battle of Jukei Iwazami, and as she began to close her shop, her stream of informants had quickly trickled down to whispers. She thought that she heard that he had won his second round, but she wasn't certain that such information was accurate, as the chants had settled into some other vendor's territory.

And so, as she left, slowly trodding through the ocean of people that surrounded her-- the small cart in tow, she was only speculative of the result of the round. The sea barely parted for the girl and her cargo, and she had to weave through the crowd of people, and vendors-- the bright colors and voices and smells that filled the streets with... what was the word to describe it? Joy? Excitement? Exhilaration?  Maru wasn't even sure if any of those descriptors would do the energy justice, but in her current state of exhaustion, she wasn't sure she appreciated it to its fullest. Which is why she pressed forward, heading towards the outskirts, where it was a bit more peaceful.

As she neared the outskirts of the village, she had noticed a bench... And from far away, she paid little attention to the person that had occupied it, far too interested in the idea of utilizing the bench rather than interacting with its occupant. The thought of sitting down, made the young woman let out a small whimper-- it was a concept that elated her.

As she neared closer, she paid its tenant more mind-- the tinkling bell on her Ramen cart slowing with her pace as she approached. She could feel the patter of her heart quicken as her gaze landed on the person sitting on the bench. She attempted to swallow the lump that formed in her throat. She recognized the young man-- he had once eaten at her ramen stand back in Iwa, but he was much more of a hot topic now than he had been then. She cleared her throat, "Do you mind if I join you? This thing can get rather heavy..." she tilted her head back to the cart that followed her with an exhausted smile, "...and your bench looks awfully comfortable..." she tucked one of the strands of hair that had fallen from her ponytail behind her ear, as she waited for confirmation.

If he had signaled her to sit, she would wheel the cart to the side, and take a seat next to him. Otherwise she would remain standing in front of the young ninja. Regardless of her position, she would speak to him anyways. While she knew exactly who the individual was before her, she opted not to speak his name... After all, it was rude to be assertive with introductions when they were one sided. She casually tugged at the band around her neck, adjusting her own Iwa insignia that was draped there.  "You're from Iwa, right? You probably don't remember me... we met briefly, once before... but I never actually introduced myself..." She paused a moment, letting the words sink in, studying the young man's face for any indication of remembering their interaction. His reaction would determine the level of playfulness that laced her words as she next spoke, a direct correlation to any affirmation "I'm afraid that I don't have a bowl of ramen ready for you today, though from the sounds of things you've earned one..." She outstretched her hand, allowing Jukei to shake it if he so pleased, "...I'm Maru Suisan."

3A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty Re: A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Sun Nov 25, 2018 2:44 am



The effects of tranquility were truly magical. The sounds of Konoha found a way to meld into the sounds of nature. The chatter of humanity sounded ever so similar to the songs of birds. The illusion was only broken by the smells of food and the sounds of buildings, their doors being slammed and bells being rung. Still, Jukei was able to lose himself in the peace. The breeze brushed by his face like a lovers touch, and as the warmth of the sun's rays kissed his skin he felt as though sleep could take him at any moment. How ironic was it that one of the people here to fight and prove that they were ready to put their life on the line at any moment was willing to fall unconscious in unknown territory?

A constant and gentle metallic sound was what put a stop to that possibility. His eyes opened, staring straight and into the blue sky above. The sun, luckily enough, was not in a position that it blinded him. Instead, he was able to appreciate the unblemished sky for what it was as the sound of the bell came to a stop. He didn't bother looking towards whoever had approached him, as it seemed they would address him without his needing to.

Finally lifting his head and sitting up straight, he turned his vision toward her. The voice was vaguely familiar, though he wouldn't have necessarily known it if not for her easily recognizable appearance and the cart itself. "Please do," he said, scooting his body over to allow room for her to seat comfortably, his arms still around the back of the bench.

As she wheeled the cart over to beside the bench and helped herself to the seat that was opened for her, Jukei looked back into the sky once more. She, or perhaps it was just her cart, smelled of ramen. The smell of the dough, the meat, the and the broth hung heavily around her. It was not at all unpleasant, accenting the sense of peace he currently felt. He had noticed her identifying band around her neck, but he had picked up on it during their first encounter anyways. He knew that they were both from the same village.

She began to speak, making sure that he was indeed who she thought he was. As she trailed off about having ever introduced herself, his gaze never changed. Still it stared off into the sky, as if he could see something beyond the blue. She continued to speak, apologizing for her lack of preparedness. Her voice seemed playful, almost a touch nervous, as if she was unsure whether or not she was correct in what she was doing. She seemed to know that he was part of the exams, though from the sound of things almost everyone recognized those who made it past round 1. As she stretched out her hand and introduced herself, he took but a moment more before he turned his face towards her.

"You were in Iwagakure, your cart placed at the fork in the road that leads to the Hospital. I remember you." He met her outstretched hand with his own, his handshake firm and his eyes now locked directly onto hers. His lips curled upwards into a smile, his entire face relaxing. "Jukei Iwazami, though from the sounds of it you already knew that." His words ended with a playful inflection of their own before he glanced to the cart behind her. "You've been paying attention to the exams, and even went through all this effort to find me, yet I don't get even a single bowl as a reward? I'm not sure how I feel about that."

4A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty Re: A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:38 am



The young woman settled into the bench, nestling herself into the empty space that her fellow patron had made for her. She kept some distance between the two of them still, an appropriate enough space for two near-strangers. As her body relaxed, her amethyst orbs fell to the man next to her, matching his gaze when it would meet hers. Her smile on her lips remained consistent, though the one in her eyes grew as he mentioned that he remembered her. Had he been paying close attention, he would have noticed the subtle scrunch of her nose as the smile became more genuine throughout their interaction.

As he formally introduced himself, and mused about her withholding his reward, she expelled a breath she hadn't been aware she was holding in, a soft snicker stifled just as quickly as it came about. She shook her head playfully. "Unfortunately, I haven't been able to follow much of the exams myself, actually... To busy feeding the masses that have been enjoying the trials. After all, not much can make a person hungrier than watching other people working hard." she chuckled at her own comment under her breath, amused by the nature of people. It was always odd to her that humans found their own energy levels depleted without exhausting them at all. "I've gotten most of my information secondhand from those who were able to spectate properly... Regardless, you're right-- it was very rude of me to not offer my fares. I can write you a rain-check if it'd mean you'd forgive my audacity of not serving you from a nearly empty stall." Her words were playful-- shaped by the upwards turn that lingered on the lips they had been spoken from.

She allowed a silence to overcome her, giving him time to respond, her gaze shifting from her companion to her cart, and finally settle to her lap, where her idle hands wrung together. The hours in Konoha had been arduous and now that she had a moment of stillness, she wasn't certain what to do with it. Exhaustion crept into bones the more still she was... She watched her hands as they continued tracing over the skin of each other.  If and when the man spoke again, her gaze would return to his visage. Had he been perceptive in that moment, he'd likely notice the puffiness beneath her eyes that indicated the woman's fatigue.

Had she needed to be the one to continue the conversation, she would remain quiet for a while, contemplating the avenues that she could take their discussion. Had the young man not filled the silence, she would pester him with a question, otherwise she would hold her inquiry for later. "What has been the most worthwhile experience for you so far?"

5A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty Re: A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:10 pm



She had laughed, and with it he let an amused grin cover his features as well. His eyes squinted lightly, and he exhaled the lightest of chuckles. She explained how she had been unable to watch any of the exams due to her work, and it made sense. His eyes once again fell upon the cart behind her, and his respect for her rose even further. He had always had a soft place in his heart for those who could create food, and the higher its quality the higher his respect. The dish she had made for him before during his walk home from the Iwa hospital had been more than enough to ensure that he saw her in a better light. As she continued her words, the obviously mock guilt running thick in her voice, he couldn't help but grin once again and look her way.

"You'd do that just for me? And here I thought winning these exams would have no noticeable perks for me." With that, he finally let out a genuine laugh. It was short, rumbling from his chest in a way that some would describe infectious before shaking his head and looking forward. He had not been so unaware as to have missed the signs of her exhaustion, but to ask something with such straight forward nature could easily come across as rude. He still knew next to nothing about this woman, Maru, and he would rather not cause discomfort for anyone on his bench. So instead, he found another way to ask about it; And arguably, a way to help sort out his own wandering mind.

"I'm curious," he began, his words stopping abruptly as his eyes scanned the buildings in front of them. In the distance the hustle and bustle of Konoha could still be heard in full swing. People could be seen off in the distance, though any vision of the village square was lost behind the maze of buildings. Still, it was enough to have a clear idea of just how busy this village was at the moment. "Why do you do it?" His words seemed rather straight forward, and after a short moments pause but before she'd have a chance to answer unless she began without any hesitation at all, he'd continue. "I understand that the world requires employment of some kind, but why cook? Why travel from village to village, following major events, to try and make ends meat? Is it just survival?"

If she were perceptive, perhaps she'd notice his gaze squinting ever so slightly. Perhaps she'd notice his lips, now more of a straight line than offering any hint of a grin. And perhaps she'd notice that he now seemed to be looking past the village entirely, at something that wasn't quite there. This question was indeed more than just the question, but would she be able to tell?

6A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty Re: A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:52 pm



As the young man asked if she would actually hold true to her statement of giving him a raincheck, Maru smiled and nodded-- a soft chuckle of her own matching his own infectious one. She withheld the sarcastic quip that threatened to release itself from the edge of her tongue, after all, the conversation pushed forward regardless.

His next question was far more thought invoking than his previous had been. Amethyst orbs fluttered from the man's visage, and instead tracked their way to the village that was painted in front of them. She remained still for a while... Likely longer than she should have. It was a simple question, but there was complexities behind it that her exhaustion made difficult to articulate.

"At the end of the day, isn't everything humans do for survival in one shape or form? Why is it that we choose to do something over another? Life is a series of interactions in which some make lasting impressions... be it sorrow or joy... right? Following passions is really just finding a way to make our own survival a bit less monotonous... In hopes that we'll be happy at its end." Her gaze remained fixed in front of her, as she spoke, though she was no longer looking at the village, but far beyond it-- to an unknown horizon.

She fell silent again, to allow an interjection, had Jukei felt so inclined to comment quickly. Otherwise, her eyes would return to his profile. Despite the stoic posture as she sat there, unmoving, save for her gaze--  a playful smirk shaping the sarcastic words that would come out next "That and for the adoring fans of course... Something about the swooning at my feet that I can't quite get over. I'm sure you've enjoyed the taste of that life now too... Welcome to the club." Breath lingered in her throat. She had failed to choke back the sarcasm that dripped from her lips in that moment. It had to be the exhaustion-- suppressing one's nature became exceptionally difficult when fatigue gripped tightly every bone and muscle. All she could do was hold her breath until his reaction passed, hoping that the statement was taken well. Eyes fluttered away from his profile, her gaze clinging instead to the horizon again. A soft pink painted her cheeks. She could have sworn she felt his gaze burning into her, though it was just as likely to be regret playing social anxiety like a marionette in her mind.

7A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty Re: A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:34 pm




The word dripped from his lips like poison, his face scrunching up slightly at the word. It was done with such a minute change, his voice barely a whisper and his face practically stoic, that the woman next to him would have a hard time ever noticing it had happened at all. It was done in a way that one might argue that the changes to his face were purely of the emotional response, his brain reacting to the chemicals of displeasure, and that he had otherwise consciously chose to keep his face the same. He spoke the word as if it were a forbidden curse, something that could only breathe if it were given life by his lips. Yet he said it, and he could not fight his displeasure in it.

Her words barraged his ears, though they were like blows onto a training dummy. There was no response, as if they weren't hitting anything at all. A dull recourse could be seen from the light nod of his head, acknowledging that he had heard anything at all, but it was as though all the words that came next had simply flowed through him. It would become slowly obvious to her, regardless of if she wanted to notice it or not, that his mind was churning. Slowly his stone features gained their right to change once more. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly, his lips pursing in displeasure and his cheek twitching as if fighting off some impulse. He was uncomfortable, the words mulling on his tongue needing release and yet being held onto for a few extra moments, as if the pain was worth it so long as they'd be given their proper attention.

"Maybe, but it shouldn't be." His words came at the end of her answer, ignorant of her flirtatious quip and instead focused in on a moment that was just far enough in the past that she may have not connected them at all. "Survival? Survival shouldn't be something that we work towards." They were quiet, weak even. They were like the first flutters of snow in winter, falling without warning and slowly blanketing everything they came into contact with.

"Survival... It's just a word, but it has so much meaning." He had thrown it out, hoping she'd swat it away. Instead it seemed like she took it in, understanding it on a personal level which had caused him personal pain. "We have long since become the Apex, yet we gain no peace from it. Not in Iwagakure at least." His eyes looked at her, searching for a second as if from very far away until his gazed searched hers out and seized it. "Tell me honestly, do you feel safer working from our home village than you do from here; From Konaha?"

His words ended in a bitter laugh as he shook his head, though even that sign of disdain was done in near silence. His internal world had been overcast skies for days as he mulled over his thoughts, and it seemed as if her words had been the cold front that brought the weather to fruition. "Suna was destroyed. I'm sure you know that, you travel often enough and hear rumors from your customers. It was completely leveled. Citizens and Ninja alike were slaughtered like dogs. The buildings leveled. And why?" His eyes found hers once more.

"They weren't strong enough."

His words were dismissive. His face now held obvious disdain, though whether or not it was from the event or his own words were unknown. He had monopolized their talk, but perhaps she'd be kind enough to let him finish? There was something about a person who could connect people with their food that made them feel as though they could open up about themselves. A therapeutic feeling that a chef could provide in which no one else could match. He remembered that feeling well, and it had forced him to feel a rather strange connection with this member of his village.

"We've reached the top as a species, and yet all that has done is caused us to kill one another more and beasts a little less. And why is that? How many countless voices have been snuffed out due to disagreements from people who just so happened to have been born elsewhere?" His words trailed again, his head quickly shaking as if he could not just leave the topic there. "Survival is just a step, not the end goal. Everything should be done to live. To truly be allowed to live. It's a goal that seems to be only afforded to the strong. To people like Konoha, who have managed to claw and climb their way to the peak."

Looking up into the sky, Jukei reached his hand up. His words, cold and encompassing like snow, had never increased in volume or impact. The constant bombardment of his tiny flakes of opinion had still found a way to blanket the world around them, beneath the sun and despite the grass it felt to him as if they were completely surrounded in sound dampening blanket of his words, as if surrounded by snow. "I want to live. I want my family to live. I want my people to live. And I want that even if others cannot." His hand grasped, an exasperated look pulling at his features as if he had only just missed what he had been so desperate for.

"Is that wrong?"

8A Drop in the Ocean [Private] Empty Re: A Drop in the Ocean [Private] on Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:36 am



"Maybe, but it shouldn't be."

These words quickly dispelled the breath that had been trapped in her throat. He gave her no true acknowledgement to any of her own statements. Indeed, even her sarcastic quip had been ignored. Instead, he delivered a monologue of his own.

The realization that this man didn't really want conversation came quickly, his words a wave washing away the sand castle her diatribe had constructed. Soon there was nothing left of her response, and instead she was at the mercy of his own, the cold, choppy waters that they were.

As he spoke, she turned her body to give him the attention he deserved. She watched the curves of his lips pursing at the displeasure that his own words gave him-- the disdain growing with each syllable that pushed past his teeth. And while their utterance became no louder over the course of his soliloquy, each word felt more jaded as she listened to each enunciated sound. The pressure of these words on her was that of a serrated knife caressing skin-- uncomfortable, but not completely foreign.

His questions, while directed towards her, seemed to be rhetorical. After all, there was not enough time for her to fully develop an answer to any of them, before he would move on to the next overspilling emotion. Instead, she just watched him, amethyst orbs locked on his visage, nodding some every few seconds-- to give him reassurance that she was indeed listening.

Obviously, the man had thought about all of this for a long time-- He had crafted a social commentary of both injustice and fate. The world was a cruel place-- one filled with inequality. To some, survival came easy. To be blessed with a privilege that others fight every last breath for... and to somehow want more.

"Is that wrong?"

She was silent for a short while, both collecting her thoughts and verifying that he actually wanted an answer. Her words were tender as she responded-- little more than a whisper, their sound rounded, almost a gentle cooing. "You're not wrong." she started, attempting to validate whatever insecurity had taken him enough to ask that question. "But to assume that those goals are any different from the rest of the world may be a bit... she trailed off, trying to find the correct word, "...single-minded... There's always something in this world that is stronger than us. Bigger... Someone that wants to live, someone that wants their family to live, that wants their people to live... The apex of the apex. Life is cruel, and unforgiving. People will always fight for more privilege than they've been dealt, often blindly without knowing how much they already have is leaving others with far less. The funny thing about privilege is that we tend not to look below ourselves-- our sights usually are fixed upwards instead."

She tucked a hair behind her ear, allowing her gaze to shift again, back to the bustling city, that lay ahead of them. "The people here, while the energy of the crowds fills them... are no more happy in Konoha, than they are in our village, even though they have so much more. Survival decorated with nice things, doesn't make it living. I would rather serve the people back home, on the side of a run down road, than the people here. The customers back home tend to show more appreciation-- that joy is what makes everything worthwhile to me." she shrugged, "Perhaps in this endeavor we call life, I can convince others that food is also more than survival, just like life is..."

She let out a sigh-- one intended for herself, and not her partner she had been speaking more than she had hoped to. After all, she was nearly certain that he wasn't looking for someone to question his fundamental beliefs.  "What would your course of action be to live this life fully? What would you change about home... or here... or anywhere... to make it more worthwhile?" She tried to redirect the conversation to him. Her fingers  twitched in her lap-- the muscle memory creating an imaginary ramen offering for the man's thoughts.

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