Date: November 25, 2015
Jun and Katsumi have a chance encounter which starts to mend the strife between them.
"A Chance Encounter: Mending the Bond"
Jun had barely managed to evade the Academy instructors as he'd run out on class, but instead of finding some mischief to get into, he instead laid low in the outskirts of the forest, biding his time until the air got too cold and his belly too hungry to put off going home any longer. He liked it here, where he could be alone with his thoughts. Alone to train without anyone judging him. And that's what he did, all by himself as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. He strengthened his muscles with push-ups and curl-ups, squats and runs, working on his speed and testing the limits of his endurance. He even practiced his sparring techniques against the trunks of the trees, striking the wood until his knuckles and elbows were scraped, bruised, and bloody.
The training was more to him than just practice. It was an outlet for his frustrations, a way for him to let off steam, and working hard on improving his technique made him feel better about his earlier loss.. At least a little bit. By the time sunset was coming around, Jun was so tired out that all he could do was sit and lean against one of the trees, watching some blackbirds find their way back to their nests for the night. He should probably take the hint.. But he didn't want to go home just yet…
When class had let out for the day, Katsumi had gone home and done her usual task of going to her room and doing a bit of reading. At least… she had tried to. For some reason or another, her eyes hadn't been able to focus on the characters, and the girl had started to get frustrated. Perhaps her mind was too busy wandering back to previous events of the day, as it had been a rather busy one. Whatever the reason was, Katsumi left home, and decided to quiet herself by visiting the Zen Gardens. It was just what she needed, after all - more alone time, for the loner.
When the sun had begun to fall behind the trees, and the wind had gained a chill, Katsumi wrapped her arms a little tighter around herself and tucked her head a little deeper into her small jacket. 'I should probably head home,' she thought to herself, and let out a somewhat regretful sigh as she exited the Gardens to cut across the clearing, and return to the village.
"Huh?" A figure drew the girl to pause, her eyes narrowing as she tried to see just who was out here so close to nighttime. After a few more steps she saw that it was the Uzumaki boy, and Katsumi had to bite her tongue to guard her tone of concern. "Wh.. What are you doing..?"
Jun hadn't expected to see anyone else until he started heading back towards home - but now he was caught, and his expression went from shock to disdain when he saw who it was. "None of your business!" he yelled, even startling himself. "Nobody asked you to check up on me!" His face was red. The embarrassment of his failure still seethed in him, and he looked down and away sharply with a frustrated gnaw of his lower lip. "You… I let you win, you know. So people wouldn't make fun of you for being a brainiac." Sure, let's go with that. He was just covering his wounds, anyways.
Getting yelled at for asking a rather simple question, was /not/ what Katsumi had expected. But, that was her fault, for expecting anything more from the Uzumaki everyone saw as an offensive clown. Had he actually expected her to be there just to check up on him? "If I was checking up on you, wouldn't I be coming from /that/ way?" the girl asked, unwrapping one of her arms from around herself and pointing in the direction of the village. Her own face turning red, Katsumi decided it would be better not to waste her breath and re-wrapped herself even tighter into her jacket. 'Whatever,' she thought. She could let him believe it was all about him, for now.
When the boy said that he had let her win, just so that no one would pick on her, Katsumi's face went from an annoyed pink to a livid red. He… /let/ her win?! Inside herself, Katsumi ranted and raged that the Uzumaki was completely full of himself. Part of her even laughed that he would say such an obvious lie. In the end, the girl took a deep breath and exhaled it heavily with a shift of her eyes to look away. Let him lick his wounds. She'd won. There wasn't any point in defending the how or why. "Well, wasn't that /nice/ of you," she said, after a moment. Her anger wasn't anywhere to be heard - just the residual annoyance of being yelled at, for no reason.
Jun's expression didn't change, his eyes guarded as he looked at the girl. He could read right through her sarcasm - she hadn't bought it. Well, there went his only chance of regaining his bravado. His shoulders sinking, Jun felt heat behind his eyes and he clenched his teeth. "So what? Just cause you got one good hit on me doesn't mean you're all that! You just got lucky! One day, I'm gonna beat everybody and nobody will laugh at me anymore!" Crossing his arms, Jun stared at the girl defiantly. Then, he started marching past her back towards the village. Yeah, he was cold. And hungry. But he didn't want to admit it to her face.
Katsumi blinked a few times, the crease between her brows making an appearance as confusion muddled her brain. "You only got one good hit on me, too, ya know," she said, having raised her voice just enough for Uzumaki to hear as he stormed off ahead of her. "And /I wasn't/ laughing at you…" She trailed off, then, letting her head hang and giving it a small shake as she sighed once more. She'd actually sort of admired the boy, for saying that one day he would beat them all. /She/ certainly couldn't make that sort of a boast - she didn't have that much confidence, even when she painted it onto her face.
Rather than start shouting out after him, Katsumi picked up her feet and started a casual walk after the Uzumaki. They were both headed in the same direction, so it wasn't as though she was actually following him. A corner of the girl's mouth lifted, knowing that he would probably take it that way if he even cared to notice her behind him.
Of course Jun was being attentive to whether he was followed or not - and surely, after only 100 feet or so - "Why do you gotta keep following me, huh? Are you lost or something?" His retaliation came as he whirled his head to the side to look at her, though his pace didn't slow any. But he caught the upward turn of her lips and frowned, puzzling over her expression. Was she laughing at him? What was this girl's deal?!
Huffing heatedly, Jun started to walk faster, determined to lose her. The only problem was, his legs already moved like lead from the way he'd exhausted himself earlier.. This wasn't looking to promising for him.
'Why, oh why, are boys so predictable?' Katsumi wondered this to herself, as her classmate looked over his shoulder with the assumption she'd sort of expected him to make. "No, I'm not lost," was her simple reply, as her feet continued to carry her where she needed to go. Her brows furrowed a little, again, having noticed that Uzumaki didn't seem to be able to move as fast as he wanted to. She could tell that he was trying to out-walk her, without running away, but for some reason it looked as though his legs just didn't want to cooperate.
The girl had noticed that his hands and arms had looked really scuffed, and had probably bled a little, and it made Katsumi wonder if the boy had been training all by himself. "You really are determined," she said, not really to anyone but herself. He was just as determined as she was, only he showed it in a different way. Her's came from her smarts - his came from his strength. The simple realization made her smile at him.
"Do you want me to tell them that you let me win..? It could be our secret…" Suddenly, Katsumi ducked her head down even deeper into her collar. 'Oh, man… What if he took that the wrong way..?' Oh, well. It had been said, now. If it would help him not hold a stupid grudge against her, she could keep a secret. Besides, next time she might very well lose - and then no one would ever know the difference.
Jun almost stopped when he heard Katsumi say that. It was certainly enough to cause him to slow down, but after a moment of thought, he shook his head slowly to himself and shoved his hands down in his pockets. "There's no use… in sacrificing yourself for me." He didn't look back. He didn't think that he could. With one sentence, he had communicated his rarely seen selflessness, even if he didn't come right out and say everything that he was feeling. It just wouldn't sit right with him, letting her victory get tarnished like that. She always got teased too, so… in some way deep down, he felt like she deserved a little limelight. Not that he would admit it to her outright. There were some things that were just too hard to say, even for him.
The girl looked up, when Uzumaki spoke after a moment, and noticed that he had slowed down. His posture had changed, too, with his hands in his pockets like she almost always saw them, instead of wrapped around him like hers usually were wrapped around herself - like now. Katsumi wasn't entirely sure as to why he didn't want her to say anything, but she didn't really want to ask. He had his reasons, and she was sure that as hot-headed as he was, the boy had a sense of honour. It made her smile all the more, her mouth kept shut as she nodded - in both approval and agreement - to his words, and her feet caught her up to walk just a little bit behind him.
A thought popped into Katsumi's head, as the village came into better view in front of them. "Hey… Jun-san..? We can spar again, if you want. You know, just for fun. Without a bunch of people watching…" She didn't really expect him to agree to it, without turning it into a competition. But that least it might help both of them get in a little more practice. "Sometime…?"
Though he didn't give Katsumi any sort of reaction, Jun couldn't help but smirk slightly. It almost seemed like she was just as eager to get better as he was. That, or she had something to prove.. Either way, so did he. "Sure," he said quietly, making his way into the village and towards home without any further comments until they parted ways. He wasn't sure what would come with getting to know this girl, but… For some reason, he didn't feel like he held a grudge against her anymore. And that was good enough for him.