Date: December 13, 2015
Shinji and Hayai approach Kurome about the possibility of returning the Sharingan to its rightful owner
"A final request"
Shinji hasn't been here in a very long time, indeed. Not since he fled Konohagakure in hopes of learning to do greater, more moral things in the wider world. He returns to the Uchiha looking quite different from when he left. The carefully maintained Uchiha garb is gone, replaced with the layers of black and red silk which comprise his kimono. Shinji no longer ties his very long mane with care, instead leaving it down, bound only by the length of black silk which conceals his eye sockets. As he walks along into the village with grace, carried upon the slats of his geta, he lightly taps ahead of himself with a cane carved in the likeness of a dragon.
"Even without the images the Sharingan burned in, I could navigate the village with my mind's eye alone," says Shinji, whose free hand is occipied by a long, slender pipe. Thin smoke trails from its small bowl, smelling of burning herbs of some sort. He only occasionally draws from the stem and exhales. "Are you certain you wish to do this? I can always turn and leave."
Reluctantly, Eremi would be following along side Shinji, dressed in his typical ANBU garb. A white, ceramic mask with the features of a rabbit covering his face. The man was quiet as he strolled next to Shinji, leaving the individual to the sounds and smells of the area if that was what was needed for the blind man to see. Eremi wasn't exactly sure how Shinji got around, but assumed it had to do with the dragon cane the other clinged too so tightly.
"Would you actually turn and leave at this point?" Eremi doubted such and didn't bother answering the question either. Leaving it to hang in the air as the two approached the Uchiha Clan Head's office. "I just hope she's in and will make the time to see." Forgetting if an appointment had been made or not, too late at this point as he lifted a hand to gently rasp his knuckles against the door that barred them entrance.
Kurome is in, yes! She's looking through a stack of missions that she thought would be good for a Chuunin but didn't seem horribly difficult. When the knock to her door sounds, she would blink and rise slowly. Visitors, at least at present, were unexpected. The files are shut with deliberate slowly, then Kurome makes her way to the door, opening it after building up enough chakra to properly defend herself. Because… Suspicious people exist. Then again, suspicious people wouldn't knock, right?
"Hayai-san. Shinji-kun," the woman greets upon seeing who it is. "I'm surprised Shinji-kun managed to get here unscathed. Or did you manage to take him prisoner, Hayai-san?" the clan head comments, moving to the side a bit so the pair could enter.
"Kurome. I haven't heard from you since your last messenger bird," Shinji says, brandishing a faint smile. He lowers his pipe and holds it aside, confessing, "Of course, your face is burned into my memory to the end of my days. I'm sure you look just as I remember you, and I hope you'll forgive the late house call. No time like the present."
The guesses as to how he came about reaching Kurome's house prompt amusement, represented by the further presence of his smile. "I was once a promising tactician, you may recall. No one realized a thing until my dear friend caught me at the Hokage's doorstep." Shinji glances aside to indicate Eremi, and then explains, "Of course, I've long since abandoned any hatred I felt toward him. He may have been the kunai plunged into my back, but the Hokage was wielding him." He then looks in the direction of Kurome's voice, stepping forward to enter when his ears pick up on the sound of feet shifting aside. "He didn't take me prisoner. It would've ended in death before that happened. To the contrary, I've technically agreed to become a prisoner. He and I made an agreement, an oath, which is why we're here."
Hayai offered a nod to Kurome before walking in as well. He didn't bother speaking as Shinji was saying enough for the both of them. Instead he entered the room, gave a brief glance of the surroundings before reaching for his ceramic mask and sliding it on top his head, leaving his face fully revealed. Considering the present company: a blind man and the Clan Head that knows his identity, there was no need for secrecy within the womans office. His sharingan eye would not be visible, hidden behind a closed lid, while his emerald eye focused on Kurome before taking a seat. Patiently he listened and waited for an appropriate time to speak up.
Kurome raises a brow. "Well, frankly, I've been busy. Now, if you smoke in my office, you'll be quickly ejected from the room, so put that pipe away and have a seat." She glances to Hayai as she speaks, as if expecting him to help Shinji to the chair if need be, and moves to sit down herself. "So… What is this 'oath' that you are speaking of?" she asks, getting right down to business.
Shinji opens his mouth, only to pause and chuckle dryly. "You'll have to forgive my habit. It's an herbal remedy for pain I learned in the Land of Rivers, for the sensation of glass shards which has lingered in my eye sockets," he explains rather casually. The pipe is held outside, beyond the door, the contents of its bowl dumped out and ground beneath his geta before he resumes entering Kurome's home. "I've learned a great deal in my time away. Ironic that blindness helped me to 'see' the world, isn't it?"
Rather than taking a seat, Shinji rests both hands atop his dragon-carved cane, painted claws overlapping to the tune of a light tapping sound. "I believe I'll ask my companion to explain the oath he and I made with each other. Ultimately, the first part comes down to his receiving permission from you to do what we've discussed."
Shifting slightly in the chair, becoming somewhat uncomfortable from the shock and surprise given with Shinji now relying on him to relay what it is the two were here for. Hayai took a moment, cleared his throat and then began, "Kurome." Ignoring honorifics as usual, "When Shinji ran away, I was tasked with hunting him down and killing him if need be. Instead I took his eyes as that is what the village truly cared about. I brought them back to you, but asked that I may keep one under the premise that the eye still belongs to you. As do I.
A turning of his head to allow the only visible eye to glance at Shinji before continuing, "Shinji now returns to the village and asked me for the eye back, but I explained to him that the eye doesn't belong to me, that he must come to you to ask for it back. In order to do so, he must become a part of the village again, a 'prisoner' if you will. If you choose to give him his sharingan back, then he is bound to the village once again. If he tried to runaway a second time, then his life is mine to take without hesitation. However.."
Turning back to Kurome, "If you decide he has not yet earned the sharingan back, then it is my eye, the one that is replaced with the sharingan that he shall receive. Binding the two of us, ironically. I do not care which choice you make, giving him the sharingan back or allowing him my eye. It matters not to me as the sharingan in my possession is of little importance to me. I do believe though, that Shinji deserves a second chance."
Kurome listens, face an impassive mask. The only thing that would betray her feelings is a flicker of surprise in the black depths of her gaze. She is silent for a long while, but eventually she would begin to chuckle. She laughed for about half a minute before regaining control. "Heh… So it is the eyes that you wish for? I thought I made this clear in my letter, Shinji-kun…" Her mirth leaves her completely as she leans on her desk, elbows supporting her chin. Then she lifts her head slightly so she can enunciate.
"Shinji-kun, I want you to show me you can be strong without the Sharingan. With you coming back to me and asking for the Sharingan… I cannot see how you are any less dependent on our clan's Doujutsu. Frankly, I am likely not one to talk… But regardless. If you want the sharingan back, you will have to earn it. And I will not tell you what the conditions are for this. Do you understand, Shinji-kun?" Then she looks to Hayai. "I believe in second chances. This is my second chance for him. Do you think it sounds fair?"
Shinji shakes his head slowly in response to Kurome. "You assume too much from the emptiness between my friend's words," he says by way of reply. "I didn't return to Konohagakure for the eyes. As you can see, I've not only survived without them, I've thrived. I have traveled to every corner of the map, met people I never would have otherwise. As previously stated, it has been an educational experience." A pause ensues. "Hayai didn't kill me when he had the chance. A second chance, no less. So, he and I came to a peaceful accord. He cares little for my Sharingan, the one presently in his eye socket. It benefits him hardly at all. Given that it was born of my flesh and stolen from my flesh, and his lack of use for it, he offered to return it. In exchange, I will return to Konohagakure as a simple villager. A prisoner of the walls, effectively, as Hayai said. We may find some use for me here."
"There had to be a gesture of trust. For us, this was it. You can keep my other eye if you so wish, but Hayai wants to return the Sharingan he has to me. Do you deny him the right, and by extension, deny me the right to be given what I was born with?" Shinji continues to lean upon his cane, his demeanor rather unshakably calm. One would have to learn to not spook easily, one might suppose, to have roamed the lands without sight. "So, that's the whole of it. This has nothing to do with your letter, but everything to do with an agreement Hayai and I made when things could've gone far more terribly. Concerning your worries about the Dojutsu, I no longer use it. Genjutsu has been abandoned in favor of other things. I've asked for my eye back simply because it is /my/ eye, and I would feel most at ease seeing again through it."
He gestures aside, toward Eremi, and sighs lightly. "Our oath is our oath. I've said everything I can to persuade you to allow the return of my eye, and most certainly, surviving in the world without any sight at all - having to learn entirely new skills, but ranging so far along the way from home - surpasses any test. Leave me blind if that is your ruling, but you understand that it comes at the cost of Hayai's original eye. Should his body ever reject the Sharingan, he would have nothing to go back to."
"It seems fair." The only statement Hayai could get out before Shinji started speaking. The man had a lot of thoughts on the subject, none that needed to be shared at this point or at all. For now this was a discussion between Clan Head and clan member. Adding in his own piece at this point might only make matters worse. The only thing given would be the look on his face, clear only to Kurome, that the situation alone made him uncomfortable. While he didn't mind losing the sharingan, he didn't like the thought of his backup eye disappearing in case the sharingan didn't take…Then again, how hard would it be to get a normal eye.
"I told you, Shinji-kun. If you want your eye back, you must prove yourself. Shall we remove the Sharingan from the picture? In both cases, you must prove yourself. And you must prove yourself to me. Hayai-san has stated rather explicitly that this was my decision. That is why you have come here, no?" Kurome raises a brow despite the fact that it has no bearing on the blind Uchiha.
"Now then," Kurome continues. "For now, these eyes of yours are in my possession completely. You are free to continue to pursue them. If you decide not to, then I will keep them, for that is the same thing as not proving yourself. Actually, it is even worse because you never took the chance to prove yourself." Kurome pauses for a moment, and Shinji may feel the Clan Head's gaze on him. "What will you do, Shinji-kun? Will you fight, and will you let me see you fight for what you truly wish? Or will you give in?"
Slowly, Shinji shakes his head and exhales a ragged sigh. "I did tell you that this was likely pointless," he comments to Eremi before turning his general regard back to Kurome. "Allow me to be equally clear. In complicity with the Hokage, you sent Hayai to butcher an idealistic boy who shed not one drop of blood during his escape, simply because you coveted his eyes. I return to you no longer capable of using Genjutsu, no longer attuned to the Sharingan as I was. It will merely be sight returned to the body which birthed it. You must take a certain sadistic pleasure in this, given your laughter, but I won't play your games. I will not gamble on the hope that I might /one day/ have a single eye of my own returned, with no knowledge of the conditions or the period. I'm not here to grant you that pleasure. It was Hayai's decision that he wanted to return my eye, and we are here only because he respects that you 'own' some part of me." Again, to Eremi, he asks, "Do you still question my original ideal? My hatred of this concept that any part of a man can be owned by another? Slavery, through and through."
Shinji slides one hand down to grasp the length of his cane as the other twists the hilt. He pulls forth a blade made not of metal, but chakra metal, its length coated the instant it emerges in some strange sort of flame. It's an unnaturally crimson fire, and almost viscous in its apparent texture. "My new path, Kurome. Nothing to do with Genjutsu, though you and Daisuke can be credited for seeding its creation. Are you convinced now that I have grown beyond the Dojutsu, that I can learn?" The man turns the blade about and slides it back into its clever sheath, securing it with another twist of the dragon-headed hilt. "I had thought that, perhaps, the return of my eye and the guise as a villager might allow me to serve alongside Hayai. Aid the ANBU. He could keep watch over me night and day. It's your decision, though. He and I have already established terms in the event that you refused."
Shinji turns his head then, again, toward Eremi. "Terms I will not hold you to. I see now that my eye is being forcibly held within your skull due to her sadism, and for that, I will not see you punished with the danger of losing your original eye. If she still refuses and insists upon playing games, having seen how I've grown and heard my thoughts on how I might serve, then I will leave without taking your original eye."
"It is a shame," Shinji thinks to add, "that she insults you so. You are likely the most powerful shinobi in this village. You are its weapon and its guardian. If anyone can assess a genuine threat, it would be you. If anyone would've had the good judgment to know whehter or not I should've been killed on my return, or whether my eye should be returned on our discussed conditions, it would be you. I fear Kurome shows a disrespectful lack of trust in your skills, not to mention a lack of respect for your body."
Hayai sat motionless for a time, listening, but the moment the blade was produced did the ANBU act. Up from his chair quicker than most would be able to react, was Hayai instantly standing next to the blinded individual with hands outstretched to stop the would be assailant were he to attack the Clan Head. Afterall, it wasn't too long ago Shinji planned on killing the Hokage, so why would Kurome be any safer. Though seeing the flames produced and the words that followed was it finally clear that Shinji merely intended to demonstrate his new found power.
Sighing slightly, Hayai returned to his seat rubbing at the closed eye that was moments from opening, revealing the same sharingan Shinji was here for. "As I've mentioned before, those in power make the rules. It is not strength and skill that puts you in the position to reign over others, it is the backing they receive. While I am indeed powerful and skilled, I do not have the following necessary to make any change. So even if I don't agree, I still must obey. It is the life we were born into and without others to rise up against it, joining together against the system, then that is how it shall remain."
Hand drops from his eye to rest on the chair as Hayai looks between Uchiha and the former. "Shinji, I appreciate you refusing to hold me to the same terms, but the offer still stands. You've clearly grown considerably without the sharingan, my unused eye could be your vessel in which to see with. Possibly allowing you to further grow in power. Rather than hitting a wall with no way to continue ahead.
"Shinji-kun… I did not send Hayai-san. I take no pleasure in meting out this decision. I have given you your options. If you want a timeline, then I shall state one. If you want a how, I will not state such. Because I want to see if you realize yourself or if you need someone to guide every footstep for you." Kurome would watch as the scene unfolded. Shinji drawing his blade, Hayai moving to intercept. And then nothing came of it. "I own the Sharingan, not the eye. The sharingan can be used by whoever' head it is within. I actually hold Hayai-San in high regard because he has not done anything to make me distrust him. He has been nothing but honorable."
"When I see you, Shinji-kun, I see nothing but a little boy asking for his old toy back. You have something shiny and new, and you will use it. But more than anything, you want your old security blanket back. Eyes? So long as they have never held the Sharingan, you may take them. This decision on our clan's Dojutsu is not solely because of me. It is from the Council, the Hokage, and myself. Collectively."
Kurome takes a breath. "Now then… I am quite curious to see how you have grown. Should you return to the village and work to prove to me that I should grant your sight back, … You will get your eyes back. There is no way /but/ to work for this. And I want to see your progress myself. Even if I have to spar you."
Shinji inclines his head mildly. "Then I will bid you farewell, Kurome. You were as predictably ruthless as ever," he says, "and your response to Hayai's wish was not unexpected. I will simply say this. Consider what you have cost the village in the present, and consider what you did in the past. You knew exactly what was happening, yet you did nothing to try and stop an idealistic boy from being butchered by someone /far/ beyond his skill, all because the Hokage fears losing control of the Sharingan. I spent my entire life before that day in service to this village, and I have no interest in hearing you diminish that. We are finished."
"Hayai," Shinji says as he turns to face the ANBU agent. "I will not take your eye, if for no other reason than Kurome's claim that I would be a failure if I do not dance to her tune. She continues to insult me to the very end. I would sooner go on living blind, proving with each day that I can surpass her expectations and go on without that stolen part of me she forces you to keep within your body."
Shinji has made his new position clear, and both hands rest calmly atop his cane. "This, of course, changes things. We planned for my eye to be returned or, barring that, for me to take your original eye. Neither will happen. Will you kill me, or will you show me to the village gates and let me along my way?"
Grasping at his mask, Hayai pulls it back down over his face before rising from the chair once again. The outcome wasn't unexpected, though the results are somewhat disappointing. There was sadness reflected upon his face, covered by the mask. "Shinji, that depends entirely on what you plan to do with yourself. Leaving now, you turn your back on Konoha once again. Will you wait for the right time to withdraw that same blade used to display your power to take down the village or will you live on peacefully? If you want peace you are free to go, even if you lie to me, I can not keep you here against your will and I will show you the gates. If your pride is too great though and you claim here and now that you will one day return to exact revenge, vengeance or whatever it may be called. Then I can not let you leave."
"No amount of revenge or vengeance will fix the atrocities taking place here," Shinji says to Hayai. "It will come down to the day - a day which will surely come - when the Uchiha refuse to live in chains any longer, their bodies owned by the powerful. Change will come when the right man finds the will to defy the powerful and /make/ that change. If I've learned anything in my travels abroad, it's that change is sometimes a force which sweeps in, only to leave that place and its peoples better for it in the end."
Shinji chuckles as he drops one hand from the carved head of his cane and turns, starting for the door with memory of the route he'd taken in arriving. "Of course my life will not be one of peace. My power, as you call it, was birthed from the hatred and wrath their betrayal fostered. Do you think a man like myself has the option of a happy life, now that our agreement has failed?" He shakes his head, hair swaying. "If you're asking whether I plan to swoop in again and have a go at the Hokage, no. Unnecessary. Daisuke will do a fine job of getting himself killed by someone better suited to the title than himself. Someone who can do away with the cruelty perpetrated here. Of that, I have no doubt."
There are no further words for Kurome as Shinji leaves the house, even if he's spoken to. An amicable agreement to return home with his eye, in servitude, had been established. It was within reach, so close. All they'd needed was a yes, and it being withheld destroyed everything. The sensation of shards of glass works at his eye sockets with only greater intensity now, prompting him to waste little time in lighting his slender pipe as he heads into the night. Shinji's fate is cruel, indeed, and a lesson that good intentions can lead to horrible things.