Date: June 15, 2014
Taiki and Takeo talk of Takeo's situation
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"A host's tale"
Konoha Training Grounds
Taiki is at one of the more common training grounds, where he and his red-furred ninken, Nozomi, are working on some form of gatsuga, but involving water. The two seem to have the teamwork down, and the maneuver is a very large twisting typhoon of water that bores into a large boulder, which has been covered in barrier seals. While this maneuver appears as it would normally be quite destructive, the duo is careful not to drown out everyone and everything in the area, especially Shinobu who seems to be powering the seals.
The duo finish another attempt to break the seals when the white dog barks out "A woo woo wooo," which causes the other dog and shinobi to stop. Taiki sniffs the air, then nods to Shinobu who starts to dispel the seals for the moment. The turn toward the approaching young man, watching until he gets close enough for Taiki to bow his head slightly. "Hello," he says, his eyes noticing the fang marks still present, even if he can't put a name to the face yet.
Takeo may have lost his sense of smell, but he was Inuzuka for sixteen years before his month's disappearance. He can still put a name to a face, and more to the point, a face to rumors going around. "Oniisan," the young man says, addressing his elder cousin with an honorific. Some part of him says to just let them pass each other by, yet he can't quite let himself do it. There's that bothersome sense of obligation nagging at the back of his mind, urging him to stop.
Stop, he does. "You should let Kato go," he says. "He left with good enough reason, and I don't hold it against him. Let him find another Inuzuka to partner with, one who actually remembers how to work with him."
Well, with that short speech there's no need for introductions. Taiki looks at the young man for a moment, then motions him forward. "Come, have a seat," he says as he pulls out a storage scroll, focuses some chakra into it, and retrieves a wooden chair that looks like it was carved for a drafting table. "I'm pleased to meet you, Takeo-san. In truth, I was hoping to meet with you sooner rather than later." Taiki's normal expressions are formal, as all Inuzuka well know. His face shows a bit of compassion though, despite the hoarse-sound of his voice. He doesn't seem tense at all, all things considered, even though the current topic of conversation may get dicey.
"Let me start by saying I am not unaware of how some in our clan view you now, because of your condition. Yet you will not find me among that mindset. What I see is a young Inuzuka cousin in front of me, who is providing a service to the Clan and to Konoha. That speaks of tremendous loyalty, as does your request. You will find that loyalty is one of my most prized character traits, so you have just earned a couple of points with me. However, that being said, while I have already let Kato out of the kennels, he is still under investigation. Again, the loyalty is one of my most prized traits. You are Inuzuka, no matter what happened to you. Ninken are our family. For your family to turn away from you for any reason short of your committing heinous acts is something I find unconscionable. I will not tolerate it. So the investigation will, regrettably, continue. If you wish to speak for him though, please feel free to do so."
"He's not alone in turning away from me. A good portion of the village did. That's what it means to accept this task until you earn trust, as the Hokage has," Takeo replies. "Maybe you don't know exactly what's going on? If you did, you'd understand why they're turning away. Why they're afraid." His tunic merely folds over and is already sleeveless, and so he slips his arms out, allowing the garment to hang from his crimson sash. This would quite naturally bare his upper body, but the obvious point is to make plain the elaborate seal upon his stomach. The mark of the Uzumaki is even at its center, a testament to the strength of the inked bonds.
Takeo says, as he rolls his shoulders back, "Wouldn't you be afraid of a Jinchuuriki only a month into his duty? The people don't know what to expect from me anymore. /I/ don't know what to expect; I know things I didn't before, and I've forgotten things I knew how to do for years. I think Kato can smell him and fears, or he knows the difference, but it's hard to tell. I don't even have the nose that I used to." He's never been one for politics, and so he simply presents the matter in his typically blunt fashion. "They came to me and asked me to do this for Konohagakure. I was the one who agreed, knowing what it'd cost me. Don't punish Kato for it. Just let him move on."
Taiki listens intently, then shakes his head and looks toward his own ninken. When Takeo reveals his stomach, they both snort as if Takeo is being ridiculous. Taiki himself shakes his head and pulls out another scroll from his garment, unrolling it in front of him. "The Uzumaki do good work," Taiki says after Takeo is done. "I was fortunate to be trained by one for my medical training." He then pulls out a kunai from the pouch and holds it up to show Takeo. "This is a kunai," he states. Pointing down to the scroll he says, "That is a storage scroll, from Hiro weapons, to be exact." He then places the kunai on an empty space and focuses some chakra into it, sealing the kunai away. "First of all, the scroll is not the kunai, even though the kunai is sealed within. Second, only certain actions will affect the release of the kunai, otherwise it is contained."
Taiki waits for a moment for Takeo to absorb this before he continues. "I will admit I'm unsure of how to treat you, but not for the reasons you think. At the risk of sounding immodest, I am an A rank medic-nin that specializes in chakra manipulation and networks. I, more than almost anyone in this village knows /precisely/ what a bijuu is, what it does, and what it does to jinchuuriki. Situations like this are my specialty, so to speak. So please do not treat me as if I am unaware of what is going on. While I may not be a jinchuuriki myself, I am well aware of their potentials, for good and for ill."
Taiki's partners both yip in agreement to Taiki's statements, supporting him fully. "To reduce things to far too minimal of a level, you are that storage scroll. When I said you are performing a service for the Inuzuka and Konoha, I meant just that. You volunteered out of a sense of duty, out of a sense of loyalty. I and I will be /damned/ if I let narrow-minded windbags cheapen that. Nor will I turn my back on you. What confuses me, and what I will be asking around about, is not so much how to use you as a weapon, but how to help ensure that you do not falter in your will to keep the bijuu contained. Do you understand me?"
Takeo drops into a crouch as he pulls one of the kunai from his hips. Quickly, he drags the blade across his left pectoral muscle. The wound begins to bleed, only to seal shut a moment later. "That's just the tiniest bit of his chakra. You're a great and powerful medic-nin, and I can respect that, but the Bijuu's so much a presence that he even mends my flesh shut without your help," he says, turning the kunai about to tuck it away again. "You underestimate him if you think I'm just a storage scroll. That's what he's been in since Nara Kaito died. Now that he's in me, he talks to my mind. He took away knowledge I'd spent years learning, and put other things in its place. He's very much alive and with us, aware of everything, even if you can't see him."
For the moment, he remains in a crouching pose. The question asked by Taiki is met with a single shake of his head. "I don't know why you'd ever think I would falter. As I said, I went into this knowing what I'd lose and what I'd have to carry. I've already talked to Isobu face to face, in a manner of speaking. Today, actually," he says. "He's not quite as … Well, not as angry as the others, as I've heard of them. He's agreed to let me borrow some of his power, so long as I don't disappoint him with its use. It's a small step, but a first one nevertheless." A pause. "In exchange, I told him that I intended to become as one with him, because I'd given up too much for anything else to happen. I wouldn't use him like a tool or a weapon, and I wouldn't call him Three-Tails as if he were just some animal. His name's Isobu, and that's what I call him."
Again, he repeats himself. "If you want to do me a favor, then let Kato go on to a new partner. I don't even remember the Four Legged Style anymore. Let him work with someone who can to better the village, if it's the village you care about."
Taiki sighs and shakes his head again, this time frowning slightly. "We're talking at each other, and not to each other," he says simply, then kneels down to the scroll. "Of course you're more than a scroll. And of course he's more than a kunai. I said this was an over-simplified example Takeo-san." He then curls around to sit on the ground an look at him. "What I do not understand is why you're trying to convince me that everyone is right to give up on you. At least, that's what it sounds like to me. And as I just said, I refuse to do that. I don't care if you lost your knowledge. There are Inuzuka, though rare, who cannot use the style for one reason or another, but they provide valuable services to the Clan and to the Village. You are in the same boat."
After falling silent for a moment to digest the rest of the information he adds, "It sounds to me like you got lucky, as far as bijuu are concerned. Most, from what research I discovered, rebel against their… jailers… containers… whatever you prefer. That this one is willing to work with you, even in such a small amount, is as you said promising. And I will have to remember that name… Isobu. Calling him Sanbi… that has always seemed rather… off to me. I could never figure out why." He then shrugs and shakes his head. "But that's beside the point. No matter how much you try, you will not push me away, so stop trying. You will find that some say I'm more stubborn than a god, and that's especially true when I'm fighting for what I believe in."
"He still rebels. It's just that he's more timid about it. More patient, maybe," Takeo says, smirking at something or other. "They're right to be afraid because I'm only a month into my training, oniisan. It's like the chains are drawn tight, and letting his anger or a slip of my willpower get to me could see them snap. In time, when trust is built, those same chains should go slack. Maybe they won't even be necessary. I already have an unusual enough ability to represent my bond, or so I'm told." He holds up a fingertip, and for a brief moment, it's covered in a claw of turtle shell which evaporates into dust upon the wind.
He stares at Taiki for a moment with half-lidded eyes, as if deciding whether to bother trying to further argue the matter or not. Eventually, that smirk returns. "No matter how much I try, I won't push you away, eh? You're devoted to me with the stubbornness of a god? That's romantic and all, and I won't deny that my eyes roam in both directions," he amusedly notes, "but I don't know about my own oniisan." Takeo rolls his head about as he says this, until at last, his neck pops and he issues a sigh of relief.
Taiki blushes a bit as Takeo teases him, only to smirk slightly himself and chuckle. "Okay, that was perhaps a little over the top, but I trust my point is made on that score at least. And I am straight, for your information, even if I have given up on marrying for love." He then shrugs that comment off, which was delivered quite mater-of-fact. "Of course they're afraid. Only a fool would not be. But you yourself just gave the answer to your wondering why I would be concerned about your will faltering. You're young, and new at this. Isobu tests you. Isobu is a bijuu, timeless, powerful, intelligent, and very, very experienced. It takes a certain strength of will to power that seal, Takeo. Did I mention I am a fuinjutsuist myself, of the same rank as my medical training, or that my medical techniques are based on fuinjutsu? No, I don't think I did. So while Uzumaki seals are a different level, I have enough experience to understand the basics of what is behind them. Especially since my medic-nin teacher was Uzumaki Tenken, an elder of the Uzumaki and their chief medical expert. Trust me when I say, I know a lot more than you are giving me credit for. But I am not a jinchuuriki, so my knowledge is not going to be as extensive as yours. Do you understand me now?"
Takeo's good with deflecting via his own crudeness. He points a still naturally clawed finger at Taiki and notes, his tone light, "You can't really know until you try it, oniisan. For what it's worth, though, the idea of marriage isn't even remotely in my mind. We have that much in common." The young man wags his eyebrows at his senior as if to rub the matter in, but then Taiki carries on again with a lengthy lecture.
Finally, he can't help but lift a staying hand. "I get it. You're a great and powerful shinobi, oniisan," he says. "Maybe you can make yourself useful and teach me some things. The Hokage's obviously far and above the better teacher where it comes to my Bijuu, but there's plenty he doesn't know. We're different in many ways, actually."
Taiki outright laughs at Takeo's comments, then looks at him. "Well, I'm not sure what I can teach you, other than maybe trying to re-teach you the clan techniques, or maybe even trying to start you down the road to Suiton Four-Legged Style. Of course, that necessitates a partner, which brings us back to Kato…"
Taiki looks upward for a moment and then decides to lay things on the line. "On this matter, my train of thought is simple. If he left due to feeling inadequate to continue being your partner, then I will let it go. But if he left as a matter of persecution, then he will answer to me. The former is a matter of doing what is best for you, while the later is a betrayal of family. And you should be well aware of just how I view betrayal, especially by family members." He then stops for a moment and asks, "Now for an important question, will Isobu tolerate your re-learning of clan techniques? Can you still communicate with ninken, or did he remove that as well? If the answer is no to one or both, then we will have to think of something else… maybe like a turtle summoning contract?"
"For all you've learned, I guess I know a little more about you than you do me," Takeo notes with a smirk. "You know Water Ninjutsu, don't you? Seals? Things like that? Those are all things I need to learn. Isobu's power requires a higher level of understanding than I've got to truly harness, and I'm not stupid enough to try and press the limits. I've heard that's been the end of more than one Jinchuuriki." Leaning forward as he brandishes a taunting grin, he says, "While you're at it, maybe you'll let me teach you a thing or two, as well." Slightly suggestive, there.
With respect to the question asked, he exhales raggedly at Taiki's persistence and shakes his head. "It's all gone. All except for these and these," he says as he wags his clawed fingers and points at his tattoos. "As for Kato, he didn't leave because he felt inadequate or to persecute me. He left because I was no longer the same Takeo he'd grown up with. To him, I was a different person. Our connection was gone, my scent was different, and maybe he could even feel Isobu. He was frightened, he left, and /I/ let him go. It was my decision to make."
Even though he's crouching, he manages to lift one of his feet high enough to give the ground a good stomp. "If you have as much respect for what I'm doing as you say, then you'll honor my wish and forgive him. I have. If you've just got to punish him, then do it by pairing him with a new partner and sending them off in service to Konoha. Let him do what he knows how to do best. If you respect me."
Taiki just watches Kato for a moment as he thinks about Takeo's words. "I will think on this, and make a decision," he says for Kato. "This is why I wanted to hear from you though, to find out exactly what happened. And while I do respect you, I must balance the needs of this clan, your needs and desires on this issue, and my own as well." Neither one of Taiki's ninken can be quite as forgiving, however, as they both look at Taiki and growl softly. "You're a chuunin, you should know full well that sometimes we can't do all we truly want to do." It may not be much, but Taiki is offering Takeo a bit of hope there, at least as far as Kato is concerned.
"As far as the other things, yes, I can teach you some of that, though I am not as far progressed in suiton as I would wish. On that you may very well wind up teaching me a thing or two. But I can, and will, teach you a bit about seal mastery. Perhaps we can work out your own fighting style on elemental taijutsu as well, just so that the rest of the clan won't hold /that/ against you. And believe me, I know full well how highly the Clan holds taijutsu."
Takeo reaches around behind himself to pat lightly at the hilt of the sheathed katana there, dangling against his body from a leather cord. " still remember how to use this. In fact, I'd say I'm better with it than I am with anything else right now, though that's not saying much," he remarks. "I can learn Chakra Taijutsu, too. For some reason, it works out with this new style of mine, even when I can't grow Isobu's shell. Really, I don't know what to say. I seem to be a little bit of an odd case when it comes to Jinchuuriki."
Once again, Taiki gets a little bit insistent about taking care of him. It isn't that it goes unappreciated, but at the moment, Takeo's learning to exist within society once more. The entire world's experienced in different ways. He leans forward upon his knuckles and says, clearly taunting his elder cousin, "If that's all, I guess I'll take my kiss and be on my way. You sure as hospitality sound more devoted to me than most of the partners I've had."
Taiki shakes his head and just stares at Takeo. "I told you, I'm straight. You are family, and that's how I will view you. You're just not my type. So no, you won't get that kiss." Okay, so he's slightly flustered, but not out by a long shot. "We'll work on what we can come up with, but quite frankly, I suck at sword work. Not even Atsuro could teach me a sword, and he's among the best in the clan at that." He stands up then, and glances over at his partners. "Let's go," he says to them, turning around and bowing his head toward Takeo again.
"Relax. I'm just joking with you," Takeo says. After a pause, he concludes, "In fact, relax in general. We'll get along a lot better that way, if that's what you want." He pushes up from his crouch as he slides his arms back into his tunic, not bothering to straighten it out. When one grows turtle shell, it's probably best to have loose fitting attire, anyway. "Think about what I said of Kato. He was a good partner, and up until it came time to give my service to Konoha, he gave his service to me - loyally. Set aside your feelings and do what's right."
That, for him, is mature. It seems Daisuke's been doing a mental number on him since his training began. However, Taiki's intensity has only further prompted the want for some peace, and so he wags his fingers at the shinobi and his ninken before wandering off. Up the side of a tree, in fact, on a casual stroll to find a branch somewhere well above ground. Another thing he didn't forget, evidently.