Date: October 16, 2010
Itami, Koudo, and Meimei all have an opportunity to help a girl called "Buyo" — one of the residents of Sunagakure that has suffered the most over the years. Especially after the recent siege of the Village, things are bad for the children. Each of the three ninja goes about making use of this opportunity in his or her own way.
"An Opportunity Lost"
Village Center Area - Sunagakure
The sun has set upon the village, leaving in its wake various hues of red and sometimes pink and or purple with the rare, yet small stray cloud that is passing through the area on it's way to who knows where. It's a nice sight, but only for a short time as the wind makes quick work of sending it away in a short time. Down below, the village center is mostly quiet save for the sound of debris being shifted around and piled up by a few workers here and there. Efforts to clean up are still underway and won't be done for sometime, but so far have done a good job of clearing the center of the majority of the debris. It's much more open than it was previously and to emphasize this, children can be seen running around every so often. Though, there's also the screech of being snapped at by an adult in the area to be careful.
Out from the administration dome in the middle comes Itami who had a bit of paperwork to do before finishing off for the day and seeking to do some surveys of the village. She needed to constantly keep herself aware of what was going on, whether the purpose be for preventative maintenance or other such official things that Council members do. Though, that didn't keep her from wanting to relax as well. Evening was fast approaching and people were beginning to gather to be fed for the day. She thinks she can pass for the moment.
As the day winds down, Buyo can be seen emerging from one of the supposedly abandoned buildings that she has claimed as shelter, at least until someone knocks it down or kicks her out. So far neither has happened. Her foot got hurt in the latest attacks and she's walking with just a tad of a limp, using a bit of a walking stick to make things easier. She might be exaggerating the limp for sympathy sake, or not. It's not clear. She starts to make her way to the food lines, in hopes that she can at least manage a full meal without having to beg too much. She keeps glancing around, as if nervous someone might call her out as being a street rat and not allowed in the lines for normal people.
A small bar that had previously been shut down had lights around it and some gathered outside and in. Sitting on a chair set up outside, Koudo lounges with a drink in hand. He takes a satisfying sip of his beverage, and says "It has been a while since we've been able to relax and enjoy a pleasant night." With a grin to a nearby patron "Good thing I was able to set up this stand today." He lets out a light chuckle, and adding as a side note says "The bar was not the /first thing I raised." Laughing a bit more, he scratches the back of his head and notices Itami walk by, greeting her with a smile.
Of course, they had a lot of work to do, but everyone needed some time off, every once in a while. "Itami!" He greets in a bright tone. "Finally, I'm glad to run into you. It looks like you could use a drink." Giving her a smile. He eyes the food lines nearby, noticing all the people that were hungry, many of them were not in need of a drink, but the people at the bar recognized that they would never move forward if they couldn't relax, or enjoy themselves. As the moment passes he catches sight of a small girl by herself, not exactly sure how to make out her behavior. She wouldn't have to wait in line too long though, as most were not opposed to letting a young girl go before them. Others were not as sympathetic, though he knew that they would not get any sympathy if they acted upon their bias.
"Hey!" a voice yells out suddenly. "Hey, you! Get away from there!" Has Buyo been spotted!? "You kids better get away from there right now! You want to kill yourselves!? There's broken glass and rusty metal in there! You'll stab yourselves and get tetanus and—COME BACK HERE! I'M LECTURING YOU!" Some guy yells furiously after some of the Village children as they run off, done playing in the wreckage of a house. Most of the houses were damaged but left standing during the quakes. But some did not fare so well. This was one of them.
Across the street, leaning her back against a stone pillar, Onohara Meimei — known to most as 'Hibiki Yoko' — glances up briefly, her black-tinted goggles presently firmly in place over her eyes. Her hood is down for the moment. No reason to keep it up until the heat diminishes a tiny bit more. When she sees that whatever trouble there was is dealt with, she returns her attention to some papers in her hands. A rather thick stack of personnel files on various Academy Students that have been enlisted to do D-Rank missions until the ninja forces are restored. She should have been helping to teach these students. But the storm, and the siege…
Sighing, she reads over the personal details of all these boys and girls she should have had the chance to interact with, and to teach. She should have had that chance. But she won't. Possibly not ever. The academy was being used for training still, but mostly emergency training of Students to bring them up to Genin-level. She wasn't needed for that. And to be honest, she wasn't sure if she was ready. She has been on her own so long, that taking care of and being responsible for someone else, let alone a bunch of children, is kind of frightening. And yet she volunteered for the jon.
Closing the file folder, the short, purple-haired woman begins wandering north, towards the Administration Dome. Maybe they've got some new students lined up for her to teach. She can only hope. Of course, on the way there, the — barely-taller than a child or pre-teen — woman sees the nervous way that one girl is behaving. She looks a bit… Shell-shocked maybe? Scared? Like Meimei did after having to flee into the killing cold of winter back home, with nowhere to go, no one to look after her, and no real idea of how to live outside of the Land of Snow. She can sympathize. But other than pausing nearby in order to look at the blonde girl, she doesn't stick around. She had to learn to take care of herself. It was tough, but then that's life. Putting herself into the 'callous jerk' mindset, she sets her mouth in a grim line of grimness and marches ahead.
You're born, life is hard, and then you die.
Itami jumped a little at hearing her name. She wasn't frightened, but she was surprised at the amount of effort placed into it. She turned and found the source of it immediately, greeting Koudo with a smile. "Hello!" She chimes as she walks towards the standing bar. "I think a drink might do. Were you here the whole time?" She inquires as she signals to the keep for a drink.
Back at the food line, there were people that allowed Buyo in front of them, but just as was stated before, some were a little aggressive, even to the point of grumbling and in the worst case baring their teeth or making physical contact. However, none of that has happened yet and has allowed freedom enough to slip into the middle of the line.
Once she received her drink, Itami leaned up against the stand while watching the man unsuccessfully try to scold the children that were running around. It brings a light smirk to her face, but it soon fades when she takes note of Yoko walking through. "Oh, Yoko-san!" Itami calls. It looked as if she was headed in the direction of the admin building, so she left the bar to go and meet her. "Are you headed to admin? I'm unsure if there's anyone in there." She calls.
Buyou does her best to blend in, hard to sneak into the line but she's managed, with some minor kerfuffle. She seems unaware of those who might be spying on her actions in the line. More she's worried about the people she's sharing the line with right now. Most people are in line with family or friends, but it appears Buyo is alone. In fact a few people in line seem to recognize her as that begger girl, a problem for her as she tries to keep a low profile. Finally one man who used to be a merchant confronts her, pushing her out of line, saying it isn't meant for theives such as her.
While most kids Buyo's age might be scared or run, Buyo uses the shove and close contact with the merchant to 'relieve' him of a small belt pouch the man had. She palms the small pouch, even as she tells the man he's crazy and has no idea what he's talking about. Still, she makes little effort to push her way back in. she's small, and not likely to over power even the merchant. Instead she tries to make her way across the clearing area, hoping the man doesn't notice his missing pouch before she can get down to the corner and around it. Her small limp limits her speed as she goes. Clearly she's suffered a recent foot injury to her left foot.
Koudo was not very red in the face even after a few drinks, and says "I was not here the /whole time, Itami-san." Letting out light smirk. "Putting up buildings with ninjutsu can take a lot out of you…" He says having been panting earlier in the day. Finishing the rest of his drink, he places the cup on the counter and says "Thanks, keep up the good work, all of you."
He recognized Yoko even under the hood, especially when Itami calls out to her, offering her a wave "Hello, Yoko-san. I hope things are fairing well enough?" He says in a deep and polite voice. His eyes however are drawn to the side when he noticed the girl again. It seemed she had been hurt, but wasn't sure if her wounds were ever treated. "Excuse me, one sec."
Moving to the front of the line he whispers something to the volunteer ninja, and points towards Buyo, receiving a nod from the ninja. Not that he was suspicious of the orphan girl but wanted to help her the best he could, so he told the ninjas to bring her a plate of food. They brought her a plate by hand, so she wouldn't have to wait in line anymore, and Koudo gives her a nice but sly smirk. She didn't have to thank him.
'Yoko' pauses and calls back, "…Yeah, I was. No one in there? …Okay, I guess. Thanks, Itami-san. I figured maybe they had something for me to do, but maybe not." She shrugs and moves as though she is going to go to her temporary home. When called out to by Koudo, she nods in his direction and waves. She isn't in the mood for yelling conversations so just offers as friendly a smile as she can before she moves along on her way. The person chasing after the homeless girl with a place of food as she limps towards the corner makes her shake her head in disgust. Meimei walks down the street, reminding herself that life sucks and you won't get stronger if you don't grow up, and so on and so forth.
A couple seconds later she is turning around and walking back towards the last location she saw the blonde girl, a scowl on her face. There are lots of children and families rendered homeless. But having NO ONE to rely on… That's just too familiar for her. It doesn't sit right. So she mutters to herself about how soft-hearted these lame sand ninja are making her, and walks after the ninja with the food. The fact that Buyo left the area with no food in the first place strikes her as odd, though…
It's almost completely night. Almost dark enough to take these goggles off. She wonders for a moment if perhaps she should ambush the ninja with the plate and take it to the girl personally. Meimei doesn't look like a ninja. She looks more like a fellow youngster. She might seem more acceptable than some walking weapon chasing after her.
Itami couldn't hold up Yoko for long. Seems she was on a mission of some sort. To where, she wasn't sure and didn't think asking would be such a good idea, so she leaves her to her own and focuses on the drink she still has in her hand. When the glass is lifted to her lips and the contents therein swallowed, the image of the girl being chased with a plate of food, while a bit warped by the glass, shows through it to a degree. Lofting a brow, she lowers the glass and tries to get a better look, but by now the two had gone off elsewhere. So, she goes after Koudo instead saying, "Have you seen that child around here often? I'm not sure if I have…or if I bothered, more so." She sighs. "I didn't get a good look at who the child was, but you did, right?"
Buyo tries to pick up her pace when she realizes she may be being followed. She doesn't notice the food, just the nin-following her, and tries to pick up the pace, perhaps afraid someone noticed she swiped the merchant's coin purse. She tries to move quickly, hobbling, around the corner. She gets around the corner and presses her body flat against the wall, just trying to catch her breath, hoping people will go past her or something. She knows she can't outrun one of the ninja after all.
This means she can no longer see the open area, or who is following, even as she is just out of sight, right around that corner. Buyo grumbles then looks around for a place to ditch the coin purse just to be safe. Not seeing any obvious spots she hides it in the folds of her rags, then is left to wait, to see who really comes to see where she is, even as she pants, a bit out of breath, in the dark, in the alley, worried and scared.
Koudo noticed as the child rounded the corner and tried to run off, and he wondered if it wasn't the best idea to send a uniformed ninja after her. The ninja holding the food, skids around the corner but can't find the girl. Checking in corners and allies, it was his mission to get the girl, but he couldn't find her. Standing defeated in the middle of the road, starts to walk back "Can't waste good food…" He says noticing Meimei walk by.
Koudo puts a hand to his chin and says thoughtfully to Itami "Surprisingly, I'm not sure." He rubs his chin a bit more and raises an eyebrow "Yeah, I did. She's a beggar."
Meimei looks around, not seeing the girl anywhere. It's dark, there's plenty of places she could have gone. But the darkness is hardly an issue for an Onohara. So she says quietly to the ninja, "I'll take that. I think I can find her." If given the plate of food, she waits until the other ninja has departed, and then makes her move! Does she reveal some super special jutsu for finding people in the dark? Does she take off her mysterious goggles and reveal she has Sharinbyakurinnenzomgan!? NO!
She just stands there with the plate of hot food in her hands in front of her and just starts talking to the empty street. It's one of the streets that's closed off due to damaged buildings. None have fallen or collapsed, but you never know. So there's not really anyone around to hear her when she says, "It's okay. He's gone. I've got some food here for you, if you want it. It won't stay warm forever, though. So better make up your mind fast."
"A beggar?" Itami frowns and looks at the area where the girl disappeared to. "I see. I hadn't known. There are so many in this village, it's easy to see over a few people, but now that things have settled, I'm really beginning to see there's a lot more to this village than I first thought." She explains as she starts walking. Gesturing for Koudo to follow she says, "Come along with me. I'd like to know more about this one." So, she begins her short trek over to the side street.
The ninja does hand over the plate and eventually runs back to his post. There's no telling what could happen with one staff short of the food stand. People were already irritable and keeping them waiting just makes things worse. Itami takes a quick look at the ninja running back to the stand only to focus back on her 'mission' to see to this girl. She hadn't any idea that Yoko was dealing with her at the moment, but she was soon to find out.
Food. That was what drew Buyo out of hiding in the first place. And here is a nice hot plate of food. Only, it seems rather 'trap' like. She hesitates, but, she's so hungry. Her stomach growls, perhaps giving away her position just as she waits there in the dark, not moving quite yet. Then… she takes a half step forward, the sound of her footstep, limp and all, probably marking another move on her part that she might regret, but the lure of the food is just… too much right now. She sort of inches closer to Meimei, watching warily, as if afraid this is all part of some big trap, and glancing back to see who else might be about to arrive on the scene. Nervous, maybe skittish, all describe Buyo's actions right now but she is slowly coming closer to Meimei.
Finally she speaks, "You're… just going to let me have the food, right?" Her voice cracks a bit, nervous tension making her squeak a bit more than normal. "Please?"
Koudo starts walking along with Itami and says "Yeah, Suna's got its fair share of problems. I wish I could help out more." He lets out a chuckle for it was not the time to get introspective about the problems they faced. "You're right though, i am often surprised by the size of the village. There is much to be discovered in a place like this, and it is home to many." Letting out a sigh, it was his home as well, and he always thought there was an importance to having such a place to call home. It gave him something to hold on to, something he could carry around with him everywhere he went. Continuing along he waits at the corner, taking a look at Itami, nodding and waiting for her signal to see what she would do and proceed.
Meimei waits for the blonde beggar girl to show herself. Sure she could have tried to find her with her nightvision… But why should she? If the girl wants to accept help, she'll accept it. If she'd rather not, then she won't. You can't force someone to take an offered hand. She nods in a small, brief movement at the question. "Yeah. I know what it's like to be hungry… Believe me, I do. If you don't want to come close enough to me to take it, I can just set it down somewhere and then I'll leave. No fuss, no bother. We better make this quick, though. You probably want to have plenty of time to find somewhere you feel is safe when you eat. Because…" She doesn't think she needs to explain. Eating on the run can make you feel sick. The tension, the worry… You don't really feel satisfied by the food, because you constantly have both eyes and both ears tuned for danger.
"…Listen, you've got no reason to trust me to per se, but I don't live here. I'm not from this place. I just came here to get away and maybe start over. If we see each other around, we can talk if you want. I'm just hanging around until the rebuilding is done and waiting for them to let me do my job. So if you ever need someone to listen…" She shrugs and waits for an answer on whether to put the food down or hand it over. She probably shouldn't have even made the offer to talk. Too much at once. But doing one good deed and then forgetting about any further suffering is not her way. People think they can congratulate themselves for donating a few ryo to a charity, and they never really worry about what happens to those who need that money.
Meimei has been one of those people that needed it, and she got nothing. So she won't just forget about the girl, whether she accepts her help or not.
"There's much we can still do, but we just lack the resources to do them. I wish this didn't have to happen, but wishing isn't going to get me or any of us anywhere. All we have is action to rely on." Itami explains as she lifts her hand to run it through her hair. This was all so difficult. "Well, the thing is…I wanted to be convinced that the village was perfect, but reality hit me hard and now I'm seeing it wasn't this paradise I wanted it to be. It never was, really." She sighs and looks up to see how close they are to the side street. She thinks she can make out some noise, but nothing too distinct.
"I think she might have went this way…" She tells Koudo while pointing out the side street. She still doesn't know which way she went on the street, but she hopes she'll be able to find out.
Food. Buyo's stomach grumbled again and she lurched forward to try to get to the plate, trying hard not to stumble on her bad foot. Looks like a sprain or minor break from the looks of it, or maybe something worse covered up by the rags, either way, that foot is not in great shape. Still, Buyo tries to make her way close enough to reach out to take the plate. Enough hunger has put her on edge and as soon as she manages to snatch the plate to herself, careful not to spill any of it, she holds the plate with one hand as she starts to shovel some of the still warm food into her mouth, making a bit of a mess and definately lacking good table manners. As soon as she has the plate in hand she tries to back away from Meimei a bit, but doesn't turn to run at least.
Buyo backs right into a timber supporting part of something behind her. A wall starts to creak, but nothing has fallen yet. Still there is some risk that the thing could fall right on the girl and she seems to be totally unaware of it at the moment. As an added bonus for Itami and Koudo, the sound might direct them in the right direction. Buyo's attention still seems to be split evenly between shoveling what food she can into her mouth quickly, and watching Meimei as if she's afraid the food will be taken away at any moment, a bit like a wild animal protecting its kill.
Koudo looks both ways down the side street and hears something coming from where Buyo and Meimei were. He shoots a look towards Itami and starts off in that direction. Finally, noticing Meimei again, he walks up and stops a few feet away. Looking on with cautious worry and an intent so cloaked by the fear of ruining their chances at helping the girl he almost couldn't do anything. Though he wanted to make sure she knew they didn't pose a threat. Crouching so that he could talk to her at eye level, he says in a soft tone of voice "Hey, I'm Fukuzawa Koudo. What's your name?" Letting a sincere smirk cross his lips as his eyes let out a sparkle through the darkness.
Meimei releases the plate, having held it as far as she could from her body, stretching her arm out and just making sure there was plenty of space between them. She doesn't plan to stick around. She waits to make sure the girl has the food, and warns as softly as she can, "Eating fast when you're scared can make you sick. It'd be an awful shame if all that food is wasted on the street." She doesn't wait for confirmation of talking in the future. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. She doesn't need a committment. She offered to listen, and that's not something that anyone needs to promise they will take advantage of. So she starts to turn away.
Becoming aware that others are coming up from behind her finally, Meimei turns fully to face the outside of the street, leaving her back to Buyo and planning to stand inbetween her and whomever is approaching. When she sees it's Koudo and Itami, she mentally groans. Two of the worst people possible to show up right now. Council Members? Everyone knows how they are! Now the girl will think this is some kind of trick!
She knows the mindset well enough. She shouldn't have stuck around to talk in the first place. Her mistake. Now here's Koudo trying to engage her in conversation like she's someone's pretty little baby girl instead of starved, exhausted, frightened human being who had no one to protect her, no one to run to, during the quakes and the storm. No one helped her then. Why should she trust anyone to help her now? She'll explain later.
She says quietly, moving to stand so that her cloak drapes in Koudo's view when she holds her arm out. "Hey, Koudo-san. There's probably lots of other people who need food too." Then slightly louder, but only just, she says, "I've already let her know that if she needs help, I'll do everything I can. But we shouldn't try to push. Too much in one night." She doesn't want to talk like the girl isn't even present, but she needs to explain in terms that the two Councilors will understand.
Then she turns her head enough so that she can check on the girl, and make sure that structure she backed into isn't going to fall on her. Wood is rare in the desert, so what they have is either expensive, really old, or both. Would make for some real nasty irony if a homeless child were to be killed by a rich person's house falling on her. She wants to say more. She wants to make Buyo understand that Meimei herself understands. But she can't do it this way. Not all at once. One step at a time. "I'll be here tommorow." She doesn't offer to talk or listen again. She just leaves it as it is. She'll be here tommorow.
Itami saw the look Koudo gave as he darted off towards the shambled home. She heard the creaking noise made by the home which is what concerned her more, so she started to hasten herself also. It didn't occur to her that the girl was inside the place more so than the structure had the potential to fall and anyone within the vicinity could be harmed. She came just when Meimei or Yoko, rather mentioned that she was assisting the young beggar, a glance was attempted to see the girl, but Yoko had the place sectioned off in a sense, her cloak blocking the view of the child. "Well, if you insist…" She hums having picked up on the slight emphasis only now. "I suppose I'll be taking my leave now." She gestures to Koudo once more. "There are other people that need food, Koudo-san." She teases. "Let's return to the center. I saw the staffer running back to his stand and I'm hoping that it doesn't mean anything has grown out of hand for the small group." She doesn't hesistate to turn around and walk off, seeing as her presence only seems to make things a little more difficult than they should be.
The approach of others, Koudo and Itami, and the way Koudo approaches, smirk and all, makes Buyo back up a tad more, right against the wall that was creaking. Buyo looks up, only to realize this is a rather bad space to be in, feeling a bit trapped on top of everything else. The wall starts to tip in the direction of the group, but as the top level of the building is simply missing the unsupported wall won't fall that far. Buyo, still holding the plate and food there on, dodges to the side, her foot hindering her to be sure but fear of death is a great encourager, as she moves down the alley, away from the street and the direction the others came from. Its no sprinting run, but with the wall collapsing, dust rising up from it, and the mess that is likely to make, perhaps she can manage to get away. It is clear she's paranoid, untrusting, even of Meimei at the moment, despite the gift of food. No answer was given to Koudo, simply a 'trapped animal' kind of look back. The kid isn't feral, she talked to Meimei and all, but that look she gave Koudo spoke volumes of fear.
All that passes in a moment though as the wall goes down, Buyo moves rather quicker than a villager should normally, especially with a bad foot, and avoides the wall collapse. By the time the dust clears, there is no sign of Buyo, probably having vanished down some side alley or into the rubble of another house.
It is pretty much safe to assume any ninja in the area as the wall goes down will have no trouble avoiding it. There's nothing supernatural about it, or mighty or otherwise overly dangerous. And while it isn't clear where Buyo ran off to, it is clear the wall did not land on her either.
Koudo observed the girl's reaction and listened to Yoko's words. "This is a very unstable structure, if you don't get out of there it could fall down on top of you." Standing, he found it was no use, and that they would have to be patient. The creeks and sounds made Koudo fear the worst, and he was ready to try and save thee girl, but before it collapsed, he noticed the girl disappear. The building left a heap of rubble, and he stood surprised at the whole situation. Nobody should suffer like her, though he realized how such a child with those abilities could avoid the radar of the suna ninja. Now that they were aware of her they could provide her with the support she lacked. He was however, still impressed, and thought that things could turn out well in the long run if they managed it correctly, and he saw that Meimei seemed to have the right idea. Nodding to Itami, he would move out to help with the rest of the hungry people.