Date: January 14, 2012
Berii finally returns to training with the team, only to find more than she bargained for.
Poster's note: Profanity filtered in obvious places.
Team 10 Training grounds
January had come in full force and was actually almost over. With it, winter had come in full force, as well, and the colder temperatures had driven those who really had no pechant for the weather indoors, more or less, for most of the previous day or two. The wind blew, snow was on the ground, and most of the wildlife had now gone to rest.
Today, Hitoshi was taking quiet advantage of the fact the woodlands within the Village walls was quiet. Having broke out a warm yukata, fur-lined at the neck and arms, and his heavy pants, and boots, he had sought refuge in the woods, keeping warm the best he could as he could. Over his shoulder, a light bag is slung, and he makes his way into one of the usual clearings he and his other friends - particularly, his teammates, tend to occupy… and he finds himself a spot where he can settle, on a tree-stump, without sitting himself in the snow itself. Then, he begins to remove the things in the bag he's brought…
A tablet, and a bit of charcoal. The charcoal, after a few minutes of sitting there in silence, is finally put to paper as he begins to sketch… tree outlines. He's drawing.
Taiki and Shinobu have finally come back to Konoha, but a note from Atsuro'sensei had convinced the genin that perhaps it was a good idea not to come back to the clan compound /quite/ yet. Another day or so would have the matter resolved, though the note was very hopeful it would be in Taiki's favor. Thus Taiki found a cheep hotel room and, after dropping what little he had with him there, went shopping first. He picked up a few things, including a heavier weight kimono and some sealing supplies before making his way to the team's training area. While shopping Taiki managed to briefly be spotted by three ninken, though the third was quickly disuaded from continuing to follow the genin, not only by the other two ninken, but a kunai aimed for the ninken's head, attached to an explosive tag. Taiki snarled as the ninken ran.
Taiki paid little care about the other two trailing him and his own ninken, simply choosing to walk toward the clearing. Figuring that none of the Elders would want to trudge their way to this area, and not wanting complaints from the hotel about noise and mess, he decided to work on his stone desk and chair out here. Yes, it was cold, but right now that's what he needed, all things considered. He does notice Hitoshi sitting there, and gives his teammate a sharp nod along with "Hitoshi'san" before moving to the side and unsealing a large, partially carved rock.
With the ongoing winter sticking to Konohagakure like glue, many have been seeking ways to stay warmer. Usually the sought warmth would be within some sort of building with loads of blanketry and the like. For Berii and a lot of other Uchiha, warmth was sought out through training. This… didn't really change up her daily activities at all so it was just another routine day, the snow more or less avoided by taking the tree lined roots.
Small adjustments were made for the weather, a scarf wrapped around her neck and a tight moisture-wicking faux turtle neck worn underneath, it was just enough which would soon be seen as Berii drops into the scene quite literally. The sound of crunching snow alerts her appearance and is soon followed by heavy breathing. While she catches her breath, she raises her hand into the air and gives a short wave.
"Hey!" A tired smile is forced before she goes back to catching her breath.
The scratch of the charcoal bit upon the paper in Hitoshi's hand halts as he looks up when the two other members from Team Ten make their appearance. Right in his line of sight, nontheless. Ah, well. It's not like they would object to immortality of being etched into the drawing, right? With a small smile to both of them, he nods, letting his pad rest on his lap and raising his hand lightly to wave. "Good afternoon, Taiki-kun, Berii-kun," he remarks softly, his breath trailing from the cool air. As Taiki makes his own little project appear, he blinks, tilting his head. Well, it's not like Hitoshi doesn't have his own craft projects, so who is he to consider it odd?… He grins a little bit, then, his attention going toward Berii as she gives off her tired little smile.
"Having fun, Berii-kun?" he asks lightly.
Taiki doesn't merely turn around. He instead snaps his entire body around with a kunai in hand and a snarl on his face when he hears Berii land. In fact, he's around and ready to throw one of his kunai before she can even speak. But once she does, and once he registers who it is, he stands up straight and seems to regard her for a moment. There's definite suspicion there, and concentration as if he's trying to break something. Finally he speaks, but the words are tense and full of caution, "Hello… Berii'chan." His eyes seem to watch her every move, as does all three dogs, all of whom are on alert. His nose starts sniffing the air as well as he channels chakra into it. In fact, Hitoshi's greeting goes seemingly unnoticed right now, he is so intent upon Berii.
Not much of a response but, that's all Berii felt on it right now. "Supposed to be doing waps but…" Berii stops and turns to Taiki, her face screwing up a bit out of confusion with his strange greeting. "Hnn… uh, hi?" Totally trying to play off her awkwardness she looks back to Hitoshi, hoping the Taiki and the dogs weren't planning to attack her for some reason.
Another unfinished sentence as Berii notices Hitoshi was drawing and well she could feel Taiki's eyes and all. In an act of killing two birds of with one stone, she casually steps out of drawing field and shifts behind Hitoshi to make him a barrier of sorts.
"I kinda figur—"
The sudden movement beyond Berii's shoulder of Taiki springing up and seeming like he was about to trounce in full-on attack mode gets Hitoshi's attention, and he quietly watches on, his eyebrows furrowing slightly. He doesn't release his drawing pad quite yet… and to be fair when she DOES look, Berii had already made it into the picture with Taiki having been working on his desk… well, she was falling to the ground, sort of posed as if she were just jumping down…
Yep, that one was already done.
"… To answer your question, which I figure is on your mind, Berii-kun, I have no idea what is wrong with Taiki-kun," he remarks, looking toward the Inuzuka quietly, his eyes just kind of watching him with a light gaze. "… Why not put the sharp objects away and maybe, you know, explain just -why- you were about to maul our teammate?"
Since Berii had moved around, Hitoshi had lightly put the drawing pad aside on top of his bag, beside the stump… and had stood up. It wasn't an offensive posture, but it was a shielding attempt.
Taiki sniffs at the air for a bit, as if following Berii's scent. He turns as she walks toward Hitoshi, his grip getting tighter on the kunai momentarily. He growls, which sounds angry enough to most people, but those who had been around Inuzuka enough, and Inuzuka themselves, would recognize there's a question being asked within that growl. Shinobu lets up from his stance of being ready to pounce and barks twice. The barks are at least joyful enough, if not a little cautious.
"Are you sure?" Taiki asks his partner, the words being growled out. Another series of yips and a growl later, Taiki is putting away the sharp pointy thing and bowing deeply toward his teammates. "Gomenesai," he says sincerly. "After the events of a couple of days ago… I'm a bit… jumpy. I am sincerely sorry if I worried or frightened you." Note he does not really answer Hitoshi's question, he is merely apologizing. But one more thing is noticeable as well, even if Taiki appears to have his attention solely on this teammates, the two unknown dogs are constantly on alert, as if expecting something… unpleasant.
While Hitoshi manages to answer her unasked question, she frowns a bit and is not anyway going to resist the extra shielding she got. In fact, she unintentionally makes herself smaller. Knees bent sliiiightly and leaning forward a bit.
"Aye! What do you mean is he suh?!" Berii, feeling a bit offended at the thought that Taiki… had thought she might be an imposter or plotting anything against him. She just shakes her head, "Neh, whateva…" The girl slightly steps out from Hitoshi's protection now, trying to look a little bit more pleased with Taiki as her eyes soften but, the frown stays. "Just, what happened?"
"You got some 'splainin' to do," Hitoshi simply states in response to Taiki's apologies. He waves his hand, otherwise, and while Berii peeks out from behind him, he turns his head slightly, and steps slightly aside to unshield her more, feeling less like there's a need to… And he notices the two other dogs nearby, seemingly for the first time…. And he squints his eyes a little, before nodding slightly. "You're usually not so jumpy unless there's something going on… and… judging from that," he points toward the two dogs in the distance…
"One can kind of deduce you've been assigned a tail… ahah… sorry. Pun." He pauses, chuckling a little… "… but one can assume you've been assigned a tail for a reason, now. This is slightly different from last time, too, it feels like."
Taiki raises up and briefly looks at Berii, then his eyes dart away as if in shame. They then fall on Hitoshi for a moment, as if trying to apologize again silently. The "other" dogs seem to be rather allergic to staying still and are constantly patrolling the area, as if trying to sniff out anything that would pose a danger to Taiki primarily, but the others as well, now that they know Berii is a friend. Shinobu in the meantime trots over to Berii and crouches down somewhat playfully and whines at the girl while wagging his tail. This is obviously Shinobu's form of apology.
"I don't know how much, if anything, Atsuro'sensei has told you Hitoshi'san, but matters have gotten… worse." He lets that sentence hang there for a moment as he knows he is about to really anger Berii. "Aside from attempts to grab me during training here bordering on attacks, and a threat of an arranged marriage from a sadistic cloud, I was ambushed in the baths about a week ago. I gave the thunder just exactly what she had coming to her to." The last sentence is said in hate and anger, the mood swing coming so fast as to catch everyone but Shinobu off guard. "It's just too bad she lived."
Berii, was lost on the whole situation. It seemed like stuff has been going on for a while with Taiki, at least from how Hitoshi spoke of it all. This would leave Berii a bit quieter than the other two as they exchange words, a dismissive wave given to Taiki when he seems to avoid eye contact.
Things seemed to have began to settle down as Berii crouches to scratch behind Shinobu's ear. Her eyes make a sharp movement up looking to the Inuzuka boy as his hate begins to radiate in an intense way within an instant. It almost felt like she was in danger of the boy once more, the foul language was ignored for now as Berii continued to decipher what exactly happened to Taiki without actually taking part in the discussion.
All in all Berii may start to pull Shinobu in out of comfort as a bit of worry starts to build on her face as she loses her conscious effort of looking okay with Taiki's actions.
"Aaah. So, it's kind of all coming to an ugly head like a zit needing popping."
A small huff, and Hitoshi sighs a little bit, his breath once again visible on the chilled air. "How surprising. See, this is why I'm glad my own family isn't tied up in the concept of clans… or anything like that," he remarks softly. "It's so -silly.-" He then lightly waves his hand a little bit, sighing again and rubbing his eyes…
"Well, you at least didn't -kill- her, right?" He kind of stares at Taiki, then, awaiting an answer. As he watches the other boy, he moves to ease himself onto the stump where he was sitting before… placing him back down on the level with Berii and Shinobu. As a sort of afterthought, he reaches over to a clear spot of snow on the ground and begins to shove at it, clearing a spot. "Sit, and let's go over this." He then looks toward Berii, realizing how lost she looks…
"…I learned some things about Taiki-kun's… nn. Affairs, regarding his home life several weeks ago. Maybe it's time you caught her up as well, Taiki?" he asks toward the other boy.
Taiki isn't so far gone he doesn't notice Berii's actions. Nor does he fail to figure out what she is feeling. For the next instant his hate disappears as he looks over toward his teammate trying to get comfort from Shinobu, who is doing his level best to provide just that. "Berii'chan… It's not you. I'm not angry at you nor do I hate you. In fact I consider you kind of like… a sister?" he says, trying to feel it out for himself. "And my immediate blood family are not part of the problem." He looks between his two teammates and decides to keep his distance for the moment, so he sits down right where he is.
But when Hitoshi mentions not actually killing her he can't help it, his mood swings once again. "Not for lack of trying," Taiki all but snarls. "Three lightning arcs into a bath should have done the job. She's just more resilient than that. Pity." Only there's no pity at all in his voice. More like disappointment. "Yeah… pity. Considering she was about attack me /again/, only with a little bit more… harshly, I have no regrets."
Shinobu barks at him, then whimpers in a tone that even those who don't know dogs would understand to be extreme worry. Taiki looks over and sighs as Shinobu seems to be giving him a look, which in turn calms the Inuzuka boy down. "Brief overview of what's been going on Berii'chan… I've been dubbed as the black sheep of my clan since before I joined the academy, thanks to the efforts of a select few. All because I had the misfortune of being born into a sub-clan of the Inuzuka that, in some aspects at least, don't fit me. And there have been people who have made their… displeasure… well known… sometimes physically."
Berii did hold off on the judgment glare with Taiki's swearing, he did seem pretty stressed but, Hitsohi calling clans 'silly' and his gross analogy relating zits to Taiki's issue where enough to get him one of those momentary glares. More pressing issues were at hand, Taiki's words do a decent job of soothing her at least, soothing her worries of her /own/ safety. Her thoughts on Taiki's own conidtion were still questionable.
A slow nod is given to Taiki to show that she was taking in what he was saying. The mood swings tossing her a bit but, all in all she maintains focus. "Cwan dwama…" Berii comments idly, knowing that this was something she couldn't really step into. "Neh, wait, sub-cwans?"
Berii's head tilts to the side, "And… who is /she/?"
The glare from Berii gets a glance from Hitoshi, and he makes a small noise, not unlike a groan. "Look, I wasn't born into all the drama, pomp, and circumstance all you shinobi clanspeople were, remember? I'm on the other side of the stained-glass window on this, peeking in. I've lived around it since I was eight years old and I -still- don't get everything a lot of you do." He then pauses, nodding when she asks about the 'subclans…' "At first, when I heard him mention subclans, the first thing that popped into my mind was a structure kind of like the Hyuuga clan's… There's a Main Branch and another branch, one subservent to the other. In the Inuzuka's case, though, the best analogy I can think of is a wolf pack." Hitoshi then looks to Taiki, then, shrugging. "No offense."
He then leans back a little bit, taking a breath and sighing some. "Well, it would be worse if you killed her, obviously. Something about your clansmen screams that they are the 'eye for an eye' type of folk when it comes to dealing with their own in terms of justice…"
"Enough is coming out about what that whore did to me in the past, and what she was intending to do then, it really would not matter if she died. This world would be a little better of a place, that I can guarantee," Taiki says first in response after listening to the questions. Taiki definitely has whoever this is on the "better off dead list" and nothing is going to convince him otherwise. "But you're right about the eye for an eye sense of justice. I've vowed I'm not going to be their whipping boy any more. They push, and I'll push back. Kami help them then, because I won't show mercy." From the look on his face, he means it too.
Taiki then looks over to Berii and answers her questions. "The Inuzuka have several sub-clans that make up the larger clan. Mine is the Founder Clan. We're supposed to be the power behind the throne… or the Alphas. Alphas are leaders, and there are several others, including Deltas which our sensei comes from and the Betas, which look after pregnant ninken and act as our clan's interior guards and police force. Most people born to one of the other subclans can switch to another clan if they fit another role better. The only exception is the Founder's Clan. Once born into the Founder's clan, you are in there for life unless you become an Alpha."
"Then it's getting down to whether or not you want to pick your battles, and if you do, which ones you wisely pick… the ones you can win, versus the currently unwinnable," Hitoshi remarks softly, tilting his head a little bit as he makes the remark. "Just like the strategy and tactics we've learned about in school, they can be applied in everyday situations… even this.
Berii lets Shinobu go, standing up straight. It was a moment where she just felt like getting up and leaving, she didn't want to get into a huff and puff on clans. Though Taiki's interesting situation kept her hooked enough to keep her to an annoyed, "Hmph."
Looking slightly annoyed, Berii makes a mental note of the whole subclan thing and waits around for a bit more detail from Taiki about his main issue.
"Then it's getting down to whether or not you want to pick your battles, and if you do, which ones you wisely pick… the ones you can win, versus the currently unwinnable," Hitoshi remarks softly, tilting his head a little bit as he makes the remark. "Just like the strategy and tactics we've learned about in school, they can be applied in everyday situations… even this." He shrugs his shoulders a little bit, relaxing some and watching Taiki.
"Even though I'm not entirely familiar with how everything in your clan works, Taiki, I'm getting worried you're probably biting off more than you can chew… if you'll forgive the pun again." He shakes his head. "Don't mistake my worry about you getting yourself hurt, or worse, for me thinking you're weak. You're far from it," he remarks, "but that's what makes you such a tempting target, if anything. If your people think that they can make an example out of you… well, simply because of that talent you posess, they'll be glad to try their hardest to do so," he explains. "That's just human nature. People get intimidated by that kind of thing."
Looking back toward Berii he continues, "As far as the answer to your other question Berii'chan, "She" is Inuzuka Sakura, a chuunin about two years my elder, who was a sadistic bully all my life. I recall a time when she broke my arm and laughed about it, then proceeded to try to make it a compound fracture just to hear me scream. To say I have a rather large issue with her would be a massive understatement. This is the girl the elders who are responsible for this mess decided would be the perfect bride for me. She wanted to take steps to ensure it would happen, so she ambushed me in the baths, and… I just couldn't take it any more. I saw red, then white as I shot lightning into the baths after jumping out of it."
After answering that question he stops and closes his eyes. "Hitoshi, you may not understand clan matters, and how they can effect someone who is a part of a clan, but please understand, this is anything but silly. It may not mean too much to you that they feel that my primary focus on ninjutsu is… well," he looks over toward Berii before looking back to Hitoshi and saying, "defecating on the traditions of my clan, but believe me when I say a great deal of pride is wrapped up in that. To an Inuzuka, our partnership in our ninken and our taijutsu skills are just as important, to us at least, as the sharingan is to the Uchiha, or the Byakugan is to the Hyuga. Even those of my sub-clan who are considered ninjutsu experts place that second to taijutsu. Our taijutsu and our connection to our ninken define us. What they don't understand is that I'm trying to use my abilities for ninjutsu to improve our taijutsu, and cover some of the weaknesses. That's a large part of the argument between them and me."
"It's in cases like this where the situation of having a clan structure kind of defeats the purpose of governance over a set of people… Traditions… Circumstances… The in-fighting and the corruption from the -inside- is what is causing the detriment, in my opinion. 'Course, you'll get that in almost any kind of structure you put in… but it makes it fifty, no, a hundred times as worse, because these people stabbing you in the back -share your namesake,-" Hitoshi weighs back toward Taiki softly, shaking his head and holding up his hand lightly to halt the other boy in his words.
"It's not so much silly, I suppose, as it is kind of sad." He pauses, then, considering Taiki's words again. "What do you mean, 'it may not mean too much to me?' That's the entire point I'm -getting- at. Because you're breaking the mold and you're actually halfway -decent- at it, you're making yourself a -big- target to put down, and with a mighty vengance, at that! Be damned if what you're doing may actually -improve- the namesake you guys posess, you're going against the grain and you've already -rained them off.-"
The words that he seems to vomit out of his mouth just -come- flying, and when he seems to finish, he catches himself, his eyes widening a bit as a hand comes up over his mouth. "… Sorry, Taiki," he apologises quietly, biting his tongue under his hand and shaking his head. "S'not my place, I guess."
Taiki sighs and shakes his head before looking at Hitoshi. "Even the Hyuga, who are regarded as hidebound in tradition by even the other clans, don't push things this far Hitoshi. There's more going on here than just the explanations we've come up with so far. What we don't know, but Atsuro'sensei sees it, my parents see it, a lot of people see it. This reaction, as Berii can tell you, is extreme. And it's too late to not make a target of myself. I'm the biggest target there is in this, and have been for a long time. Why do you think they originally threatened to kill my parents if I ever reported it? Why do you think they forced me not to seek medical attention, even to the point of possibly angering a Hyuga hier? No, there's no removing this target off of my back, not until we get to the root of the problem. But what am I supposed to do, try to be someone I'm not? That's just as bad if not worse, for it could get me, you, Berii, and even Atsuro'sensei killed if I try to do something I'm just not suited for."
Taiki lets this stew for a few moments before saying. "I know you're concerned Hitoshi'san. I know this new… attitude of mine has you worried, and probably for good reason. But… everyone has a breaking point, and mine has been reached. If I don't fight back, however I can, then I will lose everything I hold dear to me. And that's just not something I'm prepared to do." He shakes his head again, then looks Hitoshi in the eyes. "They made me like this Hitoshi. I used to pray they'd give up and leave me alone. Now I know. It's either them or me. It's not going to be me. Do you want it to be me?"
Eyes meet, and Hitoshi just stares at the other boy, a demure, almost bland expression crossing his face as he stares at him… "You know the answer to that and I won't dignify or even acknowledged you asked such a -stupid- question."
"I'm not saying 'don't fight back.' I'm saying, utilize your resources, pick your fights. It's not something you're going to win overnight, tomorrow, or even weeks or months from now. You're talking about picking apart something that has been built up and has slowly started eating away at itself for more than a hundred years or so, if I'm right?" He shakes his head. "There also comes a time where, as I've heard so many adults say, 'let the children play.' In some points, let them keep eating away at themselves. Trip over their stories. Trip over their lies. Fumble and stumble in front of the village as a whole. These people… as shinobi in general, we don't value our lives so much as we value our -pride.- As Inuzuka, it's probably double-true, yes? That's where you strike. Strike their pride in -public.- In front of the village. In front of everyone. But you have to wait…"
He pauses, then, smiling a little. "That strike is the death keel. The final blow. You're not ready to deliver -that- blow just yet, Taiki-kun."
Naru pages: Thanks and good night :)
Taiki looks at Hitoshi for a moment, then frowns. "I'm not trying to destroy my clan's pride, Hitoshi'san," Taiki says lowly. "How many times have you heard me say I am proud to be an Inuzuka? Many times, if I've even said it once. This isn't about destroying the traditions of the clan, this is about improving on them, making them better, making us a little less predictable to our enemies. But a small group of elders are fighting this, and they are being extremely militant about it. It's not a silly argument, but a very real concern. I'm not about to tear down something I am trying to build up. When I said I would not be a punching bag any more I meant it. They will get what they give, even if it takes me a while to do it. And I will not stop being what I am. I will not shy away from my dreams. I just will not stop, period."
A shake of his head is how Hitoshi responds. "Sometimes you have to do a little damage to something old in order to install something new, Taiki-kun. But then, it takes a skilled craftsman t'put it back together." A pause, and he breathes… "I'm not saying bring down your whole clan. You know who your enemies are in the structure," he remarks softly, "so the logical thing is to target them." He shakes his head, still, watching him. "You've got your mind made up, though, on how it is you're going to overcome all of this. And how you're going to make it happen." He shrugs his shoulders.
"Like I said earlier, I literally am just an outsider, looking in."
Taiki is about to answer when one of the other dogs barks at him. He looks up toward the dog and listens to it speak before he nods. "I need to go," Taiki says as he stands up. "Some more ninken and Inuzuka are headed this way. I'll lead them off, you guys wait here for a bit, then it will be safe." With this he moves over to the stone and re-seals it before putting the scroll away and leaving.