Date: December 2, 2015
The time has come for Michiko to get to the bottom of a change in Rise.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Blood for Blood - A Moment's Weakness"
Mountain Peak [Land of Lightning]
The long, long climb from the plains below have come to an end, or a beginning, depending on which way the traveller is facing. The peak of this mountain is flat, with only two obvious exits. One, to the south, leads down the mountains, and to the distant plains far far below, difficult to see from this vantage point because of the other peaks blocking the view.
To the northeast lies the walls of Kumogakure, the large stone buttresses built into the mountain itself, somehow expertly molded to almost mesh with the crannies and crags already in place along the mountains.
To the northwest, a long and dangerous looking bridge leads to a plateau at a nearby mountain.
Michiko awaited Rise stop the mountain, a book in her hands as she researches random things.
With a message so concise, how could Rise fail to disappoint the head ninja. Or was it more elegantly put? Regardless of what may or may not be, Rise did not fail to arrive at the appointed time, though she have an air of wariness and weariness about her. Try as she might, the Shirokiri cannot fully hide it behind the usual mask she showed most on a day-to-day basis. "Hello Michiko-sama!" She exclaims as soon as she spied the younger girl, only to gasp and throw herself into a hasty but respectful bow. "I mean… Greetings, Michiko-sama. I have come as requested."
Arashi was honestly just coming up to the mountain peak to train his lightning. Upon getting to the top though he noticed Rise bow in greeting to Michiko who looked like her face was stuck in a book. "Uhhh. Hey Rise. Michiko." He then offers a small wave as he starts walking to find a seat somewhere. "What the two of you doing up here?"
"Rise-san," the girl greets, tucking her book away for the time being. She glances up and examines the Shirokiri for a little bit until Arashi appears. "I wanted to talk to Rise a bit," Michiko tells Arashi. "Something's been bothering me… And I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Before it becomes an issue."
Rise starts from the sound of Arashi's voice, and almost breaks protocol reflexively standing up to spy the Himizu. Fortunately, it doesn't come to that. At the earliest opportunity she offers him a small bow in acknowledgement. Just as she is about to answer him however, Michiko speaks up, drawing her attention away. Her absent-minded smile of pleasantness loses some of its luster as Michiko spoke on. "I see… Well, of course I'll be happy to assist, Michiko-sama. Though, I don't know what help I can really offer to someone of your caliber." She giggles behind a loosely closed fist. "Despite what my recent promotion might otherwise imply."
Arashi looks between the two before him with a small frown. "Is it something I should not be apart of? I don't want to be a bother if it is." He stands up stretching as he does before once again looking between the two of them. "Really I only came up here to train anyways, so it isn't like I need to choose this spot." He relaxes his hand behind his head now as he waits for a reply.
Michiko quirks a brow. "Well, I was thinking that you would likely be the expert on this matter, Rise-san. Especially because it involves you." Michiko pauses to let that sink in. "I'm not sure why, but you have been acting … bubbly towards everyone. From what I know of you, Rise-san, that isn't like you. Which is why I ask: is there something wrong?"
Even as trepidation grew within, Rise feigned further surprise by making a silent 'o' with her mouth at being mentioned as the expert, then quirked her brows in curiosity. There could be no holding the facade together completely once Michiko pressed on. Rise held on to the smile by sheer force of will, but clenched her jaw tightly. After a brief moment of silence, Rise tossed aside false semblance in proper etiquette by looking away and idly play with her bangs. "It does seem that way Arashi-kun, though Michiko-sama doesn't seem to mind terribly much now."
"Perhaps even be of help!" She adds, clapping her hands together sharply before turning away giggling again. The bout comes to an abrupt end with the Shirokiri hastily brushing down her clothes. During the process she goes on say, "I don't think I fully understand the question, Michiko-sama. Did others find themselves disturbed by my disposition? Have I been peforming my duties poorly?" She looks back to Michi from the corner of her eyes, smiling still, though tightly before speaking up. "Or is there something else I'm missing?"
Arashi just sits back down as Michiko doesn't say anything. Then at Rise's words he nods for a moment. "I would think so, but honestly I think I want to stay now if it isn't too much of a bother." He then watches Rise do this process of events that does show a little bubbly side. He is actually probably as interested in this response from Michiko as Rise or maybe more considering Rise might not be really.
"You're free to stay, Arashi-san. Perhaps you can help, even," Michiko says. The girl watches Rise as the Shirokiri reacts to her words. "There has been no reports of … unhappiness with your attitude, Rise-san. But this is not because of others worried because of you. This is about my being worried that you aren't being completely truthful about something. The mask is there, and it's quite solid. But how long are you going to hold it up while we work together? So my question is as I asked: Is there something wrong?"
It is only for an instance, but that single moment would be enough to see restrained anger flicker in the girl's eyes at the word "worried". Anyone else might mistake it for simply being a trick of the eyes or paranoia. But can the same be said of Michiko or Arashi?
"Worried…" She murmurs softly after bowing her head. "Of course you're worried. It would do for your precious charges to be broken in any way. And you always know what is best for them~" Rise sing songs, swaying in place with her fingers laced together behind back. "No need to ask or even bargain. Mmm~ … To answer your question, as long as it takes for 'her' to take back over. And with said or mmmm-in mind, nothing at all is wrong except that she seems to be taken her sweet time about things."
Arashi watches this scene take place, and noticed maybe not just the anger. Though he does notice a slight change. Then he sits back and watches some. He doesn't want to step in on something when he has no solution to it. He becomes curious as Rise again talks about 'her'. Though he never actually got clarification on who she was, and probably wouldn't. It was a topic that seemed hard to bring up with Rise, so why try. He would rather not if she didn't which last time it happened showed she might not want to.
Michiko asks, "Is there a way that she could possibly be let out?" to Rise. "I know that I don't /always/ know what is best for my shinobi. But I try my best so that things will get done while putting few people in harm's way. And even before I was in charge of you, Rise-san, I considered you a friend. And I was hoping that wouldn't change, but apparently it has." Michiko was getting a bit frustrated herself, and she didn't notice the glint of anger.
Rise could feel the corner of her lips just twitch at the question, and yet after a moment's pause she shrugs before closing her eyes. She found herself soon chewing on the back of her lips, Michiko's words having struck something else. Guilt. "… You have your answers, Michiko-sama. If there's anything else I can help you with, then by all means, ask. Otherwise, it might be better if I return to duty. It would not do for me to skip out on lesson plans and the like. And I'm sure you have far more important things to worry about than someone like me. Teehee." Rise said, burying all concern for Michiko's frustrations and Arashi's concern behind a renewed mask of forced pleasantness.
Arashi sits there now really confused. So it seemed there were two people actually stuck inside of the one body maybe? Then had he seen both, or did this one have control….. it wasn't something he could easily understand right away at least. Arashi then stands up. "Rise." His ability to avoid the situation was far gone now it seemed as he began to ask about it. If Rise didn't tell him maybe Michiko would. "Who exactly is this other person?"
"That's hardly an answer, Rise-san. Do you have any idea as to what might draw her out, anyway? Do you even think of me as a friend anymore? Have I grown a bit too distant due to my position?" Michiko's stream of questions aren't even directed at Rise by the end of it. Or at least, not completely. They were partly directed at herself… "Someone like you… Yes… Who do you think you are? Because to me, you are someone important enough to worry about."
Michiko just shrugs to Arashi. Because she dunno.
A vein began to visibly pulsate between the few partitions in Rise's bangs. The verbal assault of question is beared silently, but not without consequences. Slowly, there came a point in which she could scarcely hold onto the smile. A moment in which all the signs pointed towards one of her infamous rage being released all at once. After a tense moment of silence following Michiko's speech, Rise lets out a long, drawn out sigh.
"Please forgive me, Michiko-/sama/, but if I knew I solid answer to how to go about doign just that, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I would've done it the moment you and my father decided to take matters into your own hands regarding my 'health' and continued 'happiness'. I would've oh so happily gone back to where I.. came from…" Rise trails off from there, all traces of mocking dying near the end. "… A-anyways~ Perhaps at one time that sort of thing mattered to me. But not really any more! I'm just a stand in for Cho! That's.. the real owner of this body by the way, Arashi-kun." She says, forcing the mask back in place. "The daughter a man broke, and a mother rebelled against a clan to save and all that." Rise adds, rolling her eyes.
Arashi stands where he is watching Rise as she speaks about this whole thing. For the most part her words were all aimed at Michiko. That is until the end when he was told about the other one. "Stand in? Why are you in this body then? And where is yours? This is not something I am used to hearing about honestly." He frowns but stays where he is. "Rise…. what happened that caused you to be in this body instead of the actual owner of it?" His face easily showed his confusion over this situation.
Michiko pauses a moment when she hears Rise bring up that one matter… One of the many instances where she put Kumogakure before the wants of her friends. "Are you angry at me for deciding such? I wanted to do what was best for Kumogakure. I wanted to see you not in a wheelchair all your life. Or armless. I wanted to see you whole, and apparently I broke you even further…"
A faint scowl crosses Michiko's features, but then it disappears to blankness. Her own mask. "Do you want me to put you in the hospital so that you can live the life you were hoping for? Do you want to retire, Rise-san?" Michiko asks in a scarily neutral voice. "How deeply did you bury yourself in falsities and lies? Is the mask glued on tight? I think I would prefer it gone."
"Both of you just don't get it…" She murmurs, shaking her head lightly while tugging at her bangs. Rise whips it away as soon as the motion ends, fortunately avoiding accidently tugging any strands or clumps free in the violent motion. When she looks to Michiko and Arashi again, there's an odd sort of split in the mask. Anger and pleasentry tugged at her visage, granting her for a few moments an interesting sight to behold.
"You can't just take back what you did and expect it all to be all well and good, Michiko-/sama/! I can't even pretend to know what Cho was thinking by entering that tournament anymore. But when I found myself in control again, and fought the way I did then, I was prepared to live with the consequences of those actions. Know why? Because for just a little while longer, I'd get to feel real again. Like I wasn't just a mistake of a couple of vulnerabilities who couldn't figure out a better way!!"
"Like my choices actually diminishing matter… But you and dear old otou-san just had to go and be helpful. And you know another thing? That's alright! I'm not even really that mad about that anymore, because all you two did was wake me up again. You made sure that Cho got just that little bit of extra support to live the life she should've instead of some… some worthless fragment with a one track mind…"
By the end of her rant, there isn't an ounce of anger or frustration left. Rise would fall to her knees unless caught, tears budding at the edge of her eyes as she stared at the ground in exhaustion and defeat.
Arashi listens to her rant, and upon her falling to her knees he stops her from just dropping completely. Though he still lets her end up on her knees. Unless Michiko gets there first and prevents that. Either way he would have made the motions to do so.(>_>) He hadn't really been spoken to about anything he asked, but everything she said was enough for him now to let it go until another time. Maybe one where he could speak alone on it. Though one thing he does say as he leans down/stands next to her. "Yeah. I may not get or understand it, but it is hard to expect me to. Though that doesn't change the fact that I want to understand it. That can be for another time though." Then he would just sit down right where he was, and make sure she was alright when this was a calmer situation.
"They do matter, Rise-san. They matter to me. I don't want to force anyone to do something they don't wish. I don't want to see that… You have the ability to choose what you like, and if I am able to, I will help you try and achieve such a goal so long as it does not involve the destruction of Kumogakure." Michiko stares at Rise steadily. … And then the Shirokiri falls. Michiko doesn't think, she just reacts. The girl catches Rise, somehow able to support the Shirokiri's body and keep her steady, though not for long. She would be tugged to stand or let down gently so the drop wasn't so sudden. "Arashi-San is right. We don't understand. But we want to understand. But… It doesn't seem I can be trusted with this information of yours… So I will let it be until you feel comfortable sharing of your own accord."
Rise her had shook her head before the fall, denying Michiko's claims until her body could stand no more. Arashi's motion would unfortunately go unrecognized, though his persistance does earn a brief, weary glance in his direction. Rather or not Michiko manages to keep Rise standing or gently lower her down to the ground remains solely up to her. No matter the what the case may be, the Shirokiri makes no effort on her own to remain standing under her own part. Her own body betrays her further by leaning heavily on Michiko for support, even though the opposite had been desired on some level.
"I'm just so fragile tired… of all this." She murmurs softly, tears staining her cheeks as her eyes drew to a close.
Arashi does in fact now sit to the side. Seemed that it was something these two needed to talk about more so then have himself be apart of it. So he scoots off to the side some pulling out a book to read so that the two of them can speak if they need to. For now he would listen if they said anything though.
Michiko would lower Rise to the ground after it was clear Rise wasn't going to stand of her own accord. She wasn't really the mothering type, so the best comfort she could offer Rise was a small backrub if that was even accepted. Michiko decides against speaking for the time being, trying to gather some of her thoughts for a bit.
Rise doesn't resist the back rubbing, but neither does seem to calm from it quickly. Her mind was a mess. A mealstrom of emotions swirled within it unending, breaking down every mental defense in place. Every time she built them right back up, or at least struggled to do just that. In the end, she struggled in vain to hold back years worth of pent up tears of the sort of pain that didn't simply disappear with time. Like a drowning victim given a lifeline, Rise began clinging to Michiko desperately to Michiko, and sobbing quietly without restraint.
Several minutes would pass before the crying stop. Several more would pass however before she finally peeled herself from the Iwata should said Iwata not have already pulled away on her own. Rise makes no effort to wipe what tears stains remain. She simply sits there for awhile, staring at Michiko's chest with puffy eyes and not one chance of speaking again first.
Arashi at one point put the book away, and was looking over at the two of them. A part of him was worried and wanted to comfort her, but honestly with Michiko already there he felt like it would be more of an intrusion. This being something the two of them should talk about whether he is nearby or not. When they finally pull apart he frowns a moment before looking around the area. Still if anyone should speak up it would be one of them.
Michiko doesn't draw away from Rise, letting the Shirokiri lean on her for as long as was needed. She would continue her soothing motion, not to calm the storm but to just offer a sense of comfort. Eventually she would stop, mostly when clung to, but she still would not have drawn back. Not until Rise showed she was done. Michiko would reach into a pouch and pull out a piece of cloth, offering it to Rise.
As some semblance of composure truly begins to return to her, Rise grows tense as the sensations along her back are consciously registered. Even if she accepted the truth of her existence, she remained Rise Shirokiri. She did not lean on others, or simply allowed others to see her broken down. Still, the Shirokiri remains tentative about pulling away more from her comfort, and in place of the offered cloth, she used the heel of her palm. Her legs were unsteady, yet she forced herself to stand nonetheless. Just as she went about fussying over her clones, intentionally avoiding looking at either Arashi or Michiko. "Now you both know the full deal, and that there's nothing you can do. So… What now?" She asked calmly, regarding both each in turn weak mask of indifference.
Arashi stands as Rise does, and listens to her words. "I don't really care if there is nothing that can be done about it. No reason to not look, or no reason not be here with you until it does. I do have one question though? Do you have your own body. Is it gone or something?" He walks over now to try to look at her directly to see her expressions. Obviously she is someone who would rather not be helped on this and seems to have accepted her fate. He begins to think of things that may help make sense of it all, or to help fix this situation that is seemingly approaching.
"I'm sure there's something we can do to coax her out," Michiko says. "Even if all it takes is time." Michiko would stand back up and straighten her own clothes. "Personally, I wish to be optimistic and believe there is a way to solve this. It just may not come to mind at the moment. …" Michiko pauses and inclines her head to Arashi heftier asking, "Is there anything Cho likes in particular?"
Rise clenched her hands at her sides in anticipation of anger returning to the forefront. But instead, she felt… nothing at all. A brief moment of shock registers in her visage before she returns to hiding behind the mask. "I don't-…" She belatedly starts, only to stop as Michiko began speaking. Biting the back of her lip, Rise managed to keep the pain that flared up in her chest from flooding to the surface, though the others might still sense it.
"I don't honestly know. All I have our snippets left behind in my head, and what she bothered to write down in mine… her, journal." She answers to Michiko evenly except the end. Another jolt to the heart that only served to hasten her refocusing back on Arashi. "I don't have my own body. I never did. Because like I said before, I'm just… fragments. Pieces of consciousness she forced together in some stupid attempt to preserve her kids life, not knowing or caring about the shaky consequences." She states bitterly at the end.
Arashi frowns as he looks at Rise. He doesn't know what to say himself as he doesn't know what can or should be done. "I wonder if it would be possible to preserve these fragments then? I mean for you to exist as a fragment it means you are still your own thing. Not just temporarily having control of hers." His hands rest at his side slightly clenched into a fist. "I just. I know you not whoever Cho is. So to have you disappear because someone else pushed to the front feels wrong. Even if from the start that is what happened. Are you not in some way different minds rather fragments of hers?"
Michiko watches Rise carefully for any signs that the Shirokiri would fall over, but Rise doesn't. Instead, a whole range of emotions flashed across her face before the mask got put in place. "Hmmm… Alright, then. Why don't we find this journal and flip through it for any clues at all. It may be useful. Then again, it could be useless. But it's worth a shot, ne?" She glances to Arashi and says, "I doubt such a thing could happen without… Perhaps a Yamanaka. They have the ability to enter another's mind… If anything, we could ask Kenta-san, but that's only if Rise-san would even wish for such a thing to happen."
Rise's eyes never truly leave Arashi's form after seeing the way he reacted to the news. Even if her visage never changes, the fact that she remain so intent on looking at him spoke volumes. Slowly and somewhat grudgingly, she does eventually set her sights back on Michiko as she answered Arashi's question. "I… It doesn't matter what I wish, Michiko-sama… Arashi-kun. All that does is that things are set right. She might not like the fact that someone other than us messed with the diary, but if it or this Yamanaka — Kenta-san, right?" She pauses to let Michiko confirm. "If he can help and succeeds then, all will be good. This farce can come to an end…finally." She said evenly and openly until the end point, her voice softening as she closed her eyes.
Arashi looks at Rise with a small frown on his face. "She may not like it, but she isn't the only one here that it affects right? If this Kenta was able to do this and succeed then it would be over. Whatever it is. But…" He sighs softly as he looks to Michiko. "Is there a way for Rise to even have her own body having had none? Obviously what fragments are up here." He outstretches his hand as he points to Rise's head. "Obviously is enough to think and act for itself. As in enough to be it's own being." His hand lowers onto Rise's shoulder. "Rise. It may not matter what you wish since this is this others persons body, but what do you wish? Even if it doesn't matter I want to know."
"As I said, it does matter what you want, Rise-san. Once we find the solution, all it takes is to implement it. And-" Michiko pauses to acknowledge Arashi. "All we need to do is likely find another body for the current Rise-san so that Cho-san can have her own back. I'm not entirely sure how to go about doing that, but maybe Kenta-san can offer some insight. Or Shuuren-san, if need be."
Rise reopens her eyes again half-way, fully intent on giving Arashi one of her momentum stopping glares. Even if she was a little agitated further by the jab at her head, seeing him so determined gave her pause for far too long to hold on anger. Without ever meaning to, her gaze focuses more intently on his eyes after his hand clasps her shoulder, drinking in more the feeling behind his tone.
Just as her eyes seem on the verge of tearing up again, she quickly shuts them again as Michiko spoke up, breaking whatever momentary hold the Himizu had on her. After giving her head a few curt shakes Rise stepped away from Arashi completely, then turns away altogether from both Kumogakure shinobi. She would stand there silently for a time unless someone else spoke, holding herself tightly. "…. And what if… I didn't want another body…. What if I wanted to disappear?" She asked calmly without turning back to the others.
Arashi look straight at her as she does as he waits for her response. Having her first reaction being the shaking of her head and her turning around caused him to hesitate before doing anything further. Still he wanted to hear the response she gave. When her words finally are said he hesitates once more. Though he finally after a moment of silence does speak on it. "Rise. Why would you want to dissapear?" He thinks about walking over once more, but stays where he is simply glancing at Michiko for a moment before looking back at Rise. "I'm not going to force you into something no matter how much I disagree with your decision, but I don't think you should let yourself disappear. In the end it would be your decision no matter what my opinion on it was, but I just….think you should try to live a life that doesn't involve being a fragmented part of someone else."
Michiko says, "If you don't want to exist anymore, then we have nothing to worry about past retrieving Cho-san. However, as Arashi-san mentioned, I do urge you to give this some thought." She pauses for a moment. "Rise-san, I don't want to see you die either. I don't know you very well, but you /are/ still a member of Kumogakure, ninja or not. I see no reason why I shouldn't care about you, and I'll keep you in mind as we go through this. Let's go look for the journal? Or perhaps we should wait a bit and leave you be for some time?" she offers. She knew that she probably wasn't helping Rise at all. The Shirokiri was focused more on Arashi…
The only response Arashi recieves is the Shirokiri crouching down at some point, making herself all the smaller. She knew what she wanted to say — /should/ say on the matter. But every time her lips parted to speak the truth, Rise her tongue and mouth refused to convey it. In the end, only one route remained to her. An opening Michiko provided, and yet never recieved so much as a thankful look for having done so.
"I need to be alone for awhile… I'll be by your office later with the diary later, Michiko-sama." She states just barely loudly enough to be heard over the wind. If either of them chose to persist at this point, Rise would remain steadfast in staring off the edge of the peak, ignoring both words and presence until time forced them to leave.
Arashi didn't continue to push on the matter. If she needed to think and be alone for now she would get that time. He glances at Michiko for a moment and back to Rise before moving off to the side and sitting down. He had originally come up here to train, and would probably end up doing so….though maybe he would go somewhere else. He had to think a little bit of his own now too, and would probably do more that than training. If Michiko begins to leave and Rise continues to stay here he would probably follow Michiko back to the village.
"Excellent. I anticipate such. Arashi-san, we should leave Rise-san be for now." Then Michiko would drag him none-too-gracefully off the mountain's peak and back towards Kumogakure. "We can work on your chakra control, even. Ah, I know. How about some sparks as we walk? Walking and focusing chakra can be a bit difficult, but you /do/ need to learn to move as you fight. Standing around is the bane of battles…" She would continue chatting until she was a fair distance away from Rise and the pair could continue on as they usually might.