Date: March 5, 2016
Suzu and her mother have a heart to heart about some long overdue subject matter.
"Corrections Pt. 1"
Uchiha District, Konohagakure
Two missions in a row in which Suzu was threatened with getting blown up. At least she didn't get injured this time, but… That's the scary thing. She almost did. If Reime hadn't been there… Neither of them would have realized in time. And it was only by chance that her mother had the foresight to establish a Genjutsu connection with a random pervert to make sure he keeps his eyes to himself in the first place.
Things could have turned out differently if Uchiha Tsugumi hadn't halted the villain's escape attempt. And further, if she hadn't been fast enough and skilled enough to avoid a point blank explosion like that with that 'Fire Replacement'… That quick thinking saved Suzu's mother's life.
And in turn saved Suzu and Reime from a dreadful fate. But Suzu couldn't help feeling… Bothered somehow. Beyond the wrongness of all that had happened, the sadness over the death of some old man, maybe even somebody's grandpa, who was just doing his job, the fear of how she and her mom and her new friend almost died, the shudders that she got from how that now-captured ninja had looked at them all…
There was something else that bothered her.
And now she is home again, sitting at the low-table in the dining room, and trying to figure out what that was. She had known that her mother was supposed to be pretty strong. That she was formidable with Genjutsu, that she had mastered the Sharingan…
But she'd never actually seen Tsugumi in action before! She had been amazing, and beautiful, and also frightening. Suzu had seen a different side of her mother. A side she had never seen before. She felt like… Like…
Suzu felt like she wanted to be like that too. Was that what was bothering her? She didn't know.
But there was a really easy way to find out this sunny morning.
"So, um… Can we talk for a little bit, mom?"
Uchiha Tsugumi is busy at the stove, cooking breakfast. While there is nothing wrong with being a mother, with taking care of her children, it was a significant step down from being seen as a Chuunin of the Hidden Leaf, instead of 'that retired lady who became a house wife'. It was something she'd struggled with in the past. Sacrificing her career for her family. She hadn't wanted to. She had adjusted over time. But she'd never been happy about it.
The thing that convinced her, was the fact that Suzuha had been growing up without either Ken or Tsugumi around to take care of her very much. When she hit 31 years old, and her daughter was nine, and Tsugumi had been too busy doing the Village's dirty work to give Suzu the attention she deserved, she decided that even though she was stronger, more capable, more active and respected than ever before, her own aspirations had to fall by the way side if Suzu was going to be raised properly.
And so she'd retired. Ken did too for awhile, but then they needed him on the police force after the Second Hokage took charge… And now Suzu is old enough to be a ninja herself, and Tsugumi has returned to active duty on a trial basis…
…And she's facing those old resentments all over again, as even though that mission had been anything but pleasant, she had felt envigorated by it. Alive.
And she hates that she is once again questioning her priorities in regard to her family.
When Suzu speaks up, Tsugumi continues cooking the omelette rice, and answers, "You can always talk to me, Suzu-chan."
Of course she can. Relief washes over Suzu, as well as slight embarrassment. What was she thinking? That her mother had changed somehow? Tsugumi is still her mom! Suzu sit up a bit straighter and says, "So, now that you've seen me in action, um… Did I do a good job on the mission?" She tries to keep the eagerness out of her voice. She can control her Chakra enough to even walk on water! She can use her Sharingan! She was able to keep up, alongside Reime, when she chased after that creep… Even recovering from broken ribs! Surely she must receive praise now! …Right?
What a question. Tsugumi is silent for awhile, as she focuses on getting breakfast onto a plate. It's not until she walks over to the table and puts it down in front of Suzu, along with a side of rice and some water, that she finally says, "The important thing is that you didn't get hurt." In her mind, that is kinder than crticizing her daughter for being too unaware to notice the danger, too slow to move out of the way, and to do essentially nothing to take down the bad guy.
The low pain tolerance while running also likely impacted Suzu's ability to run at full speed.
She's Suzu's mother. She's not going to lambast her for recovering from injuries. Tsugumi didn't know there was danger either until Reime pointed out. And with more training maybe Suzu can focus better on her surroundings, and react on reflex rather than thought to deal with danger.
Yes, in her mind… It would be cruel to dissect Suzu's performance, because expecting her to be on Tsugumi's own level at this point is unreasonable. And also…
No, she isn't even going to get into that. One of the problems of being extremely intelligent and analytical. One can take apart one's own personality and behavior and see all the flaws and causes. And it doesn't usually paint a pretty picture.
'The important thing is that you didn't get hurt.'
Those words themselves hurt. As well as what Suzu imagines is an implied, unspoken 'this time' at the end. As much of a problem as it may be to be 'too smart', it's equally unfortunate to be as empathic as Suzu. Much like her mother, she's very sensitive, and keyed into the emotions of others, as well as herself. Unlike her mother, she doesn't have the same presence of mind to separate her emotions from her thoughts so… Definitively.
So her fingers curl and her hands clench as she looks down at the delicious-looking, and even more delicious-smelling omelette before her, that she knows from experience also tastes delicious. Her eyelids sink a bit to half-mast.
So she's still a disappointment.
"W-well… I was thinking… Maybe we could do some more intensive training so that I can do a better job next time. You still know Fire Ninjutsu that I don't, and you were able to use the Sharingan to cast Genjutsu… So… Maybe if I work really hard, I won't need you to protect me… As much."
Tsugumi is back at the stove, turning it off, cleaning the dishes in the sink as she steps towards it. She narrows her eyes, and her lips are pressed more tightly together. That was what she didn't want to think about. That she might not be able to protect her daughter any more. That's not acceptable to her. She very strongly feels that she MUST protect her for as long as she is able. She may have been convinced by her husband to allow this whole ninja thing to proceed… Even though the reason that Tsugumi and Ken had originally fought to establish the Hidden Leaf Village was to create a place where their daughter could grow up safe and sound.
"Of course I'll train you, Suzu. But you need someone to watch over you right now. Your Chakra control has improved but you have a long way to go. We should start by retraining you from the basics. If you seriously intend to continue being a ninja, you'll have to apply yourself a bit more to refinement."
Suzu's hands and shoulders are shaking. She doesn't even know why. No, that's wrong. She knows why. Because she's angry. Angry at her mother for holding her back, angry at herself for not living up to her mnother's expectations, angry at Arashi for living so far away, angry at the Villages for making them being together so complicated…
Her words are practically a whisper at first. "I'm never good enough for you, am I?"
Her voice raises a bit, as the kunoichi goes on to say, "No matter what I do, I'm just never ever going to be good enough for you." When she finally raises her head, there are tears in her eyes. "I try and I try! I do my best to become a good ninja, I train hard every day! I know I'm not skilled! I know I'm not experienced! I know I keep messing up! But I'm doing the best I can to grow up, and all you want is for me to remain a child!"
Tsugumi turns when she hears Suzu speak, that frown still on her face, but an eyebrow arched as well. When Suzu continues, getting more and more agitated, the older kunoichi says, "Suzu…"
But Suzu just keeps going, getting angrier and louder. And Tsugumi starts to approach her as the rant continues, putting aside the dish washing rag on the counter as she goes. As she gets closer, and Suzu's volume continues to increase, she says more strongly, "Suzuha!"
And when she's finally in range, she grabs her daughter and hugs her, and simply holds her. Her daughter has never yelled at her like this before. Never been so angry and upset that Tsugumi has ever seen. She just… Holds Suzu, and strokes her head. And then she says, "I'm sorry. I've been thinking too much of my own feelings, and not enough about yours. I want to protect you. And I'm going to continue doing so. But…"
She inhales deeply and lets the breath out as she lets go of Suzu and steps back a bit, one hand on the other woman's shoulders, the other wiping her tears away. "…I recognize you'll someday have to stand on your own. I only want to make sure that you can do that. If you're trying your best to change, then I'll have to try my best to change too. For both of us."
"How am I even supposed to know what it means to be an adult!? I've spent my whole life so far being shielded, and then when I don't know what I'm supposed to do as a grown-up, I'm criticized for acting like a little kid—!" she continues ranting right up until her mother hugs her, smotherin Suzu's face into her mom's apron-covered chest. She is surprised at first, but quickly relaxes, and just hugs back to try to calm herself.
She hears her mother's words. It's more than she had expected. She'd nearly given up on ever receiving understanding from her mother on this issue. She's known that Tsugumi didn't want her to be a ninja for a long time. And so no matter how much she tried to become a great ninja, she would be a disappointment for simply being one.
But apparently… She's not doomed to being in her mother's eyes. Was this all it took? To just be honest with her feelings? To stand up to her mother and explain what this treatment was doing to her?
Suzu lifts her head a bit so she can breathe, looking up at her mother from between those big boobs that Suzu herself is likely to develop in time. Suzu realizes… She really is an idiot. She should have tried being open and honest from the start.
As Tsugumi steps back, and Suzu takes in a shuddering breath, allowing her tears to be wiped away, she just nods, the trembles still running through her a little bit.
"Okay." she says in response. Then she nods her head a little bit and says, "Okay. We'll do our best together." She allows herself to smile a little. "From the start."
Maybe things aren't so bad. Maybe… If this is all it takes… All she has to do is tell Arashi how she feels too. The world of shinobi may be one of deception, of lies, of illusions. But they're all people. And communication between people is best carried out like this.
Yeah, who was she fooling? She'll talk to Arashi soon and tell him how she feels. And things will work out just fine.
Tsugumi squeezes Suzu's shoulder, and smiles at her, before turning her around and sitting her down in front of her plate. Leaning down behind her, and rubbing her daughter's shoulders with both hands as she whispers into her ear, Tsugumi says, "Not eat your breakfast. It's getting cold. And you'll need your energy for training."