Date: March 1, 2013
Suki finally recovers, but before they get to training, Rinako explains what has happened since she's been asleep and what the mission now entails!
"Sand and Knives - Dangerous"
Ishibari, Land of Wind
The hotel room they were staying in was rather plain and just a tad small for the price it cost. But then, it was also just one wing of an entire suite of rooms that the merchant princes had rented for their business duration. It had been incredibly spacious when there had only been four of them. Now there were twelve people in all, six Chuunin, three genin, Rinako herself, and the two merchant princes. And all their attendents and workers in adjoining rooms on the floor who were responsible for putting their plans for factories into practice.
There were voices in the room with Suki, talking quietly so as not to purposefully waken the girl. "There are enemy shinobi after these men. Yes." Rinako replies. The other voice murmurs something. "Yes. If there was an entire team of rogue shinobi, we can bet that whoever hired them on for the job knows where to find more. We can't discount the possibility that more could come at any moment. Keep your teams on high alert, twelve-hour shifts. One team in the room at all times, the other watching the village entrances. Use the genin as go-betweens. If you see anything strange, protect the clients first, but report in as quickly as possible. Don't take chances."
The soft speaking is likely enough to wake a light sleeper. Especially one that has been asleep for long enough for backup to have arrived! Rinako had taken Suki and her clients back to the hotel right after the fight, then sent a carrier-pigeon back to Sunagakure for assistance. Suki herself was seen to by physicians, who did what they could for a girl in pain: sedating her and using moist bandages for the worst of it. But Suki had healed with a speed that only Rinako could have forseen.
Now it was just up to the girl to wake up, she surmised, looking back at the tiny sleeping form in the pallet in the middle of the room. Rinako's bare feet whisper across the floor as she kneels by the bedside and brushes some of Suki's hair aside. She'd managed to call up the Two-Tails already. She'd hoped to have more time before that had happened. More time to prepare her, to warn her.
"But we don't always get what we want."
And now she'd have another influence fighting her for control of the girl. One that was with her at all times when Rinako herself couldn't be. One that would say and do anything to be free, to be let out of its child-shaped prison.
Suki has been asleep, but she hasn't been dreaming. She usually remembers SOME of her dreams… Even if it's just for a few moments after waking up. This time, she could tell she had no dreams. Just fragments of memory. Moments of being cared for, and the events leading up to needing to be cared for to begin with. And then her purple-red eyes open, and blinks them repeatedly before turning her gaze to the side. She felt a hand petting her head, running through her blue-black hair… The blue she inherited from her mother, much like her eyes. But the semi-black tone that darkens the blue, her small stature, and various other elements are taken from her father.
She looks up at Rinako, and for a moment, with her blurred vision, she thinks she sees someone else. "…Mother?" she asks. But then a hand is raised to rub at her eyes and she realizes, no. This is not her mother. Her mother wasn't as tan, did not wear her hair in a ponytail. As her vision clears it becomes evident this is Rinako. Suki tries to sit up, wincing a little bit from residual soreness, feeling slightly weak, but in far better condition than directly after that transformation.
Even as she sits there in a white undershirt, looking around blearily and putting things together gradually, she is listening in her own head. Listening for a voice. But there's nothing. No whispers, no crackling flames. Then she focuses on Rinako again. If the Jounin has been talking all this time while Suki sat patiently, calmly waking up and gathering her senses, the girl has not interrupted. But at some point, she can't hold back anymore. Her eyes start to scrunch up, her mouth turning down, lips twisting, chin quivering, and then as tears start to spill down her cheeks, she attempts to lunge forward and wrap her arms around Rinako and hug her.
"I… I th-thought you died!" Suki gets out as she cries. "I'm s-so glad you are okay, Sifu Rinako! So, so glad!"
The hug was a little unexpected, as Rinako hadn't even bought Suki anything this time! She stiffens for a moment in surprise, and then her features soften into a gentle smile and she runs her fingers through the younger girl's hair as she's hugged, Suki's face buried in her torso and arms wrapped around her. "I know you did, Suki-chan. I am sorry for that, but it was important the enemy believed I died, as well. It was a four-man team and three of them were lying in wait to attack from hidden positions. They had to be taken out or they would have attacked while I was dealing with the man you fought."
She rubs the girl's back. "I had to trust that you would be able to take care of yourself and the clients while I dealt with them, and you did very well, Suki-chan. I'm so proud of you. But I have to beg your forgiveness. For putting so much on your shoulders. Forgive me…"
"…for relying on you so much."
Leaning back a bit, Rinako gentle takes the young jinchuuriki's shoulders and tries to pry her away enough to put a finger under the girl's chin and lift her eyes up. "I will never let anyone hurt you. That is my promise. No matter what your eyes see, remember that." And then the smile lessens. "You have been asleep for a long time now. There are things you need to be brought up to speed on. I know you have only just recovered, but you are a shinobi and I need you to be strong. There is much we must do."
"Our mission… has become much more difficult. And it will require sacrifices from you."
Suki stops crying reasonably quickly, her little body heaving with tiny sobs and hiccoughs. Rinako comforting her makes her feel better, but Suki still doesn't stop hugging the tall, tan, powerful, wise, pretty, and oh-so-important woman that she has only known for a relatively short time. She doesn't want to let go. She doesn't understand how Rinako could possibly be relying on her. She's so weak, and plain, and timid, and useless. She couldn't do anything without that 'Two-Tails' lending her power. What can she possibly do that her teacher can't?
She is pried away and does not resist, instead allowing herself to be moved — her gaze directed. She looks up at Rinako and listens. Then she simply wipes her eyes with the backs of her hands and asks, "Of course, Sifu Rinako. What do you want for me to do?" She certainly hopes it is not a sacrifice in the ritual sense. Though she is calm, determined, serious, obedient on the outside, in her head she is picturing a sort of 'thought bubble' of an altar with a goat tied to it, and herself holding a kunai above her head with both hands, with a face all T_T as the goat just keeps bleating at her.
That thought bubble pops, thankfully. "…I do not have to kill a goat do I, Sifu Rinako?" she asks unhappily.
"Hmmmmm…" Rinako cups her chin and looks up, as if she were eyeing her own thought-bubble for several long moments. Finally, she drops her hand, looks back down at the dark-haired girl, and shakes her head with a small smile. She reaches up and ruffles the younger girl's long hair. "Nope! At least not this time. No, this time," She stops 'hair ruffling' and keeps her hand on the genin's head to make sure she's looking directly at her. "I may need you to do more violence. I know you hate it. But just as I promise to protect you, being a shinobi means you now have to promise to protect our clients and your team mates."
She lowers her hand from Suki's head and reaches for her wrists, holding up Suki's hands in front of her, palms facing the younger girl. "You may not believe it yet, but with these hands you have the power to shape lives. Will you keep them to yourself out of fear, or use them to fight for peace? Remember: a shinobi makes violence so that others will never have to know it. The enemies we will face in the next few days, they will not spare us just because we mean them no harm. They will kill us if they can, then they will kill others. And they will laugh while they do it."
Rinako releases the younger girl's wrist and stands, turning towards the window and steps away from the girl to allow her to finally get out of her bed. "I have upgraded our mission to B-Rank, possibly A-Rank. We are now fighting enemy shinobi. They will use any trick possible to eliminate us, because getting rid of us means nothing will stop them from getting our clients." She looks over her shoulder. "So I have summoned help. We now have three full squads of shinobi here, including you. I am assigning you to work with two other genin. The three of you will support me while the Chuunin squads maintain vigilance. Our job will be to find these culprits and stop them."
She turns away from the window to grin at the jinchuuriki. "Our lives aren't very fair, are they? This is our burden. Will you help me, Suki-chan?"
Suki frowns. She thinks she understands a bit better now what Rinako means. But she still does not think violence is the answer. There is ALWAYS another way. That is what the monks taught her. Taking a life is not the solution to one's problems. She wants to just keep the thought she is having to herself. To stay quiet like she always been taught to. To not talk back. But Rinako's presence does not abide it. She has to be honest. So she quietly says, "How can I be a hero — a 'shaper of lives', and all the other things you just said — if all I am doing is using power to run around killing anyone I do not like? I understand, Sifu Rinako!" She looks up from her hands, clenching them into fists as she looks Rinako in the eye.
"I understand that there are bad people we will have to face, and I know that sometimes fighting is necessary. I understand that some of these people are so bad that the world would be better off without them! But they are human, aren't they? They were once children too. They learned to be what they are now. They were TAUGHT this. They were once innocent, naive, and wanted to be friends with everyone… Just like me. How can I be bettre than them if I do not give them a chance? Don't they deserve that chance?"
She looks down and away after that, having exhausted her determination for now. "Besides… I do not have any power except what the Two-Tails lets me borrow. She let me have some to protect me and the clients and so I wouldn't hurt. When I didn't need it anymore, she took it back. It's her who is strong. Her and you. I can't beat anyone without her. So… I HAVE to try to work things out without killing people. And even if I had the power, I don't want to become like the people I'm fighting." Then she just goes limp and looks down in shame. "I'm sorry, Sifu Rinako. I know I'm weak." Then her head comes up quickly and she says frantically, "I know you have had to kill, but I know you are not like them! You hate fightin and killing… So as strong as you are… Why can't you just… Stop?" Then she's looking down again. "And why must I start? How can we hope to change the world if we use the same methods as the people who are making it so awful…?"
"I know, Suki." Rinako says softly, turning from the window to lean against the sill and fold her arms. "I never wanted to kill. If my enemy surrenders, or quits the field, I will not slay them. But you must also understand: killing someone who has attacked you is not the same as attacking with the intent to murder." The former jinchuuriki licks her lips and glances off to the side as she tries to think of a better way to explain it. "I've told you my shinobi way is to protect, right? Well others seek only the ending of life as their way to live."
"The choice… is not ours to make. I will end a life when FORCED to do so. When the enemy will not stop, will not yield, see reason, or stop trying to hurt those I have sworn to protect. When they make the choice that it will be either me or them, then they have sealed their fate. You cannot hold yourself responsible for the actions of others. In war, the agressor sets the rules."
"The world is not idyllic. It is not a friendly place. Someday you will learn that fighting to protect something you love, something you believe in… is not the same thing as just fighting. Taking lives to save lives is not the same thing as killing."
Moving away from the window, Rinako's bare feet *tup-tup-tup* across the floor until she's kneeling down in front of Suki again. "Not wanting to fight doesn't make you weak. I can't stop because there are still people who are so very strong out there, people who are filled with hate, people who will hurt the ones I have come to love. If I stopped fighting and lost what I hold most dear to me, will I have made the right choice? Every soldier fights for the day they will no longer have to fight."
A wry smile pulls at her lips, almost melancholic. "I know that day will never come for me. I have taken on too much. I seek to defend too many people, to protect them from those who would harm them. I can never stop fighting, Suki-chan. I can never stop because with MY two hands… I will protect all the people of this world. I will take all the violence onto myself, I will fight all the bad people, every evil and injustice, because SOMEONE has to. And I will do it so that others do not. My life is not my own, it is devoted to the safety of others."
"That is MY sacrifice. That is what I give up in being a shinobi. I was not always strong. I was once a scared little girl with a powerful monster trapped inside of me. I grew and I learned. And then I lost the monster within me. I was attacked and the thing I was sworn to protect, had come to rely on as the source of all my strength was yanked away from me. But I have discovered that I am no weaker without it. My friends, my sister, taught me that. Relying on the thing within me made me weaker, not stronger. It became a crutch I did not think I could do without."
She reaches out to grab Suki's hand. "You HAVE strength, Suki-chan. I will show you. Believe in me, and I will make you believe in yourself. I will teach you what strength is, I promise. I will teach you to be strong enough to force change into this world. Because peace is worth fighting for. If you want a world in which people do not have to kill, then you are going to have to fight for it. If you want the world to be at peace, then fight the ones who make war. Make them see the error of their ways. They won't listen until you prove you're stronger than them. There is a time when words fail."
And then that cocky, wide grin comes back. "I won't ask you to kill. I'm only asking you to protect what is precious to you. The manner in which you do that will be up to you!"
Suki listens. She is done talking back. And Rinako is very persuasive in her own way. She must be the number one, knuckle-headed ninja of her Village to have such persuasive power with mere words! But Suki does not think that, because that would be mean. Instead, she just closes her eyes and waits as Rinako comes back over and takes her hands. She is silent for awhile after Rinako stops speaking. She just stays still, breathing steadily. Finally she speaks. "You can teach me how to do what I must? You can teach me how to become strong enough that everyone will have to listen and give my words real consideration?"
Then her Chakra starts to rise slightly, above the slightly-depleted level it was moment ago. Her skin almost seems to emanates faint indications of dark-blue. She opens her eyes and looks upon Rinako with determination in her little >:< face. However… Her right eye is yellow, and her left eye is green, and where there should be white, there is only black. Then Suki finishes what she has to say to Rinako, and there is a second voice echoing Suki's words.
"I am ready. I will find my own strength, but I will not ignore her anymore. She is part of me now. If I am going to give second chances to people considered monsters… I must start with the one inside of me. But I will learn, if you will teach me."
"I will teach you to create your own path to greatness, Suki-chan." Rinako pats the younger girl's hand. "That is all I ever offered in the first place. I might ask you to do things you don't like, but that just comes with taking orders, you know! In the end, what you want to do with those lessons, what you CHOOSE to do, can only ever be up to you."
But when the chakra that feels a little too familiar to the Councilwoman starts to emerge, those eyes changing color, the skin gaining a small tint to it, Rinako lets go of the hand as if it had burned her. For the first time, she looks… angry. Scowling, the dark-haired woman grabs the younger girl by the shoulders and shouts at her. "Stop it, Suki! I told you that she is DANGEROUS!"
"You can't just naively trust anyone that tells you something. Especially her! There is ALWAYS a price attached to anything you are given!" With a huff of anger, Rinako lets go of Suki and stands, walking away from her. She slides open the door with enough force to make an audible *chak*, turning just enough to motion for the younger girl to follow her. "Come with me. We are going to train now."
The Chakra that she was exhibiting fades away almost immediately when Rinako displays anger. The black, the yellow, and the green all drip from her eyes like tears. Her voice is her own again as she squeaks out, quieter than a whisper, "I'm sorry." Then she gets up and follows obediently after Rinako. She spoke out too much. She gave too much voice to her thoughts. She talked back to her elders. She was trying to find her own path, but it simply led her astray from the one she wanted to follow most. She has to follow Rinako's path. To protect too many people is not so terrible a thing, she thinks. More terrible is to not have the strength to protect any of them.
And she is now convinced, despite what Rinako said, that she has no such strength presently. None. She can not trust or listen to the Two-Tails, and all her training in ninja arts is so basic that, together with the martial arts of the monks that are meant for self-defense only, all she can do is run and hide. So she has no choice. She has to become like Rinako. That means doing all she is told, suppressing her own fears, her own doubts, and her own desires to give people second chances.
Because she is nobody, and thus she has no right to act as though it is her place to grant forgiveness. So she pads across the room, and only when she is in the doorway does she remember to find some pants first. She calls out an apology that she will have to delay joining Rinako outside, and then runs off to correct this, blushing furiously the entire time.