Date: September 22, 2016
Takeo and Hiei, exceptionally close for many years, resolve to become legal brothers. The letter is sent by the Raikage to the newly appointed head of the Yotsuki family, Nariko, for approval. Her rejection serves another dose of denied happiness to Takeo's life.
"Denied A Family"
Kumogakure - Administrative Hall - Head Diplomat's Office
The office of the Head Diplomat is medium-sized and very welcoming to visitors. While the room itself is utilitarian, there are aspects that reflect the welcoming environment such as pictures of Kumogakure's natural environment, such as the Raiun Falls. There are also bookshelves that house many books within their shelves and filing cabinets that hide behind the bookshelves in the farthest corner. In the middle of the room is a desk and chair made out of a dark wood to compliment the white walls. On the desk there is a variety of paperwork that is either done or getting ready to be done with a small pot of tea and a cup for the person sitting at the desk. In front of the desk are four chairs that are made of wood with cherry blossom pink cushions to sit on with flower detail on the backs. In the middle of the chairs is a small table that would allow for tea to be placed on it, and may even have a pot of tea with cups already there in order to serve others. In the middle of the table is a vase that has a variety of flowers that are native to the Land of Lightning.
Out - (O) [Raikage Administration Hall]
It was a few hours after lunch and settled back behind her desk in the diplomat's office was the newly appointed Yotsuki clan head known as Nariko. She had begun to conduct clan business a bit more now that she had returned to Kumogakure and was also balancing her job as Head Diplomat on top of that. A tray of tea sat on her desk, some steam rolling off the top as it sat there, being untouched. She seemed concentrated on some documents that were on her desk, one such document contiained a request from Hiei about Takeo. She had previously sent letters to both Hiei and Takeo to join her in her office. Outside her office sat a Yotsuki woman who would greet visitors and such for Nariko, so that they wouldn't just barge in without a word.
In recent days, Takeo-sennin has been seen about the administration hall, visiting his office to begin working his way down a mountain of paperwork concerning the conflict with the Storm Brigade. He's only recently been released from the hospital after his heroics in said war left him gravely wounded, but leave it to him to be up and about after facing death yet again. When the man peels open a letter with his claws concerning a meeting between himself, Hiei, and the Yotsuki clan head, he already knows what the subject is likely to be. What leaves him a bit surprised is when he enters, bandaged in certain locations even still, to find himself alone with Nariko.
"Am I early?" The Supreme General glances about before exhaling a sigh, scratching at the base of his neck with said claws. "Hiei, Hiei. After all this planning and talk, I hope he didn't decide to not come for this. It's kinda important to us both." Shaking his head once, he steps more fully into the office and closes the door behind himself, approaching the desk to incline his head politely, "Takeo-sennin, answering your summons. Congratulations on your promotion, by the by."
Nariko looks up when Takeo appears, her secretary not far behind. "Bloody Hell! Aska.." She lets out a sigh and shakes her head. "I'm sorry Nariko-sama, it won't happen again." Nariko nods and then waves the girl back out to her desk. She looks to Takeo, hands on her desk, leaning forward. "No, you are just in time. You have to understand that he is the Raikage and has a lot of business to attend to. So I guess he was unable to join us." She shakes her head. "Would you like some tea? It's from the Land of Tea." She offers him, pouring a cup, just in case he says yes. "Thank you. It is unfortunate that it had to happen the way it did though." A solemn look appearing just before she smiles and offers a chair. "Please have a seat. So, I recieved word from Hiei that you are interested in joining the Yotsuki clan. Is this correct?"
Takeo chuckles behind closed lips, enlarged canines bared as he smiles with his ensuing words. "No worries there. Hiei and I have known each other for about half of my many lives. I've a good understanding of how seriously he takes his duties. This is just one I … hadn't quite predicted he'd choose to skip. I'm sure he has his reasons."
Ordinarily, he wouldn't be so quick to accept, but Takeo's still stiff enough from his wounds to welcome an offered chair. "I ordinarily take it spiked," he says with a mild grin, "but it's from the Land of Tea. Can't pass that up. Thank you." The young man picks up the tea and blows a bit of steam away before having a sip, exhaling in pleased relief as the liquid passes between his fangs.
Takeo nods once, getting directly to it. "That's right. As I said, Hiei and I have known each other for a very long time. I asked him just recently if he'd be willing to take me as his legal brother. The answer was yes, pending the acceptance of the newly appointed clan head."
Nariko looks at Takeo as he takes the cup, adding that he normally prefers it spiked, with a raised brow. She shakes it off and then nods as he understands that Hiei isn't here. "Yes, well, smoetimes his duties call him at the most important times. Thank you for your service in the battle against the Storm Brigade. I am glad that you were able to get out of the hospital." She did notice his bandages, but didn't feel appropriate in mentioning them. When he explains more about how he has known Hiei for some time and that he was willing to accept him as a brother, she slowly sits down in her chair, her hands going to her mouth, interlocking and seeming serious. "Well, I am very glad to see he is an accepting person. That much has been proven by this. And I know you have been making a ransition of sorts with you not being in Konoha any longer." She drops her hands. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, why should you be brought into the clan?" This was after all the first time she has met Takeo.
Takeo shakes his head once to Nariko, never seeming to notice her possible disapproval over the quip about his tea. "No need to thank me. I'm the Supreme General, and it wouldn't have been the first time I've died. If I can't give myself for this village, then I certainly don't deserve to lead its military." He listens as Nariko continues, eventually smiling by the end of the inquiry.
"I've lived in Kumogakure for years now. After I was exiled from Konohagakure, Hiei tracked me down personally in the wilderness and asked that I come to live here, with him. We were extremely close even then." He lowers the steaming cup from his mouth, closing his eyes for a moment in recollection or thought. "For once, I won't dance around the question with my unusual sense of humor. I'm being very serious, even if that's not always my style. The reason is quite simply because I do sincerely want to be Hiei's brother. With things having happened as they did over the years, I feel as though he and his son are the only real family I have in this world."
Pausing to take another sip from his tea, Takeo places the cup upon the desk and sinks back into his chair. "If necessary, I can wipe away any of several doubts. My ties with Konohagakure and my birth family are severed and have been since before I came here those years ago. In the case of my family, right down to the Kekkei Genkai. I still grow the claws and the fangs, but everything else was stripped biologically when I became Jinchuuriki. I've not heard from Konoha or the Inuzuka since exile, excepting incidental encounters or war efforts. These days, and as I've grown older, I've settled down here. I'm - and it still astonishes me - third in command of a Hidden Village. A sage. The fact is, though, it's not enough. You look around at a world of clans, of people with families, and you realize that you're now alone in it. You're just Takeo-sennin. Never liked that. When I thought of who I could still believe to be my family without doubt, Hiei was it. He's my brother, legally or not. I just hope to make it legal. The Yotsuki have nothing to fear from me, as Kumogakure's my home now. She's what I protect, and I don't shame any part of it."
Nariko looks to Takeo as he describes the history between him and Hiei and then listened to his feelings of Kumogakure. "Well, Hiei's actions are noble. I can tell you that much. Offering you a home in Kumogakure and to providing you the role of commander is comendable." She reached for her cup of tea and sipped from it, setting it down. "And while I understand the need to feel a part of something, from what it sounds like you already feel a part of something. If you already see him as a brother, that is commendable as well. He has shown you the true spirit of the Yotsuki in his actions." She lets out a sigh. "But if you're only looking for something to identify yourself as and add a name to you, you already have that. You are Takeo. You have a home and that is Kumogakure."
Shaking his head once, Takeo repeats himself. "I'm looking to make my perceived family my legal family. Hiei is my brother, and his son is like my own. I'd give my life for either of them. The same goes for any other Yotsuki, were I welcomed into the fold. I understand well what it means to belong to a clan, having been born to one and sat on it council of elders. There are serious considerations, obligations. I've come prepared to take on those things, just as I have so many other charges here. Family is what I want, not a convenient identity. I want a brother, I don't want people whispering that we're not /really/ brothers anymore. I want to be Shun's uncle, again, without the whispered exclusions. I want to be Yotsuki kin. The family's noble, and though I might be a bit rustic, I understand formality and I can /more/ than assure you that I've proven my adaptability."
Takeo takes up the cup again, speaking through the steam which wafts from it. "I want a family, and you have the chance to grant me that. To make my life here complete after years of belonging to this village. Hiei wants it, as well. The choice just has to be yours; he didn't want to make the declaration on his own power, and so he waited for a new clan head to be appointed."
Nariko shakes her head. "You also have to understand where I am coming from. I don't know you. I only know that you have come from Konoha on the fact that you were exiled, for what, that isn't really much of my business, and that you are the commander of the village. But, I cannot say yes to you joining the clan. While Hiei trusts you with his life and his son's, my nephew's life, I am not sure how the clan would react. I can see that you are brothers, and I will not stop you from being brothers in the relationship you have formed. Others, if you so wish to tell them, will respect that you are brothers." She takes a sip of her tea and then sets the cup back down. "You clearly already have the family you are looking for. And your belonging to this village should have no bearing on what your name is."
Takeo tips his head forward for a moment, smiling in silence as he seems to speak more to himself. "It's always this way. Get so close to what life's denied you, only to have it slip away," he comments. The man places his cup of tea upon the desk and looks up at Nariko, speaking flatly.
"Yes, I am Takeo-sennin of Kumogakure. No, it isn't enough," he states. "I've lived here for years now without an official family. At first, it didn't bother me. These days, it does. Don't get me wrong; I've lived and died and lived again to see some wonderful things. My life was even saved by a Bijuu of its own volition, such was our friendship before we were torn apart." He smiles at that thought, though it fades a bit as he continues, "That's all history, though. The past. In the present, you realize what you're missing. People acknowledge the closeness, but they don't acknowledge what we call each other. You realize each day that you're eating your meals alone, rather than with a family. You realize that you're hearing about their gatherings, but you're not a part of them. You see a boy - your nephew - as one of your own, but know that the Yotsuki are ever wary of that because you're an outsider. When the time finally comes that I do die for good, and I've no doubt that it will, I realize that no one will remember me. There'll be a funeral - already has been one, actually - and a generation or so might keep the memory alive. In time, though, your name will never grace the records of any family's halls. After all, by all legal rights, you remained alone in the world on someone else's decision. Those are the unfortunate facts, if you want the more brutal truth."
"You've said no. I'm not going to be a pest about it," Takeo says as he hoists himself up from his chair. "I'll wish you luck with your new appointment and your work here. Thanks for the time." He inclines his head slightly and turns about to take his hobbled leave, scratching at his right cheek with a claw. Nervous habit of his when he's internally upset, so some say.
Nariko looks at him and shakes her head. "No, not everybody notices this. And actually, I eat my meals alone quite often. If Hiei has told you, my parents do not live here, they live in the Land of Tea, which is farther away than Konoha. But I also attempt to make sure I'm not eating alone every day. And yes, Shun is of my own because he his literally, by blood my nephew." She stands up when he does. "And your name might not grace a clan hall, but it might grace the memorial hall that Kumogakure has created so as to make sure that everyone can still remember a person." As he leaves, she looks at him scratching his cheek. "It's not that I don't like you, it's that I don't know you. And I will be willing to help set you up a home within Kumogakure for your own if you need."
Takeo shakes his head again and lets it drop for a moment, chuckling softly. "No disrespect intended, but I feel like you're not hearing me. I've lived in Kumogakure for years. I was a Jounin here for years before I became Supreme General. I already /have/ a roof over my head," he says, "but a house is different from a family. You may enjoy eating your meals alone, but I prefer them with a family. I was raised in the environment of a close family, and that's something you come to miss. Again, I emphasize that I am /not/ new to this village. Why you know nothing of me, I don't know, but plenty of people can tell you plenty of things. Recent history can tell you about the battles I've fought, the times I've died, the times I've come back for the sake of the people I cared about. The funeral Kumogakure held when I drowned myself to save a girl who might've been my daughter, as she was used as bait for an ambush. The sacrifices I've made in my life; a youth spent as an early Chuunin, my entire life changed as a Jinchuuriki, life changed again as the master Jinchuuriki had his best friend ripped from his soul. Coming here to life in uncertainly, only to prove myself over the years and gain acceptance. Hiei's lasting brotherhood, the depth of his trust necessary to leave me with custody of this village if the worst should happen. You've missed out on a great deal."
Takeo looks back at Nariko with a mild smile. "If none of that satisfies your qualifications? If Hiei's sincerity and mine does not? If the devotion I've shown to those I consider my own across my lifetime does not? If the battles I've fought for the cause of the greater good does not? If this is the case, then I very much doubt that anything I could do could satisfy you. I'll deliver the bad news to Hiei. If you'll excuse me." He resumes his trip to the door.