Flashback - The Way


Sami (as Serin), Taji

Date: September 29, 2010


Serin and Taji have a discussion on how to help the former become more like the latter. Serin has lived a life of bloodshed and never considered there might be a different way. Then he met a boy who had found that way… But can Taji help Serin find it too?

"Flashback - The Way"

Miati Forest - Land of Fire

It is now late afternoon or early evening. The sun is low in the sky. Serin is seated inside a large tree that has a hollowed out section in its trunk, for whatever reason. Presumably Taji is nearby. Serin has taken great pains to eliminate his tracks and Taji's both and now simply waits for the Genin to feel comfortable enough to speak his mind, now that they are concealed.
Much to talk about… Now they just have to figure out how to say it.

After a rather strained bit of silence, Taji breaks it by saying, "So… you said you were a monster. But… do you want to stay one? I… I think maybe you don't need to be one. I think maybe I can help you, and you can help me. If… you are willing to make some sacrafices." He says slowly, offering you a ray of hope it seems, "It is complicated. It would take time. But… do you want to do good? Change? Become…. better? Help people?" He asks as he fidgets a bit, unsure what to do with his hands or the like. He sits in the tree as well, hidden away. He could never have hidden his tracks so well as you did. The pair now effectively unfindable by normal means.

Serin stares blankly over Taji's shoulder as he remains crouched in the tree trunk, arms resting on his knees. Finally, he gives an answer. "I will do what is necessary, regardless of if I like it or not. But that does not answer your question. So I will say, 'No'. I do not wish to remain a monster. But I may HAVE to remain one just to be able to do what the 'good' people cannot. I may have to stay a villain in order to do the foul deeds that would strip others of their innocence… Others like you."
He turns his eyes on Taji finally, and says, "I can kill anyone. Strong man, weak man, woman, child, or old person. I have done it before. I will likely have to do so again. I take no pleasure in ending lives. But sometimes it is just… Something that has to happen." He breathes out through his nose briefly, and then says, "It was a mistake to linger here. You are in danger if you are found with me. You should help people the good way, with noble intentions and ethical means. You can be the shield of the innocent, protecting them from unseen foes, and from daggers in their backs… And I will be the sword of the innocent, striking where they cannot without losing their status of innocence."
He starts to rise to his feet. "That is how I will live the rest of my life, even if I am seen as evil for it. I will bear any shame, if I must. I will bear it proudly, if it will spare but one life from the horrors of war."

Taji frowns, looking worried, "You don't have to do that. You don't. I can hide you. Maybe…. And we can teach you how to be in balance. Maybe… maybe your mother was part of those who raised me. It is possible. Maybe I can teach you the way of them, how to live within yourself." He says as he stands too, trying to raise a hand to encourage you to stay, "Please, a few minutes more won't do much harm. Just… talk with me, please? There are many in the village who would be the sword. Too many already, if you ask me. But… if you are willing to be the shield, maybe… maybe you can learn to do that. I'm not saying it would be easy, it might be the hardest thing you ever tried to do, but… isn't it worth trying?" He asks, hope on his face, "You don't have to kill anyone, ever again. There are ways… ways to do things that don't cause death. I've seen it. My skills are less than theirs but I have learned a few of them and I'm learning more. No change comes easy but maybe if you shed who you are, and become someone new… you can do good and not have to suffer so much yourself?"

Serin finishes standing but does not go anywhere. He listens to Taji's attempts to convince him to… What exactly? What is he asking or suggesting? It is all well and good to say he can just shed his entire life like a winter coat, and remake himself as someone new. But just as Taji has admitted, it is not easy. And this would be an immense one. He does not even know where to begin. "If you are offering a way to help without harming, I would like to know the details first. Then I can judge whether it is feasible or not for me to make such a change and still keep the Land of Water — and other countries — out of another war. But if it is the difference between me suffering and another suffering, I prefer the former."

Taji takes a deep breath, "I… I have some scrolls, from my… teachers. I was able to leave with them. And while I have not understood all of them, it is possible, just… maybe possible we could change your appearance. Not temporarily or using Henge but… forever. And if we could do that, you could just become a wanderer. Someone no one knows. You could… you could come and apply to be a ninja of the land of fire even? And once there, we could work on you learning less destructive ways. You would be hidding in the open, as it were. No one would think to look for you there. You could just blend in. You'd have to fake your skill level, and other things like that, but… it could work, couldn't it?" He explains his plan, "You'd just vanish. You were hurt badly in that last fight. Maybe they'd just think you died from your wounds?" He suggests as he studies Serin's form, "It wouldn't require anyone to suffer, other than me as I studied to learn the needed techinques. It'd take me some time but I'm already getting close, I think." He adds, trying to make it sound like a good possiblity.

Serin stares at Taji. Most of the time, his voice and expression are utterly emotionless. Monotone and as cold as a dead man. Despite the words that follow this proposition of Taji's, the tone and expression remain the same. "Are you out of your mind." It doesn't even contain the same tone as a question. It's more like a statement of disbelief.
"You want me to… Change myself physically into some other form? Permanently? And you know for certain that there would be no complications, no sudden decrease in capabilities? You know that Konohagakure would just accept me as some ninja wandering in to join them without a background of any kind? And what if they did find out who I really was? I could not return to my original life and form. I would be trapped in the life of a stranger."
He continues on for about 15 minutes listing logical reason after reason why this is a bad idea, and carefully deconstructs Taji's proposal in a way that makes it seem like a totally idiotic thing to have ever said. And then he pauses in the middle of something about a decrease in combat capabilities due to unfamiliarity with a new body being a potentially lethal side-effect if fighting becomes necessary, in order to take a deep breath and sigh, long and loud. "I wonder how much longer I should continue pretending I'm rejecting your offer. Another five minutes maybe?" Then he shakes his head.
"No, I have wasted enough time already. If you can discover these techniques of yours, I will permit them to be performed upon me. I just want to know what to expect. Unlike Rainos, I do not intend to go blundering into a situation with partial data. I want to know EXACTLY what to prepare for."

As Serin rants and raves and goes on about all the flaws, Taji just stands there. He seems unsure how to respond. When Serin speaks of possible complications, Taji can only nod worriedly. When Serin goes on about possible decrease in capabilities, Taji again nods, worriedly. When Serin speaks of trying to join with minimal background, Taji can only shrug, "They let me in…" He mutters, but doesn't out right say it is impossible that it would be challenged. After going on, Taji finally looks a bit crest fallen, only to be rather confused by Serin's switch at the end of it. Clearly he bought into the rejection, only to be snapped a bit by the switch.
"Well, It is tricky, but… apparently the point of them was to allow undercover operations or something. I don't know. The problem is the scrolls are locked, so I can't fully read the next one until I understand the previous one." He tries to explain, "I don't know what to expect, but… you… you'd be willing to at least try? Do you need to go and come back? Do you want to hide in the land of fire while I figure this out? I… I don't really know how to approach this." He admits, "And, you have to know that I've just told you a rather big secret about myself. I need you to keep it quiet. No one, not the Hokage, not my teachers, not my potential team leader, know I am studying medical ninjutsu." He eyes Serin, "You have to keep this quiet, we'll both be in trouble if it leaks out, I imagine. You can't leak who you are to anyone if we do this. Your old life will have to die, be gone. No whispering to someone who you really are. No trusting them later. It's hard. I've been doing that for almost two years now, but… it can be done. It takes self control and I think you have that, right?" Taji asks, still a bit nervously, "So what do we do? I think the first step in your new life is giving up on revenge, don't you?" He asks, watching for Serin's reaction to this new suggestion, "Revenge is part of your old path, the new path needs you to be willing to let go. To forgive and move on, because anger and vengence only leads to more of the same. I'm not saying forget, just give up on vengence." He blinks then thinks, "Your sword may be a problem too. I don't know how we could hide /that/. Even if I change what you look like completely, how do we hide your sword?" He asks, as he tries to think of a solution.

Serin thinks about it and then says, "Otomegami is my weapon. Most of my skills are impossible without it. To lose it would cripple me more surely than any change of bodily structure. Perhaps there is a way to keep it hidden… Or to change its appearance as well. But I will not abandon it until I am certain I have no more use for it. As for revenge… I already gave up that goal. That is a selfish objective. Instead, I merely wish to kill Kaguya Mitsuo so that he will not harm others, rather than because I believe it will soothe my wounds somehow." He looks up at the sky. Somehow it has begun to grow dark. Have they been here that long?
"I have some business to finish with Uchiha Rainos. I will return to the Land of Fire, and this spot, in one week. If it is safe for me to show myself, I want you to stand here and wait. I will join you when I am sure you were not followed. If it is NOT safe, then you should start a fire nearby somewhere. A campfire. That will indicate quite clearly to any pursuers that you are not trying to hide anything, due to how obvious you will be… And will also signal to me to stay away."

Taji nods slowly, "Okay. If… if you could, see if you can figure out any way to change the appearance of your weapon, something to hide it but not destroy it or harm it. I'm sure there must be a way. And I will study the scrolls. I can't promise I'll be ready for you in a week, but I'll have a better idea of what is possible I think. One way or another, we will figure this out." He pauses then thinks, and says, "Your idea is good, the meeting. We'll meet here in a week, and see what you've found and I've found. You go do what you need to do, and I'll do what I need to do, and… when we meet we'll talk about things of the future." He gives a hopeful smile, "If this works, you won't have to be a monster, and you can still do good." He points out as he glances up at the sky. "I should head back, it's a long trip and people might miss me." He admits, "So be careful, and I'll do the same. Right?" He says as he slips out of the tree, giving a backwards glance and wave to Serin asn he heads out into the dark.

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