Date: December 9, 2014
Kiyoshi's challenge leads to an unexpected results.
"From Shield to Sword"
Dammed Arena - Floor [Kirigakure]
At the foot of the great march of bones that dams this tall canyon of blue-gray granite, under the shadows of the stands: the Kirigakure arena. Rivulets of water still escape the base of the dam and dampen the gravely bed of the dry river. The length of the canyon is limited by a raised platform at the south end featuring the referee's post and a large display board announcing the details of the match.
Time after time metal crashes into metal, sending sparks flying at every exchange. There is hardly a pause between clashes, for to do so meant acknowleding the creeping weakness in one's body. No proud Kirigakure shinobi would willing accept that, though Kiyoshi did his best to make his two opponents do so regardless. The duo have been trying to break past his defenses since the sun arose a few hours before with only a few knicked pieces of cloth and a destroyed gas mask as markers of their success. The same could not be said for Kiyoshi, but he was patient enough to wait for desperation to lead to a mistake.
He doesn't have to wait for long.
Dirt is shaken free, metal clashes one last time, edges of a coat flutter in the air for a few moments, and then… the fight is over as first blood is drawn from each from a single spinning stroke and two oversized cleavers. "Yield?" He asks without sounding as breathless as he felt after the last exchange. The downed Touketsu pair — both male and several years old then the appearant teen — give each other a lingering look before grudgingly nod their ascent. Meters seperated them from the 'boy', but both were well aware how little distance mattered to him. Kiyoshi lets out an exhale of relief, and starts towards the closest one with the intent to help him up. Neither he or his partner accept his help, eliciting a more drawn out sigh as soon as they were out of immediate earshot. "So, issuing challenge bad. Fighting looking like my real age worse." The teen muttered off-handily as he fished out another mask. "I wonder if any more are going to show up today.."
Kiji had been up in the stands far enough away — and down wind — so that she would not distract Kiyoshi's training. She stayed down and watching, eyes purple as she viewed his exchange. She could sense his chakra, ccould tell he wasn't really going all out on the two opponents. The part that had caught her attention when she'd entered the arena was Kiyoshi's henge. He looked like the old Kiyoshi, well.. the younger one from the past. It was like a blast and she had sat there staring for a long moment as emotions raged within her. Seeing him in his 'real' age made her remember how old he really was and she felt her chest tighten in a sense that she wanted to protect him. She was still technicly older than him but he was always the stronger…
A sigh escaaped her lips as she watched that final blow. The two opponents did not like being beaten by a kid apparently… As they wandered off she moved up onto the wall of the stands and kind of spider-walked her way down the side of it to the arena, eyes a faint purple. She couldn't help sneaking up on him… She flicked her erist and threw a shuriken at his feet. If he didn't see it comming it would miss him just barely…
The familiar sound of wind parting from a flying blade puts Kiyoshi right back on edge. Rather than meet the blade with one of his own or even trying to evade pre-emptively, the 'boy' turns about to face the source, skin — what little there is visible — bleaching to bone white as he moved. The shuriken may wind up closer as a result, but still fall short as intended, if only just. Confused, the teen peers back and forth between Kiji and the shuriken before his eyes fully registers her.
"Kiji-chan!" Without a moments hesitation, Kiyoshi drops the blades and rushes to meet the Shimizu half way, scooping her up into a hug and swing her about. For once, the feeling of truly flying would accompany such an act. Nor after would she have to crane her head up just to meet his gaze. Not… that the mask helped either.
"What are you doing here?" He asks, his tone matching his youthful exuberance better for once.
Kiji watched him move, ready for a fight and then his expression shifted and he looked at her oddly. Shortly after whe suddenly found herself flying and she let out a bit of a squeak then laughed, hugging him back. He was certainly in a good mood. It was odd to see him in this form but she considered for a moment, reaching up to touch where she saw his face. She could probably see through the deception if she tried hard enough but it was interesting this way. So she felt for his cheek carefully, half expecting to feel his chest instead. But either way she let ehr hand drop a bit and she smiled for him. "You seemed like you wanted a bigger challenge. I'm not exactly weak." She grinned.
The mask hid his discomfort well, but the same couldn't be said for the rest of his body. For a lengthy moment, Kiyoshi says or does little more than stare at Kiji before finally nodding in agreement. Fighting random challengers was all well and good, but to fight someone closer could yield better results. At least, that is what he told himself in any case. But still…
"I do, and… I know. But are you sure you up for this?" He asks warily despite already knowing the answer.
Kiji watched him, though the mask hid most of his expression. She knew he would hesitate to fight her, but she wanted to learn more about him. Sparring was a good way to learn about people.. Or so it seemed to Kiji. She stood on her own two feet and leaned up to place a kiss on Kiyoshi's mask. "Of course I'm up for it." And they both knew she could survive almost anything.
She pulled her chakra about her like a cloak as she backed up slowly, eyes closed, hands outspread like wings.. Smoothly she dropped into an almost neglegent stance, her eyes opening to show that faint yellow and the orange ring about her eyes that showed up everytime she entered combat. Whether caused by adrenaline or chakra or both was unknown, but it was there and it made her look like a wild animal, the cub of a great cat still unsure of it's own skin. Blood pierced her wrists, punching itself out of her skin and coiiling up her arms like bloody vines….
Kiyoshi felt himself flush fromt he kiss, and had to force himself to maintain the henge. The strain of combat was one thing, but a surprise like that was something else altogether. "Mm… al-alright." And with that, he began to back away as well until he stood next to a halberd whose blade was buried in the ground. From the moment his nearest hand gripped the blade, his chakra began to build up rapidly. Potent, primal energy that blew away what little mist surrounded his immediate position. It is more than he cared to summon against the touketsu, as Kiji knew all to well from observing earlier.
It is proof he did not intend to underestimate her…
"Ladies first." He says calmly before yanking the blade free and brandishing it expertly.
Yellow eyes tracked Kiyoshi's movements. She could practicly feel the chakra he built up even without the visual clue from the fog about him. His hand touched his halberd, pulled it free of the earth and Kijilifted a hand, flicking her wrist as if dismissing a fly. From the blood coiled about her wrist shards emerged and suddenly spit at Kiyoshi. Guided by chakra, the blood needles suddenly split apart and came at him from separate directions. It was just one set and it was a test to see how she measured up to him. She fully expected him to avoid or simply block the attack. Though a small part of her wondered if he could take the scent of her blood in these quanities… The last time she'd let this much blood he had been the one to draw it from her…. She knew he carried more scars from that than she did and she hoped she could help him work through it…
Even without being able to embrace the smell of her blood, the sight of it still excites and twists the Kirryu's heart, dashing whatever hopes he had on removing the threat. The internal conflict made him hesitant to act, or even plan for that matter; so, he turned to impulse. Even then, following the thought to rush forward does not end well. A few bloody missles slip past his spining guard, dispelling the henge forcefully. Knowing his situation to be already dire, Kiyoshi — a titan now in place of the kid — bursts out of the cloud of his dispelled jutsu and closes the distances even more rapidly than before.
His strikes are many, fast, and relentless, but anyone with combat experience can see the slight hesitance with every strike, as well as the fact his targets were her legs and arms. His only saving grace is the fact that his strikes would bruise instead of cut, reducing points of attacks he had to worry about. Mostly.
Kiji had watched his reaction closely. The fact she'd landed a hit on him and forcefully dispelled his henge spoke of his hesitation. He'd been upset enough or bothered by the blood enough to let a few of her needles to sink into his skin. She herself had to focus so that she didn't simply heal him automaticly. Still, she could sense her blood in his veins and tracked it to his heart, feeling the pace of the beating.
HHe charged forward, out of that cloud and straight at her with his halberd. He struck at her with hesitation… The first strike landed against an arm and the clone dispelled in a puff of smoke. His two following strikes were aimed at her extremities, she saw it and knew this wasn't what he needed if he needed a spar. So 'she' moved into the strike rather than away and even though he used the blunt end of his weapon it sunk into her 'chest' with ease…… Her bright eyes remained on him and showed no pain or reaction, but taunted him for a split second with her gaze. He could do better and she knew it.
Then the henge faded, her shape formed by blood which was why the staff sunk into her, and then it dispelled, splitting into two clouds of mist one to Kiyoshi's left one to his right. Shards formed and flew, diverting so she had him effectively surrounded, her strikes would come from four directions at once….
But where was Kiji herself? The clone dispelled and attacked, so he might or might not notice her standing off to the side, watching with an unreadable expression, eyes bright gold.
In an instance, Kiyoshi found himself transported back to the past. His hands no longer gripped a halberd, but instead, one of them was covered in blood and gore after having been ran through Kiji. Fear, Sadness, Anger, Resentment — They swam in his eyes, swarmed his heart, dragging him deep into despair. 'Never Again' he promised himself, and now…
The taunt almost doesn't register to him, nor the fact her features blended together before dispersing into a pair of low hanging clouds. By the time it does it is far too late to harden his heart and mount a proper defense. What shards he cannot disperse by spinning his weapon either find purchase in his skin or splatter against ivory. Neither of which he react to in either disgust or pain. Kiyoshi just stands there staring ahead, absently slowing his twirling weapon rotation until it reaches a standstill.
For a long moment, the man does no more but stand there frozen, his hands having at some point fallen to the wayside. Then, his grip on the weapon tighten. "Gomen.." His hood is pulled back, and mask undone. The latter of which is cast aside as he turned about to face Kiji. His expression is all but unreadable. Apprehension and anticipation are the only things truly clear in his eyes.
Meanwhile, Kiyoshi's body works over time to purge the invaders and reseal the wounds, leaving no physical memory by the time their work is done except what was atop his skin.
Kiji saw that blank look on his face when he was transported back. Easily understood what he was seeing. She had worried that he would be affected by it, had needed to test him. If they were to fight alongside one another she had to know if he could handlle it. Though it was a little different than watching another shinobi strike her, she had still felt the need to test it.
His movements, his slowing weapon… He gave her an opening that she should have taken advantage of, but she simply remained where she was, watching, observing. He was still wounded inside from hurting her oh so long ago. She hated that. In fact it was because she did not want to see him in pain that she had not really had much reaction to the whole impaling incident. She had not reacted negatively or shown fear to Kiyoshi even the next day. Part of that reason was because she knew she'd shared the guilt. The other part was that she had not wanted him to bear the pain of seeing her upset or hurt by it.
He had shown concern for her when she'd purposefully severed her own hamstring too in the fight aginst the hitokage. He had always been strangely tender with her. For a moment she wondered why that was… When she was masquerading as a guy she'd positively annoyed him… Though that might have had soemthing to do with her habit of hengeing into Meruin….
Finally his eyes turned to look at her and Kiji was caught in her own thoughts enough that Kiyoshi saw an extremely rare expression on her face… Pain. It couldn't be physical, she had no wounds…. His appology brought her back to a more neutral expression. "Are you alright?" She was prepared to defend herself if need be, but she'd possibly pushed him too far and she wanted to give him an out.
His grip tightens further at her words; but after a few short seconds, it relaxes once more. "I'm… not being a very good sparring partner." He says, side-stepping the out. "Its not right… disrespectful even." He shakes head weakly, lightly touseling mossy strands. "It wasn't intended, or deserved, and I hope you can forgive me." Kiyoshi adds before bowing fully at the waist.
He holds this position for a brief few moments before straightening out again and smile apologetically. "I need…. I would like to continue this spar. This is.. difficult, but I know its necessary; especially if someday we wind up paired up together alone for a mission." A half-truth, but the truth all the same. In the field his protective instincts were a potential liability. And while he hated the thought of dampening or losing it altogether, it was preferable over seeing his friends dead or captured because he couldn't truly trust them to handle what they were trained to.
Her eyes hooded for a moment and she frowned when he appologised. He didn't need to do that, not to her. But if it made him feel better. She bowed back and dropped back a half step, a sort of hesitant crouch, arms held down at her sides, fingers splayed. She flexed the mucles in her bared arms and the coils of blood unraveled from around them, falling like twin whips to the ground. She paused there like that, bent and preparing, coiling the energy inside her she leapt forward, one flung out before her.
Seemingly of it's own will the whip lifted and struck out, trying to coil about him, trying to pin his arms and stop his utsu. It was a weak hold, but one that bought her enough time to strike out with the other whip. Her movements were efficient but it was clear she had yet to find her full grace with her weapons. Her mind was also on Kiyoshi and his difficulties.
She had not reacted to his words really. he'd sidestepped the way out and had chosen his path. She did not want to lose him to pain /or/ bad emotional judgements in the field. So she struck, hoping he could focus enough to avoid her this time.
He had flinched upon seeing her bow in return, but shrugged off the surprisingly unnerving sight of it as best as he could. It isn't enough. While he does manage to deflect and even tangle the first whip with his spear — if only momentarily — he cannot shift fast enough to keep the other lash from biting him. The pain was either negligible or unfelt, because Kiyoshi continues the charge he started since losing his weapon, arms crossed before his face to keep his face guarded.
Though eyes stay glued on Kiji through a gap in his guard, the man doesn't throw away insight into his surroundings. An assortment of weapons were cast about the arena. He needed only recall just where. Until then, he buys time by fighting back. First by opening up with a full frontal kick to the gut with as much force as he can manage. Then, he rushes forward and tries to grab Kiji by the face and shove her into the ground. Throughout it all, Kiyoshi tries to bury his emotions and remove the heistance from his actions, replacing it instead with brutal efficiency. His success or close succession is the only thing to make him hesitant again…
Kiji saw the charge, saw the look in his eyes. He was trying, that was certain. That was all she could ask of him really. Taking a step backwards, she seemed to bring up her own arms, crossed in a mirror of his charging guard to block the blow aimed at her face but poofed into smoke when both strikes seemed to land. Kiji herself was once more to Kiyoshi's side. She kept circling though, to the left, watching him closely, showing no fear, showing no taunts. She paused then spun backwards, comming back around with a taijutsu style motion which ended in her striking air with her palm. But from her palm came a shower of blood needles, aimed straight for his chest. She gave him little time to react and no time to worry about hurting her. Perhaps she would hurt him if he did not fight back.
Kiyoshi lets out a low, frustrated growl after missing the second time, and whips about to lock on Kiji again. His growing agitation may have increased his response time, but to rely on it was a dangerous game to play. To the best of his abilities, Kiyoshi quelled the emotion and tried to focus intently on her next move. Seeing her motions throws him off for a second, but Kiyoshi manages throw himself to the side, evading the blood needles. She is persistant it however. Though his actions carried him close enough to a Katana as intended, it was hardly a shield or a weapon he turly mastered. Needle after needle either finds metal or flesh. By the time the barrage stops, Kiyoshi is left panting lightly from the exercise and bleeding. The blade remains in hand as well, and held defensively in a unfortunately weak grip until his body could purge the needles that found his arm.
The low sound of frustration from him made her lips flicker in a small smile. It was exciting that she was holding her own against him, though that might turn easily enough. Still, she watched him grab up the katana. Her blood flowed in his veins and she half closed her eyes for a moment, feeling it, sensing his pulse, his adrenaline ratio. It was a curious feeling.
She could also sense the regeneration, the advancement of his healing thanks to that 'other' within him and for a second her chakra flared. She backpedaled physically, but her eyes were dulled by concentration as she increased Kiyoshi's regeneration even faster, healing at a rate when combined that would have left a medic shocked. She paused then, and blinked several times, tilting her head a bit as she considered how that had felt. Her blood and chakra was within him.. but so was that other presence… It was a unique sensattion…. Enough to make her eyes turn royal purple even in combat.
The corner of Kiyoshi's lips tilt upward towards a smile upon seeing Kiji's own. He greatly disliked losing, but it was difficult to hold on to ill feelings with her being happy. Then, he felt something. He knew her blood had mingled with his own, and had been expecting some sort of an attack from that route. Perhaps not a violent one, but definetly something distracting at least. And indeed there was a distracting element to her healing his body from the inside out, though far more unappreciated than what he expected.
His eyes narrow and hardened, and would've remained that way had he not been thrown off by her reaction. "Kiji?" A confused yet still wary Kiyoshi asks. Moments later, he jolts at a voice in the back of his head. Kokuo's presence would become even more appearant to Kiji, though there's no hostility one would normally associate with his chakra. "I am not a pervert." He grumbles back tersely after his gaze cuts to the right of him.
The suprise on his face she'd expected. What kind of spar paued to heal mere scratches and bruises? But his attention on her had caught her in that strange sensation and she blushed faintly. The hardening of his eyes made her snap back to reality. Now she was the one losing track of reality…. She blinked severarl times when he spoke her name, questioning. and she shook her head as if to clear it. But she could still feel that second chakra resonating within him.
She started forward, then, trying to foocus on the fight again, when he spoke again and looked aside. His words were barely heard but they caused her to skid to a stop with the most oddly innocent and curious expression on her face. She even tilted her head like a puppy. Her whips dropped to her sides and her head tilted the other way, eyes bright purple ringed in orange. She pushed forward with her chakra, opening her senses more and brushing the edgeof her reach and his 'other'.
She had not thought about the thing inside of Kiyoshi as more than an instinct, a second power source. But she'd spied on that Medic and Kazumi enough to recognize a second personality sometimes communicated with the host. She opened her mouth.. hesitated.. backed up a step… "It talks to you?"
All it takes is one glance over to Kiji to make Kiyoshi grow nervous again. Did she hear what he said? He hoped not, but not knowing for sure made him relunctant to meet her gaze again. The more Kiji tried to draw closer to the 'other', the more it seems to try and shrink away from sight. Then, the question is asked. Following a pulse of chakra in his chest, Kiyoshi flinches as if struck by something. "He, Kiji-chan… Being referred to as it doesn't sit well with him. A lot of things don't actually." Kiyoshi says with a roll of his eyes. Another pulse follows the action, though this one Kiyoshi was braced for.
"Is.. something the matter, Kiji?" Kiyoshi asks warily after belatedly noting the back step.
She wasn't afraid of him again… was she?
Kiji blushed. Of course the other would have a designation. She bowed her head. "Sorry. I did n't mean it like that…" She pulled back from her mental iinspection of the Other and shook out her arms, loosening the tension in her arms. His question, the hesitation.. She flashed him a smile and shook her head. "Nothing's wrong, Kiyoshi. I just.. well I can sense.. him… because my blood is inside yours. It was distracting."
There was no fear in her voice or eyes, she honestly just had not been gifted with information abotu the bijuu even after feeling the chakra before. She hadn't asked and no one had felt the need to nform her. So she'd made the mistake of calling him 'it'. The backstep had been a measure to keep her from faceplanting. Nothing more.
With a signal she flicked her wrists again and moved forward, trying to catch Kiyoshi in her blood coil again, following it with a slightly less predictable attack. The coil, whether it caught him or not would suddenly be spiked and burst outward with needles. She was versital if nothing else.
Kiyoshi's shoulders sag with relief. "Mm.. I understand." He says with a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. It falters slightly from the rumbling he felt from the 'other', but Kiyoshi otherwise pays the beast and its actions no further mind. At least, that was his intent until the 'gentle' nudge goaded him into muttering something under breath. Whatever it is he said is inaudible, but Kiji may feel what chakra enriched blood that's floating around in the Kirryu's body begin to become swallowed up by Kokuo's chakra. For the time being, its actions seem benign, though his intent is far from clear.
Kiyoshi in the meantime is forced to act. He holds his ground long enough to feel out the whips position and cut it down, only to be nearly captured off guard when the needles burst forth from its severed ends. A hasty retreat and desperate deflection with his blade spares Kiyoshi, but also pushed him back further than intended. Kiyoshi grimaces as the knowledge settles in, but adapts by flinging a shuriken at Kiji. Hardly a distraction, but nevertheless his only option until he could get within sword striking range. Lingering protective instincts still assault the "teen's" senses, but his actions are less controlled by them. A one-armed stroke aimed for her arm is followed by another attempt at grabbing Kiji and pinning her to the ground.
Kiji felt Kokuo's chakra begin to basicly devour hers and she tlted her head curiously. It was only a small part of her thoughts but it was there nonetheless. Was the beast trying to give her a message? Perhaps it liked the 'taste' of her blood's chakra. Wouldn't be the first time… She wondered for just a moment, until Kiyoshi threw the shuriken at her and there was suddenly three of her. One took the shuriken and puffed out of existence, the other two split, trying to divide his attention. But Kiyoshi was lucky enough to catch the real Kiji by the face. She felt her feet sweep out from under her and she landed with a hollow thud and a cough, but no blood. She'd only been momentarily stunned by the blow. Golden eyes opened, peering up through Kiyoshi's fingers, meeting his gaze with a mixture of excitement and strategy. Shhe didn't move her body, but her whips positioned themselves on either side of Kiyoshi. The bad part about physically taking her down was it gave her proximity to use the whips. With a hint of orange in her eyes, the whips sprouted spikes and wavered, waiting to see just what Kiyoshi or the Other would do now that he'd gotten her down.
Dark brown eyes regarded their golden counterparts with similiar excitement. Their owner may have wanted to deny it before, but having finally brought down his prey, it was hard to ignore the rush that came with it. Still, there is conflict within his gaze as well. His blade was held in such a way that he could drive it through her head within seconds if she couldn't break free. A task through sheer physical effort would be next to impossible without some sort of miracle even with his stance as weakened as it was.
There were of course the whips as well. Without the gas mask on, the intoxicating scent was all too clear to the Kirryu and his other half. He knew from experience now just how fast the whips came move and alter their shape. And while he trusted his shapeshifting abilities, the possibility of a lucky strike couldn't be ignored either. After an extended moment of silent pondering, Kiyoshi cracks a toothy grin. "Tie?" He offers as he finally releases his hold on Kiji. For a brief moment before balled the same hand into a fist Kiji might catch the limbs trembling. Rather it is from the fear of death, or an attempt to restrain himself for one reason or another is difficult to glean from that. And while his expression appeared open, there's a slight tightness to it that reinforced the image of the Kirryu restraining himself, or at least remaining in conflict with something.
The excitement in Kiyoshi's eyes didn't get past Kiji's attention. Her face warmed slightly under his hand as she flushed. She wasn't blind to where that excitement could lead, from either of them let alone together. So as he grinned she collected herself. The whips reformed and coiled up her arms, no longer spiked. It had been kind of a stalemate. He could have put a blade in her head and he would have had aspike of blood through his spine. Slowly she nodded her consent to a tie.
The trembling hand wasn't lost on her either. She reached up and caught his fist in between both of her small hands and held onto it. The truth was she didn't exactly know why she'd done that, only that she wanted to sooth or calm the larger man. This hadn't exactly been a simple spar after all. They had edged around some issues that would no doubt come up again, but perhaps next time they would be more confident in their handling of it.
Still she held his fist lightly and looked up at his face, glad she could see all of it without the mask.