Date: November 11, 2011
Atsuro starts asking Taiki some questions about why Taiki is so quiet, and quickly learns that there's more to the genin than what meets the eye. Perhaps too much more…
WARNING: Contains foul language.
"Inuzuka plots within plots"
Team 10's training grounds
Taiki and Shinobu are currently in the team's training gound. Really, he can be found there much easier and more often than his own compound. Today he and Shinobu are once again playing a game, Shogi. And from the looks of it, Taiki's winning a pyric victory. Several scrolls are opened up around them, with Taiki reading silently while he waits for Shinobu to make his move.
And the end to this peaceful scene is sure to come soon, because Atsuro just walked in, with Taizen following shortly behind. It doesn't take long for him to spot Taiki and Shinobu playing shogi together. They're not inconspicuous, after all, and they're pretty easy for Atsuro to recognize simply by smell at this point. "Well, what do we have here?" he asks, walking up to the two of them. "A game of shogi. Well, I'm glad you're putting this training area to good use." He slowly turns his head from left to right, taking a meaningful look around the whole training area. He sits down on the grass nearby, leaning back on his hands, his legs loosely crossed. Taizen flops down beside him, landing with a 'whumpf' and the clatter of all the swords he's carrying around.
Shinobu makes his move, then barks at Taiki. "Damn 'Bu…. you are sure getting good at this game," he says as he sees the dog about to win. The moves are slow and deliberately thought out for each of them, as the momentum can switch back and forth at any time. The pair are so intent on the game they barely notice Atsuro enter, but when he does Taiki absently nods and says, "Strategy and intelligence are just as important as the body Atsuro'sens… Inuzuka sensei."
"Nyaha!" Atsuro throws his head back and gives a short laugh. "I guess you still don't know me very well, Taiki. I don't know if playing shogi would work that well, but I can appreciate any of my students trying to improve their tactical thinking. Of course, you just made a conscious effort to call me 'Inuzuka-sensei' which is more cold and distant than the usual 'Atsuro-sensei,' so I can only assume you're trying to keep me at arm's length. Which would imply that you actually /do/ know me well. I'm conflicted."
Taiki considers the board before performing an unorthodox move that, after a moment's second look, appears to have all but won the game for him. "You're in danger Shinobu," he says with a wide grin, his voice sounding happy for once. Then and only thing, while he waits for Shinobu to make his move does he speak. "I tend to keep just about everyone at a distance… sensei," he starts, splitting the naming convention down the middle. "Outside of my immediate family, I can count on one hand the number of people I trust. There are a few more I /want/ to trust, like you and my team, but… I'm not you sensei, it's not quite so easy for me to tell them to go to hell… especially since I've had to put up with it day in and day out for all my life. For one reason or another, I've always been bordering on disgraceful in the Elder's eyes. After a while, you become numb."
"Right, right," Atsuro says, nodding, "The high muckamucks have claimed you as one of your own, so now they expect you to be a perfect Inuzuka, astounding everyone with your perfect Tsuga. When I was young, like seven, I wanted them to treat me like that. Guess I was luckier for being ignored than I realized. You've never really told me though, what /is/ the worst thing they can do to you if you tell them to go to hell?" He shrugs. "Just a thought. Anyway, I noticed that you dodged my question, so don't think you're getting away with anything. You called me 'Atsuro-sensei' before, so it can't just be how you treat everyone. How come you changed it?"
Shinobu whines, indicating he's giving up the game. The ninken then looks up and barks at Taiki, as if prompting him. The Inuzuka responds with a sigh and a headshake as he looks at Atsuro. "That's what you've been meaning to ask me?" he asks, apparently seeing that the chuunin had been holding a question back. Finally he answers by saying, "It's not you, if that's what you want to know. No, the Elders got wind of my being informal with you without you asking, and then decided to take up the issue with me. If you want me to call you by a specific name, then /ask/." Taiki then looks over to Shinobu, who whimpers slightly, prompting Taiki to just say the next part. "Besides, sometimes I don't feel as if I'm wanted here…" He looks down at the ground again before saying, "It's probably a mis-conception on my part, especially after what happened on our last day off between Hitoshi'san, Uchiha'san, and myself. That was pointed out as a glaring mis-conception on my part… but sometimes I just feel as if there's this whole private code here I'm not supposed to know about. It's probably my fault."
Atsuro raises an eyebrow. "Meaning to ask you for… the past thirty seconds? Yeah, I guess so. It hasn't been keeping me up at night, but I've asked it before and you've never given me a proper answer." He leaves a meaningful pause. "You didn't just now either, by the way. Anyway, call me whatever you want. By the sounds of it, the elders probably would have prevented you from even being on my team if they could. I guess they don't have control over /every/ area of their little kingdom." He seems to relish that last sentence. "I don't know what you mean though," he says bluntly, "If it's because I insult you, that's just because I'm a dick. Nothing to worry about. I don't know what happened between the three of you though. But I seriously doubt either of them want you out of the picture." He shrugs. "It seems like they like you well enough to me."
Now Taiki looks confused. "Then perhaps I'm missing the question Atsuro'sensei? Because I could have sworn I did. Or is the question you're after about what the Elder's could do to me? If that's the question you're trying to get answered, then the answer is… to me, probably not much more than they do now. I'm already held up as an example of what /not/ to do as a member of the Founder's Clan. I spent my childhood focusing more on the ninken than on codes and politics, I put far too much emphasis on ninjutsu for even a Founder's Clan member, and I am not trying to actively lead the rest of the genin in my team. Not much more they can look down on me for now, is there? But…" Taiki says, holding up a hand for a moment, "As we've already told you, my Pops is the brother to the Founder Clan Heir. Mom and Pops both hold very important positions within our over-all clan. If I don't at least give the Elders /some/ token due… they take it out on Mom and Pops, making it quite clear /why/ they're doing it. I love my parents very much, Atsuro'sensei. To know they are losing respect, or even ability to do their jobs because of me is something that I'm not prepared to withstand."
"That's better," Atsuro says, nodding with approval when Taiki switches back to addressing him by his given name. "If they're actually going to get their panties in a twist over something as pathetic as that, you're probably never going to please them. So that's got me thinking. You're obviously doing okay with the worst they can do to /you/ now. So if the only problem is your parents… granted, I don't know a lot about good parents, but don't you think they'll be willing to take some crap from a bunch of self-important assholes if it makes life easier for you. They only have power over you if you give it to them."
Taiki is silent for a good minute and a half as he puts the pieces back on the board in preparation for another game of Shogi. After that minute and a half he says, "They've said that to me before, Atsuro'sensei. But I guess I'm like most kids with good parents, I don't want to cause them trouble, y'know?" he says as he looks up at Atsuro. "Pops especially says that as long as I'm happy with what I'm doing, and can manage to stay out of the hospital, then he's heppy. Even being in the hospital doesn't make him any less proud, y'know? But they don't know the worst threats the old dinosaurs use against me. Though I'm sure if they even did they'd say to do as I would anyway. They believe in me, and in my dream. They're convinced that someday I'll make those old fossils eat their words. I agree, so long as I can keep them off of my back long enough to do it."
Atsuro lets loose a deep, guttural sigh. "Has anyone ever told you that you're your own worst enemy, Taiki? I'm dead serious. Your dad will obviously be happier if they sling all the crap they have at /him/ rather than you. So, why don't you just tell him what these 'worst threats' are, and let him decide for himself if he can handle it? He's a grown-ass man, and you're… I dunno, five?" He frowns. "By the way, are you calling them dinosaurs because I did? I think Shinobu used that word too… but not before me."
Taiki snarls and growls at Atsuro's question. "I didn't think you'd mind, Atsuro'sensei. It's safer than calling them sheep humping, bone-creaking, dull toothed, sons of mangy, flee-bitten jackals like I want to," he snaps. Taiki glances at Shinobu as the dog barks loudly in laughter. "It's gotten to be a habit, okay? I've taken the bs for so freak'n long that its easier for me to maneuver in what little room they give me than to stand up and fight them. Besides, it's not as if I have a whole lot of people in /my/ corner. My parents do what they can, but they're only two people, along with their partners. I don't want a "physical lesson" that they're bound to give me if I tell them how I really feel."
"I dunno," Atsuro says, "I just wanted you to give me credit or something. Anyway, if you calling me 'Atsuro-sensei' somehow got out and caused a horrible stir, I don't think it matters if you call them dinosaurs or… sheep humpers or whatever that whole thing was. How did it get out, anyway? You've called me that in front of, like, four people? And something tells me Berii didn't leak it out because she's getting kickbacks from the elders." He pauses. "Well, now I'm confused. Your parents have been helping you through all this, but they're the ones… okay physical lesson is kinda cute, but let's just call it what it is. Who is it that's beating you?"
"It's nothing, Atsuro'sensei. Do not get involved in that," Taiki immediately answers to the question about beating. "It hasn't happened in quite some time, and the trail is /long/ cold." Something in Taiki's voice rumbles as he says this while his arms cross his chest. It's rather clear it will take another beating to get that information out of him. "And as far as how what I called you got out? It's simple, I'm watched. The watchers are good, I'm never able to detect them, and they're not /always/ there. But especially right now, that I'm on a new team with… pardon the expression, it's not my words, "The Bastard Brat," an Uchiha, and a "piece of clanless trash,"" he says, using his fingers in quotation marks on each insulting phrase, "I am expected to be a "true Inuzuka." I wonder if they smell what they're shovelling sometimes, and I'm probably digging my grave talking to you about this now, but the way I see it, I'm caught between a rock and a hard place with dull claws and no way to dig myself out. If I'm going to get punished, I might as well get punished for something I actually did."
"Bastard brat is the best they could come up with?" Atsuro asks, "Well, that /is/ an insult, but not for the reasons they were hoping. Ah well, I guess I'll just have to keep at it." He crosses his fingers and holds them up for Taiki to see, waggling his eyebrows sardonically. "Someday. And maybe someday you'll stop being so complacent about this whole pile of shit. What are the worse threats you were talking about, and why haven't you told your parents about them? Seriously, we've been talking in circles. Or rather, you've been making me talk in circles with you."
Taiki growls and says, "My life is /lived/ in circles, Atsuro'sensei. I've said too damn much already, I'd better hope one of my watchers isn't watching me right now," he says, looking around as he sniffs the air. "Nothing, but that don't mean a damned thing. As far as the worse threats? That's not something I'm prepared to go into detail about. Do you think I /like/ being like this? Do you think I /like/ having to watch my back? No, I don't. But I'm not going to put my parents in d… I'm not going to make my parents lives any harder than they have to be. I'll deal with it, /my own way/." Again Taiki shuts down the question here, or tries to. His eyes still are looking around, and Shinobu has all but disappeared.
At last, Atsuro simply throws up his hands. "Fine, whatever. I'm going to keep trying to help you, because that's what I'm supposed to do, and hey, I kinda like you, but I think I'm finished with this for today. You know, a couple of days ago I had the worst hangover of my life? I think the headache I got from this conversation is somehow worse. Congratulations. Go back to your shogi." He lifts off of his hands and flops back into the grass, using an arm to cover his eyes.
Taiki really can't go back to the game because his partner is absent. Taiki noticed him leave, but as he was busy both answering and not answering Atsuro he really didn't have a chance to say anything. "I would but Shinobu…" Whatever Taiki was about to say was cut off by two very vicious-sounding growls. One is obviously Shinobu's, but the other is not, nor is it of any dog Atsuro would know. But Taiki is up in a flash, drawing out his kunai and heading for the source of the growling as quickly as his feet can carry him. "DAMNIT!" he cries as the sound of a canine battle can be heard.
"Wha?" It seems that Atsuro had actually come to the very edge of sleep before this interruptoin. He and Taizen both jump to their feet. Taizen immediately twists his head back to his jacket containing the many swords he carries around, then grabs two ninjato in his mouth and gives them to Atsuro. "What is it?" Atsuro asks, unsheathing the swords as he starts following Taiki to the fight, Taizen not far behind.
By the time Taiki reaches the fight area, the battle is all but over. Shinobu apparently was the stronger and more adept dog, for he was merely scratched on one side with a shallow cut while the other, dog about two inches taller at the shoulder (Shinobu coming up to the bottom of Taiki's hip), heavily wounded and practically bleeding out from throat damage. Taiki doesn't waste any time, but the look in his eyes shows he rocognizes the dog. A swift stab with the kunai into the heavily wounded dog's heart causes the dog to breath its last breath. "Damn it…" Taiki says as he turns toward Shinobu. "You okay boy?" Taiki's worried, very much, and not just about Shinobu. But he appears to have forgotten that Atsuro and Taizen are even here.
"What's all this?" Atsuro asks, "I'm guessing that wasn't just some random dog who just happened to wander in." He retraces his steps and grabs the sheathes for his swords. "If it was, talk about unlucky," he adds, putting the ninjato away, one by one, then handing each to Taizen, who sticks them back in his vest. "Doesn't smell like anyone I know, though. Should we take Shinobu to a vet?"
Taiki looks back to Atsuro and says, "A watcher." That's all he says as he starts bandaging Shinobu up. "It will have to be a vet not connected with the Inuzuka. If one of them find out Shinobu was injured, it could get mentioned to the wrong set of ears." Once Taiki has the wrappings secured, he feels around the now dead dog's collar, pulling out a miniature seal. "I don't know what the hell to make out of this, but I'll keep it just in case. Shinobu, go over to Atsuro'san please?" Once the ninken is out of the way, Taiki places a total of 3 explosive notes on the dog. One on the head, one on the chest, and one on its lower hips. He then walks out toward Atsuro and holds out the slip of paper. "Want to find someone who can tell us what the heck this is? I have a good idea, but I'm not a seal expert."
"That's easy enough," Atsuro says with a shrug, "I was hoping the watchers would be humans though. Much easier to justify killing them. If I suspect they were spying on Konoha ninja in a training session, an extrajudicial execution is a perfectly acceptable response. More complicated with dogs, legally." He eyes the explosive notes. "Daaaamn, you don't screw around. Poor bastard's gonna be cremated." He looks down at the seal. "I don't know anyone who can help us with that, but I have a feeling we'd better find out quickly. If it's for tracking or something, it could be trouble. Of course, there are trustworthy witnesses saying it was self-defense, so we should be able to get them to back down quickly enough if they try to make something of it."
"Damn right I don't screw around. Not when family's involved." A single hand seal and a spike of chakra later, and there's nothing left of the dog but minutiae and blood, and not much of that. Taiki sighs and looks to Shinobu, who seems to be holding fine. "If they can't identify what the hell it was, they can't charge me with jack. It's a training incident. If it weren't for the fact that the dogs are /sent/ out I'd take Shinobu to an Inuzuka vet. Still… I'm sorry I had to kill it, but if that seal is a recording seal, then he had far too much evidence against me. That's why I tried to warn you to stay out of this Atsuro'sensei. This is my mess." He holds his hand out, palm up and hand open, obviously asking for the paper seal back.
"Didn't know you were so hardcore," says Atsuro, handing Taiki the seal back. "Remember, find out what that is fast. Like, today if you can. If the wrong person catches you with that, you're really in for it. Anyway, I'll stay out of it for now, but remember what I said. Your parents. And we're in a village now. Konoha above the clans and all that. If the village leadership steps in, they could catch hell for this crap." He pauses. "I'll see if I can find someone who knows about seals, but you'd better get a move on too. Try shops that have scrolls and tags, they'll either have someone there who's familiar with them, or they know somebody who is."
Taiki looks at Atsuro and says, "I'm down, but not out." It's a simple statement really. Thing is, he can't find a way out without very unsuitable risks. He pockets the seal and bends over to clean everything up, sealing it away in a storage scroll. Once that's done he picks up Shinobu carefully and holds him so as to not aggravate the injury. This looks decidedly odd given that Shinobu is about half the size of Taiki. "First a vet, and thank Kami I know one, then a seals place. I trust I don't need to say don't spread this around if at all possible. I know an Uchiha or two that knows someone. I get along fairly well with them." He looks down at his dog and then looks back at Atsuro. "I'll see you around Atsuro'sensei." With that he jumps off, heading out of the training grounds.