Date: February 15, 2012
Itami's aggressive training approach brings Kazuhito's
weaknesses front and center, and he learns a little about Itami's own
"Learning to Climb"
Training Fields [Sunagakure]
This training area is an open field surrounded by large rock
formations that help keep the harsh winds of the desert from just
erasing it from existence. The field is actually divided into four
major areas. The main area is used by all ninja of Sunagakure
regardless of rank. There are many training posts, a few obstacle
courses as well as a number of sparring circles for everyone to use.
The other three areas are set up to better cater to the needs
of ninja of different ranks. They are all accessible by three paths
that snake through some of the rock formations and lead to them.
There's one set up for students, which is also used to test students
intending to graduate as Genin. Another area has been primarily set up
for Genin usage, even though some Chuunin can usually be seen there as
well and finally there's an area set up for anyone of with the rank of
Chuunin or higher.
All three of those specialized areas mimic the challenges
found in the general training area, except the challenges found in
them are customized for the appropriate ranks.
It's late today, 15 minutes past 9 o'clock and the night life is
beginning to get started. No one is here in these fields at this time,
making it perfect for one on one training. So, Itami has been waiting
here, covered up to beat the night chill as she'd called Kazuhito here
to work on something he expressed interest in. She sits still, legs
crossed on the ground meditating until he arrives so that she might
get some resistance in against the cold weather. Consider it her
personal training for now.
Kazuhito is wearing a grey overcoat he has donned many of the recent,
chilly days, and he is rubbing his hands together as he walks onto the
fields. He looks behind himself, surreptiously, checking if he is
being followed, but sees nothing beyond a few shadows that make him
pause and narrow his eyes. He is scanning the training fields for
Itami, and when he spots her, he smiles and strides quickly,
excitedly, towards her. After noting her meditation, however, he comes
to an abrupt stop, and waits quietly a few paces away.
"You don't have to wait for me. I've just been sitting here for the
most part. So, now that you're here we can get to work," Itami
remarked, hopping to her feet. "So, you wanted to learn tree walking,
yes?" She looked towards a wall that stretched into the sky. "You're
going to be using that wall and you're going to climb it. I expect you
to be able to reach the top in a few hours after we've worked on this.
Don't worry, you'll be able to because I won't allow you to come
down." She smiled impishly.
"I don't- a person's time alone with thier own mind is sacred. I
wouldn't disturb without permission," Kazuhito declares rather
seriously. He then looks up at the wall and blinks. "I- won't let me-
come down?" He blinks at then looks over at Itami. "But- I-" He looks
back at the wall, brow creasing. "In just a few hours? You're sure I
can- learn that quickly?"
Itami chuckles, "That may be true, but I'm here for you, not the other
way around. So, my time is your time," she began to walk over to the
wall and look up at it. "I am most certain that you'll learn that
quickly. You won't have a choice in the matter," she gestured him to
come closer to the wall so he could get a good look at it. "I'm going
to teach you the basics. I hated learning this kind of stuff, but it's
necessary for me to describe and…" She waved a hand lazily to stop
her from rambling. "Anyway…."
She folds her arms. "Alright! So, what makes tree walking so hard is
not the art of it, but trying to focus chakra properly to the feet.
It's because it's the furthest point of your body and therefore, the
hardest to focus toward properly. Also, in tree walking, you need the
right amount of chakra, it can't be too much or too little. Too much
and you'll be repelled from the surface, too little and you won't grip
it at all. Techniques that you can use to focus chakra properly is to
focus a high amount and work your way down until you find a decent
amount or try the same in reverse. Another way is to get a headstart
in running up the surface after you've focused. That'll give you the
practice of trying to utilize the move with quick movement."
"That makes sense." Kazuhito nods, looking at the wall thoughtfully.
He then frowns, looking up the length of the wall. "But if I try to
run up it, then… If I start but then I'm not focusing properly
won't- won't I fall?"
"Indeed you will, but as I said, you're going to learn this in a few
hours. I don't think you'll want to fall all that much while I'm
around. You might want to get started. I'll give you a grace period to
get comfortable because after that period is over, it's all training
from here on out," she sweeps her hand across the air for emphasis.
"So, focus to the feet, try to utilize the techniques I've told you
and then get started. I'm going to stand over here and watch your
Kazuhito looks over at Itami. He looks back over at the wall and then
nods. "If I- well then. That's alright, then, I guess. If I have to
fall to climb then… I have to fall." He nods and steps forward the
wall, as if trying to decide what to try first. Finally, he settles on
walking over to the wall. He leans forward, putting his left palm
against the wall to balance him for now. And then, he tries to put one
foot on the wall. He takes a few moments of contorting, trying various
positions, to get one foot flat against the wall while his other his
on the ground. Finally, he settles on turning his back against the
wall, left knee slightly bent, while his right foot rests flat against
the wall. And then, he closes his eyes, attempting to shut out
distractions while he focuses his chakra. And then-
He overshoots his target. Badly. There is a sudden woosh as his right
foot is repelled from the wall, sending him falling forward.
Instinctively, his good hand shoots out to brace his fall, but he
cries out as it hits the ground and crumbles, face down. He groans,
but stands up, shaking his hand out and grimacing in pain as he does
so. He looks over to Itami, bites his lip, and then, wordlessly, steps
back to the wall and tries again. The next time, the chakra is much
less, but it still pushes him away from the wall. "Ah-ah!" he cries
out, his left arm flailing- but this time, he keeps his balance,
manages to push himself backward, and catches himself harmlessly in
his starting position. He takes a pause to gather himself, already
panting from the fall and the effort.
"We all have to fall, yes. I've fallen, others have fallen. It's a
part of the process," Itami states. "Once you've fallen enough times,
you come to get used to it. This technique takes some time and
endurance. It's much the same for water walking," she explained.
"Falling will happen…" Her voice trailed off as she watched him fly
off the wall and onto the ground. She hummed and gave the event some
thought for a bit before asking, "Are you alright?" She didn't need
him breaking his good arm trying to perform all this.
Once it seems he's got a handle on himself, she paced back and forth,
keeping her eyes on him to watch his progress. He was going to get
this in no time. She was just waiting for a good time to launch into
training so that she could get him to learn this technique quickly.
"I'm- alright. I-" Kazuhito pauses his efforts to glance down at his
arm and to catch his breath. "It stings. But I didn't even sprain the
wrist or anything. And even if I do-" He sighs and shakes his head. "I
didn't- I didn't try seriously to learn this sooner because I was
afraid of just these things. But- that isn't- rational of me, is it?
It is not likely I'll hurt myself in any way that won't heal. Whereas
the skill is something- I'll have for the rest of my life. If I can
learn it. So the price is plainly outweighed." He nods, satisfied with
his own analysis. Even though his speech is still hesitant, his words
alone seem to betray a certain resolve that did not seem to be there
only a few short weeks ago.
Kazuhito closes his eye, shutting out the world, and trying again. He
is having no trouble maintaining his balance with the one foot now,
though it does keep bouncing off the wall slightly. But the bounces
get smaller and smaller until… They stop. He opens his eye and
blinks, looking back to his foot as if he doesn't trust his own
senses. He bites the inside of his lip, then starts to lean forward.
Eventually, he is leaning far enough forward that he couldn't possibly
balance without some adhesion. A smile breaks on his lips. "I've got
it!" he exclaims. But his excitement immediately betrays his focus,
the foot releases, and he falls forward again. This time, however, he
has the sense not try to brace his fall with just his hand, instead
holding his entire forearm out horizontonally. He still winces as he
hits the ground, though.
"Good. I'm glad you think of it that way. Once you learn it, you'll
never forget it," Itami nodded. "It's alright if you had some
hesitation in learning the skill. There are other students and genin I
met that were hesitant as well, but I got them to learn it quickly
enough…" She seems amused in her own tactics of getting them to
learn the skill.
Her pacing eventually comes to a stop, Kazuhito's excitement at
finally getting a foothold over the skill capturing her attention.
"Now, the fun begins. Try again. One more time…" At this point, she
begins a slow process of entering her highest transformation. She
doesn't want it to be immediately noticable about what she's going to
"The- fun?" Kazuhito repeats. He isn't sure he and Itami have exactly
the same idea about fun. However, he nods obidiently. "Yes,
Watanabe-sama." He puts his foot back against the wall. He gets it to
stick almost immediately this time, though his closed eyes and
constrained face gives away how much focus he needs to do so. He
starts to lean forward again to make sure there is actual adhesion,
and this time manages to hold it without losing his focus. "I- okay,
I'm- er- holding on."
"Excellent! Because now is the time you start walking…or running…"
Shortly after finishing the sentence, her skin scaled over and she
seemingly exploded in size as she took the form of a large lizard.
Shaking off the slightly exhaustive effects of the transformatio, she
zeroed in on Kazuhito and proceeded to charge at him while he was
standing on the wall.
"Ah! Watanabe-sama! What are you-!" Kazuhito doesn't try to protest
further. Instead, he tries to turn to run up the wall. But his feet
are not nimble enough to turn him upright, and he loses his footing.
This time, at least, he falls into a roll. And then, on the ground, he
looks back up and immediately starts to scramble. Not up the wall,
sadly. Instead, he breaks into a sprint to the left, along the wall,
eyes wide, trying to get out of the way of the charging beast. But the
beast is a rather large to try and simply avoid with his back to a
Itami doesn't take much note of the shout as she'd heard the same
thing in almost the same way everytime she did this. So, it's just one
more to add to the list. When she reaches the wall, she stops short of
slamming into it, kicking up a bit of dust as she pushes her feet into
the ground. Long skid marks are left behind in the earth, though they
were more like shallow furrows. Sneezing as the dust reaches her nose,
she shakes her head and blows a puff of air to clear the area so that
she could see where Kazuhito went. She'd lock on to him and make her
way onto the wall so that she could crawl after him.
Training? The wall? There's a killer lizard on that wall, and from
Kazuhito's piercing, undigified scream as the lizard skids to a halt
nearby, he's completely forgotten himself. His next action confirms.
Scrambling to keep his balance, he starts to sprint, at full speed…
Away from the wall.
Without seeing him anymore, Itami scanned the surroundings to see
where he went off to. She'd drop from the wall and land on the ground
to sniff around, flicking her tongue out every so often to see if she
could capture his scent.
Instead of heading for him over land, she dipped beneath the ground
and moved under the surface to cut him off.
Kazuhito glances back to see how close behind the killer lizard is…
And can't find it. Suddenly, his eyes are darting about, trying
desperately to find it. And when he can't, what does he do? Stops
short, spinning, obvious terror written on his face. He makes a
whimpering sound, entirely uncertain what to do next.
All is eerily silent, even the air seemed still. The earth began to
crumble and rise, the rocks scraping against one another before she
burst up from behind sending dirt and small rocks into the air. She
wasn't going to have him escape this area until she saw him climbing
that wall. So, to give him a head start, she lifted a hand into the
air and slammed it down on the ground beside him. It was time to get
Kazuhito screams. Again. But at least this time he turns and runs in
the right direction, sprinting towards the wall, though his eyes widen
as he looks at it, as if he had forgotten it was there. He rushes
toward the oncoming wall, and finally, makes an attempt at it, one
foot on the wall, two… But it is only his momentum that gets him
that far. As soon as his chakra kicks in, it does exactly the wrong
thing, pushing him away from the wall. The effect is much more
powerful than his first failure, and he is flung from the wall. This
time, he is unable to even brace himself against the fall, one limp
body slamming into the ground, twirling back up into the air, then
back onto the ground, and up again, and back down. He rolls on the
ground a good fifteen feet away from the wall before he grinds to a
stop, a column of dust perpendicular to the wall rising in his wake.
So far, they've been going at this close to an hour now and a bit of
progress has been made. He's now running in the right direction at
least, but his chakra is working against him a bit. Itami watched as
he was repelled from the wall and sent flipping against the ground.
Walking over toward him, she waited for the cloud to clear for things
to begin again. "You're not focusing clearly enough," she finally
spoke, though her voice was much deeper and layered with a soft growl.
"You already know what you have to do." Her tail whipped up in the air
and was on the way down ot the ground. She didn't seem to care if he
was knocked out or not at the moment.
To his credit, despite the beating of his own making he just took,
Kazuhito is, indeed, still concious. He looks up, his face twisted in
pain and fear… Fear that only deepens as he hears the deep voice and
feels the heat of her breath on him. He starts to scramble away, not
running now but instead crawling, facing Itami with his feet pushing
backwards. "P-pl-pl-please," he pleads. "I-I-I c-can't."
Itami's tail slammed down near him, kicking up another column of dust
higher than that which Kazuhito created in his fall. She didn't want
him getting away just yet. "Yes, you can. You need to be able to
focus, both walking and running. I haven't stricken you once. I've
been trying to get you to pay attention under duress. These are the
things ninja experience when on missions and they need to be able to
make tree walking second nature."
"But- I- I-" Kazuhito looks back at the wall, then the giant lizard of
Itami. "It- it- isn't-" he shuts his eyes. And then he starts to
scramble again. But this time, he is climbing to his feet, taking
another a run at the wall. He makes it up one step, then two, then, as
he tries to focus again. He is repelled from the wall again, but not
as forcefully, and this time he manages to get his feet under him,
skidding along the ground. He cries out in frustration, "What's the
point! I'm ju-ju-just a co-coward anyway! Even if I ge-ge-get to the
top, I'll ju-just be a coward who climbed a wall once."
The ridges that served as eyebrows on Itami's reptilian face were
drawn down at Kazuhito's words, making her countenance seem a bit
dark, though she hadn't any intentions of the same kind. She watched
him run up the wall and then fall back down to the ground, repelled by
his own chakra to meet with the ground once more, this time with more
control. She inhaled deeply and sighed the breath back out, trudging
forward to meet with him. "The fact that you're trying to tackle this
issue makes you the opposite of a coward," she remarked while taking
back her original form. She coughed a bit and shook off the effects
just as she did when she entered it, followed by a sigh. "Just
earlier, you told me the price of the fear is plainly outweighed with
the learning of this skill. "You said If I have to fall to climb then
you have to fall. "Almost two hours ago you shouted 'I've got it!'"
She looks at him now and says, "What is different now than it was
then? Don't you believe that you've done enough falling? Enough of
considering yourself a coward…thinking that you can't do anything?"
She asked. "These thoughts are what are causing you to fall. It's not
that you can't do it…you're just not allowing yourself to. You need
to let go of these feelings and replace them with thoughts of climbing
and I don't mean just climbing this wall, I mean climbing out of this
pit that you're in mentally."
"I-" Kazuhito looks back to Itami as he realizes her voice has changed
back to her usual. He looks back up to the wall and shakes his head.
"I- I-" He shakes his head, still plainly agitated, but he has come
down some from the visceral terror he displayed earlier. "But it's- we
were just… It was all- ideas, then. Back when- I thought I was-
getting somewhere. As soon as you changed I didn't- I just stopped
thinking. I didn't- I couldn't even- you had to remind me you weren't
trying to kill me! What am I su-supposed to do if- if- it's like you
said. A shinobi has to th-think clearly under stress. How am I-
whatever I learn, how am I supposed to ask anyone to count on me? If-
I- climb this wall right now, if I did it so often it was
second-nature… If I act like th-this when it matters, I've just
learned new ways to run away." He lets out a defeated sigh and hangs
"I suppose now is about the time I should tell my story…" Itami
smiles, albeit weakly as she plops down on the ground. "I…was born
into a family with three sisters, me being the fourth. At an early
age, I was separated from them and my mother and lived with my father.
In that time, I was a bit confused and scared, but I managed. I ended
up attending school, faced with people I'd never met. I tried to hide
my insecurities by being a complete idiot…it worked for a short
amount of time, but it all collapsed. I was left alone for my first
time in school because no one wanted to be around someone like me. I
was…just too stupid. It hurt me and my feelings resurfaced, but…as
I continued, found friends to be my support and passed school…" She
paused and chuckled, "Average, but I passed. It turns out that I had a
lot of potential, but I was too lazy to use it," she shrugged.
"Then more things happened… and I fell back into my old habits,
became even more foolish and even more wreckless. I'd lost someone I
was close to and at times, felt like I couldn't go on without this
person. Contemplated killing myself a few times. My dad suggested that
I should probably go and live with my mother and sisters. My behavior
improved, but not by much. There was tension there, mostly between my
mother and myself. After my staying time was up, I moved out of my
home and wandered around for the longest time, nothing to show for,
nothing to do. Alone, right back where I started…" She sighed and
fell back onto the ground. "I felt I needed to escape. If I stayed
there, my life was going to be forfeit some kind of way. I felt that
it was time to leave everything behind completely and come up here. I
found a new life and reformed myself, used the newly formed village to
train and build myself back up. I vowed that I didn't want people to
feel as insecure as I did…to suffer being lost and so many ups and
downs…" She looked up to Kazuhito, "I know how you feel. I was a
coward," she admitted.
"Too scared to face myself and my problems properly, but eventually I
did. I feel you can too."
Kazuhito blinks as Itami announces she is going to tell her story and
is too stunned as she begins to do anything but listen. He barely
moves for the entirety of the telling, and even after she finishes, he
runs a hand back through his hair, not at first finding words. "But-
you're so… Strong. And-" he bites the inside of his cheek. "I
suppose that's the point of the story. I just- thought." He sighs. "I
thought maybe- I was finally getting better. And I just didn't- I
think-" he looks back up at the wall. "You're right, of course. It's
the- mental- stuff. I need to climb out of. I just thought- once I
started climbing- it was only up from there. But it's- exactly like
the wall. Maybe I- I don't… I was so upset about falling back on my
worst instincts that I-" He casts his own weak smile at Itami. "I said
it earlier, though, didn't I? Falling is okay if you learn something
about climbing first."
And then, with that, he turns back to the wall. And once again, he
charges at it.
"I thought the same thing…I did. The whole time, I thought I was
getting better. Tricking myself into believing these lies I was
telling myself, but in reality, I was hurting myself faster than I
could repair the damage…" Itami stated as she rose up from the
ground to sit. "It was the mental stuff…as you said and as another
thing you've said, yes, you said it earlier. So, what are you going to
do?" At the end of the question, Kazuhito makes a run for the wall.
She watched him and then looked towards the top of the wall. She
expected to see him there before this hour finished and by this point,
it's half gone. Still, she believes he can do it. She said she was
going to get him to learn this in a few hours and that's exactly what
she expects to happen.
He lands two feet on the wall, before being lightly repelled. But he
lands on his feet this time, hops back a few extra steps to give him
more running room, and then makes another charge. Before he does,
though, he starts to answer Itami's question. "I'm not- going to
become- brave. In one night. But-" His voice raises as he starts to
run again, "I /am/ going to climb this wall tonight." He hits it
faster now, and makes it up a full three steps before bouncing off.
But he doesn't slow down now. Instead, he backs up, and charges again.
And again. And again. Six attempts becomes seven, becomes eight,
becomes nine. And frankly, he isn't getting more accurate with every
attempt. A bad, overconcentration of chakra will follow two close
efforts. On his fourteenth attempt, he even manages to undershoot his
target, slipping off the wall and landing on his back.
But even then, he doesn't pause, just scrambles off his back and tries
again. And then, in one attempt that starts just like so many others
he makes his fourth step, and his fifth, and in a flash he is halfway
up the wall. He clearly doesn't realize it has happened at first,
slowing down, eyes glancing around in confusion, and the change in
speed almost causes him to lose his balance. Then, there is only one
thing to do. He dashes to the top of the wall, comes to a sudden stop,
swaying dangerously as he tries to gain balance on the top of the
Once he's on top, he looks back to Itami, flashing a triumphant smile.
But the smile abruptly vanishes. "O-oh. Wow. It's- this is- really far
Itami watches each attempt at the wall, feeling the sink and rise of
each moment, every step up and equal falls down. But then, it
He ran up the wall.
And he continued until he reached the top, sitting above the training
fields and witnessing a decent view of Suna at the skyline. Just short
of three hours. Perfect. "So…how does it feel?!" She calls up to
him. Guess it's time to join him, so she runs at the wall and
continues until she's able to sit at the top with him.
"It's-" Kazuhito glances down again. "Well- good- except… I have to
get down sometime." But his grin returns as he looks over at Itami,
sitting down and hanging his legs over the wall. "But I guess I can
worry about that in a moment. Th-thank you. For being so patient with
me." He pauses, and then adds, "Watanabe-Sensei."
Itami laughed. "You're welcome. I was glad to help, Kazuhito. It's my
job." She looked down the wall. "So…you'd like help getting down,
yes? I can help you with that. Next time, you won't have to go as
high, though. Just so long as you know what to do. So, you can
practice making trips down at your own pace."
"Yes. Help getting- down- I think I'm already pretty bruised, but that
looks like- it would do a lot more damage than that." Kazuhito
concludes after taking another look at the distance. "And. Yes. Not so
far up. Until I get used to it. Might be smart."
"Well, I hope you don't mind me taking form again. I'm going to jump
down and I can take impacts better that way." Itami is able to change
more quickly this time and takes a lesser form. She didn't hesitate to
wrap her tail around Kazuhito firmly before taking a dive off the wall
in a wild shout.
"I. Oh- that's. Probably fine. I was just startled, before, and you
were charging at me… But wait," he asks as she starts to transform.
"How does that help me get down?" Followed swiftly by a tail wrapping
around him and his own shout of: "Ahhhhh!"