Date: January 6, 2012
A mourner in a graveyard meets a ghost from the past… But it's not the ghost she was expecting, and the ghost isn't quite a ghost yet herself.
Village Graveyard - Konohagakure
It is a cold January night. Well, technically. The sun is going to be rising in just a couple of hours. The sky is dominated by a bright moon, and the thousands of pinpricks of light which make up the night sky.
The graveyard is somber at the best of times. In the midst of a cold winter night, it is almost scary. Made even more so by the presence of a rather tall young woman in the middle of it. Yaku has returned to the village, and in her typical direct fashion, has made her way right to the grave of the man whose death has hung over her like a pall for so many months.
She's laid flowers on the grave; white chrysanthemums that she'd gathered on the way here. The Senju, oddly enough for one of her clan, does not look happy. She is very much depressed, her shoulders still heavy with the burden. She'd hoped she'd set it down along the way; now she knows she may never do that.
"Stupid Otoke." She mutters to herself. "Why'd you have to go make me the responsible one, eh? You know I'm terrible at it. One last bit of revenge. Tch. Typical. You always did have to have the last laugh."
The last anyone knew, at around the time that the Pylon of Efficacy that Kirigakure wielded to destroy its enemies was finally destroyed itself, a handfull of some of the most renowned and/or infamous individuals on both sides of the war went missing and were presumed dead. The final assault had obliterated the so-called 'miracle weapon' of one of the Seven Ninja Swordsman of the Hidden Mist, Samominoryuu Kei. But the massive explosion seemed to have taken a toll of its own. The Yamanaka Clan Head, Yamanaka Mimi, and the Uchiha Clan Head, Uchiha Fuyu, along with three of the Seven Swordsmen, had seemingly vanished without a trace. Perhaps their bodies were incinerated by the massive beam of energy that tore open the heavens like a lightning bolt that rose from the earth to the sky, instead of the opposite.
No one knows. However, it has been over a month since then. Time heals many things, but hearts are not one of them. The pain of memories may fade, but the pain of loss clings with the tenacity of some sort of wretched demon with barbed hooks in place of fingers. The demon called 'misery' rarely will release one of its victims and never without a fight. It just hangs there, like a living cloak of blackened, oily skin… A cloak that digs those claws in and TWISTS them throughout one's life, turning otherwise happy moments into echoes of longing for how much BETTER that happiness would be if the one who has been lost… Had never been lost at all.
The graveyard, lit by the sickly illumination of the corpse moon's pitted face, has no visitors at this time of night, save for Senju Yaku. But then a silhouette of someone or something that had previously appeared to be merely part of the overall shadow of a mossy boulder a distance away shifts its position. Some dead leaves crackle under the weight of this other person who has apparently been here for quite some time. It has been long enough, infact, that it is loosely covered in dead leaves that have fallen from nearby trees while it remained immobile.
The leaves fall away gradually as the hunched figure shifts again, giving a wet, harsh, painful-sounding cough and beginning to rise. The skittering of dry foliage across fabric, flesh, and stone, might produce the mental image in some people of many spiders scrambling and crawling over each other… Creepy. But it's not spiders that rise to a somewhat off-balance standing position. The outline becomes more visible as the moonlight falls upon it, instead of the shadow of the trees. Another few coughs are let loose, before a pair of eyes that glow red in the darkness appear in the silhouette's face. The baleful glare of the Sharingan is turned upon Yaku, as some of the moonlight falls upon half of a powder-white face, with the subtle indications of structure and curvature that only women possess in their features. Black hair drapes down on the right side, where the moonlight shines upon, while the left side of the woman's face is masked by those same, rather dissheveled, curtain of ebony.
Eventually, Fuyu says hoarsely, "Children shouldn't be out so late unsupervised."
Then she begins coughing again, turning her head away holding up a hand to her mouth to catch the blood that is releases in flecks from damaged lungs.
Yaku's head turns when she becomes aware of the arrival of the other woman. Her part in the war had been relatively small; she'd left the village, unable to bear the weight of her own sorrow into battle. She had, however, heard many rumors on her journey. She'd seen the rising column of light (it being, rather hard to miss such things), and she had heard that the Uchiha clan head had died. Well. If such a thing was to come to pass, it was come to pass. Yaku is a firm believer in fate, and unfortunately, that has just made it more difficult to try to reconcile what has happened with the designs of benevolent spirits.
The young woman tenses despite herself. She'd seen the Sharingan used before, of course. Such power demands respect, and the Senju's bright eyes are snared by the scarlet of Fuyu's own. Under the circumstances, there is only one thing that she can do. Yaku had sought to honor Otoke's memory, after all, and she knew one thing which tended to get respect from the Uchiha.
Turning away, so that there is no chance Fuyu might conceive of it as an attack, Yaku angles her head upwards, and performs a familiar set of hand seals.
"Katon: Goukakyuu no Jutsu!"
The roiling ball of brilliant flame scorches up over the graveyard, briefly illuminating the world below in orange and yellow.
The somber Senju then turns her head back to Fuyu. "There. I'm no child, not even by your standards." She says. Her arms fold across her chest, and she shifts a little to look at Fuyu… more closely. Noting, for example, the flecks of blood and the obviously poor state that the woman is in. … But she's bright enough to realize that if she implied that Fuyu is weak, she'd probably not endear herself to the Uchiha.
"… You aren't a ghost, are you?" She asks, suddenly realizing that this is, in fact, a distinct possibility. Even if it doesn't make her look like the sharpest tool in the box. "I really did try to save him you know. The cut was too deep, though. We couldn't cauterize it properly and we couldn't stop the bleeding… if we'd tried to punch our way through their lines, we'd all have died…"
Fuyu is still gasping for breath when she glances over at the younger woman upon the gathering of her Chakra and the quick release of the signature technique of the Uchiha Clan without much need to prepare or focus beforehand. A sign of significant base Stamina, at least, if there is sufficient Chakra available 'at rest' to use such a technique easily… As the fireball billows up into the air, lighting up the graveyard, the black-tressed woman seems to watch without really seeing what she's looking at. Spaced-out sort of expression, really. Eventually, she snaps out of her daze and responds with a bit of a snarl to her expression as she moves away from the boulder she was formerly sitting against, "You're a child until you've had the stupidity of youth expunged from you. Using a Ninjutsu doesn't prove anything except that you can follow directions. Even a DOG can do that…" She takes only a couple steps before wobbling on one foot, pausing to regain her balance, and then moving more precisely as she seems to work her way across the graveyard, though not towars Yaku.
She stops half-way to the exit leading out onto the trail, and says after a moment of contemplation, in a tone of complete seriousness that is also hollow of the caustic tone and anger from her previous words, "I really hope not. I really…" She closes her eyes and sighs in a rattling, strained release of air. "…I really hope not. I've had more than my fill of ghosts. Even the most miserable living person has a chance to change or to find release. A ghost has no such option. They're trapped between the world they no longer belong and the world they can't pass on to. If someone doesn't help them complete that process… They could stay here forever."
A shudder wracks Fuyu's body before she says in a strained voice, as though trying to suppress a cough long enough to finish her words, "Let's… Hope… No more will appear… At that damn--*COUGH*--cave!" Then she resumes her violent coughing fit, nearly doubled-over from it.
Yaku looks a little irritated as her display fails to get the recognition she'd hoped. Still. At least she's fairly confident that Fuyu isn't a hallucination; for a start, she'd never actually spoken with the Uchiha Clan Elder before, and for a second, she's quite confident that she'd not be capable of imagining such a crotchety woman.
"If you're not a ghost, you're not far from being one." Yaku says with all the bluntness of a brick to the face. Apparently she's beyond caring about making a good impression now. "Look at you. You can barely breathe." There's a tense moment where Yaku has to weigh up what she *can* do with what she thinks she should do. In the end, though, fate has clearly brought them together for a reason, and the tall young Senju moves to try and wrap her arm around the woman, and support her.
"I'm taking you to the hospital." She says, "There's no damned way I'm letting a second Uchiha die the moment I get back to the village. People will start to talk."
Her tone brooks no argument, even if she's uncertain of her actual ability to follow through if Fuyu complains or resists. She's not one to back down from a task just because it happens to be impossible, though!
For what it's worth, Fuyu didn't intend to argue. She knows full well what condition she's in. She just came here because she expected to die soon. It's taken so long that she got pissed off waiting for it to happen and decided to leave on account of Yaku intruding upon her self-imposed pity party with something as lame as talking to dead people. Because that's clearly not anything Fuyu herself has ever done… At least two times. Okay, yes. She has interacted with the dead on more than one occasion. Not just killing, or handling corpses, but having conversations with them. It was disturbing both times.
She'd much rather that if she spoke to dead people they just didn't talk back, honestly. The support from Yaku is not resisted and is accepted so readily that the shift of weight to the teenager may almost cause stumbling! …Though perhaps not for Yaku so much as Fuyu. "I wish I hadn't survived the blast," is all she offers in response, though it's not certain that she's actually speaking to her 'helper' as opposed to being in a state of mind that she doesn't realize she's speaking aloud.
The bit about letting ANOTHER Uchiha die causes some vague pulses of memory and emotion to swirl around in her head, but it's all confused, unattached to anything in particular, and she's low enough on blood and malnourished enough that thinking is just… Too hard. It's easier to sleep. It's easier to let the cold take over. She's a fierce, stubborn, strong-willed woman. But the reasons why she has pushed herself this far in life have all been taken from her. Madara, the nameless boy she had killed who had been her ONLY real friend… Her BEST friend… And she hadn't even realized it until at least a year later. Now Mimi, her own apprentice and almost a little sister, had been lost. The explosion had taken that one from Fuyu too. What's left?
Every bond she makes is broken. She doesn't want to intentionally break her bonds. That would hurt even more. Why can't she just die? Why can't she go to the same place THEY went? Why is she still STUCK here? Not even realizing it, Fuyu's eyes have lost their Sharingan's glow. Her Chakra levels are so low that something she has been maintaining without even trying for months has faded from her. Tears streak down her cheeks, but she doesn't notice.
However long it takes to get to the hospital or at least until some patrolling guards notice the pair and help out, Fuyu doesn't seem to be fully cognizant for much of the time. She's in bad shape. Yaku was right about what she said. Much longer and… A replacement Clan Head would have needed to be decided.
Senju are known for a lot of things. Not just their skill with the ninja arts, but their compassion, good hearts, kind natures. If Fuyu is able to put two and two together, therefore, it might be surprising for her that Yaku's nature is… a bit more gruff than most. She's fairly strong, and as she sees the light go out in Fuyu's eyes, she decides to appeal to the woman's pride and fire. The woman is the damned head of the Uchiha clan. She's got to have some fight in her.
So, as though she is handling a bag of rice, Yaku sweeps Fuyu over her shoulders. "You need to eat more." She grouses, "Its like handling a bundle of sticks. The hell is wrong with you Uchiha women, eh?" Now that she's fairly confident she's not going to be incinerated, though, Yaku is picking up the pace. She doesn't stop for a guard; she doesn't stop for anything at all. She also doesn't shut up. She may be more grouchy than the average Senju, but she's inherited their mouth for sure.
"Idiot woman. Call me a child but not smart enough to get your own butt to the hospital. Don't you people ever know your limits? Or what, you think dying is going to make people feel sorry for you? Don't be ridiculous! Pity is for the living! The dead are the lucky ones!"
She's not even sure Fuyu can hear her, even if she can feel the woman's tears on the back of her neck. Spurred on by a desperate guilt, by a *need* not to see another Uchiha die the moment she steps back into the village, the journey to the hospital is done in practically record time.
And Yaku isn't going to abandon her there, either. The woman is tall, imposing, and wearing armor quite apart from the reputation of her clan and her fiery temper. When Fuyu regains consciousness, it will be with an exhausted Yaku glaring in at her, on a comfortable bed … likely surrounded by medical staff and *probably* some people from the Clan. Who Yaku has stubbornly refused to yield to. She found this one. Clan Head or not, she has the *duty* to ensure that Fuyu returns to health, protocol and reputations be damned.
Fuyu wakes up eventually. Lucid? Coherent? Intelligible? Maybe. But that doesn't make her mood any better. She's in a hospital bed, she has stuff hooked up to her, there have clearly been Medic-Nin treating some rather extensive internal injuries… Including a cauterized hole through her right shoulder and another hole that went straight through her belly and out the other side. Both injuries may or may not be recognized by medical staff, but Fuyu could tell them who was responsible. The first was from Ryuutai, wielder of the Lightning Nature-imbued swords called 'Kiba'. The second was from Nuibari, the only sword to ever be considered a 'terror weapon'. Its very use in combat for any reason is more or less seen as a war crime by most people, regardles of nation or origin. Somehow, however, Fuyu was lucky enough to NOT have a number of organs torn out through her back when that huge sewing-needle sword did so itself. But only barely.
On top of that, it looks like there were a number of infections from untreated wounds, she hasn't eaten properly in weeks, and her lungs have minute holes in them that resemble the damage that the sword 'Samehada' can do the EXTERIOR of an opponent. How did Fuyu's lungs get 'shaved' without a wound for the shark-skin sword to get in through? Add one more mystery to the list.
All in all, she's in bad shape but she'll recover with rest and further treatment. She was probably an hour or two away from dying when she encountered Yaku. How did she last this long? That fiery determination sustained Fuyu, but eventually all fires die out without fuel. She just… Gave up. That's when she was no longer able to keep going, even with her injuries. But now, here she is… Alive… Awake… On her way to recovery… And all she can say when she looks upon those in the room, including Yaku, is, "What do you selfish idiots want from me?" It may be a bit difficult to formulate a response to THAT at first, but she adds on soon enough. "I've already GIVEN everything I have. Why do you keep dragging me back in!? How much more are you going to try to TAKE from me!?!" Her voice rises in volume gradually until at the end she is shouting. Seems the medics did a good job on her lungs.
Even so, she starts coughing again rather swiftly, though it's a much shallower and blood-free cough this time around. Any attempts to assuage her or settle her down are ignored as she focuses her gaze directly on the girl sitting in the room looking so VERY intently at her. Fuyu had managed to settle down the past several months. The intensity of her gaze, with all the inherent animosity that seemed to leak out of it, had dimmed to the point where some people actually felt comfortable or safe around her.
Now it's not anger that pours from her eyes like polished black-marble, but an empty, despairing, lifelessness. It's… Almost like even this bewildering shouting and apparent outrage is little more than an act. She's going through the motions and that's it. She stares at Yaku and finally asks over anyone else who is speaking, "Can you use Sealing Techniques at all?" Err. Topic-change much?
There are few people more obstinate than Yaku when she wants to be. It isn't that she has a problem with authority, as such, but more that when she's got it in her head that she's going to do something, no force in heaven or earth will move her from it unless they are willing to do so forcibly. So it is that as word has passed round that Fuyu has been located, and more and more people have come to see her, Yaku has seated herself by Fuyu's bedside and in defiance of all logic or politeness has refused to be shifted.
For the most part, she's been quiet, too. Other than to snort or say "No." As necessary to people, or to add the occasional "Gods." as the extent and nature of Fuyu's injuries have become known to her. So it is that after Fuyu's outburst, and the stunned silence which follows, it is surprising that it is met in turn by a statement from the quiet giant. But it is.
"What's with that self-pity?"
Her arms cross over her chest, and she shakes her head. The uproar this statement causes amongst the gathered people apparently washes from Yaku's back like water from a duck; there's absolutely no indication that she gives a damn what anyone else thinks about her disrespect at this stage. She'd dragged this woman to the hospital and she'd spent hours listening to the terrible state the Uchiha Clan Head had been left in. It is a miracle that she's alive, and it has completely reinforced her opinion that their meeting was fate. She could easily have been delayed by days if she'd decided to take a different route; there is no other logical explanation.
The Senju looks back at Fuyu when she's addressed, and shakes her head. "No." She says, honest and forthright as, well, she's been throughout the entire situation, really. "Most of my techniques revolve around fire to one extent or another. I intend to learn Sealing Techniques, but I'm nowhere near skilled enough yet." She cracks her shoulder, and then stands up. Finally, she seems ready to abandon the seated position by the side of Fuyu's bed which she has maintained for so long.
"You want me to go find someone who can?" She asks, before adding, "And take care of your voice, will you? You've only got one set of lungs and it'd be humiliating to die because you whined too loudly."
Rudeness is nothing right now. It is not even given the bat of an eye by Fuyu. Others may be upset, but they can go dunk their heads in acid. Arrogance and demands for others to obey a rule as petty as 'don't say anything that others might not like, even if it's the truth' are far from relevant in her life. Instead, she waits a moment as she hears the response and then… Breaks her gaze to look down at the sheets. "No. That would take too long." Too long for… What? "Never mind, I'll deal with this in a less hasty manner." She takes a deep breath, holds it in, and then lets it out in a shuddering manner. It was meant to calm her somewhat, but it just illustrates in what bad shape she's still in. Yes, she can't act impulsively right now. She doesn't even know who she trusts to turn over THAT to… And no one else knows she found it yet. So she settles and does something no Uchiha Clan member and certainly NO ONE outside of perhaps two others has ever witnessed previously.
Fuyu apologizes. Fuyu does not apologize. Not to anyone. But she does it now. "Sorry for my outburst. I must have been semi-conscious still or suffering from some form of momentary delusion from the physical trauma and exhaustion. I'll make a report when I feel I can…" She pauses, furrowing her brow and seemingly concentrating as she stumbles over her word choice. "…think clearly and not miss any details." Oh, of course, Fuyu-sama. Perfectly understandable, Fuyu-sama. We're so relieved to see you're okay, Fuyu-sama. That sort of thing. She isn't done speaking though. She says a moment later, when the chatter has died down somewhat, "Though I will say right now that I believe Suzaku Yuri and Yotsuki Ryuutai are both dead and… The Yamanaka Clan Head, Mimi as well." There may be another silence after that announcement, other than the beeping of machines and the awkward or surprised shifting and glancing around of those in the room. Eventually, though, people excuse themselves perhaps even trying once more to take Yaku with them.
But the older — yet shorter — woman would put a stop to THAT rather quickly if such was attempted by simply 'requesting' she be permitted to stay. Soon enough, perhaps the two will be alone. If such comes to pass, Fuyu continues looking at her feet beneath the blanket of her bed with a frown, apparently in deep thought.
Yaku has no intention of allowing herself to be escorted from the room until she feels she can do no more. The fierce look in the Senju's eye is enough to quiet any such suggestions, and in fact… the apology from the Uchiha Clan Head seems to have stolen most of her tongue, too. It isn't until the pair are alone again that Yaku actually finds anything else to say. Even then, it doesn't come easily. She moves to sit on the chair again, and tug it closer to the bed. Her hands clasp in her lap. This was not, precisely, how she'd imagined her return would go… but life is full of surprises. It does no good to be petulant about them.
"If there is anything I can do to help you." She says, "You have only to ask."
She's not smiling either, but the words are the only thing she can offer the injured woman, aren't they? She'd sworn when she decided to come back that she would do her best to honor the memory of Otoke; the man whose death she could not prevent. She may not like it, but she owes a profound debt to this woman's blood… and now that anger and sarcasm have accomplished all they can in bringing her back to who she was, it is time to offer aid and support. She hates to think what her parents would say if they knew the seriousness of her pledge, but the time for rivalry and blood debt has passed. People have died, and Fuyu needs to know that there are still people in Konoha who will support her. Is that not the meaning of family? The meaning of a place called home?
Fuyu looks up, realizing Yaku is there again when the latter speaks. "You've done enough already. I thought perhaps I needed to have something in particular sealed away or perhaps destroyed in order to prevent others from obtaining it… But the situation isn't as dire as it was when I was last feeling well enough to think clearly." She shakes her head. Then she asks out of the blue, "Who was he?" What? Is she a mind-reader now? Can she somehow 'see' Yaku's thoughts in her Chakra!? …Well, maybe that's possible, but it doesn't appear to be the case here. Her eyes are still normal black. She'll need more time to recover before she can leave her eyes running on 'crimson mode' 24/7.
Instead, she clarifies, "You said you tried to help him, but couldn't. Back at the graveyard. You said you wouldn't let a 'second' Uchiha die. What was his name?" Oh, that explains that. Though it's sort of amazing she could recall such details even in a messed up state like she was when she heard them. For a moment, the mad impulse to find something sharp and try to gouge her own eyes out nearly grips her, but he's not here. SHE'S not here. Hopefully both the man she previously admired most of all, Uchiha Madara, and has since come to despise and reject, will not magically reappear or come back to life now that she has achieved what he wanted from her originally when they met in the depths of Ankoku Cave. And that lunatic witch, Samominoryuu, and her damn 'shark sword' are hopefully BOTH burning in Hell and she won't have to concern herself with more attempts to strap Fuyu to an operating table and dissect her for 'science' or whatever insane goal Kei had set for herself.
No, she's safe for now. Maybe. Paranoia is a life-long burden. It's a worm that lives at the back of one's mind and burrows its way to the front if given the slightest shred of fear or doubt. She was head of security for the Uchiha during the Clan Wars. 'Safe' is something she has never, ever felt. But… She's safe enough for now. She wants to know who this giant girl is and what connection she may have to Fuyu.
Yaku looks pretty taken aback for a moment by the question. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what it is that Fuyu is talking about, though. The depths of the Uchiha's mind might be a door forever closed to Yaku, but Otoke, no matter how hard she has tried to put the burden of his death behind her, is where her mind immediately goes.
"Otoke." She says, either trusting that Fuyu knew the boy or would be able to put two and two together. "He was my team leader in the war. Unfortunately, we wound up going off course and were trapped behind enemy lines. One of their swordsmen practically disembowelled him."
There's a curious numbness in Yaku's tone. Given how energetic and passionate she's been so far, the sudden shift in gears is likely something of a surprise. She's being as factual as she can be, as factual as she had been in her report on the matter. Entirely as factual as she never is when she judges herself after the fact.
"Who was he, though?" She shakes her head slowly. "He was a good ninja. We fought a lot. I thought he was arrogant, insufferable, always too slow to act and too reliant on strategies and plans. I preferred to trust to fate and see myself through on the fly."
Now it is her turn to be depressed. Despite her size, just recounting the story has bent her double, making her seem smaller under the metaphorical weight of her regrets.
"I treated him like dirt, and he riled me up whenever he got the chance. We'd always fight, and he'd always win. Well. Almost always. He had no sense of humor, he never smiled, always so serious and matter-of-fact. But who was he?"
There's actually tears in her eyes, though she's doing her best to hide them, by turning away. "I never gave him the chance to show me who he was. Just *what* he was. He died because I had to prioritize the life of the team over his, but who he was? I can't answer that question."
Fuyu listens to the story. She momentarily attempts to run through a mental personnel list in her memory to see if she can match a face to the name, but 'Legendary Ninja' or not, she's still human. She has limits. Delving into the depths of past recollections in that degree of detail will need to wait until she is more recovered. Even if she doesn't recognize the name, however, she recognizes the story. She has lived a similar one. By the time tears appear in Yaku's eyes, Fuyu's own eyes are lined with creases of tension and fatigue that mark her as being far more AGED than she is OLD. She is only 28 chronologically, but she feels so much older. So much more weary. Dark rings lay under each half-lidded eye as she stares at the wall directly across from and slightly below the foot of the bed.
Her hands clench shut around the sheets in her grasp, squeezing tightly enough that even her skin makes the sound of creaking tightness as it rubs against the fabric. She hates the Senju. She HATES them. That's what she felt for so long. Most of her life, infact. Letting go of that was a slow, difficult, unrewarding process. She was more scared of NOT having stable like her hatred to hold on to than she was of what kind of person she was turning into by letting it control her. Here, now, with a girl she only just met, who saved her life not out of pity or anything infuriating like that, but out of respect and LOYALTY to the memory of another of Fuyu's Clan…
She truly, finally lets go of that hate completely. If this towering teenager can so readily cast aside rivalry, reluctance, and whatever else to help a stranger due to the single thing that Fuyu values above ALL ELSE — loyalty — then she can give the Senju way a try at LEAST this once. She considers telling the girl her own story. The woman considers providing insight into her own past to show that she understands where Yaku is coming from, understands her pain, and appreciates all that has been done for her thus far — by Yaku and everyone else she has ever met. That is one of Fuyu's strengths infact. She is a truly awesome motivational speaker. Her speeches are a thing of legend, able to rally and put fire into those who were previously on the brink of despair. She has turned otherwise hopeless battles into amazing routes of those who had been in a position to win. Talking comes naturally to her. Manipulating people and their very spirits is a gift, even if she was not blessed with the 'mental genius' that Madara possessed. She has a 'genius' for PEOPLE.
She skips all that. Instead, as Yaku has finished speaking as of quite awhile ago as Fuyu lay lost in thought and inner turmoil, the Clan leader makes the first move. She tosses the sheets and blankets aside as best as she can, attempting to swing her legs out over the side of the bed. Maybe she's wearing no more than one of those backless hospital gowns and some undergarments, but the room is well-heated for winter. She is cold more from the low blood levels that are even now being restored. As IVs and similar try to keep her restricted to her hospital bed, she either unplugs them or just stretches them to their limits as she puts her bare feet on the floor and moves towards Yaku.
'The Senju way is to hold out a hand in friendship, even to those who have wronged them.' Fuyu thinks silently to herself. 'The Senju way is peace.' Unless Yaku moves away or otherwise stops her, Fuyu then leans in when she's close enough and attempts to slowly, gently, put her arms around Yaku's shoulders and the back of the younger woman's neck, and just… Hug her. Softly, not for her own benefit, but for Yaku's. With her tired eyes closed, Fuyu attempts to hug a youth of a Clan she has spent the majority of her life trying to eradicate from the face of the planet.
Then she says quietly, allowing Yaku to use her shoulder if it is wished, "It's okay." A pause, and then somewhat quaveringly, "He knew." She doesn't give any more explanation than that. But perhaps… There's no need for more.
Yaku lets the silence flow for as long as it does. It is a tense silence for her, a pregnant one. She's not ignorant of the rivalry of her clan and Fuyu's; it is practically legendary. It is the reason she had always fought so furiously with Otoke. She felt some obligation to prove superiority, some necessity to demonstrate the way of her Clan. How ironic that she would give anything to go back and live that time of her life again. To try harder to make a friend out of a comrade.
When Fuyu starts to move, the tall girl gives a start, and looks worried. "You, shouldn't…" She starts, concerned to see the Clan head move at all, but it is a weak and faltering protest, and she makes no attempt to move at all as the Uchiha stands, and hugs her.
The tension is shattered, and Yaku has to grind her teeth together to stop herself from bawling like a baby. Clinging to what little dignity she has remaining, she instead hugs Fuyu back. Gentle and careful, she shows far more concern for the woman now that she is moving and cognizant than she ever had when trying to rouse her from her half-dead state. Her head is bowed, her eyes closing. She doesn't even breathe for the duration of the hug, not trusting herself to inhale for fear of breaking down. She does rest her head against the woman's shoulder, though. An incredibly serious and intimate gesture.
As the gesture finally starts to come to an end, Yaku lets herself exhale, opening her eyes with some effort and holding her emotions in check as much as she can. Words come hard, and though she's never been the most eloquent person in the world, she finds herself saying the only thing she can think to say under the circumstances.
"T-thank, you, Fuyu-sama."
Fuyu is, if anything further about this interaction can even be deemed 'surprising' next to everything else, surprisingly in the same boat as Yaku. The first time in her life she cried that she could recall as a self-aware human being instead of a bright-eyed baby, Uchiha Madara was displeased. Madara was the closest thing to a parent she had, and even though she'd just been seriously injured he told Fuyu, at a mere 8 years old, that crying was a sign of weakness. He didn't directly TELL her not to cry, but she could tell from the way he said it, the disapproval in his expression, that he would not accept her as long as she was weak. It took her 18 more years before she allowed herself to shed tears again, and then a year after that, when everything she thought she knew and valued was shown to be false, she broke down once more. Three times total in her entire life.
Crying is a way of cleaning the soul of pain. Fuyu hurts so much inside, but she still has so much trouble letting the pain go. It's scary to find out what life is like without something as familiar as this dearest agony. But now she feels like she's healing somehow. She's healing, her heart is mending, and she has to admit… Maybe it's not so scary after all. She doesn't say, 'you are welcome' to Yaku. Instead she fights not to allow the tears that track down her cheeks to transform into the full-body shaking, heaving sobs that she wants to indulge in. Not now. Compassion is one thing, and weakness is another. She needs to show this girl that one can understand others, care about others, and still be strong. Cutting oneself off from others in favor of despair and misery is not living. It's just a form of denying one's own existence.
Instead, when they both seem to have ahold of themselves, the black-haired woman finally begins to seperate from the other kunoichi. She wipes her eyes but she doesn't try to make it stealthy or anything. Humanity is something to be cherished. "I think we should get to know each other better. The best way of honoring and remaining loyal to those who have gone on ahead of us to where we'll all finally be together someday… Is to live as they would have if our positions were reversed. I don't think Otoke would have wanted you to be hurting all the time, and I don't think…" Her throat seizes at this point. She never gave him a name. Even at the end, when she was talking to his ghost, he had no name. Saved him, raised him, abandoned him, found him, killed him, was saved by his ghost in the middle of a nightmarish hell-on-earth called Ankoku Cave… And she never named him.
She regains control as she moves backwards to sit on the bed once more and plug things back in as best as she is able. "…He would have wanted you to lose an opportunity to make new friends. But… If you'd rather find those outside the Uchiha for that, I will understand." She's showing weakness right now, she knows. Uncertainty, a degree of submissiveness by allowing another to decide the fate of this relationship, but she doesn't care anymore. She's too tired of… Everything. She'll be weak for now. She's only human.
The people who know her would, amusingly, be entirely unsure what to make of her in this moment. Yaku has a reputation for being a brash, loud-mouthed hothead with no respect and little consideration given to forward planning. Although she'd beaten some of that reputation back with her actions during the War, the fact she'd then 'run away' to go and try to come to terms with what had happened had caused other whispers. Irresponsible, emotional, and… perhaps the word that Fuyu fears the most, yes, even 'weak'.
But in this moment, in this place, at this time, Yaku defies those stereotypes. She's emotional, certainly. There's no denying that. But she has nothing but profound respect, and she feels the need to share that, and show it. The younger shinobi bows her head to Fuyu, and after she trusts herself to speak again, she does so clearly and deliberately.
"I would be honored to get to know you better, Fuyu-sama."
Perhaps the first time she has ever used the words 'I would be honored' without it being some sarcastic bludgeon to shatter an ego. She exhales slowly, and for the first time in months, it feels like the weight is genuinely lifting from her shoulders. Like she might be able to stand up straight and tall without it feeling like she is being crushed into the ground by her own guilt.
"We survive." She says, and she even manages to force herself to smile. It is still an uneasy one, and she doesn't have the skill with deception to hide the fact that she's emotionally exhausted underneath it. "And we are guided by those who have gone ahead, you are right. Things, will get better. Life, will get better. And we'll be much happier if we live it today instead of living in yesterday."
The closest thing to philosophy to ever come out of Yaku's mouth, and she takes Fuyu's hand briefly. "You… should sleep, though, Fuyu-sama. You've been through a lot… you deserve some rest." And as quickly as that, she is standing on her feet, fire burning in her eyes. "I will make sure nobody dares to disturb you whilst you recover! You can count on me!"