No Matter What


Risu (as Buyo), Meimei

Date: October 18, 2010


Meimei remembers a very important turning point not only in her own life but also in the life of her adopted "little sister" Risu… It was last year, shortly after Risu was brought into Sunagakure's hospital, and at the time, the squirrely little girl was called "Buyo". Meimei visited Buyo there in the hospital. She brought presents and a promise.

"No Matter What"

Tenrai Hospital - Sunagakure

The surgery was a pretty darn good success. They put Buyo under completely because of the pain otherwise. The were able to clean the wound pretty throughly, although she'll have to walk with a crutch for a while and has already started with one outing with Itami. That went so so, but left Buyo rather tired. That was a while ago though and after a nap, she's resting in her little area. It's not fancy, she has no room to herself but she has a corner of a room that is blocked off with a curtain and around here and under these conditions that is about as much as she could have hoped for. She's just laying there, counting the cracks in the ceiling, looking lost in thought as she rests back on the bed. Her rags are gone, not returned, but she has an outfit someone scrounged together of dark tan and brown clothes and a spare pair of goggles. She's wearing the clothes as she rests on top of the blankets, and the goggles are resting on a small table beside the bed. She's been washed while she was out too, clean hair, face, even her fingernails. She hardly looks the same anymore. Her hair is kind of pretty, and pulled back in a short pony tail.

Meimei left the other day, once the girl was unconscious. She still doesn't know her name. She didn't WANT to leave, but she was 'shoo'd out, and if she hadn't left, Itami probably could have ordered she do so. So she has been trying to organize some living space for Buyo. She doesn't know if she'll accept the offer or not, but… With intact dwellings somewhat scarce at the moment until the existing homes have been certified to be safe, it's either put her back on the street, put her in the community housing the Seishukuni have set up, or… This.
So here she is, tracking down Buyo's room/area. The hospital has been a sort of 'open treatment area' for far too long, and the efforts to 'modernize' the place by adding seperate rooms has temporarily been halted. But it can't be left that way forever. Less chance of contaminating healthy people with someone else's icky stuff if they have seperate, sterile rooms.
Looking around, Meimei does not see Buyo immediately. So she calls out somewhat quietly, "Hey, you in here? It's me. The crazy lady who threatened to cook a doctor if he didn't fix you up right." Yes, that was an attempt at humor. Self-depricating, but better than making fun of the little girl. She has with her a large bag that probably weighs quite a bit for someone her height to carry. She has thus been dragging it mostly.

Buyo is caught off guard by the sound of a some what familar voice. She sits up a bit in bed, "Um, over here?" She says, tentatively, unsure really how to answer other than that. She tries to staighten herself up a bit, worried a bit by her appearance for the first time in some time. She can't do much other than wait though. She can't jump up on the bed. She can't wave a hand and have it be seen over the sheet that's hung up on cords to make the areas seperated off a bit. Finally she gets the idea of raising her crutch up, and waving it so it sticks slightly up above the sheet, "Over here? Can you see my crutch?" She calls out, clearly not wanting to talk too loudly but also wanting to get Meimei's attention.
Then all Buyo can do is wait to see if the woman has found her, sees her crutch or not. She can't do much other than that. Wait. Hope. Common things in Buyo's life lately, but at least things are looking up. She reaches down and rubs the soft cast on her foot, basically a bunch of pressure bandages wrapped around it and not much more.

Meimei hears the voice, and should probably be able to track her based on that. She is a ninja after all! But she only gets a general idea, because hearing things is not her focus in terms of perception. The crutch waving around, however, catches her sight — even with those nearly pure-black goggles on her eyes — and then heads in that direction. She calls out, "Yeah, I see you. Be right there." Then she resumes dragging the bag after her. And so she drags it. And drags it. And drags it. And *huffhuff* she takes a break. Then she makes one final heaving effort and manages to get inside of Buyo's curtained-off area, and bring the bag with her.
Panting a bit, she waves a hand and says, "Hi. I didn't get to introduce myself properly before, but… I'm…" She thinks about it for a moment, and then says, "…People around here know me as Yoko, but that's just because my real name is a secret! What about you? You have a name? You doing okay after all that doctoring? If I need to zap anyone in the butt, you just let me know!"

Buyo watches Yoko haul the bag into her area. She tilts her head, peering at it curiously, "Um, Buyo." Wait, why did she just say 'gnat'. "My name's Buyo…." She adds, as if that clears up why she is called 'sand fly' effectively. Small, annoying little gnats that can sometimes bite and leave tiny red marks. That's not a name, that's a type of bug. But that's what she says. She shrugs, "Um, it hurt after the surgery but they gave me some things and it feels better now than before." She admits, "So I guess they did a good job. I even got to go for a small walk before. Still hard, maybe harder to walk now than before but I'm not feeling cold all the time." She must be thinking of the fever.
Buyo tilts her head the other way, "My real name isn't a secret, or… well, I guess it is, but if so even from me too. I don't know my real name." She admits, "It's just what everyone calls me, usually when telling me to 'go away'." She explains, "But… what did you bring? That… I mean, it's not dangerous, is it?" She asks, clearly wary of the potential contents of the bag, as she looks back up to Meimei.

Meimei/'Yoko' nods to the report and the introduction. "Good to meet you, Buyo. If you want we could work on a nicer name for you? If you like Buyo, then go right ahead. But if people are using it as an insult… Well, you can always decide what you want to be called. Just like I did." She pauses and says, "Can I sit on your bed? I have some things I wanted to talk about with you, because they are your choice whether they happen or don't. But first, I want to give you some things. Presents. That's what's in this bag! Lots of presents!"

Buyo blinks then nods, "Well, sure you can sit down but… presents?" She says, not quite believing that it seems, or if she does she must assume there are strings attacked. People don't just give things, unless… they want other things. She frowns a tad, "I wouldn't mind a different name, but…" She gives a little shrug, "I don't know a good name, and I don't know my family name either." She admits. She moves to one side of the bed to make room for Meimei/Yoko to sit down, "What kind of choices?" She asks, still wary, as if she thinks this is all part of some kind of scam perhaps.

The be-goggled woman nods solemnly as she seats herself carefully. "Yes, presents. You already got one from me." She glances towards the outfit of baggy clothes, cloak and hood, and goggles. "I know you can't see through black-tinted goggles like I can, so I just got some normal ones. Should help keep the sand out of your eyes if there's ever a storm. And the hood is to keep dust and dirt and stuff out of your hair." She points a finger at the much cleaner and prettier blonde hair that Buyo has now.
"That's just temporary however. I have some lighter clothes, with white fabric instead of dark, so that you reflect heat instead of absorbing it. As you know, the sun can get pretty nasty during the day…" She sighs a bit. "I grew up in a very cold country. Very little sunlight to speak of during most of the year. So then I came here and nearly died of heat exhaustion! And here I am, still wearing dark clothes. Pretty dumb, huh?" She sticks out her tongue a bit and bonks herself on the head with one knuckle.
"Well, the choices… You've spent a lot of time on the street. I checked records and our orphanage was shut down a long time ago. You weren't made homeless just by the attack on the Village. You've been on your own for quite awhile. But you don't have to go back." She looks at Buyo, all trace of humor gone from her face. "It doesn't have to be that way. You know how all those houses were damaged, and how there's more people on the street than ever? Maybe they can go back to their homes someday… Maybe even soon. But what about you? You going to live on the street forever? You going to let people call you names and look down on you? What did you ever do to deserve THAT?" Then she leans slightly closer and says, "I'll tell you what you did. You. Did. Absolutely. Nothing. No one has any excuse to punish you. So… Even though I'm new to this Village… I do have a place I live. It's just a small apartment, but I don't need much room. And…"
Meimei has leaned back by this point and seems to be trying to get her mouth to work properly. This is harder than she thought. She knows how Buyo is thinking. She knows she's wondering why Meimei is trying to be nice to her. She's be suspicious too. She can explain why later. Right now, she just needs to make sure the girl knows she has options. "…And… I'd be very happy… If I could make YOU happy… By offering to let you live with me?" It comes out more as a hesitant question than an offer in the end. The previous hardened looks of experience, the confidence and grumpiness, and all the rest, have all melted away, revealing that Yoko is still very much a scared woman, just like Buyo. Just because she has an outer shell that people see doesn't mean inside she is afraid of being alone, being homeless, being the scum of the street, being nothing important and looked down upon and spat upon by those who have it better.
She also fears rejection. The exact details might not be evident, but the tension and worry on the woman's face should be evident enough at least.

This is a lot to absorb all at once for Buyo. She frowns, not in rejection but concentration. She hesitates herself, "W…" She starts off, then stops. After a moment she tries again, "Why?" It is clear she kind of wants to jump at the offer. A place to stay? Food she doesn't have to steal? What isn't there to like about that. And yet… yet… She hesitates, nothing this good comes without strings. So, rather than beat around the bush she just asks, "What are you gonna want from me? I… I won't make a very good maid or anything like that." She tries to explain, just in case this is an offer of Meimei wanting a servant.
"Of course I don't like being chased away and hated but…. what else can I do? No one will trust me. I…" She pauses and looks down at her hands in her lap, "I don't know why you trust me. I don't know why Itami is trusting me… I don't understand. I stole from Itami and… she brought me here." She looks back up and repeats her first question, "Why? I'm not special or anything." She says, clearly feeling that, and more. "And I won't… do 'things'." The way she says 'things' makes it clear she's heard stories of kids on the street vanishing for nefarious acts and not returning. She's not sure on all the details but it never sounds like a good thing.

Meimei's fears abate somewhat. Not completely, because she can remember how she felt in the same position. But she also had the backing of memories of people trusting her. People close to her had loved her. Has Buyo ever had that at any point? If not, then she may have quite a serious issue with lack of self-esteem. Meimei can only imagine. She spendt years agonizing over what she had to do to survive. She felt like what people considered her. Scum. Street rat.
Her Ninja skills gave her an advantage over the others. She could escape from mundane people when necessary. She could even stand a fair chance against other ninja. But she restrained herself. She used the least amount of skill possible, because otherwise someone might recognize her as Onohara. And then the bounty hunters would come. She shivers for a moment and puts her hands in her lap as she looks at the floor.
"Why, huh? Why should I trust you? You know, I would have asked the same thing if this was happening to me. I would be so confused… So untrusting… Just like you probably are now. And the reason why is that… I used to be alone too. In some ways I still am. You see… I don't know if you remember your parents at all… I don't know if you ever even met them. But I spent 16 years with my mother and father and various others. I knew what it was to be loved. Even though we had to move around a lot, because there were some bad people after us, we still had each other." She goes quiet for a few seconds.
"On my 16th birthday, the bad people found us. They attacked and we scattered. I don't know who died to the attack, and who died to the cold later on. I don't know who survived or how many. I might be the only one. But I haven't seen any of them ever since. I've been alone since my 16th birthday. I barely managed to make it out of my home country alive, and I figure I'm still being chased to this day. So I've spent 4 years — almost 5 now — with nowhere to go, nowhere to live, no one to take care of me… And even though I have some ninja skills" a bit of an understatement there. "I couldn't use them. If I did the bad people might recognize them and then they'd find me and hurt me. Or worse."
She sighs. "So I guess the reason I trust you is… I know what it's like. I've been where you are. The only people I ever really knew, the only ones who ever really cared about me, were taken away suddenly and violently. I had no control over what happened. All I could do was run and hide. If someone had held out a hand to help, I'd probably have backed away. If they offered kindness, I'd have wondered what they were planning. If they tried to give me a place to stay… I'd be trying to see every possible 'angle' they could have for getting something out of me in return. Once, someone DID try to do 'things' to me after pretending to be nice. Not everyone deserves your trust. But I'm not going to try to convince you. It's up to you whether you trust me or not. I…"
She looks towards Buyo, seeing the worried, but youthful features, and then reaches one hand up slowly, to remove her goggles and push them up on her forehead. Her eyes are closed, but she opens them slowly. She can't open them all the way, because of the lights in the hospital — even though they aren't that bright. But she can squint. Enough to reveal her vividly violet eyes and how they almost seem to shine. "…These eyes can get me killed. If someone realizes who and what I am, they can try to capture me or kill me for a reward. I'm showing them to you and telling you who I am. I am an 'Onohara' and a ninja. I'm trusting you with my life. Now, no matter what you decide, you can get rid of me just by informing anyone or everyone that's who I am. I'd have to run away and never come back."
She shakes her head. "If you want to come live with me, I'd be glad to have you. I don't like being alone. But either way, I'll try to find you a better place to live. And you can keep the presents no matter what."

This is a lot to absorb, even more than before. Buyo sits there, resting back against the pillows and watching Yoko spill out the tale. She stares at the eyes, not sure what to make of them, listening carefully to it all. After a bit she says, "My parents, I don't remember them. I was told they were killed, part of a caravan. I lived some how, but I was so young I don't remember. Some other travellers found me, and they brougth me here, where I was put in the orphanage, until it got shut down. Since then I've been on the streets, alone." She explains. "I've had to take everything I needed to stay alive. Beg, steal, but never hurt. I never cut anyone, or stabbed anyone. I never killed to get money. And… never did… other things." She says, not even mentioning what darker things she's heard of some homeless doing.
Buyo hesitates then says, "I don't want to hurt you. Thanks for showing me your eyes but… I don't really know what it means. But you scare me. A lot of the people here do. You can do things… I know. All the ninja can. And… and I could just vanish and no one would come looking for me. I'd just… be gone." She looks down, clearly on the verge of tears, "I don't want to be gone. I don't."
She wipes her eyes, "I don't know where to go live. I'm scared. I don't want to go back to living in buildings that might fall down. But I don't know. I don't want to be in the way. I don't know." She hangs her head, "I just… I won't tell anyone, I promise. I don't want to get you hurt. I just don't know what to do."

Meimei realizes she's pushing too hard. She's letting her own desperation to not be alone interfere with what's right for this girl. "…You're right. I'm sorry. It's too much, isn't it? To go from being seen as the scum of the earth to being treated with kindness? You wonder why anyone would do that. Why does anyone care? What can you possibly do to protect yourself against disappearing? Will anything you will ever do be remembered? Will anyone even remember you existed?" She turns away and pulls her goggles back over her eyes after a several seconds of staring at the curtain.
"Well, I don't want to disappear either. I want people to remember me. So… I'll do all I can to teach you how to defend yourself, so people can't hurt you. I'll do all I can to help you find a place to live, with no bugs, or dirt, or hunger, or thirst. Then, I'll have done something worth remembering. I'll have saved a life." Yoko turns to look at Buyo one more time.
"I'll make you a promise right now. No matter what happens… I'll remember you. I'LL remember you, who you are, how you live, and what you want to do with your life. I'll remember how people treat you, and I'll remember that you didn't want to be treated that way. I'll remember you. And all I ask in return… Is that… You remember me too. I don't want to vanish and be forgotten. I want someone to remain to tell others I existed. I want someone to prove I was real. That person can be you, if you want. You're a good girl, Buyo. You're a good girl in a bad world. The world wants you to do bad things, but you don't have to and don't want to. And so far, you haven't. I trust you not just because I used to be homeless… But because I know you're a good girl. I know you wouldn't hurt me. Just like I wouldn't hurt you. So do we have a deal? We'll remember each other, no matter what?"

"I… I think that would be nice." Buyo says after finishing listening. "I'll do my best to remember you. I… I would really like not having to be hungery or sick, or…. afraid about where I'm sleeping." She admits, "I just… I don't get why you're being so nice to me. I'm glad you are. I know what you said but… lots of people have bad things happen, and they still threw rocks at me to chase me off or got mad when I had to steal something just cause I was so hungry that I was getting dizzy." She says softly, still looking down, "I don't want to have to steal things just to live, but I will if I hafta. I'll even try to learn how to defend myself, if I can. I'm not very strong." She admits.
There's a small pause then Buyo tries to change the topic, as this one clearly upsets her a bit, "You… you said you had presents?" She asks as she looks to the bag on the floor still, then back to Yoko, a bit of a hopeful look slowly breaking through the worry.

Yoko nods to all of the things Buyo says. She understands. Not every person who is nice is really nice. And some people who are nice don't act like it. "Alright, then. Yes, presents." She smiles a bit and turns to the bag. First, she reaches into the large sack and withdraws a stack of clothing. Then another. Then another. One is a 'cute' casual outfit for desert-dwelling little girls. Long skirt down to the shins, but non-restricting. Loose white shirt. Some sandals. And a hat to keep the sun off one's head. The next outfit is more for travelling, but could still be useful. It is much like Meimei's own outfit, and the one she has already had delivered, but is made of white fabric, so that it will reflect the sunlight and the heat that comes with it, keeping one cool during the hottest parts of the day.
The third outfit is the prettiest kimono that Meimei could find, with a a mix of black and green patterns, and the images of golden fireflies zooming around on the garment's surface. After the clothing comes more presents. Socks, underwear, a sleeping bag, shampoo and soap, perfume, a jade hairbrush (which was pretty expensive, but Meimei won't mention that fact), a brand new diary and some pens with colored ink… And three different kinds of stuffed animals, including a stuffed cat that meows when it's hugged or otherwise squeezed. Meimei is panting a bit after dragging all these out, showing them to Buyo, and explaining them if they need explanation.
She digs around in the bag for anything further she may have forgotten… And comes away with a small bag of ryo. "…Oh, right. There's about 800 ryo in here. That's almost all I had left after these other things." She looks around at the now very-crowded bed. "…Uhh, I'd have gotten you some canned food and stuff too, but… There wasn't any room and I don't think I could carry two bags." She pauses and looks at Buyo. "…Too much?"

As each of the items is removed Buyo's eyes get bigger until by the end she looks like her eyes are about to pop out of her head. The outfits are stunning. That black and green one… simply can't be for /her/! Can it? She shakes her head a tad, just in disbelief. He mouth opens, in shock a bit really. She looks at each item. If Yoko is watching Buyo's reactions there is one that stands out as diffferent in one way, the diary and pens, well. She looks almost upset about that, for some reason. She quickly loses that though as other things are brought out. She hesitates then reaches out to pull one of the stuffed animals to her chest and just hugs it silly.
After she's hugged the critter for a bit, she looks back up at Yoko, "It… I… I don't have any place to put everything." She stammers, "And… it…" She flushes, "I think it might be too much, kinda? I don't… I mean where…" She simply breaks, this is too much. She hugs the stuffed animal to her chest and burries her face in it, trying to hide the fact she's crying from Yoko. She just doesn't seem to know how to react, very obviously not used to getting presents like this. She gives up trying to answer, as she clings to the one stuffed animal, something… wonderful and she doesn't know what else to do.

Yoko doesn't want to push too far. But though she seemed to be happy at Buyo's reactions most of the time, and the stunned expression by the end, the small heaves of a tiny frameokay, so she's not that tiny compared to Meimeiindicate all is not well. She may be crying out of happiness… But somehow she doubts it. So she sighs and hesitantly reaches out a hand as though to touch her on the shoulder. She pauses, unsure if she should make contact. Then she gets up from the bed, allowing ample time to be noticed as moving, and sits down on the less cluttered side of Buyo, right next to her. If permitted, she attempts to gently hug the girl.
"It's okay… Don't worry. I told you I'd find you a place, didn't I? If you don't want to live with me, it's okay. You can keep the presents, you can keep your own place, and I'll still visit you if you want. I'll teach you how to do things that will keep any bad people from hurting you. I'll do anything I can to make you happy. I'll…" Then she breaks down too a bit. She pushes her goggles up with one hand and tries to rub her eyes as though there was something in them. But this is too much for her too. She wants to help Buyo, but she can tell how much she hurts, and how scared she is. No matter what she has tried so far, it doesn't seem to be helping. So she just tries to hug Buyo and cries quietly too.

Buyo doesn't move when Yoko comes around to her side. Buyo just hugs the stuffed animal in her small arms. She lets Yoko hug her, even as she continues to cry a bit, not a lot, not heavy heart wrenching sobs but definately crying. She seems unsure what to do as she notices Yoko crying too. "I… I'm sorry…" She manages to get out finally, "Just… I've had to steal even for… for scraps and now you give me all this…. this wonderful stuff." Her voice is soft and cracks a bit as she talks, squeaking kind of. "I… I'll come stay with you. It'll be okay… right? And… and then you can show me the things you want to and… and maybe I'll figure out some way to… to pay you back…" She says, looking up at Yoko as she says this last bit.
Buyo reaches out one hand to run it across some of the outfits, to feel the fabric, "Can… can you take some of the stuff with you so… so it might be there when I can leave here? I… I don't want it to get ruined here and I don't think I could carry it all myself." Well, if Yoko had problems, there is no doubt Buyo would have issues with something this bulky and heavy. She wips her eyes again, "Will… will you teach me to be like you?" She finally asks, "Will you teach me to be strong like you?"

Meimei quickly tries to wipe her eyes again and pull back a bit when Buyo lifts her head. She leaves her arms where they are, but she doesn't stay all up-close, just incase that's upsetting. "You don't have to be sorry… You haven't done anything wrong. I just thought… Maybe I had done the wrong thing. Too much at once, and too fast. I want to help, and thought I might be hurting instead. But… Yes. Yes you coming to live with me would be okay. More than 'okay'. 'Great' is better." She smiles and sniffs once as her eyes continue to leak a bit. But now for a different reason.
"And don't you worry about paying me back. As long as you're happy and healthy, that's all the reward I need." She hugs Buyo one more time, and then nods. "Anything you don't want to keep here at the hospital I'll move to the apartment. I'm still waiting on a bed to be delivered, but I already have a room ready for you. I figured… Best to be prepared for you to say yes, rather than expect you might say no. You know?" She shrugs and grins a bit embarassedly. Then she nods firmly. "I'd love to teach you. That's my job, you know. I'm a teacher. But I haven't taught anyone yet. You'll be my first student! And also my most cherished one, because we'll both remember each other, no matter what."

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