Date: July 27, 2011
Yuuka stumbles across Touma when returning from a mission, and she makes a life-changing decision.
"Offer To Start Anew"
Northern Hill [Land of Fire]
Landing at the top of this small hill, all bushes die out and is replaced with a total area surrounded by long burnt yellow grass, large rocks and even boulders. The most amazing sight within this entire hill is a single large tree standing right at the center; at first glance it seems to be the biggest and thickest tree that one has ever seen. Further down the path more confusing directions can be taken, however, to the east, where the bushes open up again, there are signs of buildings. Perhaps even a town.
The leaves of the lone tree standing on the top of the northern hill rustle in the light breeze that flows through the area, stirring up the hot summer air and cooling it down. With not a cloud in the sky today, the breeze was a welcomed feeling to Touma as he scours around the tree, trying to remember where he hid a package he had a week ago when he was pursued by a group of rogue ninja from the sands of the Land of Wind all the way to the Land of Fire, saved only by the superior knowledge he had of the area growing up.
Taking a short break, the young Hyuuga adult stares up at the sun defiantly, wiping the sweat from his brow. Removing his shirt, he tosses it at the base of the tree, hoping to dry some of the sweat off his chest. Pouring his water canteen over his head, he shakes his hair out like a dog, feeling somewhat refreshed. Afterwards, it's back to the digging, retrieving his shovel.
The breeze is light enough to keep back the heat of summer, but only just, the season seeming to cause clothing to cling to flesh unpleasantly and make it seem as if it would drag on forever. The young Hyuuga kunoichi scowls mildly to herself as she travels at a steady pace back to Konoha, deciding it best to avoid using any extra energy speeding through the treetops lest she need to avoid danger on the way back. A light sigh parts through her lips as she lowers her head just slightly, shading her face further with shadows under the hood of her yukata, though it seems to do little good at fending the heat.
Silence passes as she travels, the birds chirping throughout the lush green trees of the forest with the swishing of a stream off some distance still. The quiet sounds were relaxing, even comforting as they kept her company. Its eventually interrupted by the growing sounds of shoveling, metal burying deep into earth before upturning the pile and discarding it nearby. Yuzuna's shoulders tense faintly as she slows, only to disappear into the treetops in silent search for its source.
This far remove from a village, it could be anyone. Most likely bandits disposing a body, perhaps. After several quiet moments of creeping, landing on the next branch without even a shift of a leaf, she blinks her pale opal eyes with some surprise to see a lone man, his bare back towards her as he pours the water from a canteen over himself. She couldn't help but pause in hesitance, unaware of growing heat in her cheeks.
Each muscle in his back tenses and relaxes as he strikes the earth with his shovel, lifting the dirt out from beneath and depositing to the side. It was hot and this was the last thing that Touma wanted to be doing but he had to get the package before it was found by someone else. After a minute of back breaking work, the sound of metal striking metal causes Touma to breathe a sigh of relief, resting an arm on the handle of the shovel as he wipes his brow again.
Crouching down, Touma brushes the dirt away from his metal container before retrieving it, turning towards Yuzuna's location, giving her a curious look as if he didn't realize he was a bit dirty and shirtless holding a suspicious package.
Yuzuna watches silently for several moments as the figure digs, her pale opal eyes narrowing faintly at the sound of metal clanking against metal when his shovel hits something beneath the earth. Its only when he turns that the kunoichi recognizes him, her gaze flicking briefly to the package, expression masked from emotions as she straightens. The girl's figure blurs with speed as she fades, appearing crouched slightly beside the trunk of the tree she was just standing in its branches. Slowly rising to her feet, Yuzuna lifts her eyes to meet the reflection of his shades as one of her hands reaches up, lightly brushing back the hood of her dark yukata from her head to allow raven locks to spill over her shoulders.
"Hello Yuzuna." Touma says as the girl's raven locks spill out of her hood, as if he were not surprised to see her. Then again, Touma rarely seemed to be surprised at all, his face a mask and his eyes hidden behind his sunglasses. "Nice day out, huh?" he says before turning to crouch down and deposit the container in a sack he had brought along with him, retrieving the water canteen he brought along to drink from. Standing back up, the Hyuuga youth stretches his arms above his head, his back muscles tensing in all the right places for but a brief moment. Letting out a content sigh as his arms return to his side, he turns back to Yuzuna, slinging his sack over his shoulder. His eyes, from behind his glasses, meet hers before looking down to the shirt, a pensive look appearing on the rest of his face as if thinking hard about something.
Yuzuna barely quirks a thin brow at him as Touma greets her in such a casual manner, silent for several moments before her lips faintly part, "Warm, if anything." she murmurs barely in reply. When he turns around to crouch and slip the container he had just dug up into a sack, her pale opal eyes follow his moments, wondering perhaps, but merely observing for the moment. As Touma stands to stretch, she watches for a split moment longer before turning her gaze away, averting to the forest nearby. "It has been some time since we had last met. I trust you are well." Yuzuna murmurs politely, without glancing back in his direction.
"Mn." Touma says, nodding his head in acknowledgement that he was doing well. "Busy as ever I suppose." he adds a bit sheepishly as if that were an explanation as to where he has been. "What about you? You look well. I'm surprised to see you so far away from the village. Were you out on a mission or a trip of some kind?" he asks, retrieving his shirt and looking at it with distaste, man he'd kill for a lake right now. "Married, yet?" he adds as if it were some off topic remark.
The kunoichi's expression remains masked, despite what little an explanation he offers in return. It matters little. "Returning from a mission. I had sent a carrier bird ahead to report my findings, so there is little reason for me to hurry back to the village." Yuzuna murmurs, her gaze still averted away from him. The last question, however, is so off topic that it catches her by surprise, showing in her facial features for a brief moment before the Hyuuga kunoichi shakes her dark head slightly. "No, I have not wed."
"Ah, I see." Touma says as he looks north in the direction he called his current home. "I guess Hiroshi isn't as eager as he played himself out to be." he adds with a light chuckle. Picking up the remainder of his things, Touma looks back to Yuzuna, as if torn between leaving to head home before dark or staying to catch up. It had been so long that he had figured she had moved on, been married off, and long since became confined within the walls of the new Hyuuga village. "Uma is out enjoying her life now, exploring the world. It was a life I once offered you as well, if I recall." he says quietly.
Yuzuna blinks her pale eyes with some faint surprise seen in them as she glances back at Touma, that one word rolling around in her thoughts now. Eager. The lightest hint of a frown shows through her otherwise masked expression as she lowers her gaze, her demeanor changing subtly. "I knew that she had left some time ago, there were whispers for a long time. Much like there is about—" Yuzuna stops herself. Even now, she didn't want to admit to herself that the arranged marriage wasn't going to go through. The Elders had their doubts on marrying them and it felt as if they were in unspoken agreement now. "Uma is different than I am." she answers quietly. "She is independent, she can take care of herself easily. Myself…" Her words fade.
Touma turns to look north again as Yuzuna speaks, gritting his teeth together away from her view as she puts on the dependent act that he disliked. Taking a breath and letting it out as a disappointed sigh, Touma shrugs his shoulder with the sack slung over it. "The time that I would exert exhausting amounts of effort trying to convince you of the wonders of traveling and trying to prove just how independent you are is over, Yuzuna. You are just as capable as any of the Hyuuga I've met, even Kuki. If you wanted to leave, you would've left with me. Maybe because it was me you did not, but do not pretend to hide behind false claims like dependence and incapability." So far his voice remains calm, almost quiet, as he speaks with her, not looking in her direction.
Returning her eyes back at Touma, the pale opals narrow faintly with only the slightest hint of distaste. "Baka." she swears at him, surprisingly even. "I know I am capable. I am just not Uma, I do not want to wander around aimlessly across the countries by myself. It would be different if… if I knew that you would not disappear." Yuzuna murmurs, her stomach churning as she utters the words. "You were my only childhood companion, your family cared for myself and my mother when… when my father passed. And even now I consider you closer to me than most. Yet, why is it wrong for me to wish for a house that I lived in during my childhood, with a garden to spend the springtime under budding branches? The happiness that I had felt then…" She releases a slow breath, crossing her slender arms over her chest. "And where would we go if I left with you right now, at this very moment?"
Touma turns his head to look at Yuzuna as she speaks about the past and wanting to return, the exact reason Touma was denying Konoha and the transfer of the clan. Slightly confused, Touma asks, "Then you wish to go back… to the place you lived before? Freedom you cannot find within the walls of Konohagakure?" he asks he curiously, testing her resolve. Finally a look of surprise crosses his face as Yuzuna asks him outright where they would go if they left at this very moment. "I would try to make it sounds super adventurous and romantic but I'd rather answer with truth. I am currently headed home to my place in Fuuma Alley to drop this package off. From there I had planned to visit the Land of Wind for trade. There is nothing luxurious nor are there servants and expensive lodging in my offer, Yuzuna. There is freedom and lifetime experiences, though. Just as you see Uma wandering around aimlessly, I see her as a caged bird, released from her confines and living her life. She has a purpose, goals, and is working towards them, she is hardly aimless. What is your goal in life, Yuzuna?" he asks curiously.
Yuzuna exhales a light breath as she shakes her ebony head, "Not the exact place I had lived before the villages were formed and our clan was torn into two, just… a home. Much like what your family offered my mother and myself. You have no idea how often I look back onto those memories of us just playing in the gardens with each other. While I was heartbroken… I was still comforted. And now my clan has offered me nothing in return to my loyal obedience to their rules and obligations. I struggle constantly for the hope of a better future for our great clan but I have not even seen a glimmer of hope of it. Not in so many years. It makes me wonder if such a future is ever possible." Her slender fingers absently curl at her sides into loose fists. "My goal?" Yuzuna repeats the words lightly, hesitation heard in her void as she still avoids looking in Touma's direction. "It is embarrassing to admit out loud." she murmurs softer.
Touma nods his head along with Yuzuna as she explains what she meant by her comment, agreeing with everything she is saying. "You won't find such a place within Konohagakure, of that I am certain. Where you will find it, that is a bit hazier. It's really up to you where you make your home, and stepping out from under the shadow of the clan will open up a whole new world." he says reassuringly. Eager to find out what her goals in life were, Touma listens attentively only to be a little disappointed by the shy remark, "You are surrounded only by friends here, Yuzuna, there's nothing to be ashamed about. Come on, tell me."
The kunoichi breathes out another slow breath as she closes her pale opal eyes, lifting one of her hands from her crossed arms to brush her fingertips along her forehead. If anything but to avoid glancing at Touma as she murmurs, "I want to be a mother." Yuzuna replies lightly, attempting to sound casual though the light flush in her cheeks dispels it. Several silent moments passes before she lowers her arm once more, loosely crossing them across her chest while her eyes open gently. "But that is not exactly something you do on the go, not safely anyways."
"You are barely even a young lady, you have a lot of life to live before you think about such things." Touma says with a warm smile. "I am going to head back to my apartment and drop all this stuff off. If you are coming, then you are more than welcome to. If you aren't, then I am sure we will run into each other again, our fate seems to be tied someway or another." he says as he turns back to Yuzuna completely now, his free hand on his hip. "What's it going to be?"
Yuzuna instantly snaps her narrowed, pale gaze on Touma, the mild scowl hinting at her features as she murmurs, "I am old enough to wed, yet too young to bare children? Do you forget how harsh this world is and how quickly shinobi die by the hands of others?" Despite the masked expression she has most often, right now the fact that he seems to so easily dismiss her dream makes the kunoichi somewhat irritated. It had taken much to admit such to him, yet he didn't appear to care. "If I do, I need to do something first…" Yuzuna murmurs lightly. "I need to get my dowry and whatever savings I have."
Such are the ways of men, uneducated in the importance of starting a family until much later in life. "Money? I suppose you would need such to travel." he says, frowning slightly at the way she was speaking about it, in low murmurs. "I'm not forcing you Yuzuna. If you are not comfortable or ready to take this journey, then turn around now and go back to your warm bed. I'm not inviting a Hyuuga princess along with me, I am inviting a childhood friend and an equal." he says, giving her an eye before flipping something small and metal into the air towards her, intending her to catch it. "A spare key to my apartment. Room 307 of the Rising Dragon. If you aren't there within three days I leave for Sunagakure. Easy enough?"
Yuzuna turns her head just slightly to glance at him out of the corner of her pale eyes, narrowing faintly at the glimmer of metal just before she instinctively snatches it out of midair, holding it in her palm as she inspects it with her gaze for a quiet moment or so. Then, she exhales a soft breath as she slips it into a hidden pocket in her yukata. "If it is as equals, then I need to pay you for lodging in some way, so I might as well get what earnings I have." She wasn't entirely familiar with Fuuma Alley, but it shouldn't be too hard to find the apartment building. Shaking her head faintly, Yuzuna turns around to begin heading southwards once more, in the direction of Konoha. "By the way, once I get there we will be having a talk about those sunglasses again." she says idly over her shoulder, without a glance back at him.