Date: January 13, 2013
Gijou has recovered from his injuries, and he's now conscious. Eager to pick up the trail, Atsuro and Taiki come to his room to ask a few questions.
"Finding Sachi - Part 2: Retracing Their Steps"
Konoha Medical Facility
Inuzuka Gijou, of the Gamma branch. He's not an outstanding member of the Inuzuka clan, skill-wise, and his intelligence leaves a bit to be desired, but he's popular within the clan. Part of this is likely his looks — he's quite easy on the eyes — but he's known to be good-natured and unassuming. He's spoken with Taiki and Atsuro both, and hasn't ever given them any trouble for their conflicts within the clan.
And now he's in the hospital after a patrol gone bad. Ayashi Jirou, the other ninja on patrol and Sachi, his nin-dog partner are missing. And Gijou's account of events may be the only thing that can save them now.
It's just past lunchtime, and Atsuro and Taizen wait outside his room in the hospital. Atsuro leans against the wall, a sandwich in on hand and a notepad in the other, waiting for Taiki to show up (and taking the occasional bite of the sandwich). Once he's arrived, they'll go in and question Gijou, and hopefully he can tell them enough to determine exactly what happened on that patrol and pick up the trail again.
Taiki stopped by the nurse's station at the end of his rounds to look at Gijou's chart. His superiors here already knew he was assigned to the mission, and gave him clearance to examine it. Since they knew he would be, he assumed any special instructions from the higher-ups for him would be within the files, probably as a separate page. Once he was finished with the file, he closed it, thanked the nurse on duty, and made his way toward the patient's room.
Taiki was dressed differently than he normally was, and only Nozomi was with him at this time. Instead of his normal attire, he wore the standard med-nin's uniform, with the Konoha med-nin seal in black on his chest, just below a name badge that simply says, "Taiki." He nods as he sees Atsuro, giving his sensei a brief smile. "Hey there Atsuro. I'm ready whenever you are."
Atsuro gives Taiki a sidelong glance. "You know he's already seen a doctor, right?" he asks. He hides a little smirk, then hands Taiki his notepad. "They said he might have memory loss," he explains, "But if we remind him of some things, he might remember." He nods to the pad, "Those are just some things I figured he might not remember." On the notepad, he's written a short list of topics to consider:
Gijou's wounds (cuts and bruises on face, deep stab wounds on torso)
Patrol climbed a tree
Rope system for crossing chasm
Route taken by patrol
He even alphabetized it. "Let's do this," he says, waving Taiki into the room. He quickly finishes off his sandwich and he and Taizen enter.
Gijou is sitting up, reading Tags 'n Kunai, a popular ninja magazine. He is indeed quite handsome, with black hair and an athletic build. His face is still healing, and a number of scabs and not yet healed bruises, but he'll be good as new eventually. As Taiki and Atsuro enter, he sets down the magazine. "Hey guys," he says, "I, uh, hope I can help." He scratches his head nervously, perhaps embarrassed to be seen in this state, lying in bed in his pajamas.
"How you doin', man?" Atsuro asks, "They treating you right here?" He glances to Taiki, then back to Gijou. "I guess you know what we're here for."
"I'm okay," says Gijou, "And I do. I don't know how much help I'll be, but… I know Sachi's depending on me." There's more than a hint of worry in his voice as he mentions Sachi.
"We'll do our best to find him," says Atsuro, "So what all happened? Can you tell us anything?"
Gijou shakes his head. "Not really," he says, "I was just out on a patrol with Sachi, and… I guess we got ambushed."
Before going in, Taiki smiles and shakes his head. "Just got done with my rounds, and technically I'm still on the clock. Besides, I'm more nurse level than doctor anyway, at least at this point, and as far as this patient is concerned." Taiki then takes the notepad and reads the notes, then nods. "I'm ready whenever you are, though I'm supposed to check his vitals while we're in there."
That said, he follows Atsuro in and heads over for the blood pressure cuff while he's talking. Grabbing the stethoscope from a pocket, he puts one end in his ear and the leaves the other end slightly out so he can hear what's being said. Gijou probably knows the drill, and since Taiki is wearing a med-nin's uniform, Taiki doesn't believe there would be much trouble. "I find that sometimes, if I have trouble remembering the details, it is best I start at the beginning and retrace the steps. You, Sachi-san, and Ayashi Jirou-san started your patrol, try to retrace your steps slowly. It may help."
Glancing at Taiki as he gets ready to take his blood pressure, Gijou rolls up his sleeve. His arm is completely free of injuries. "Looks like you got taken by surprise," Atsuro notes, "Didn't have an opportunity to block, at least."
Gijou pauses to consider this, then nods. "Well, I don't remember how it went down, exactly. But I don't remember any lead up. It's all fuzzy, but I feel like I didn't get a chance to fight back at all." Atsuro only responds to this by frowning and rubbing his chin. Gijou takes a moment to listen to Taiki's advice, then… "Oh yeah," he says, "Jirou. I'd been on a couple of patrols with him before. Quiet, but he seemed pretty smart. I think… yeah, at some point he thought he saw someone sneaking around in the bushes. We went off the trail for a little bit, then we came back and kept going."
Taiki nods as he starts to take the patient's blood pressure, all the while keeping track of the conversation. He keeps track of what is being said and then asks, "What made you go off the trail? Did you seen or hear anything when you did?" He makes note of Gijou's commentary about Jirou, but doesn't ask about that at the moment. "It seems to me something would have made you deviate from the standard course. Did Sachi say anyting to you during this time?"
"You went off the trail to investigate what Jirou saw?" Atsuro asks.
"Yeah," says Gijou. He fidgets a little as the cuff inflates around his arm and starts to cut off his circulation. "We didn't find anything, and then we went back to the trail." He pauses, "Oh, hold on. Sachi? Actually, he said there had been a lot of people in the area. His nose is better than mine, but once he said it, I noticed too."
"You didn't actually return to the trail either," Atsuro points out, "When we found you, it was further into the woods. Your scent disappeared from the trail completely at that point. It was very distinctive, we would have noticed."
Gijou seems to completely miss Atsuro's teasing. "Oh yeah," he says, "Now I remember. We got into the trees to keep going. We continued on like that… and then I guess we got ambushed in the trees." Atsuro raises an eyebrow, apparently not quite accepting that explanation.
Taiki takes note of where the sound of circulating blood stops, the slowly starts to release the air out, listening intently for the sound of circulation to come back again. Once he has the blood pressure, he makes note of it and starts to check the patient's pulse. "When did you encounter that ravine?" Taiki asks innocently enough. "And what made you want to cross it, especially the way you did? Also, can you give us an idea of what these people smelled like?" He is taking his time checking the pulse, even going so far as to move his fingers slightly as if it is hard to pinpoint exactly through the muscles. In reality though, a racing pulse would indicate nervousness and possibly lying.
Gijou relaxes again as Taiki loosens the cuff. His blood pressure was weak back when he was first brought to the hospital, but it's returned to normal over the last few days and it's textbook today. He lowers his sleeve, then lets Taiki take his pulse with no objection. If he's even considered the possibility of his pulse being used as a lie detector, he's obviously not concerned about it. "Oh yeah," he says, "I guess we did cross a ravine. But I don't remember how… Uh, the people smelled like… people I guess. Nothing really stood out, I just knew there were a lot of them."
"There was a rope with a pulley system to extend it across the gap," Atsuro reminds him, "Pretty well-hidden when it was withdrawn. Did you smell the people on the rope?" Gijou nods. "Actually, how did you find the rope?"
Gijou pauses. "Uh… I think Jirou found it. Didn't have a noticeable scent or anything. But after a few seconds, he spotted it." His pulse is normal.
Atsuro looks over to Taiki briefly, trying to make eye contact. "And then after you crossed the ravine, that's when you were ambushed. But you still don't remember who did it?"
Taiki looks up at Atsuro and then shrugs after making eye contact. Either the man was a pathological liar, or he was telling the truth, at least as he knew it. He then recorded the pulse and started to use the stethoscope to check heart and breathing techniques. "I'm sure it's pretty stressful to not remember so much," Taiki says consolingly. "But the more information we have, the quicker we can find Sachi. I'm sure you're worried about him," he adds. Something isn't adding up, that much was for sure. "Though it does sound to me like Jirou was doing a fair bit of leading that day. Did you notice anything off about him? Something not quite normal, or in character? Was he nervous at all?" He then looks at Atsuro again, wanting to see what it was Atsuro wanted.
It looks like Taiki and Atsuro are reaching the same conclusion. Atsuro nods very slightly as Taiki starts to ask about Jirou. "Does seem strange that he'd lead you all that way just because he /might/ have seen someone," he says, "I'm surprised you weren't getting suspicious yourself."
Gijou turns a little red and glances downward, embarrassed. "I dunno. I'd been having kinda a bad day. Got yelled at by a jounin, missed my lunch… so when he made all these suggestions, I figured I'd just go along with it. And I guess he /did/ keep asking about Sachi all along the patrol. I just figured he wanted to learn about nin-dogs. I didn't really think much of it."
Yeah, Gijou's reputation for being a bit dim isn't just a rumour. Atsuro seems to understand, though. "Plenty of people would have done the same in your place," he says, "But we need to keep focused. Is it possible he was leading you into a trap? Or maybe… he was the one who attacked you?"
Gijou lifts his shirt up to help Taiki continue his checkup. Atsuro eyes several large bandages still on Gijou's body. Those wounds will be healing for a while yet. Gijou thinks about Jirou's behaviour, then bites his lip suddenly. "Yeah," he says suddenly, his voice shaking. He's pale all of a sudden, "I guess… he was. Yeah, he just suddenly whipped around… he knocked Sachi out somehow — I didn't really get a chance to see it. He just grabbed me. He was really strong. I couldn't escape." He swallows. He's been grabbing at the bedsheets, bunching them up in his hands little by little and know he's gripping a good bundle of fabric with a white-knuckled grip. "He said something about how… he needed to know about the clan. He wanted me to tell me about all our techniques, but he kept asking about nin-dogs. He said he'd kill me if I didn't tell him everything. So I guess…" He swallows again. "I guess he's the one who took Sachi."
Atsuro stays quiet for a moment. "I have to ask, Gijou," he says quietly, "Did you give anything up?"
Gijou bites his lip again. "I don't know." He looks down into his lap. The possiblity that he might have betrayed the clan is obviously weighing heavily on him.
Taiki nods his head slowly, his face looking grim as he finishes and stands up. "I'd say finding Sach and Ayashi-san just became a higher priority Atsuro," he says quietly, serious but not condescending in any way. "Blood results came back negative for any known poison, so Ayashi-san was probably hoping the blow on the head would take care of covering his tracks."
Taiki then rests a hand on Gijou's shoulder. "I'm sure you conducted yourself honorably Gijou-san. You are very loyal to the clans, and I know for a fact that you would not willingly betray us." If there is anything that Taiki hates most in this world it is traitors, given what happened with his uncles. So he knows full well from whence he speaks on this. "We'll find Sachi, trust us. We'll do everything in our power to bring him back, alive and as unharmed as possible. It would help though if we knew, did he mention any reason why he was doing this? Maybe if he was working for someone?"
"No kidding," Atsuro says, "I'll have to fill out the report ASAP." But he'll take a brief detour, just to wrap things up here on a more positive note. He nods to Gijou, adding to what Taiki said. "I doubt you said anything you shouldn't have. He said he'd kill you if you didn't tell him anything, and he obviously tried. And I think we can trust him. If you were cooperative, he'd want you along to get as much out of you as possible. He was only interested in keeping you alive so long as you were useful. And we'll do our best to find Sachi, I promise."
Gijou nods slowly. "Thanks guys," he says with obvious gratitude. "I dunno if he was working with anyone. But we definitely smelled a lot of other people on that trail… so maybe they were involved somehow?"
"Not comforting," says Atsuro, "But he'd have to be an idiot to just grab a nin-dog and strike out on his own. I bet Taiki's right. This has gotta be a part of something bigger. Can I have my notes back?" He looks at the notepad. "Hey, you didn't write anything!"
Taiki just raises a brow at Atsuro's last comment and said, "We didn't on the trail either, but you can bet I'll be making notes the moment I'm done here. And besides," he says, turning the cliboard he was writing things on around, showing a smaller pad of paper with notes on it, "I was writing my notes as I was doing my job. You can copy from mine later." He then smirks and shakes his head for the lack of faith Atsuro is showing in Taiki. He then turns toward Gijou and nods slowly. "I'm betting you're right on that. If he "found" that rope, then someone had to have set it up before hand, either him or someone else. Trust me, we'll get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, rest. Dinner will be along shortly. And if you need anything, ring the nurse's station, they'll help you."
"I know," says Atsuro, "I remember all the important details anyway. I was just hoping you'd object in a more humorous manner. You know, something to lighten the mood." He flashes Taiki a grin, then he turns to Gijou. "Don't worry, man," he says, "We'll do everything we can. The search will start as soon as we can be ready."
Gijou manages a weak smile, comforted by the promises of Atsuro and Taiki. "Thanks guys," he says again, "Good luck. When you find Sachi… tell him I'm sorry I couldn't protect him."
"You did everything you could," Atsuro says, "Anyway, I dunno about Taiki, but I'd better get a move on. See you two later. Get well soon, Gijou. And thanks for the help, Taiki." He smiles as he turns to leave. "Very astute." With that, he and Taizen walk out of the room. Before long, they'll be heading out to rescue Sachi.