Date: September 18, 2014
A training session is set aside, so that two old friends may — if only for a moment — rest and reconnect…
"Past to Present and Back Again"
Chill River [Land of Water]
The Chill River is, as the name indicates, a river of rather cold water. It stretches from the northern Land of Water, a mere trickle from a lake near the Koumorite Village, but then is joined by dozens of tribuataries in the forests until it becomes a significant, surging river. The river has long been a place for the Yuki Clan to practice its Ice Release, and small towns still lay in the woodlands on both sides of the misty river banks. Ritual statues and markers still protrude from the river's waters, serving as both warnings of who holds sway over the river and as a means of controlling the passage of boats and rafts.
To the north lies a significant stretch of forest within the Land of Water, and to the south-west, black sands lie on the coast.
No matter what weapon is swept into the dance, all were wielded as if they weighed no more than a feather. If there are any misteps on their owner's part, he either masked them well or turned them to his advantage. Nothing less could be expected out of Kiri shinobi; least of all at a time like the present. By slamming his kanobi into the Chill Rivers, Kiyoshi hoped to shatter the depressing line of thought before the other reminders swept in along with it. Instead, all he managed to do was make a lot of noise, and leave himself both winded and drenched from the effort.
Until he could see the moon reflected in the river, the genin remained in that final position, gulping for air. After he recovers and assuming he's not disturbed before hand, the white-haired young man sweeps back his hair as he turns to peer at the array of half-buried weapons in the river bank.
The claymore exceeded her height easily as it's cleanly pulled from the moist bank, clumps of sand faintly splattering near her bare feet as the blade is lifted with ease. The petite young girl inspects it with idle curiosity, as if not noticing at all that it could very well possibly near her on weight. "I guess there's no fishing tonight?" Yuriko asks, shifting the blade to her right hand and testing its movements with a habitual flick of her wrist. It moved naturally in her grip and she plays with it for a moment or so longer before burying the tip into the soft sand again. Her intensely blue green eyes blink slowly as they look up at the towering man, watching him quietly until she faintly cants her head at him. "Don't think I've seen that color on you before."
Kiyoshi had instinctively tightened his grip on the Kanobi upon sighting the claymore's movements. Those same instincts warred between attack and flee, only to be jarred from control all together once it becomes clear who wielded the weapon. "…." The only response Yuriko would recieve for some time outside of wide-eyed surprise and a tinge of confusion. Not until the storm of questions end and he's left standing upon the river combing his hair roughly with a free hand. "It's… apart of a compromise," He says lamely, still wide-eyed and a little rigid in form.
Her bright eyes never leave him, muted subtly by the dim light of the deepening evening. She watches him steadily as Kiyoshi stares at her with wide eyes, soon a pale brow quirking the longer the awkward silence between them lengthens. But still Yuriko patiently waits for some sort of response. When he does, her gaze flits to his snowy hair again, brow arched with some speculation and skepticism. "A compromise?" she murmurs doubtfully. "With who?" She had always known him to change the color of his hair as often as the seasons, but she's never seen it snow white before. Crimson, forest green, even blonde, but not like her own snowy locks.
After a moment or so the young girl idly rolls her shoulders to herself, water splashing lightly at her bare toes all the while. Yuriko blinks her bright eyes steadily as she shifts her focus again, meeting his eyes. "You okay?"
The attention shift back to his hair seems to only make the genin try to dig deeper into the once orderly folds. "It is… Uhm…" But no satisfying answer comes to mind. There is but pain blossoming from his skull and eliciting a wince from the genin. Pulling his hand free reveals the cause to be none other than his latest nervous tic — the shape-shifting of finger tips to something more akin to talons — having manifested again.
"I'm… not as much as should be." Kiyoshi finally admits as the hand falls to the wayside. "Though hearing you say that I'm forgiven for not heeding your invitation the day before would be a start." He says, offering a weak grin at the end. "Which.. I'm really am sorry for missing."
Yuriko sees the taloned fingers as he pulls his hand away from his head, blinking lightly with surprise before frowning to herself. Obviously he wasn't as good as he could be, but clearly Kiyoshi wasn't about to tell her what was bothering him either. That much hasn't changed. She exhales a small breath at this thought, but focuses again on his face when he brings up the picnic he had missed. "Oh." something in her demeanor changes as Yuriko turns her gaze aside, thoughtful and softer. "It's alright. It wasn't really a total loss…" Petite hands clasped in front of her, they fidget if only briefly before the girl exhales another deliberate breath. "It's not like me to hold it against you, Kiyoshi, so don't be bothered by it."
It may have not been intended, but the fact she mentioned it being "not a total lost" tugged at the heart strings bad enough to make the Moto cover the spot. Some semblance of ease returns to his eyes after she spoke on, but only just. His guilt-ridden conscious wouldn't make it easier on him; especially considering he chose to heed their sensei's word for the genin over immediatly making up for the trouble cause. "True enough, Yuriko-chan, but true as well that it'd not be like me to not try at least make up for things," He admits after arresting his kanobi on his shoulder. "So, what'll be? Anything. Just name it." The white-haired man adds as he began his trek back to the shore.
Her gaze returning to the tall man, Yuriko lifts a pale brow once more with skepticism as he practically insists on making it up to her. Despite the fact he'd been forgiven. Her mouth presses together as she makes a face, but after a moment or so she exhales a breath and turns on heel, approaching the closest rock that looks like it would be a suitable enough seat. Settling on top of it, the young girl's bright, knowing eyes return to Kiyoshi. "Alright. You can make it up to me by telling me what's wrong. No deflection." Yuriko murmurs pointedly.
Kiyoshi simply cannot help but smile a little in response to her expression. However, it falters in the face of her knowing eyes; a warning in themselves. "Ah… Mmn…. I guess I should've-…" He catches himself mid-way, then regards Yuriko warily. Did she not just mentioned no deflections? "I'm… agitated." He admits as much before tossing the club with the other weapons, and plopping down not long after.
As was his way, Kiyoshi became silent for a time, thinking and reconsidering how best to fully explain things. Of course after a good solid minute or two attempting the impossible, the Moto abandons the effort with a heavy sigh. "I still feel rusty after being buried under an island for so long.. These.. tics" He raises his still altered fingers. "are more difficult to contain now that me and… the 'other' have come to a compromise. Then, there's Kiji and Sei, and this whole Silence business too that's just-…" But again he abandons words. What he cannot articulate comes out more as growls directed at nothing. During which time Kiyoshi had turned his gaze upon a nearby spear. A subconscious effort on his behalf perhaps to keep from misleading Yuriko.
Yuriko patiently waits for Kiyoshi as he falls silent for the longest time, content to wait him out if need be. A moment passes, then another before he sighs. When he does start to speak his mind she gently tilts her snowy head at him, absently lifting a hand long enough to brush her bangs from her eyes. "Rusty…" she says the word slowly. "Well, a few missions under your belt can help. Regular training. Maybe even taking down a forest of trees." One corner of her mouth tugs with a slight smile. It only falters when he holds up his hands, bright eyes lingering on his fingers just briefly. "A compromise… Has it been working out the way you've hoped it would?" Yuriko asks, bright eyes looking up to his. "If you're having tics, I'm not sure if that really means you've accepted him. But… that's just a guess since I haven't met him either."
The mention of Sei and Kiji earns a small, confused frown and a pause, unsure what the problem could be with them. But the Silence? "Hm. Well if it matters any, the last time I encountered the Silence was in Suna and I was able to put a tracker on them."
Try as he might, Kiyoshi cannot resist mirroring Yuriko's slight smile with his own lips. Soon after, it too faltered after spying where and what her eyes fell upon. Although he wished to hide the transformed digits outright, the Moto instead chose to bury them in his hair again and rest upon his backside. "It's more like… he's left me to handle more.. like I bargained for." 'The idiot that I am' He cuts in to say and thought before scowling half-heartedly at the heavens above. Kiyoshi then turns to her, meaning to — if perhaps only jokingly — suggest introducing Yuriko to the bijuu himself, but catches himself upon seeing her lips part.
Within seconds after Yuriko has finished speaking, Kiyoshi is not only on his feet, but has also closed the distance between them. Personal boundary meant little to him in that moment, for he practically loomed over her, and peered deeply in her eyes with murky dark pools that hinted at nothing more than seriousness. Whatever is going through his head however must still be digesting, since he fails to speak on or make any other moves.
His sudden approach makes the young girl blink in her seat, bright innocent eyes looking up at him as he looms darkly over her. That awkward moment stretches before Yuriko frowns to herself. Before he can react, his hand is pulled away from his snowy hair, clawed fingertips pointed, as anticipated. She looks at them only for a short moment before gently clasping them between her tiny hands. "It's fine." she murmurs. "Eventually you'll get the hang of it.
His thoughts were scattered things between the now and 'elsewhere' until she tugged at his hands. And while his eyes did follow the motion, the light is sluggish to return to them. Even once they've fully return, Kiyoshi is hesitant to do more than let his gaze shift from Yuriko and his captured hand then back again. "Ri-right," He murmurs before finally mustering the resolve to fall back onto his haunches and provide Yuriko some genuine breathing space. As foolish as it may have been to hope otherwise, the man-teen inclined his head once comfortable in the hope of masking his flush face behind a curtain of white. "Just actually wish there was an easier way to go about that.." He admits.
Yuriko keeps his clawed fingers sandwiched between her own petite hands for a long moment before releasing the hand. Under the dim lighting of the moon, for the moment she pretends that she can't see how flustered he suddenly is. An absent tug at one corner of her mouth shows the hunt of a smile before the girl shakes her snowy head. "With important things, there's no shortcuts. But I know you can do it."
Kiyoshi grits his teeth behind closed lips in an effort of maintaining his resolve against the desire to look back up at Yuriko before warmth left his cheeks. Frankly, he knew not why it was so importantly aside from the avoidance of adding any fuel to Yuriko's mischievous nature. His head jerks up at that thought, though the why is quickly tossed aside as Yuriko spoke on. "Mm…" Is all he cared to emit before belatedly drawing his hand back towards his chest. After a brief moment of silently glaring at the appendage they revert back into their original form. "Guess I really should've kept the seal on then." He murmured thoughtless as he rose up to his full height, then snatched up the nearby half-buried axe.
Glancing at the hand, it's a moment before the fingers begin to shrink back into normal fingers, eliciting a small smile from the young girl. The mention of the aging seal however quickly wipes away what traces there was of the proud smile and Yuriko turns her gaze away from him, trying to hide the hurt that still lingered in her chest. They had talked about this before, and she knew that nothing can come from it. "Unless the same shady people also makes a seal that reverts aging… What's passed has passed. No use crying over spilled milk…"
Kiyoshi glimpses the change, but makes no move to try and comfort Yuriko. He only mentally berated himself for being so thoughtless and pretend to mask all feelings by feigning full focus upon getting used to the axe's weight. "… Even if they did, it wouldn't be something I can accept." Kiyoshi admits. "At least… not willingly if it can be helped." He adds, swinging the weapon around one last time before resting it back in the earth.
The young girl shrugs her shoulders to herself quietly, without glancing up. Yuriko just exhales a longer breath as she shifts her weight, arms supporting her tiny frame as she leans back on top of her boulder. "Feeling any better? Are you still bothered by stuff?" she asks. Yuriko suspected there might be more to it but there's no telling with Kiyoshi.
A smirk tugs at Kiyoshi's lips at the first question. But beyond it, he stayed silent and allowed his gaze only to wonder from one weapon to the next so long as it did not near Yuriko's form. "I… know I probably have no right to ask this, and that.. your more than capable of handling whatever comes up… Even so, if they ever have you pursue the ones you've placed a tracker on—" Kiyoshi turns to face the young girl, wary but hopeful, or so his eyes may convey. "You'll request my being apart of that team."
"Of course." Yuriko murmurs without any hesitance, the corner of her lips tugging with a faint smirk. "The day that I assume that I don't need anyone else is the day my arrogance gets me into trouble." The slight smirk lingers for another thoughtful moment. "If the mission comes up, I'll request it with the Mizukage. It shouldn't be a problem."
The tension in Kiyoshi shoulders melted at the murmur. Before he can even begin fully enjoy the uplifted weight, Yuriko's next words leaves him throws him off guard. He tries and tries again to interrupt, but cannot find it in himself to truly interrupt the girl. "Th-that isn't…" He manages to ultimately get out, only to let it all go with an exasperated sigh. "Nevermind." He murmurs. One last glance is given to the scattered weapons about before the moss-haired giant gives up on his prior plan and just plops down next to Yuriko.
"What made you come out this way, anyways?"
Finally her bright eyes glance up at him, pale brow arching as he stammers over his words before seeming to give up and plop himself next to her. "That wasn't what you meant?" Yuriko asks, supplying the words she assumed he was going to say initially. "Alright. What had you meant then?" she asks again, the patience in her voice suggesting that she'll wait all day for him to answer. The diversion earns a small smirk however. "You were pounding on the ground. Loudly."
Beyond shaking his head in dismissal initially, Kiyoshi stubbornly refrained from answering her questions. He even went as far as to try and ignore her presence altogether… though that doesn't last all that long. A guttural growl snaked its way past his lips, followed by the man whipping his head about to glare at her for the comment. "I was not!" He barked. "I was out there trying to get back used to my weapons and, well, you know the rest.." Kiyoshi gaze falls with that admission. Soon after, he turns away, meaning to remain silent and stick to it this time unless prompted again. And yet, scarcely a few moments later…
"I didn't mean to suggest Meruin-sensei would send you on the mission alone, or that you'd want that…. Your… Some adults may see you as unassuming, but that won't be enough… Not for folk who sound as shady as the ones that put those aging seals on us."
Yuriko just smirks. "Yeah. Loudly." she reiterates, slight smirk growing further as he glares at her. "You asked." she shrugs her shoulders, gaze drifting to the movement of water at the edge of the boulder she sits on. The silence engulfs them for a few moments before he breaks the silence again. "You don't have to sugar-coat it." Yuriko says softer. "At first I thought that I would use it to my advantage, being underestimated. But… it makes it hard to teach others when you look younger than them, shorter than they are…" A longer breath is steadily released. "Yeah, trying to track down the Silence by myself… I may be strong, but I can't assume I'm stronger than they are."
Kiyoshi's lips part immediatly to deny her claim, but not a word leaves them before he closes them once more. There was simply nothing to offer by way of condolsences. Not yet, and perhaps, not ever. Nevertheless, he ground his teeth as he listened, dividing his focus between the problem and the present without falling back on the one rather obvious suggestion. "Not alone, anyways." He murmurs, then stills his fingers for a moment for a moment.
"Wait a tic… I can get having a hard time getting people to listen, but… teach? Who are you trying to teach?"
Yuriko quirks a brow as she gives the snowy-haired man beside her a sideways glance, though after a moment she couldn't help but smirk to herself. Shifting her weight again, she leans forward and pulls her tiny legs against her chest, hugging them as she looks back to the moving water. "A couple of Genin. Maki Hayase and Okumo Naoya. It was just tree walking." Yuriko softly shrugs to herself.
There is a bit of an eye twitch there at the mention of Okumo. Aside from it, Kiyoshi listened calmly and with open ears. "Mm… I think I met the first one at least, but… eh." He shrugs. "Did they come to you for lessons, or.. was it something else that sparked that whole thing?" Kiyoshi asks, even though his mind had already begun racing ahead of itself.
Another long breath escapes her lips, "The only way Hayase-chan can even get motivated is if there was cookies. Even then, they had difficulty getting up the wall." Yuriko lifts a hand to lightly rub at the back of her head. "She managed to get the cookies, but Naoya-kun… well, after he challenged me to a spar and I almost killed him. Had to carry him to the hospital…" her voice becomes softer with regret, but after a quiet moment she just shakes her head to herself. Knowing that she can't take back what happened.
Kiyoshi lofts a brow at Yuriko, but doesn't dare interrupt to ask what was wrong or recant the question. What follows is, to say the least, difficult to keep from chuckling over, let alone smile. The snow-haired man manages to at least retain enough of his composure to hide the latter by keeping his eyes averted elsewhere and covering his mouth. It is a short-lived gesture as things turn out.
Despite knowing it may earn only enimity in return, Kiyoshi refrains from back down from the desire once it takes root. A desire that led him to pet Yuriko on the head if given the chance, and let it rest there for a moment more before allowing it fall back to his side. "Have you seen either of them sense?" He asks after a moment of silence.
The young girl blinks her bright eyes up at Kiyoshi when he pets her head, though after a short moment she makes a face and feigns a scoff, glancing away as the hand falls back. "Yeah quite often." Yuriko murmurs, arms still wrapped around her tiny legs. "Hayase-chan had a slumber party with me last weekend. And Naoya-kun… I guess I hang out with him more often."
Kiyoshi had only smirked in return for the face she made, though the temptation to ruffle her hair gnawed at him as well. His amusement quickly faded soon after upon receiving his answer. "At least he doesn't hold a grudge." Kiyoshi murmurs, and smiles weakly. Then, ignoring the protest of popping joints, Kiyoshi rolls onto his feet and straightens out once more. For a brief moment afterwards the Trent seems about ready to say more; only to shake his head in dissmal before going about gathering his weapons together into some sort of makeshift, multi-purpose sheath for them.
"Take care, Yuriko-chan." And on that note, the elder genin takes off…