Date: July 8, 2016
In the aftermath of Uchiha Ken's death, Tsugumi calls her daughter and co-captain to speak with her privately.
"Promises In The Dark"
Uchiha Village - Konohagakure
Tsugumi's period of mourning is technically over, but not really. She is a shinobi, and she has duties to fulfill. Comrades and even family die. Falling to pieces over it does not benefit the Village. Even so, after weeks of wasting away at home, barely taking care of herself without Suzu's assistance, spending her days sleeping on the couch and looking through old photo albums, she has finally contacted her co-leader of Team 13, and asked her to come by. She has at least made herself presentable and spent some time working on the house, but it's clear she's not in the same physical or mental condition she was before all this.
She's wearing a sea-green kimono rather than her typical around-the-house clothing nor her ninja equipment. Cinched at the waist, it gives her a very dramatically emphasized figure. Once Rinoko has arrived, been invited in by a very sedate and quiet Tsugumi, and then seated in the living room (and offered tea and sweets as well), the Uchiha sets about waiting for her daughter to arrive as well.
The house is fairly gloomy. Not many lights are on and the doors and windows are closed tight, curtains drawn and shutters shut. Despite it being winter, it's fairly clear today… But that light seems to begin and end at the border between 'inside' and 'outside'.
"Thank you for coming," Tsugumi says quietly, her gaze down-turned, at the tea cup resting in her hands, which are in turn folded in her lap. The steam rising from the tea and the cream seem to be forming patterns she'd rather look at than her guest.
Knowing Tsugumi would be mourning, Rinoko had not taken any offense to being in contact with Tsugumi for the weeks prior. In fact she was happy that Tsugumi was taking the time to mourn properly because that is what's healthy for her to do. In the mean time Rinoko has spent her time with her books and performing her duties, making up for Tsugumi's absence where she could. Times have been rough for the Uchiha Clan with losing so many of their beloved leaders in such a short time. Having a new Clan Head taking action may help, but that doesn't erase the void left in one's heart left by the absence of their loved ones.
The librarian kunoichi would bow to Tsugumi at the door, adorned in her normal attire. (Does she actually have any other types of clothes besides this and her pajamas and swimwear?) A gentle smile would be offered as she looks over the Uchiha woman, trying to gauge her current state. She would be silent as long as Tsugumi is, knowing that words are probably not what she wants of her so much as her presence.
Taking a seat at the table as instructed, she waits patiently as the tea is prepared and then presented. A nod is offered in regard to Tsugumi's statement, the Rankoro woman saying, "Of course." She reaches a gentle hand over to rest on Tsugumi's arm, that smile still on her face as she hopes to be as comforting as possible. "Thank you for inviting me. I am always available should you need me, no matter the event or the hour."
Unlike Tsugumi, Suzu has been eating and sleeping and bathing properly. She has abided by a strict work-out regimine, she has gone over everything she knows so far, over and over, building up her basics and accruing 'experience'. Strengthening her mental and physical energy this way through repetition, and meditation… She is solidifying all that she can currently do before going any further. Building up her stamina, refining her skills, sharpening her mind, and determining what her goals should be from now on.
On top of that, her appearance and behavior are different from what most know from her. Some of it is likely due to the recent loss, but when she arrives, her hair longer and spikier, her expression simultaneously cold and fierce, she gives off an impression of being almost a new person. A darkness is starting to take root inside of her.
And for those who knew him, Suzu is beginning to look like a younger, female, and significantly bustier version of Madara himself. Supposedly, Suzuha's grandfather was a brother to Madara's father, so there are some of the same genetics. More than just appearances, however, the rambunctious and somewhat silly girl who Suzu used to be is gradually fading away.
Or maybe it's nothing so sinister as that. Maybe she is simply distraught, and maturing as a person, that she puts aside childish things. But she arrives shortly after Rinoko does, having completed her morning training. She bows in acknowledgement to Rinoko when Suzu sees her. "Rinoko-sensei," she offers politely, before taking a seat at the table with the two of them. She's wearing her standard clothing as well, though it's fitting increasingly poorly.
She kneels patiently and quietly, not speaking unless spoken to as she waits to find out why she was called here. She seems… Distant even towards her other mother.
It's probably not hard to imagine why given the end result of the last mission they went on together.
Tsugumi offers a small smile to Rinoko when a hand is rested upon her arm, raising a hand of her own to squeeze Rinoko's appendage in turn. "Thank you. Your presence and support mean a great deal to me." When the front door opens and Suzu comes in, Tsugumi retracts her hand and sits up a bit straighter, raising her gaze from her lap.
Once Suzu is seated, Tsugumi says, "I called you both here to discuss something very important. The Village isn't out of danger yet, as we all know. We've taken some time off to recover from our last engagement, and to attend to various other matters. But until the ones behind the infiltration are taken down, we won't be truly safe. That means a lot of preparation and training is going to be happening in the near future, so that we're ready as soon as we're called to action."
Tsugumi looks at Suzu and the 'stare straight ahead' thing she's doing. She definitely sees some of Madara in her daughter. She hopes it's only a superficial similarity. She knows Suzu has idolized him for awhile now, but it really wouldn't be wise for it to go beyond that. Then she looks to Rinoko, as beautiful, and scholarly, and caring as always. Tsugumi didn't realize just how much she'd missed seeing her fellow Chuunin until she was here once more.
After a small delay, Tsugumi then says, "I also wanted to tell you about something else. Something you both must promise to keep secret for as long as possible."
Rinoko looks deep into Tsugumi's eyes as she speaks, that smile brightening as her hand is met with Tsugumi's own. A simple nod is given before her hand falls back to her lap as well as Tsugumi's does, her own attention turning to Suzu as she walks in the door. The Rankoro woman bows her head lightly to Suzu in return from her seated position then studies her a bit. Suzu is definitely growing up… more like her mother in some ways but also like a man she heard legend of when she was in the hospital bed in Konoha's hospital. She thinks she might have seen this man once or twice when he passed down the halls. He gave her the chills in more than one way, much like Suzu's own demeanor does right now.
Ahem. As Tsugumi starts to talk, Rinoko's gaze meets her face once again. She takes the information in intently, offering a nod once in a while to show she is paying attention. Really, she had a feeling it wasn't over. Between this and the other attacks on the village, she is a bit worried, but she has to hope that, as long as they are together, things will be okay. She herself knew how much she missed Tsugumi, but allowing Tsugumi to recover was more important than her desire to see her. "I'll be ready."
When the last statement comes, she binks and glances between both Uchiha women in thought. Her gaze quickly settles back to Tsugumi, though, as she waits to find out what secret she is about to tell. "You have my word."
Suzu definitely is avoiding looking at anyone. Or at least avoiding looking at her mother. She figured it wasn't over, and that's why she's been training so much. So she'll be ready next time. So no one else will have to die because she couldn't do anything meaningful. But when Tsugumi starts talking about keeping a secret, she almost just agrees to get this conversation over with so she can leave again. But she holds her tongue and thinks about it. The last secret she kept, about her mother going against orders, ended with her father getting killed. By her mother.
She isn't sure she wants to keep any more secrets for her. But she eventually lets out a breath, trying to let go of some of her resentment, at least in front of company, and says, "I will do as I am told to, mother. To the best of my ability." It still sounds kind of cold the way she says it, but at least it's not hostile.
Following Suzu's response, there is a painful silence, as Tsugumi looks at her daughter, saddened by what their relationship is becoming. But this isn't the time to play make-up. Instead, having obtained agreement from both of the other women, she says, "You may have both heard of it. The rare, legendary power that Uchiha have sought for generations, and yet very few have obtained."
Tsugumi looks to Rinoko as she continues on quietly. "It's a power that is highly coveted. Even more so than the Sharingan. Even allies might seek it for their own ends. And there are those who might pressure one who bears it to take certain actions for the sake of the Clan or the Village."
Tsugumi closes her eyes. "For that reason, it is a power that either becomes the hallmark of a powerful shinobi who uses it boldly and defies all thieves, or is kept quiet to avoid such fame by those who prefer to avoid assassins and opportunists. It's called the Mangekyou Sharingan. I'm telling you both this now because you were there, so you would probably figure it out eventually. And if you talked about it to the wrong people, that might become a problem."
Tsugumi opens her eyes, and in them is neither the shiny black of most Uchiha, nor the red and black three-tomoe design of the Sharingan. Instead is an entirely different design, of the same coloration, but which is unique to Tsugumi. "I have the Mangekyou Sharingan, though I do not desire it. I would rather not use it if at all possible. But that will be easier to accomplish if few people know I have it in the first place."
Suzu's response causes Rinoko to look back to her and blink… While the Rankoro wants to deny it, there is most definitely resentment toward Tsugumi in the younger Uchiha's tone due to how things happened. This saddens her, as one might note in her eyes, but there's not a lot of time to think on it as Tsugumi starts to explain.
Turning her eyes back to Tsugumi, Rinoko listens quietly as the tale is told about this apparently awesome power. She wonders a moment if Tsugumi might get in trouble just for telling her this right up until the Uchiha woman opens her eyes once more to show that she herself has obtained this power. She ponders over the consequences of this power that Tsugumi describes, knowing she must keep this a secret at all costs. "My lips are sealed," she promises with a nod then glances between the two Uchiha, wondering how this will go now.
When Tsugumi starts talking about the Mangekyou Sharingan, one of Suzu's hands twitches in her lap. That's a power she only knows of three or four people having in the history of the Uchiha, at most. Madara, his brother Izuna, Madara's apprentice Fuyu, and the recently-deceased Uchiha Clan Head Kurome. When Tsugumi explains, and then shows that she has it now, Suzu's eyes widen in surprise. Only one of her eyes is visible behind the thick spikes of hair that are increasingly covering half her face as they grow out, but rest assured, they both show her surprise.
When Tsugumi explains why she wants this to be kept secret, Suzu turns her gaze away, off towards one of the closed-up windows, in thought. She folds her arms under her chest and thinks carefully. Finally, some time after both Tsugumi and Rinoko have finished speaking, Suzu looks back to her mother and says, "I know I already promised to keep it secret. But I want to attach a condition to my silence." She regrets that she didn't get her mom alone first before broaching this subject, but the words are already out.
Suzu turns on the floor so she can face Tsugumi fully, and then leans forward, hands on her knees. "Tell me how this power is obtained."
While Tsugumi is grateful for Rinoko's ready agreement, her expression, which has been calm and quiet up until now, becomes sharper and sterner in response to Suzu's. She has allowed her daughter's attitude to go on for awhile now, because she has felt immense guilt over what she did to take down Moroi, even though even Ken had agreed this was the best way to prevent the enemy's escape. But this is more than just a family dispute. It's bigger than either of them. Bigger than Team 13.
So she narrows her eyes at Suzu and asks, "And what will you do with that knowledge if I tell you? Further, I want to be clear: I am asking you as a fellow shinobi and a member of Team 13. If I have to tell you to keep your mouth shut about it as your mother, I will. And while I'd much rather NOT use this power, I could easily force you to with the Genjutsu I now wield." Tsugumi's Chakra radiates from her, a pressure that is primarily focused upon Suzu, but may be caught part of by Rinoko as well.
"Do not force me to do that. And do not overestimate how much slack I'm willing to give you just because of our mutual loss."
Well, so much for a peaceful agreement. As Suzu makes her demand, Rinoko looks her way then back to Tsugumi as she feels that bit of rage emanating from her. The Rankoro woman has to think quick about the consequences of her next action, but she has to risk it because she doesn't want these two to splinter as a team or as a family. Normally she'd be the one to sit back and hope things play out, but she has too much love for both of them to let things break apart.
Reaching out with each of her hands, Rinoko goes to grab a hand of both of the Uchiha women, a pleading look in her eyes. "Please calm down," she asks of them. First her eyes turn to Suzu. "I know you're angry, but so is she, and the guilt she must feel over how things went is something I wouldn't wish on an enemy. Her heart hurts for him and for you more than I think you or I could comprehend right now."
Then her eyes turn to Tsugumi. "Tsugumi-sama… I know the thought of her trying to obtain this power or telling others in her quest to gain it is scary, but you should understand… And I do because it's the same way I feel, though her feelings are stronger because he was her father… Suzu is angry, and it's not at you, at least not entirely. She feels like she should have been able to do more, like some lack of strength on her part kept her from doing what needed to be done. She wants power so she never has to feel that way again."
Tsugumi's intense gaze and even more intense words both make Suzu angry and fearful. She has many times been on the receiving end of a terrifying lecture, but this is a bit different. Her feelings towards her beautiful mother are different. Everything is just… Broken now. As her hand is taken, Suzu has the petty impulse to pull it away from Rinoko, but she puts a stopper on that before it makes any traction with her body. It's not Rinoko she's mad at, though making excuses for her mom isn't earning any bonus points.
"You're taking her side?" Suzu asks, closing her eyes, eyebrows angled down sharply. But she listens. Yes, her mother SHOULD feel guilty for what she did. But is it really her mom she's mad at? She doesn't know. Maybe her mother wouldn't have done something that extreme if not for traitors like Moroi, or these foul Bombers. Why do all of these people have to come after the Hidden Leaf!?
Eventually, she opens her eyes, though only visible behind the spiked curtain of hair hanging at an angle over one side of her face. She decides to be mature about this. Or at least outwardly make peace. For many reasons, including that she still loves her mom. But also because if she doesn't work together peacefully, she won't find out how to obtain more power. "I apologize for lashing out. I'll try to be more respectful from now on. Thank you for helping to calm things down and speak reason to us, Rinoko-sensei."
Then she looks to Tsugumi and says, "Okaa-san, to answer your question, I want to be stronger so I can keep the people important to me safe. To keep this Village safe. If these eyes are as valuable and as coveted as you say, I want to know both what I would do to if I needed them, and what I shoud avoid doing to keep myself from becoming a target. I promise not to intentionally seek out the Mangekyou Sharingan under any normal circumstances. But if that power is needed, and I have to make a hard choice…"
She makes eye-contact with her mother. "…Like you did with Otou-san… I want to know what's necessary if the worst happens."
Tsugumi puts a lid on her emotions and her Chakra again relatively quickly, though mostly thanks to Rinoko's intervention. She closes her eyes similarly to how Suzu does, as she regains control. She just looks drained and so much older than she did before all this when she opens her eyes again, and rubs at her forehead with the back of her hand. "You're right. But we need unity now, not bickering between what family remains to us." She sighs as she squeezes Rinoko's hand with her own.
"Suzu, I think you misunderstand. I wasn't seeking the Mangekyou Sharingan. And while I've heard stories about its requirements, I wasn't thinking of them when I did what I did. If there had been another way, I would have taken it. But Moroi wouldn't have left your father alive except as a hostage, and he has allies, you'll recall, who very much want Sharingan in their arsenal. It was better he fall at the hands of one who loved him, than be tortured and operated on by the enemy, and then his eyes and his knowledge used against the Village to hurt even more people. That being said…" Tsugumi reaches across the table with her free hand, and takes Suzu's in her grasp. "…It was the hardest thing I've ever done. And as you've seen, it has practically destroyed me. There are only two things keeping me willing to continue fighting now. One, is my duty to the Hidden Leaf — my home, which Ken and I, and many others, fought to establish, so that children could actually live to see adulthood instead of being used as soldiers."
"The second thing is YOU." She squeezes Suzu's hand, if permitted. "You, and Rinoko, and Reime, and Aru, and Nonon… You, and all of Team 13, are the only family I have left now. I can't give up on everything when you are still in danger. And your father wouldn't have given up either." Tsugumi is quiet for awhile, as she glances towards Rinoko. "I have your word, though? That you won't seek this power out intentionally if you know how to get it? It's an abnormality. An unnatural power that comes from and causes only suffering. If you promise me you won't seek it out, I'll tell you, if only so you can avoid it."
Tsugumi takes in a deep breath and then lets it out. "The Mangekyou Sharingan, according to legend, can only be obtained by the death of the one closest to you. Throughout history, many have tried to kill their best friends, lovers, and family, to facilitate obtaining this power. Most have failed. I didn't really understand or believe the requirements. They were something I had heard in passing when I was much younger. The story of how Madara and his brother obtained their legendary eyes. And I certainly never expected to get it myself."
Tsugumi looks down at her tea as her hands slip back to her lap. "And I wish I had gone on not knowing whether the stories were true or not. But now you know, Suzu-chan. And I trust you to not verify them for yourself."
Then she looks to Rinoko and says, "And I trust you to not speak of this, as you promised, as well."
Nope. No taking sides for Rinoko, but Suzu figures that out anyway on her own, so there's no need to point it out. The Rankoro woman looks between the Uchiha with a gentle smile as apologies go back and forth and feeling are spoken. She smiles when things go from very tense to now being a triangle with all three of them holding hands. It feels a little strange that the most shy and awkward member of the team, at least one of the two, is now the one helping maintain unity between arguably the two most important members of the team. She wonders perhaps if Tsugumi saw her as being able to become this all along when she recruited her or if it was more just blind luck.
Rinoko stays silent through the ordeal for now, simply offering nod of acknowledgement when she is spoken to so they can continue their conversation uninterrupted until the last bit where Tsugumi reiterates her promise to her. "My lips are sealed," she says with a smile then looks between them and would slip her hands back into her lap as well unless Suzu decides she wants to hang on a little longer.
Between all the hand squeezing and serious talk, Suzu keeps her cool and remains quiet. She listens, and the means described for obtaining the Mangekyou Sharingan are… Not what she had hoped. She meant her promise. But to kill someone she cares about? Could she EVER be willing to go that far for the sake of power? Even the power to protect others? She doesn't know. But she feels even more conflicted about what her mother did now. It seemed so impossible that she could make that choice, regardless of the stakes. But despite Tsugumi saying she wasn't seeking the Mangekyou Sharingan when she used that jutsu to take down Moroi…
It still feels like maybe she should have known that would be the result. "I understand there are risks to people knowing you have that power, Okaa-san. But it almost feels like… Now that you have it… Not using it to avenge Otou-san and protect the Village is wasting his sacrifice." Her eyes sink to half-lidded as she just tries to take in everything she has learned.
And she wishes she hadn't recklessly made promises that she now feels obligated to keep. Though given the price of this power, she supposes it doesn't matter who she learned of it from. Right now, she doesn't think she would have the will to intentionally seek it out. And she should hope that it doesn't happen without her doing anything. Because the other way to awaken it, it seems… Is to fail to protect the one she cares most about, and lose them.
"It really is born of suffering, though, huh?" Suzu sighs, and withdraws her hands back to herself as she starts to get up. "Okay. I promised I wouldn't say anything to anyone else if you told me. And I promised I wouldn't intentionally seek it out. And I intend to keep both promises. But if I'm going to be ready for our next encounter with the enemy, I should build up my power a different way, huh?" She smiles very weakly. Possibly for the first time since the mission.
It feels strange on her face. Like she's forgotten how to do it properly. "I'm going to return to my training now. Maybe we can resume that Chakra control you were teaching me soon." Then she makes to leave the darkened house. If there are no shortcuts to power… She'll have to do it the way that involves sweat and hard work.
But she pauses in the entry way to look towards Rinoko. She is silent for several seconds before just saying, "Thank you."