Date: June 2, 2014
In another chance encounter, Shiro enjoys a bowl of ramen on Kenta's dime while they update each other on their personal lives. Their friendship is growing in depth, as their casualness depicts, and Shiro is even given a moment's thought about serving Konoha.
"Rainfall with Ramen"
The Ramen Stand
It's another heavily cloudy Autumn afternoon at Konoha with occasion bouts of heavy rain. That might explain why the crowd is a bit sparser than usual at the normally at the Ramen Shop on Golden Path. There's still plenty of people around, except there's also a reasonable amount of seating available at the counter and various tables. Kenta darts through the doorway in an unseemly haste only to compose himself immediately and force himself to slow down to a more dignified pace. He strolls casually, but with a tense eagerness to his posture that those who know him can identify, towards a counter to take a seat. "One extra large bowl of roast pork ramen, please."
It may well by rainy, but that's quite acceptable by Shiro. He enjoys the rain, and his attire is no less concealing in hopes of avoiding contact with it - except for a carefully bound satchel of scrolls. The Uzumaki's geta clap down against the wet earth as he roams in search of something to do; the hot springs would be closed in this weather, and training would be interrupted. Ah, but there's the ramen stand! It's one of those earthly delights he'll always make a stop for.
"Make that two, please, but hold the pork on mine," Shiro says as he appears next to Kenta, smiling in his characteristic way. Ever the eccentric. "Hey, Kenta. How's the medical ninja business going?"
Kenta turns around to regard Shiro with something akin to suspicion on his face. "I run into you everywhere, Shiro-kun. It's so easy to think that you're stalking me," he comments matter-of-fact. Any potential sting in the words is lessened by the faint, yet friendly smile that the shorter shinobi gives Shiro. He pulls out a coin purse in the shape of fat cat from one of his many vest pouches and withdraws some ryo to pay for the two bowls of ramen. "I'm just taking a break after treating a few patients for broken bones. The muddy conditions mean that more people are getting into accidents. Good thing there's no life threatening cases yet." Kenta slips his coin purse back into his vest. "So you really are a vegetarian."
"People are breaking their bones because of the rain?" Shiro looks puzzled, glancing down at his own feet so nimbly balanced upon wooden geta. "Guess I'm used to it. You really must need a lot of patience for idiocy to be a medical ninja." Seeing that his bowl's being covered by the other young man makes him happy enough, such that he even gives a rare bow of his head in thanks.
As he slips onto a seat alongside Kenta, Shiro thinks back on what he considers to be implied questions. "I'm not stalking you. I've just got a talent for running into talented people, and so my feet keep taking me to you," the young man concludes. "As for being a vegetarian, well, mostly. I sometimes eat a little meat if I use it to flavor broth, especially out in the wilds. You've got to keep your strength up on trips!"
"People are breaking their bones because of the mud," Kenta corrects, but nods anyway. "It happens more than you think it does. Instead of waiting for things to dry out again, some people risk working in slippery conditions and getting injured, which actually puts them well behind schedule compared to missing a day of work." Something sizzles behind the counter and a cloud of meat-scented steam billows outwards in a thick, warm cloud. The smell distracts Kenta, who's expression goes almost completely slack while he sucks in a deep breath through flared nostrils. The young shinobi might have revealed a weakness to Shiro without meaning to.
Shiro's puzzlement isn't at all lessened by the clarification. "How can you slip on mud, though. It's soft. Shouldn't your feet sink in and … You know, nevermind that. I'll take your word for it." He falls silent not because he still has his doubts, but because he takes a moment to witness this change in Kenta's demeanor. They have a mutual love of ramen, do they? Certainly something worthy of remembering. By the looks of it, Kenta's love may be stronger yet!
Impolitely, the Uzumaki interrupts the moment's bliss to wave his hand in front of Kenta's face. "Hey," he says with a chuckle. "It'll be done in a second. You can go quiet once we have food to eat. Oh, reminds me! I looked for Taiki-sama as you suggested, and we crossed paths out in the training grounds. He agreed to teach me lightning manipulation right there, no trouble at all. Something about owing one of my elders a favor." Whether putting lightning in Shiro's hands is doing anyone a favor, he leaves unsaid.
Kenta jumps slightly. His eyes had been glued to the back of the chef while the large man ladles broth into a bowl full of ramen noodles. The sudden appearance of a hand in front of his face completely broke the line of visual contact. Kenta sighs softly and tries to focus on the conversation again. To help with that, he shifts on his seat to fully face Shiro and away from the tantalizing sight of ramen orders being filled.
"That sounds wonderful, Shiro-kun. I knew that Taiki-sama will help you. He's a very nice person. Just don't ask him to reveal village secrets or anything like that," Kenta tells the wandering shinobi. "He's unlikely to ask for a favor that'll cause you trouble either, so you don't have to worry about that. Hm, I really should take the test for my chakra nature one of these days. I never did, since I'm focusing on medical and sealing ninjutsu."
"You should keep studying seals. They're the best of all," declares Shiro. "My own scholarly curiosity tempted me toward that chakra paper, and now life will never be the same! Oh, but it's about time that I learn some elemental ninjutsu. You have the excuse of studying medicine, at least." He is, to be sure, a bit behind in things any Academy shinobi would know at his age. "Normally, I'm bad with honorifics, but I'm using it for him since he's taking the time to teach me something complex. Right now, I have to concentrate on a leaf and try to make it crinkle up like the chakra paper. I can make the edges turn brown, and … Well, the edges crinkle, too. That's as far as I've gotten."
When their bowls arrive seemingly out of nowhere, Shiro turns to face his own and most carefully inspects the contents. Once satisfied, he picks up his chopsticks and gives thanks for the food before slurping up a few long noodles. "Mm. Not bad, not bad." Increasingly, it becomes difficult to continue talking, but he does for as long as he can. "I'd never ask for village secrets, but I'll probably offer to help with missions if it's needed. Konoha's been good to me on my travels."
"Konoha's the best of the villages," Kenta proclaims with pride. He sits up taller with straighter shoulders and chest subtly puffed out. Being as short and slight as he is, it's still not an impressive sight, but the young shinobi is unlikely to even realize what he's doing. He hears a compliment about Konoha and the rest if reflexive. "If you ever think about joining a village, Konoha's the best one to apply to also. We always treat our guests well, unless they turn out to be spies or wanted enemies. Your knowledge of seals as an Uzumaki will be very useful and we don't get as many people with lightning natures here as we do with fire. I'm probably fire natured myself, since both my parents were."
Shiro shakes his head twice, his rope of a braid swinging around behind him in a most dangerous fashion. "I really do like Konoha, but joining the village? I could never settle down," he says. "Maybe when I'm elderly, sure, but that's a long ways off. I've still got some decades of youth left for exploration and travel!" Grabbing some more noodles with his chopsticks, he pulls them up past his lips and slurps them to their demise within his stomach. "That said, I'm a good guest. If the village ever needs help and wants an outsider for it, I'm there. The same goes for all of the villages I visit, really, and all of my friends! I just don't involve myself in the political stuff, or anything that'd be one village moving against another. Not something I want to touch in my position."
"Hey, thanks for paying," Shiro says, though he's rather late in doing so now. "Given that I'm studying lightning manipulation now, I'll probably be around for a while before moving on again. I did a little wandering to catch my breath beforehand. Went out to the Land of Rice, to this little abandoned temple I know, and I made some ramen to share with another traveler. He was headed for the Land of Wind. Ginrei, I think his name was? You meet the most interesting people out in the wilderness."
Kenta gives Shiro a serious look. "Just keep the option in mind. You might get tired of wandering the world sooner than you think," he points our reasonably. "It's good that you're going to be staying here a while. You shouldn't waste an opportunity to learn from Taiki-sama. It's almost like becoming the Hokage's student, just not as prestigious. Taiki-sama is the head of his clan, you know. This is going to be an important milestone in your life." Kenta nods his head sagely when he divulges that last bit of information. If he's a couple of decades older and had a beard, he won't look out of place stroking his chin.
Kenta starts to say more, but a major distraction occurs. Thump! Two steaming hot bowls of ramen are set on the counter in front of him. The normally solemn young shinobi quickly turns in his seats with his eyes alight. "Thank you!" he exclaims and gives the server a shallow bow without getting off his seat. "Let's eat first before we discuss your training more. We should eat our ramen while it's still hot." His right hand darts out, the chopsticks disappear and he starts making slurping sounds as noodles disappear from the bowl.