Date: October 27, 2014
Yuriko invites Naoya and Hayase out to lunch, and talk of sparring comes about.
"Ramen, Candied Apples, and Childhood Ambitions"
Land of Water - Food Stands [Kirigakure]
Here, closer to the actual food stands, the smells, sounds, and sights are almost overwhelming. A virtual cornucopia of cultures, the largest marketplace in the Water country shows it's roots here- travel. Almost every stall has the decor of a different small village or clan from across the seas upon the curtains which enclose the long 'entrance'. Each of the booths is a small section, roughly 15 feet wide by around 10 deep, which possesses a long bar along the middle, stools along one side and a walkway on the other. Along the longest of the three wooden walls, cooking equipment and food storage lies… And this setup is copied into an area of two back-to-back rows with a third and fourth row facing them from across a moderately sized alleyway for access."
08/20/11 A.F. - Friday - Year of the PiG
On a friday in the middle of August, summer is in full swing. The heat wave rolls over the Land of Water, the gentle breeze bringing the only occasional relief. And on a bright and sunny day, the marketplace is full of customers, trying to get whatever they can with the embargo set in place.
Letters had been sent out to Naoya and Hayase, this time it was Yuriko that had sent out invitations. To a lunch date at their favorite ramen shop inside the Marketplace. However, at the time they were supposed to meet up, Yuriko is oddly absent still. Perhaps just a bit late?
The marketplace is jammed, and the hot weather only makes the crush of bodies sweaty and stifling. Those at the hot food stands are far and few between. Most queue outside the shaved ice stand, of which Hayase got a strawberry one. Her tongue is a bright red, as well as one of her cheeks like some badly applied blush. Hayase must work out because even though she almost always has some snack to hand, she isn't chubby—not even a bit of baby fat. She licks her shaved ice from the paper cone, and glances around once again. It seems she was the first person here. Or maybe she got the wrong time?
A young Okumo wasn't seen on the ground trying to walk through the market but every so often those near the vendors would hear a thumps. The source of the noise was a young teen hopping from each of the stall's supports, hopping above the crowds until he pauses, balancing over the ramen shop. Looking downwards, he glances at Hayase from above, tilting his head to the left.
When he lands down, he stands, crouched onto a stool before looking around. "Hayase-san? You made it here rather quickly." Grumbling, Naoya sits downs slowly but began to search around for a small girl but in the swarm of people, he couldn't easily notice anything. Moving a hand to one of the stall's supports, a chain of spiders leaves his arms and climbs upwards, trying to act as a security watch.
Yuriko had been held up it seems.
While Hayase and Naoya had met outside the ramen shop on time, the familiar snowy white hair was visible through the crowded, narrow street. Though it was a single head of many. A group of boys about Naoya's age look on as another, bolder boy with the familiar markings of the Kaguya lingers close to the smaller girl. While it's obvious that he was nervous, he smiles brightly with confidence as he offers Yuriko the candied apple.
Reaching out to take it, Yuiko couldn't help but smile at it for a moment before looking up at the older boy. There's a few words exchanged, and he rubs the back of his head sheepishly before waving a hand and turning quickly back to his group of friends. As they move away further down the market, more than once the boy in question glances back at Yuriko. She holds onto the offering as she approaches the little ramen shop, her smile growing as she sees her friends already there. "Hey. I hope everyone is hungry."
"There she is!" Hayase says with a grin. However, that grin falters when she notices Yuriko has unfamiliar company. It's another Kaguya from those markings. And he's awful friendly with Yuriko. Plus Yuriko has an offering of his in her hand. She goes through a few quick ideas, before dismissing them all. It's a boy…not just a boy, but a /boy/. But that only confuses Hayase, so she would be looking at the Kaguya boy with a quizzical expression. Then she turns over to Yuriko. "Y-Yeah, I am," she says, though with more uncertainty than she usually expresses her hunger. It has more to do with the boy in question than her stomach. "Who was he?"
The young Okumo's eyes dull slightly and he raises his upper lip, suckling onto it faintly, but it soon produces several notes. Soon several of the brood began to disperse, traveling from the stand though they took roots high over the market place, avoiding being crushed. The spiders that continued to remain repositioned, shifting to watch over most of the market.
A light smile appears on Naoya's lips and he taps the counter lightly several times. "You gives us a summons and you end up being the one late, talking to a cousin, or an old classmate?" Turning his attention to Hayase, his tone somewhat teasing "Now, are you going to take most of the dumplings or steal an extra dango stick this time as payment for staying while she kept us waiting?" With a nod of his head, he points in the younger girl's direction, "For those it's her cost, but for the rest of the snacks I'll help too."
Leaning to one side, he pats a stool that was between himself and Hayase expectantly before sitting upright again. Not waiting for a reply, he soon makes an order of ramen but with a shrimp broth
Candied apple in hand, Yuriko blinks her bright eyes blankly for a moment, before realizing that Hayase was talking about the boy from just a moment before. "Him? He's just a cousin." she replies. Though that isn't saying much since Kaguya call each other cousins anyhow. Her bright eyes then flicker to Naoya, narrowing for a moment before scoffing lightly. "He graduated before I did. And I didn't keep you waiting! I'm here aren't I?" Yuriko holds onto the stool as she hops up on top of it, squarely between her friends. And when Naoya makes his order, she orders some miso ramen as well.
Hayase is inclined to agree Yuriko is pretty much on time, but the allure of free food is powerful. She says, "I dunno. You could get us each one dango…to make up for it." She leans over to give her friend a companionable pat on the back. She orders ramen with lots of pork, lots of egg, lots of everything in fact.
"Yuriko-chan did you call us out here just to eat ramen?" she asks. Though from her expression she'd be quite alright if that really was the only reason. She looks over to Naoya and smiles. "Just her cousin, Naoya-kun," she says.
"We waited for a almost a full lifetime, well.. most of a life time." Naoya grins a bit, though oddly his amber eyes don't seem to brighten but become more dull. A spider soon awakens and crawls onto his far shoulder, becoming still, watching the counter. 'Cousin' was muttered lightly to himself, before nodding lightly.
Raising a hand, he points over towards Hayase as if to present evidence, "See? She agrees. There has been a crime, and a flick of your ear won't appease the just spirits." Glancing up to Hayase, he nods lightly a few times. "They smell like that, a familiar scent.. hard to keep track of them all though. They are rather good at seeking out the ones not of my brood.. Annoying." When he says his last word, he shrugs and look away, focusing on the cook as he took the orders.
Yuriko scoffs lightly to herself again, eyeing Hayase with a fair amount of suspicion. "Sounds like you're just trying to use any reason to guilt me into getting you more treats." she answers, elbowing her friend playfully in her side. The smaller girl smiles easily. "Of course it's just about ramen. Or whatever. It is lunchtime."
Glancing back to Naoya on her other side, Yuriko wrinkles her nose at him. "I can't help that I was held up. I'm not to blame." she says this just as she carefully sets the candied apple on the counter in front of her. "You make it sound like there's something wrong with playing nice. He gave me a treat, he was trying to be nice."
Hayase is nodding in agreement with Naoya until Yuriko calls her out about guilting her into getting food. She shrugs. The Kaguya girl does have her there. She gives Naoya a 'oh well' look, and says, "Not guilt per se. You should just /want/ to help out your poor, starving friend. I may faint with hunger." She swoons on her stool dramatically to demonstrate as much. But she smiles right away when Yuriko mentions her cousin. "Your cousin isn't bad looking," she says. "Do allll your cousins buy you candied apples?" It's her turn to nudge Yuriko playfully. As her hand inches closer to that snack.
Leaning forward, Naoya rests his elbows onto the counter, though his attention bats back and forth between the two girls. "I didn't say anything was wrong, but late is late. So says the rules of some crazy person no one really remembers." Upon hearing Hayase's plea, he snickers some and shakes his head, trying not to laugh too loudly. "Oh yes, Hayase needs all the treats in her tum tum for what's going to happen in the next few days, ain't she?" A wide grin appears on his lips when his eyes settle onto the taller girl.
Seeing the hand inching it's way closer to her candied apple, even with her order of ramen being cooked while they talk, Yuriko doesn't hesitate to reach for the candied apple and slide it a little closer to Hayase. Pretending that she hadn't, or that she sees the sneaking hand. "'Starving'." Yuriko murmurs, a slight smirk tugging at her lips. "Every time I see you I feed you. How is it you're always hungry?"
When the conversation is turned back to her Kaguya cousins, the younger girl blinks her bright eyes once, becoming thoughtful. "Well, not only candied apples, but it's been happening a bit recently." Yuriko shrugs. Rubbing lightly at the back of her snowy head, she glances between her friends, curious. "What's going to happen?"
Hayase smiles at Yuriko as if she had just saved her life, and takes the candied apple. As she munches on it, she gives her friends a deprecating look. "There's no big mystery behind it," she says. "I burn calories. I like to eat. Especially sweet food. We never had that much at our house, both my parents don't like sweet stuff." This said as her mouth is half full of apple. She looks at Naoya suspiciously. "What do you mean I'll need it for the next few days?" she asks. But again that smile appears at the mention of the cousin. And she says, "A guy gives sweets and stuff to the girl he likes, sometimes."
The smile on the young Okumo's lips wavers for a moment but then he raises a hand, shifting it behind Yuriko to scratch along her back gently. "You should enjoy it for now you know? You should be going through a few growth spurts soon. Might not look it just yet, but he's going to have to look up to you soon." A light chuckle bubbles in Naoya's throat but then he turns his focus onto Hayase.
"Oh yes, you'll be needing lots of energy. I want to see you at your best, no questions left to wonder after that night." The boy's eyes lid slightly as he focuses onto the girl but then turns away. "You /did/ say you wanted to come with us next time, didn't you? It'll be a perfect time to see who's really the best out of the two of us. The winner has Yuriko-chan as a prize, to face off against. If you manage to beat her too.. you get.. another wish. Maybe even a week's worth of Yuriko's Bentos?"
With his attention on the cook now as he spoke, he dips his head lightly as he bowl is set in front of him.
Yuriko turns her snowy head, glancing at Naoya as he begins to rubs along her back. As he talks though she gives him a curious glance. "Aren't you the one that's always saying that I'll always be short?" she murmurs, with some suspicion. Food delivered and set in front of her, the smaller girl is distracted for a moment as she beams at the bowl. Yuriko reaches to pull the bowl closer, already preparing chopsticks to dig in. "Ah yes, that. I think Naoya-kun is eager to have another trip to the hospital. I told him that there are less painful ways to do it." but she shrugs.
Hayase laughs when Naoya talks about Yuriko's cousin looking up to her. She can just imagine that. "Maybe you'll have to look up to her too, Naoya-kun," Hayase teases. Although her smile vanishes when he mentions going with them next time. "I'll look forward to beating you then," she says, with real enthusiasm. "But if I'm able to beat Yuriko-chan, it'd best be a lifetime supply of bentos." She laughs and looks over at the Kaguya girl. No amount of bentos could make her think she could take the Kaguya girl in a match. The most likely outcome would be her next meal being in a hospital bed, through a straw. When the ramen comes she eats all the pork, egg, and other add ons before even touching the noodles.
'Tsk tsk' Naoya shakes his head, grinning a bit as he picks up a pair of chopsticks. "I said you'll always be short.. to me. You'll out grow those little ones soon." Leaning forward, he breaths onto the bowl set before him. "Anyways, I'll end up there if I mess up, I don't think I'm going to be the one messing up. I have my pouch bet on my brood needing to take care of Hayase-chan before that sunsets."
Bringing his hands together, he says a short prayer before beginning to spin his noodles. "I say a week because I think Yuriko-chan will hold back, even if he start pressing her hard. She won't believe she's losing til we knock her on her bum.. but once we do I think we'd need to team up to deal with an angry Kaguya. I've seen what she's working on.. We'd need to work well together, thrust me. Should be fun though." After he says 'fun' he slips his tongue past his lips and licks them faintly, seeming to savor the idea.
Saying a short prayer over her bowl, Yuriko takes a generous helping of noodles and lifts it to her mouth, happily taking a bite while talking is passed back and forth. Naoya's though cause her brow to arch, mouth still full of food. After she wallows, her skeptical gaze returns, "So you're saying that my cousins are 'little ones'." she murmurs. "How are they little? Because they're taller than me. And if I'm always going to be short to you, I'm sure that I'll be short to them too." Really. It's all confusing to her.
The shift back to the 'competition' makes Yuriko frown, "You said that the both of you were fighting, and the victor fights me. No one said anything about two against one."
"For those kind words, I'll make sure to treat you after I've given you a drubbing, too," Hayase says sweetly to Naoya. She seems fixated on her eventual showdown with Naoya.
But after a time she turns to Yuriko, and looks at her seriously. "Naoya-kun just mentioned it," she says. Then she just studies Yuriko for a long moment, before nodding. "When the time comes, we'll give you a real run for your money, Yuriko-chan. I suppose if you are trying to catch up with us in height, we're trying to catch up with you in strength. Hehe." Then she turns her attention to her ramen, and starts slurping up the noodles as if it's the last thing she's going to eat in her life.
The amber color in Naoya's eyes slowly returns, though when it does he begins to rapidly blink. "So sure of yourself huh? Why don't we go as soon as we know everything is cleared up and neither of us will be called any time soon, just in case?" Tilting his head, he turns to glance at Hayase briefly before looking back at his bowl, soon taking a small bit.
Yuriko's question would be left alone for a time as he chews, taking his time as he thought. Once he swallows he turns to the smaller girl and says, "This is after this time. I'm talking the time after that, when we finally get you not so worried about holding back and really let lose.. forcing both of us to keep up with you. Make sense?" Raising his chopsticks, he levels them at Yuriko briefly as he continues, "Doubt either of us could take you head on full steam, but both? I think we could have a good chance."
Mouth full of food, Yuriko glances up at Naoya and narrows her bright eyes at him. Already he's plotting yet another future match between them. Again. She rolls her eyes and takes another bite of her miso ramen. "Mmph." she makes a sound, swallowing. "You like your chances that much, huh?" The smaller girl shrugs. "I guess so long as you're both fully healed by the time the Chuunin exams are here, it should be alright. Though I still don't get why Naoya-kun is still so eager to fight me. You know, besides the obvious. Being his rival."
Hayase is nodding to Naoya's words once again, but this time it's with a look of determination. She pushes her half finished ramen bowl aside as she listens. "I've never fought you but I know of your strength Yuriko-chan. Even among other Kaguya you're mentioned as a prodigy for your age." She looks to Naoya, and then back to Yuriko. "I think a reason both of us want to fight you is…because we're friends, Yuriko-chan. Friends watch each other's back, and so we have to get strong enough where, when you're in a real pinch, you can shout out to us to come help ya. Speaking of…I hear you went out with one of the Seven. Feari."
"Just the obvious reasons" was said toyingly but then he chuckles lightly to himself to himself, returning to his bowl, eating of it some what hungrily for a second mouth full. When with a mouthful, he nods to Hayase but then he holds up his hand, flat and level.. but then it begins to teater back and forth. It would take him a moment before he chewed enough to swallow. "More like he lead us, summoned a fancy chair and let us have fun."
Being referred to as a prodigy elicits a small flush, scowling down at the bowl while Yuriko tries her best to shrug it off as quickly as she can. "I guess you could say that, but I really don't know any other way of life. I held a blade before I could walk." The ends of her chopsticks absently twirl through her noodles. "And you make it sound like I actually like to hurt my friends. Taking a smaller bite, her eyes flit to Naoya as she listens briefly, shrugging. "He's right. But at least we added more numbers to our competition." Finally a small smirk tugs at the corner of her lips. "I think Naoya-kun is at fourteen and I'm at twenty heads."
"Oh," Hayase says in response. "He sounds very…laid back." Now she thinks of it, she has yet to meet one of the Seven who fits the idea of what a Seven Swordsman is like. Maybe he's a frizzy haired man with flipflops and a hula shirt. Who enjoys fruit punch and long walks on the beach. She scratches her head. "I'd like to meet him," she decides. She's about to say more when Yuriko takes her words in the completely wrong way. "No!" she yelps, so loudly the ramen vendor flinches in surprise. Her voice softens. "Not that you want to… umm… hurt us. That's not what I…I mean…oh." She looks to Naoya for help.
"I'm six behind huh? Hmm.." Closing his amber eyes, the young Okumo begins to hum lightly to himself, tilting his head back and forth while thinking. When he opens his eyes again, he notices Hayase's gaze, and soon looks to Yuriko and back again. "You think too much. Think more simple.. She wants her friends to cut lose and enjoy themselves. Nothing held back, nothing but the heat of the moment." Moving his hand back, he uses the back of his palm to thud against his chest. "Hurting friends isn't the point, that just makes you worried when you see them hurt. Helping them dust off and do better next time is also a point."
"I'm six behind huh? Hmm.." Closing his amber eyes, the young Okumo begins to hum lightly to himself, tilting his head back and forth while thinking. When he opens his eyes again, he notices Hayase's gaze, and soon looks to Yuriko and back again. "You think too much Yuriko-chan. Think more simple.. She wants her friends to cut lose and enjoy themselves. Nothing held back, nothing but the heat of the moment." Moving his hand back, he uses the back of his palm to thud against his chest. "Hurting friends isn't the point, that just makes you worried when you see them hurt. Helping them dust off and do better next time is also a point."(clearing up targeting)
Finishing her bowl, Yuriko takes a sip from the broth before she glances up at Naoya, narrowing her gaze. "I get it. You don't think I want that too? But rushing it doesn't help anyone. The Hospital doesn't just help 'dust off'." Her jaw tightens as she glances back at her bowl, stirring the broth lightly as she rolls the bowl back and forth with her small hands. "Whatever. Name where you want to spar."
Hayase at first looks confused as to what the numbers are. Then, she rolls her eyes. "A headcount, huh?" she says and smirks. "I think I'm rather behind both of you." She doesn't sound frustrated about it, mostly just amused. She shakes her head and gulps down some broth. Although at the mention of the spar, Hayase says, "How about when the time comes, the Bone Pits. That's where I met you, Yuriko-chan. And I think I met you there that day too, Naoya-kun. I don't think we should spar this very second though. Doesn't feel right." She goes back to finishing up her ramen.
Using his chopsticks he points towards Hayase as he says, "Exactly. Right now? The mood is all off. Too much tension, not enough grins. Anyways.. Me and you? We're fighting out of the village, not inside. Yuriko has a special spot for us to fall back and recover." A light smile appears on his lips but he doesn't say anything more, returning to the last long noodles of his ramen.
"Don't worry about it Hayase-chan. I'm sure if we go on more missions together your numbers would catch up quickly. The real question is whether or not Naoya-kun could handle being in third place." Yuriko smirks, trying to hid it behind the rim of her bowl a s she sips the miso broth. "Mm. Who has a special spot now?" The smaller girl arches a brow at Naoya beside her.
"I don't really have any attacks we'd need to go outside the village for," Hayase points out. "Or do you have some amazingly secret skill you want to keep hidden in a remote area?" she asks shrewdly squinting at Naoya. She turns to Yuriko to hear of this special place, and smiles at her reply. "I guess it's such a special place even Yuriko-chan doesn't know of it," she says. And her grin only widens as she looks to Naoya. "More missions means more chances to beat your headcount." Then she looks at Yuriko with a sly smile. "And yours too." A headcount doesn't necessarily come down to who is stronger, after all.
The grin on his lips widens as acts as if he's going to answer their questions but turns away. Wrapping his hands around the sides of the bowl, he brings it up to his lips and tilts it slightly, drinking up much of the broth, making it impossible for him to speak even if he tried to mumble out the truth. As he drank, his amber eye close, tilting the bowl a bit more until he finishes his meal completely.
"I'll look forward to seeing that." Yuriko replies, smiling as she pushes back the empty bowl. It takes a brief moment for her to dig our several coins, paying for all three bowls and enough for desert as well. Pushing to her feet, the little Kaguya stretches her arms above her head, full and gearing up with new energy now. "Alright. This has been fun. Next time we'll train before having lunch." Yuriko murmurs. "Don't get into much trouble you two, kay?" Waving a hand, she turns to slip out into the marketplace again. And the dreaded heat.
When Yuriko pays, Hayase says, "Thank you for the meal and the company Yuriko-chan. Have fun with your couuuuusin!" She starts munching on the candied apple Yuriko had given her. She would wait for Yuriko to be out of earshot. Then she leans over to Naoya and asks, "What do you like best about Yuriko-chan, Naoya?" Her tone is light and innocuous. But her eyes are sharp above the apple which she's taking small, sharp bites of.
Chuckling lightly to himself, he sets down the bowl as he tilts his head head side to side after listening to Yuriko. "Yes yes. We promise to be good while you're gone. I'll try not to steal any points while your away too." The smirk lightens some when he heard Hayase's comment, and closes his eyes before she could see them. "Right now? The fact she's a wall I can't climb.. not yet." The annoyance that was in him was fleeting, soon smirking again as an idea came to mind. "Why?"
"That's a strange thing to like about her," Hayase says. "Not being able to beat her. I'd think that'd be more frustrating than favorable." She hadn't missed that fleeting look on his face. She looks at Naoya with narrowed eyes. It doesn't mean…well, that's where boys would usually think. Battle. And it seems Yuriko is in for a challenging one. When he asks why she asked, Hayase shrugs. "I haven't fought her, haven't even seen her fight. I thought maybe you'd name a signature move of hers or something…some tip before we have a match with her."
Leaning back, a hand drops down patting the top of his stomach but then shakes his head. "She holds back too much.. I don't really know. Her moves are simple, they seem like just play to her.. You'd think she was just having fun until her blade aims at you." Moving his hand up and to his head, he scratches at it steadily for a moment, trying to think. "Kenjutsu. All I can force out of her is Kenjutsu. I've seen her turn her whole body into blades.. once, or she told me about such." There was one line he mutters, some what annoyed with it as he spoke it, 'She still manages to make me feel slow..'
She had just came up with an excuse, but now that he starts explaining Hayase listens with interest. She makes a face when Naoya says he didn't manage to force her into her Kekkei Genkai. "I imagine that'll be…very difficult," she says. "Which is why we must go all out from the very beginning." She nods. "There's no point in holding back. You only hold back if your first level of power serves some purpose. We'll make her transform yet." She makes a fist and brings it down on top of the counter, so the dishes rattle.
Listening to Hayase's vigor and passion only causes the young Okumo to grin wider. "That's the point, that's the danger. Last time I tried to flip her switch like a fool I almost bled out, I think the seals in the arena kept me whole.. I still wonder just how much of a terror she is once the last bits of her restraints flake away.." Another chuckle escapes Naoya as he bring himself to his feet but when he does, he rests a hand onto the girl's fist. "The brood will be busy stitching both of us back together that day, hopefully enough pieces will be mostly connected to have us wake up in a week. Though.. at our rate? Might take her a few days to recover herself."
"Or your spiders will be too busy hissing at me to stitch me together," Hayase says with a laugh. "I don't think your buddies like me much." She would eye any spiders about Naoya's person with a rueful gaze. She drums her fingers against the table, thinking. "Well there's no point fretting about it. Worrying doesn't make you any stronger. I'm going to go and train. I'll…see you soon, Naoya-kun. Next time we hang out, maybe I can think of something. Since you and Yuriko-chan scheduled the last two outings." She smirks and then stands up, starting off into the crowd with a final wave.