Date: May 26, 2014
A chance encounter between Shiro and Kenta at the Konoha baths leads to a newly formed friendship. The wandering Shiro is fascinated by Kenta's abilities, believing he could adapt them into new seals, and Kenta is more than willing to help. They speak of their aspirations and their lives as they come to know one another.
"Shiro and Kenta's Chance Encounter"
Hot Springs - Male Half - Konohagakure
The hot springs are busy with activity, but it's deep enough into the evening that the comings and goings of villagers is dying down. Most of the people remaining are groups of shinobi and workmen relaxing in steaming water to loosen up muscles knotted from the day's work. There are still some private spots left, where lone person or two can laze around without getting drawn into conversation with the larger groups as a whole.
Kenta has sunken up to his chin in one of the smaller pools. His eyes are half-lidded, barely visible under the damp dark hair that's plastered to his forehead. He lets out a sigh as the heat from the hot springs soak deep into muscle and bones. He looks close to falling asleep, but blinks wide awake to brush his damp hair out of his face when moisture gathering at the ends of the dark strands drip into his right eye.
If there's one thing Shiro's guaranteed to make a stop for on his meanderings, it's a good hot spring. The young man arrives curious to overhear the chatter of the villagers gathered by evening, the shinobi in particular, given what their discussions of Ninjutsu might inspire in him. Not an ounce of bashfulness, in his eavesdropping or in his unclothed walk in search of a decent spot in an equally decent pool.
Ah, but then there's a lone shinobi in one of the smaller pools. Promising! The crimson-haired young man roams up and inquires of Kenta, "Hey. Mind if I join you?"
Kenta had just been about to close his eyes again, but he peers up at Shiro when the other shinobi approaches. "Sure, you're welcome to join," he invites with a friendly, yet subdued smile on his lips. There's plenty of room even though it's one of the smaller, hotter pools on an upper level. Kenta doesn't really take up that much space himself, being on the short and slender side for his age group. Nevertheless, the young shinobi makes a show of shuffling over a little on the ledge to make more room. "You must be an Uzumaki," Kenta observes upon catching sight of Shiro's crimson hair.
"You catch on quicker than most," Shiro says with an amused chuckle, referencing the guess at his bloodline. He folds his towel atop his head as he sinks down into the pool, seating himself alongside Kenta despite the space available. A quick, unabashed look over the other youth results in a defeated, "You've got me at a disadvantage. I'm usually pretty good with these things." Another chuckle as he scratches at the back of his neck. Courteously enough, the young man's left his rope of a braid hanging out on the stone, out of the water.
Kenta flushes slightly, which isn't very noticeable due to the steam and the heat induced redness to his face already. Twin concentric ripples of water spread out where his slender shoulders momentarily breech the surface of the pool when the young shinobi shrugs. "Your red hair is a tell. I know red hair doesn't automatically make a person an Uzumaki, but it's still a good sign that the person -might- be an Uzumaki." Kenta gives Shiro another subdued little smile. "I'm Akiyama Kenta. Just returned to Konoha after traveling for a few months."
Shiro continues to scratch lightly at the back of his neck as he looks upward, as if in thought. "Akiyama, Akiyama …" Snapping his fingers as he looks over at Kenta with a broad smile, he says, "Iwagakure, right? Earth jutsu? You're a long way from home." It's a wild guess on his part as to the circumstances, but recongition of the name only seems to have broadened his interest. He leans in a bit and queries, "So, what jutsu do you practice? Like your kinsmen, or something else?"
This time, it's Kenta that reaches for his own neck. His dripping hand snakes out of the water and starts rubbing at the length right under the base of his skull. He shakes his head once, which causes a few beads of water to fly off the tips of his damp hair into the air. "Ummm… I actually don't know any Akiyama from Iwagakure," he says apologetically. "Any relatives that I have there are probably very distant. I'm from the Village of Singing Frogs in the southern part of the Land of Fire. My grandmother moved here with me shortly after Konoha was founded." The hand rubbing at the back of his neck lowers back into the pool and Kenta gives Shiro a solemn nod. "I'm a medic-nin, part of the Medical Corps. Chuunin."
Shiro appears, if nothing else, only more fascinated by his companion in the pool now. "An Akiyama not from Iwagakure? And you don't practice any Earth jutsu? Village of Singing Frogs, even! You're an interesting one." He leans this way and that, looking to either side of the other youth's face, at his chest, his back. "No markings. Does your clan have a Kekkei Genkai? Chuunin. You must be pretty good with Ninjutsu, then." The fascination seems to go on.
After a moment's time, he thinks to remark, "Oh, sorry. I'm Shiro. I don't really have a village; my feet go where my gut takes me, and I learn what I can from the people living where I end up. That's how new, better seals are made!"
Kenta breaks out into a grin that looks much more relaxed than the smiles that he had given Shiro earlier. The expression shaves a few years off his actual age, making him look much more boyish than before. "It's a good way to learn. Grandmother always tells me that I should go out into the world more. I spend most of my time in the hospital or gathering medicinal ingredients locally. She thinks that I should join a shinobi team for a few years now that I'm more knowledgeable about medical ninjutsu."
The young shinobi pauses to think for a second. "My clan doesn't really have a Kekkei Genkai, unless you count exceptional chakra control. We're not one of the famous ones, especially since only a small fraction of us usually train as shinobi. Most make a living by gathering and preparing medicine to sell to the bigger villages. Shinobi like my grandmother, parents and I usually end up being medic-nin with a few side skills. Besides medical ninjutsu, I mostly focus on seals like my grandmother. I'm not nearly as good as an Uzumaki."
"You like seals, too!" For all the world, it's like Shiro just found a treasure. He leans in, perhaps a little overly close, but only because of his newfound interest. "Don't have to be an Uzumaki to be good with seals. We're just a little different there, that's all. What /I'm/ interested in is your medical ninj- waitwait. You said your clan's got good chakra control in the blood? That's worth remembering. Man, you must be totally different from the Akiyama over in Iwagakure."
Shaking his head quickly, in a manner which splashes his braid into the water without his noticing, Shiro says, "I'm more interested in your medical ninjutsu. I'll bet you're really good, and I could get some good ideas off of you."
"You're interested in medical ninjutsu?" Kenta asks. He twitches his head to the side to avoid getting spray on his face, even though he's already all damp from the long immersion already. Once the danger, tiny tiny danger, is over, the young shinobi leans forward to peer curiously at Shiro. "Konoha is one of the best places to learn medic-nin. You could always join our village and study here. We have many other Uzumaki clan members here already." He settles back against the side of the pool. A lock of dripping hair falls down across his nose, so he flicks it to the side with a finger. "If you don't want to be tied down, you could probably still get some training. How much do you know now?"
Shiro's quick to shake his head at the sugggestion. The fact that they're both now leaning in to peer at each other makes for a peculiar scene, perhaps amusing to some. "I could never settle down. We Uzumaki, we're wanderers. I don't get the ones who can settle down for good," the young man confesses. "I'll stay at a place for a time, meet some people, learn their ways. After that, I move on and usually come back some other time. Have to trust your instincts as to when it's time to come and go!"
Looking up for a moment without pulling his body back, Shiro seems to go back to thinking. "I don't know any medical ninjutsu, but I could see uses. Some minor medical ninjutsu, and maybe I could come up with a tag that temporarily seals a wound you apply it to. It'd be handy in an emergency." The Uzumaki seems to be talking to himself as much as his company at this point, but that soon changes. "Hey! If you don't join a team, maybe you can come with me when I leave. I'll probably head to another of the great villages."
Kenta smiles at Shiro, his manner almost shy. "I'll need permission from my superiors to visit another great village, but that could be interesting. I want to learn as much as I can, so that I can help Konoha continue to grow and thrive throughout the years." The young Chuunin leans his head against the rim of the pool to look up at the night sky. A soft exhalation escapes from his throat to send streamers of steam dancing in the air. "I don't care if I ever become a Jounin or recognized for my work, but I do want to become one of the best medic-nin the village ever produces." He flashes Shiro another small smile. "Grandmother says that one of the best ways to learn is to teach someone else. If you really want to learn a little medical jutsu, I can help. It takes a lot of dedication to get good at it, but even minor knowledge can save people's lives."
Shiro shakes his head once again, this time not quite so rapidly. "Well, right now, I'm working on something else that's a little demanding," the young man explains. "Maybe after? I'll probably still be here, or if not, I'll be back soon enough." The mention of the passage of time prompts a less than enthusiastic, "I've got plenty of years, after all." After looking Kenta over once more for any details perhaps held back, he finally gives up and also leans his head back.
"So, you don't mind being bound to one village, never leaving except if there's work to do?" Shiro admits, "You've got a stronger will than I do. My feet have to be out there on the road, or better yet, off of it!" Then, there comes a new series of questions. "What do you do around here other than being a Chuunin? What's the best food? What do you do for fun? Girlfriend? Wife? Children?"
Kenta blinks rapidly, surprised by the sudden barrage of questions. His mouth opens, closes and opens again. "Ummm… I'm only seventeen. I'm not ready to have a wife and children yet!" He clears his throat while sinking deeper into the pool so that his chin is partially submerged and the renewed flush of his cheeks is more difficult to detect. When his mouth moves, it also causes the water to ripple from the disturbance. "Right now, I want to focus on my studies. I love studying medicine. There's so much to learn here already, so never did feel the road pulling at me. I could spend days just experimenting with plants from a single plot of forest to find new ways to apply their unique properties. When I'm not working on medicine, I'm usually at the training grounds or gathering new specimens or at the Ramen house on Golden Road. The Ramen House makes the best roast pork ramen in the village!"
"You didn't answer all of the questions. Girlfriend?" Shiro's mouth splits into a wide grin at that, eyes closing for a moment. Perhaps he senses the shyness in his company and is prodding at it, just a little bit. "I can't blame you about the wife and children part, anyway. We Uzumaki, we live such a long time, so it puts a weird perspective on things. Basically, in all things, where's the rush? Stop and enjoy them."
Politely - for once - the young man shuts his mouth for long enough to take in the other information. "I don't eat much meat, but some good ramen noodles sound nice. I'll have to look into that," Shiro says. "Maybe, before I leave, I can pick up a thing or two from you. That's after I finish what I'm working on. Even if I don't learn any jutsu, it couldn't hurt to know the good plants from the bad. Never know when you're gonna get hurt out in the wilds."
The repeated question about a girlfriend makes Kenta sink another half an inch into the water. "Umm, I don't have a girlfriend. Maybe… Maybe when I'm older." The normally stoic shinobi sounds almost completed flabbergast. He takes the chance to latch back on to a discussion about medicine with great relief. "I can definitely show you some first aid techniques using plants and materials from your environment. There's always herbs with healing properties around as long as you know what to look for. Since you wander around so much and don't have time to study chakra healing in depth, that should suit you well until you can dedicate the time for further study."
Shiro waves a hand in a dismissive fashion. "Don't worry about it; I don't have a girlfriend, either. Now, there are some girls in each village, but they're not really girlfriends. Then there's some other business about my romantic life, like-" Before he can finish, the young man cants his head so as to favor Kenta with an ear. "Sounds like a plan! That's if they ever pry me out of the hot springs, anyway. I love hot springs." Shifting, he exclaims, "Do you know they have /cold/ springs in Kirigakure?! That's just wrong. You start shivering, and things shrink, and it's just not right. Don't much like heading that way, but water jutsu has its place."
After a moment's time, Shiro leans forward and pushes up, standing upon the ledge. "I guess I should pry myself out for once and leave you to your peace. It was nice meeting you, O interesting one." He reaches out to rub the top of Kenta's head as he stpes out of the pool, headed in his birthday suit for the changing room. "I'll see you around!"
"Don't worry. That's a normal physiological reaction to changes in temperature," Kenta reassures Shiro, not seeming to realize that the other shinobi might be joking or at least not completely serious about the horrible effects of cold springs on the body. "I've never tried a cold spring, but they must be useful for treating fevered patients and burn victims." A thoughtful expression passes across the young Chuunin's face. "I'll have to do some research about them. Maybe we can implement something similar at the hospital for medical use."
Suddenly, Kenta seems to realize that he has gone off on a tangent even while Shiro's on the way out. "Umm, it's nice to meet you! Come find me at the hospital sometime and I'll show you some common medical remedies." He rises out of the water, just enough to reveal narrow shoulders and a slender, pale-skinned torso, to wave good bye.