Date: March 5, 2011
The night before going to war, three members of Sunagakure's Team 01 meet up at the new apartment of the Rurohashi twins to talk, relax, and bond.
"Smarter Than She Looks"
Spire 7 - Rinako and Ruri - Sunagakure
The pan was still sizzling as Rurohashi Rinako shakes it, mildly stirring up the beef frying in the middle of it. It was cut up into tiny, bite-sized chunks, and different-colored peppers were located in the mix, shriveling and cooking alongside the meet, their juices leaking out and ensuring it would be a spicy mix. Which wasn't a problem for the jinchuuriki, considering she had a cast-iron stomach that could handle just about anything she shoved down her gullet in copious amounts. And yet she never got fat. Must be a blessing.
The elder of the Rurohashi twins was situated in the kitchen, standing over the stove as she finishes up the beef and vegetable portion of the dinner. The noodles were already done, sitting at a simmering boil, simply waiting to be strained. She could be seen by someone from the living room over the counter that separated the two rooms easily enough. And her manner of dress was rather… odd for the normally tomboyish young woman!
Nagahara Rika must have left a little influence on her or something, because Rurohashi Rinako, tough, physical, asskicker kunoichi, was wearing a DRESS. It was a black off-the-shoulder affair, a single piece reaching from her lower shoulders to mid-thigh. And in addition to this was a pair of small, silver hoop earrings and HIGH HEELS that wrapped up around her ankles and added about three inches to her height. Most people didn't even know that the dark-haired brunette had her ears pierced! What was the reason for this getup?
Tomorrow they were going off to war, to face the limitless hordes Kirigakure had unleashed on the Land of Fire. Rinako had volunteered immediately, and likely would have gone even if there had been orders to stay OUT of the conflict. People were dying. She had to DO something. But for tonight, it was just her, her sister, and her best friend. No one else. Maneshi Shemri had been invited, but she had important people SHE needed to spend time with. They could have went out, lived it up, torn up the town and gotten wild. But this was far more special: three girls, all close, enjoying the company of each other with no intrusions.
To go along with Rinako's idea that she should try to be 'mature' for once in her life, she had badgered her sister's assistance! War was such an uncertainty, and none of them had participated in an actual, protracted war since the Clan Wars had ended right before the villages formed. But they all knew the uncertainty. The jinchuuriki half-turns, reaching up to adjust the heat on the stove, calling over her shoulder without looking.
"Ru! Can you put the noodles in the strainer? Kar, grab the wine and the glasses. They're in that cupboard over by the sink!"
Ruri does as instructed. Because, seriously, why not? This is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Making it easier on her sister, since Ruri is not really doing much HERSELF, is really the least she can do! So far all she has done is spend hours trying to figure out what underwear will make her feel the most feminine when she wears it under her *shudder* ruby-red mini-dress. Unlike Rinako, Ruri has no piercings. Tattoos are bad enough, and she has had more than her fill of strange holes being punched in her body, thankyouverymuch.
So as she is shifting noodles into a strainer she is also worrying about these ridiculous high-heels and how much it will cost to fix her face if she falls and breaks it on something. At least she looks damn sexy in the mirror. Not that she is trying to show off tonight, but… Uhh… "Do I just shake the noodles over the sink now or let them drain on their own?" Yes! Subject change successful!
Kara is wearing a white, sleeveless blouse and a white skirt, with white slip-ons on her feet. She has red lipstick on her lips and her hair is done up in a bun, held in place with chopsticks. Is the 'V'-cut of the blouse very cleavagey? You better believe it! >But<! >But, but, but<! Kara has a black top on underneath the blouse! So for once, there is >not< an inordinate amount of dark-skinned flesh exposed to the air!
Well, her legs are kind of bare and smooth and nice to look at, but that's about it. She was sitting on the couch, but then she is asked to help and uncrosses her right leg from her left and rises to her feet. "Sure thing, Rin-chan," she answers loud enough to be heard over any cooking noises. Three people in the kitchen could be messy so she uses Kugutsu no Jutsu to pull open the cupboard and draw three glasses through the air as though by magic, right into her waiting hands!
She looks around for the wine too, but doesn't seem to spot it. "…Is the wine being cooled or something?"
"Just empty them in the strainer and set the strainer in the sink! When they're done draining, put them back in the pot."
Rinako reaches up to tuck a strand of hair that had come loose from her swept-up style. She normally wore it loose around the house, or rag-taggedly pulled out of the way when she went out, but tonight she had taken care and used one of the very few feminine techniques she remembered from when she was still speaking with her mother to sweep it up, back, and under, her bangs parted to one side. It gave off the effect of completely exposing her face, neck, and shoulders.
When Kara inquires about the wine, she looks over her shoulder with a frown. She'd BETTER not have put in the fri- Oh wait. With her free hand, she wipes away a bit of sweat that was beginning to form on her temple from the heat of the stove, then gestures towards the pantry. "I think it's in there. I really didn't know what to buy, but I heard red goes with some and white goes with others. Just… pick whichever one. Or both! Both is good." She turns back towards the cooking appliance, and then switches off the heat, lifting the pan free of the burner. "Who are hoity-toity pansies to tell us what color wine to drink anyway? We're totally some high-class chicks."
Or at least they LOOKED the part. Once her sister is done emptying the contents of the pot into the strainer, assuming she manages that, Rinako uses a spatula to begin shuffling the contents of the pan into the large pot the noodles had been, and likely would be soon again, in. "Damn, Kar. Who knew you dressed up so good?" As if she was one to talk! Of them all, it was likely the puppeteer who dressed up the most. At least when they went out. "Whatever happened to that man of yours I heard about?"
Once again, Ruri does as instructed. She has nothing to contribute to the conversation. Really. She is totally just being quiet for once. There is no way she is getting a bit jealous of Rinako noticing Kara looks good. Does Kara look good? YES, SHE DOES, THANKS FOR ASKING. Ruri frowns anyway as she dumps the noodles into the pot and mutters under her breath. It might be about Kara or it might be about the stench of peppers burning her nose. The world may never know.
Having depth perception back is still a 'new' experience for her. She has acclimated well, but she keeps closing her right eye out of habit to conserve Chakra, only to realize a few minutes later that it's her real eye and it doesn't use Chakra. Bah. "Wine, schmine. Alcohol and I don't mix."
Kara heads to the pantry and obtains one of each kind of wine. She is kind of surprised at how well the twins are living. But she supposes she shouldn't be. Two Jounin with combined incomes means that these two could probably afford an entire house if they desired! It's not like space is at a premium in the desert. Once she has glasses and bottles situated at whatever passes for a dining room table — even if that is a coffee table in the living room, or the actual thing! — she turns to smile at Rinako.
"Thanks, Rin-chan. You and Ruri-chan also look very nice. Your earrings are adorable!" she giggles a bit. But at that last question her demeanor shifts slightly. She hesitates for a moment then turns around to start organizing the glasses and wine bottles. One glass at each seat, and the bottles situated between the three seats. She performs unnecessary adjustments to the bottles for awhile as she explains, "It didn't work out. He's not comfortable around other people and just doesn't like them. Seems a bit funny that a healer would object to being around people, but as he was prone to pointing out, he is a Combat Medic. He specializes in battlefield-treatments, not 'being nice to patients' treatments."
She shrugs and turns around. "What about you two? Everything going alright?" Maybe it's kind of rude to inquire into a relationship like Ruri and Rinako have, but… Asking about Kara's own relationship was kind of forward too! "When are you two going to get married?"
"No, they totally don't mix well." Rinako rubs a hand across the backs of her sister's shoulders as she places the pan in the sink. "But you can have just a little, right? This is our big sendoff! You'll have some to make me happy, won't you?" The elder twin rests her chin on the younger's for just a moment, turning her big, brown eyes on her in her best pleading expression. "If you do, I'll do that thing you like later." The brunette moves away with the tease, taking up a large stirring spoon and a pronged ladle to begin mixing the noodles, vegetables, and meat together now that they are all in the pot.
"Thanks. They were a gift from… Rikako." It was probably odd for Rinako to call her mother by her given name, reaching up to finger one of the silver loops. "Back when I was still her daughter. You know, I only ever got my ears pierced to prove I was less of a baby than Ru." The jinchuuriki flashes a grin as she finishes mixing. "We were nine at the time."
That done, the dark-haired kunoichi reaches for a pair of dishrags, draping them over the pot's metal handles and lifting it up, sweeping past her sister, holding it up and away to try to make sure there was no incidental skin contact with the hot metal for either teen. "Oh, we're doing- Ru, can you get the plates and silverware? -okay, I guess. I can't call her 'cyclops' anymore, though."
Despite the relative spaciousness of their new apartment, there was no dining room, so the couch with the pair of end-chairs and the coffee table would have to make do. It was rather elegant furniture, the cushions suede, a bit too sophisticated for her tastes, but given the cramped disarray of their last abode, she had informed her sibling that she wanted something 'mature', so they could be the kind of people who live in a 'nice, well-decorated house'. Rinako bends down low at the waist to set down the pot in more or less the center of the table. She looks up as she does so.
"But I think marriage is still illegal. At least it pisses Rurano and Rikako off. Hey, you know what…" As she releases the pot and tucks the rags beneath it so that it wouldn't burn the wood, the elder of the twins straightens up to look towards her sister. "We should fix Kara up. You know, that girl we saw in the lingerie shop the other day who knew you… What was her name? That'd get her mind off of some guy!"
Ruri would have had some wine just from her sister asking her to for the 'big sendoff'. Asking her to do it to make her happy was overboard. And getting in real close and promising THAT just makes her scowl at her sister. Why is she scowling? Because she would REALLY like to have that promise fulfilled NOW. Sigh. Such is life. When Rinako starts calling their mother by her given name, however… Her mood and expression both darken. "…We ARE still the daughters of our mother. Like or dislike between you does not impact that," she chips in. But she doesn't press the issue. If it's dropped, she'll leave it dropped.
Her mini-dress is a bit too short to easily bend over in. Not just because of exposure of flesh but because it is way too tight! It limits mobility! But she manages to get the silverware and plates regardless, and rejoins the conversation in time to hear about marriage being illegal. "…What?" she asks from behind her currently-bent-over twin. She looks at her sister for a moment, then she shakes her head and sets down the dining utensils and plates on the coffee table. She decides to ignore the use of given names for their parents. It's apparently not something that pleases her, but it is also probably not a subject to harp on this evening.
"What?" she asks again as she looks up sharply at Rinako with a wide-eyed expression. She is blushing and shaking her head suddenly. "I… Uhh… Don't know what you're talking about. I don't remember any girl."
Kara carefully averts her eyes and attention as a bit of a disagreement becomes evident between the sisters. Normally she doesn't care, but for some reason in this situation it just feels… Embarassing. Like she is intruding on their lives by being here. When that's over she turns her eyes and her smile back on Rinako. Chuckling, she says, "No, thanks. I appreciate the sentiment but I just don't have time for dating anymore. In addition to being a Jounin I might be being placed in charge of Sunagakure's Puppet Brigade! But shhhh! Don't tell anyone I told you that! It's still only a rumor, but apparently the higher-ups are impressed with me for… Some reason. I'm not sure why. I hope it's Pharaoh. The others… I didn't make. I don't want to get credit for Puppets I didn't construct!"
She shrugs and moves to seat herself once everything is in place. "Thanks for inviting me over, you two. I get kind of tired of the lack of company." She pauses and then says, "Human company that is."
"You can call yourself their daughter if you like." Rinako snaps quietly at her sister once she's closer. Of course, Kara is plenty close, too, so she can likely hear. The frown-and-glare ends abruptly with an expelling of breath. This was a happy time, the elder twin tells herself. Not a time to dig up this old arguement again. In a more conversational tone, Rinako shifts back to the other topic, her smile going from strained to sly in a flash. "Oh, you know. The one who overheard you and commented? She had just been promoted to Chuunin and wanted to hang out with us some time and come visit? Oh, what was her name…"
But then Kara denies having 'time' for dating, and this causes Rinako to double-take at the oldest member of their triplet as if she had just announced she could grow three heads and was in the process of doing so. For a moment, Rurohashi Rinako, brash and impetuous user of fists and battle cries, is stunned speechless. It's a good minute before her jaw snaps closed, she gives her sibling a questioning glance as if she might know what was going on, and then begins to sink down onto the couch.
Sitting while in a dress was so different than the pants she was used to, and she had to keep reminding herself to keep her knees together. But she manages. Rinako reaches for the red wine bottle and the corkscrew with a frown. "Are… you sure, Kar? I mean, don't take this the wrong way, but… You've always seemed so willing. Not that that's a bad thing! I guess. You just…" Another glance towards her sister as she stumbles about her words, screwing the metal tip into the top of the cork. "Are you feeling okay? You've been a little different since we got back from the islands."
Luckily the subject is shifted! Because Ruri was REALLY not up for trying to recall the name of a newly-minted Chuunin girl who 'overheard' her in a lingerie shop. She is almost relieved to hear that this line of inquiry is no longer valid. But even so… This is a very out-of-character for the Kara she knows. "…Yeah, what she said," is all she can add immediately. "Was it… Because Rinako died? Sorry if I'm overstepping my bounds but… Do you maybe feel different about what's important in life? Cause I had the same sort of shift."
Kara blinks a bit at Rinako and Ruri as they seem very… Stunned. "…Yes, I'm sure. I guess… Well, Ruri suspected this for awhile, I think. I never confirmed or denied it and she never asked. But the person you see most of the time when you're talking to me is not really me. The real me is… More like what you're seeing now. I told Rin-chan about this before, and made her promise not to tell anyone else. I was on a team prior to joining Team 01. Team Randi."
She takes a deep breath and then lets it out. "I had three other people on the team. I was just a Genin at the time. We had a Jounin, named Randi, a Chuunin kunoichi by the name of Purim, and midgety little Genin like myself named Popoie. Okay, I was not very midgety. But he was. Purim was hitting on me constantly, flashing skin, and making stupid jokes. I was busy drooling over Randi and being embarassed that a girl was attracted to me. And Popoie was being an incredibly annoying pest and making fun of me and Purim both. We got into some major arguments and fights between the three of us… Made Randi-kun practically burst a vein!"
She giggles a bit and then sighs sadly. "God, I miss them." She is quiet for a bit and then says, "We went on an S-Rank mission. We were not experienced enough for it, equipped for it, or in any way prepared. We had to fight three different enemy forces, each large, each well-equipped, each very experienced, from three different countries, at the same time. We did our best to use guerilla warfare, but once they found us, that was it. Pharaoh's first incarnation was a wooden Puppet. Completely artificial. Didn't look anything like his current self. He was destroyed fairly quickly by the enemy. Purim through herself in the path of an attack that would have killed me. She was a Chuunin. She had more skill and fighting power. She could have sacrificed me — a weaponless Puppeteer, and thus useless — and managed to do heavy damage to the enemy or escaped or… Any number of things. Instead she gave up her life for me without a moment of hesitation."
Kara picks at her food but doesn't eat any of it. "She told me she loved me before she died. We'd only known each other for a month or so… And she loved me. She would die for me, just like that." Kara looks up from her plate, back and forth between the nearly-identical younger women. "Popoie was injured. Lost his legs in an explosion. Randi-kun showed up to rescue us at the last second. He had been out killing their officers and successfully blew up their supply centers. He fought beyond the point of exhaustion. He fought like a berserker. He killed dozens or hundreds of enemy ninja. Seemed more like thousands, to be honest, but I know there weren't >that< many in the area. He fought and fought. And finally, he died of his injuries, leaving me and Popoie in a remote, foreign locale. Popoie was crippled, I had nothing to defend either of us with, and we knew full-well there was no back-up coming. That had been made perfectly clear to us when we were assigned this mission. For political reasons."
Kara sighs and puts her fork down, planting her hands in her lap. "Then the leader of the enemy forces showed up. He said he'd spare us, but he had to make an example of us too. So, instead of allowing us to bury our dead or leave safely or any of that… He used some kind of Combination Element Ninjutsu. 'Scorch Release'. Obliterated Purim's body completely and turned Randi into a withered, mummy-like husk."
Kara closes her eyes as she rocks back and forth a bit. "Guess where I got my current version of Pharaoh from?" she smiles humorlessly as she opens her eyes again. "And guess why I'm always acting flirty and telling stupid jokes? It's because… I'm trying to honor the memory of someone gave her life for me. Maybe I hated her jokes, but she loved me. So I act like I'm an idiot and act really promiscuous because I'm lonely and the memories of the people I lost hurt too much to be myself."
The turtle-bearing jinchuuriki turns her head just enough to take in her sibling's red-clad figure with her brown eyes. "I better still be up there on that list." she says out of the corner of her mouth. But that little debate falls to the wayside as the second-oldest member of their team begins to relay her story. As it's being told, the elder of the twins finishes popping off the cork and begins to fill each of the three glasses. Whether they wanted red or white, they are apparently getting red. With Rinako glancing up frequently from her pouring, it's like she didn't even think to ask, concentrating instead on listening.
Ruri and Rinako lived together, shared everything, even if they had their hard times. But for someone outside of their two-person circle to open up to them was rare. And the tale only becomes more serious. At first, Rinako is smiling gently during it. A band of bickering friends, it sounded nice. She even gets the same sly look on her face when Kara mentions a woman hitting on her as when she was talking about fixing her up. It changes abruptly though, as the tale begins to take a turn for the worse.
By the end of it, Rinako has served herself a generous helping of the food, and is swishing around the wine in her glass, looking down at the dark red liquid. Her knees are pressed close together, leaning forward with her elbows on her thighs, hunched over almost double with her shoulders around her ears. She takes a small sip, before extending a bare arm to set the glass down. With a glance at her sister and a tilt of her head, she rises.
"We've all suffered loss. Though I don't think it's been that keen since the villages formed." Rinako says as she comes around the coffee table, slinking onto the cushion next to the puppet-user. A hand comes up to rub her shoulder gently, though the kunoichi does her best to keep all traces of pity out of her expression, while still conveying sympathy. "I'm so sorry, Kar. Why didn't you ever tell us?"
She catches herself. "It doesn't matter. You have two other women who love you, you know. We all cope with loss in our own ways. Ru cries when she thinks no one's looking. I punch things. If living up to the fun-loving memory of your friend is the way you do it, it's probably a lot better than anything we do."
"And this Randi, I'm sure he'd be proud that his body serves the people of Sunagakure still. I'll bet there's no one else who's hands he'd rather be in. …Listen to me, getting all sappy! Whatever happened to this Popoie fellow?"
Ruri has lost allies during the Clan Wars… Maybe even some people she was friendly with. But no one really CLOSE to her has been lost. Not until Mother Island, when Rinako died. She didn't really have time for it to sink in then, though. It still felt a bit like a dream. Or like a trick was played on her. Rinako died? But she's right here! So clearly it wasn't real.
That was the closest thing to losing someone she cared about she has ever experienced. What Kara is describing is… Horrible. Ruri is not the warm, mushy, nice-nice type. But she gets up and sits on Kara's other side once the story is over, and offers a small, FRIENDLY hug. It is not an intimate embrace. It is meant for COMFORTING ONLY. She also keeps her hands away from Kara's chest, cause otherwise Rinako might snap them off.
"I'd say something amazing and awe inspiring here that would make you happy and able to live without pain, but I can't think of anything so I'm just going to say that I freaking love you, Kara." She makes sure she is making eye-contact with Rinako when she says this. If Ruri gets jealous of Rinako paying attention to the dark-skinned Puppeteer, she can only imagine it works in reverse too. "We've been through so much together… All of us. I don't think I can 'replace' your first team, but maybe we can make good memories to stand alongside the ones you have of your first team?"
Kara puts a hand over Rinako's on her shoulder and puts her other arm around Ruri to hug her back. "Thanks you two. I didn't tell you because… It hurts to remember. It's easier to pretend. But when those psychopaths attacked the Village's gates last week… We lost more of our people. Our ninja are already few in number thanks to the Siege. I guess I decided it was time to stop pretending. I can treasure my memories of both Team Randi >and< Team Ruri without trying to be someone I'm not. I might crack a joke here or there, but… I think it's time to move on. I need to be >me<, not Purim 2.0." She sighs and moves her hand from Rinako's to her eyes, wiping away some gathering tears.
"Thanks, you two. I'll have to thank Shemri-chan eventally too. Let's not have a repeat of that S-Rank mission when we go into the warzone, okay? I know we're all older and supposedly wiser, but so was Randi-kun. I'm not going to lose any more friends."