Date: December 3, 2011
Takes place immediately following Team 10 Chronicles: Pride part 2 ICly, which is about 2 weeks previous in IC timeline. NOTE: Scene contains references to delicate subject matter (child abuse). Please read with caution
Poster’s note: Profanity filtered in obvious places.
"Team 10 Chronicles: Pride Part 3"
Outside Inuzuka Clan compound
Rather than even trying to support Taiki while the boy limps down the street, Atsuro has opted to simply carry him back to the Inuzuka village piggyback style. It's easier for both of them, he figures, and it's already fairly late. No sense in slowly making their way through the village when they can go back at proper speed. Taizen follows shortly behind and they're now getting farther out from the main part of the village, close to Toshiba Forest and the training fields, but the Inuzuka compound is still a way's away yet. So far Atsuro hasn't talked much with Taiki about what happened before. In fact, he's been pretty quiet the whole trip.
Taiki is blushing madly while just trying to hold on. The boy is embarrassed to be carried like this, and feels even worse now that the secret is out. Images of the results from the threats the Elders made should anyone find out competed with the the images of pity he'd be getting from others. Despite all that has gone on in the past, and the circumstances in the present, he was still an Inuzuka! And a proud member of the clan. That meant, to him anyway, that this entire situation was a weakness in him, one that he would rather have endured quietly. He's concerned about the future, but he knows it is out of his hands now. Atsuro'sensei could get those three in a boat-load of trouble, for interfering with the training of a Konoha Shinobi being the least of the charges. Taiki was not looking forward to the glares… But he did not say anything for the moment, because he felt the other shoe had yet to drop.
Finally, Atsuro has to say something. Is it poignant, insightful, encouraging, accusing? "Don't talk so much," he says, "I'm going deaf here." No, it's Atsuro. Actually, he had wanted to talk with Taiki about this somewhat, which is why he's just walking Taiki along, rather than doing the usual ninja thing of running at breakneck speeds, bounding from rooftop to rooftop and treebranch to treebranch. Of course, no one has said much of anything yet, that one comment aside.
That snaps Taiki out of his mental carousel of images he had been viewing in his head. He moves his head back and shakes it for a moment, before saying, "Gomen Atsuro'sensei. I… I was just thinking. Was there something you wanted to ask?" He doesn't know what's going on in Atsuro's head, but he knows trying to talk the chuunin out of helping him was a waste of breath. Not that he really wanted to in the first place. Indeed, he was tired of the crap, and really wanted it to stop. "I… I really don't know what to say…"
"I dunno," says Atsuro, "I just thought you'd have more to say about this than… nothing. You know a lot more about what's going on than me, Taiki. I can't tell you anything unless you tell me stuff first. Do your parents know what happened? I really don't know what they're going to think when I knock on the door and hand over their half-dead son." He tries to shrug, but this is somewhat difficult what with Taiki hanging off his shoulders. "Ow. If you'd rather not, how about some idle talk? What's the ride like back there? What's your favouriate food? What are your hobbies?"
Taiki sighs and shakes his head, then ducks it a bit. "You have to understand, Atsuro'sensei. They threatened to kill my parents, or at least cripple them, if I talked about this to /anyone/. This last beating… my parents were out of town until today, after I left for the training field. So no, they won't know until you show up with me on your back… They don't know what caused my injuries in third year, fully. All they knew is I had a "training" accident in the compound, and my 'Tou-san put his foot down and demanded that people be more careful. They also don't know of the threats against them, as after the first beating I made a promise to myself I would protect them from this… no matter what. It looks like that promise is about to be broken…"
Atsuro snorts. "So they were just expecting you to somehow hide a major injury from two people you live with? Cruuuunch, they can't even meet my lowest expectations." He shakes his head. "Anyway, do you think they're actually capable of that? I assume they've got their goon squad or whatever, but they can't seriously attack your parents without someone else doing something about it, right? And your parents aren't defenseless either?" He sighs. "You can blame me if you want. Say I was trying to teach you a move and I pushed you too far or something."
Taiki frowns, then shakes his head. "No good. First of all my receiving medical help is against their orders. I wasn't to get any help for my injuries. Else I could expect worse. They see me being carried back in with you, they're going to know something's up." He then shudders as he sees the markers for the beginning of the Inuzuka Compound. "As far as my parents? Yeah, they may be trained and all, but they have to sleep sometime, and we're talking about people with some serious skills behind them. So yeah, I have to take the threats seriously. And what they'll believe? I'm afraid I'm running out of excuses. 'Tou-san made it clear he'd get the truth from me if this ever happened again the last time it happened. I don't think he bought the training accident excuse, so its a cinch he won't this time. I don't know what to say."
"Then you go in the exact opposite direction," Atsuro suggests, "Tell them everything you've never told them. The watchers, the beatings, the threats. Name names, give them every detail you can think of. Your dad must have some pull right? And if you're going to tell them one thing, which I think we've established you pretty much have to, you might as well tell them everything." He pauses. "Are you sure they'd actually kill your parents? If they do that, they've lost their leverage over you. /And/ there's the risk of them being implicated."
"And sign their death warrents. What applies to interior buildings does /not/ apply to any non-private building within the Inuzuka compound, and also does not apply to my house. They've caught conversations in my house, Atsuro'sensei. If I make a stink out of this without evidence, then they'll just fade away and come back when I least expect it. And they'll probably kill me as well, since they're losing leverage over me to begin with. As much as I would /love/ there to be a simple answer to this, I know there's not. Yeah… these injuries are a start… but only that. I need proof if I'm to keep my family safe, Atsuro'san. Risking them is the one thing I /won't/ do." His last words are said with conviction. He will not be pushed to endangering them before he can find some way to neutralize them. "And the seal was destroyed."
Atsuro stops. "I thought you said that you would have to tell them tonight. If your parents are already on the line, why not tell them everything you know. If you're going to have to fight them eventually, it's better that everyone have all the information, right?" He pauses. "Do I want to know what happened to the seal?"
"I'm…. I'm still hoping I can come up with something…" Taiki starts as his body starts shaking. Finally the emotional side of all this is catching up to him, throwing him off balance. It is evident he's used to holding it in, all of it, and not letting anything show, just from the eerie quietness of his sobs and the way he's shaking without moving very much. Finally the back of Atsuro's shirt is getting wet as the tears run down Taiki's face. "I'm sorry…" he whispers as he tries to slide down Atsuro's back.
Atsuro carefully lets Taiki off his back and helps him onto the ground. "All the horrible crackle in the world heaped on you and you apologize for crying on my shirt." Atsuro sighs and pulls Taiki into a hug, careful to put his head right next to Taiki's so that he can whisper into his ear. Caerful not to move his lips too much raise his voice even a decibel above the needed volume, he asks, "Will any nearby watchers notice if I talk to you like this? Tug once on my shirt for yes, twice for no."
There's no resultant tug on Atsuro's shirt. Atsuro might as well not even tried for all that Taiki is noticing things at the moment. Shinobu has disappeared about 10 minutes ago, leaving Taizen and Atsuro to help his partner as he ran off into the forest. Where he has gone is not immediately evident, but what is evident is that the dog was on a mission. In the meantime Taiki is doing his level best to curl into a ball as he whispers "I'm sorry" over and over again. It would seem as if Taiki had imploded upon himself, faced with an impossible situation, at least in his eyes.
Speaking of impossible situations, a rustle is heard to Atsuro's right as Shinobu makes his way back. But he is not alone. Behind Taiki's partner is another pair of dogs, both of which look more like Huskies than Malamutes, so their dark fur provides a stark contrast to Shinobu's light fur. But that's not all. Immediately behind them is a couple of Inuzuka. The man stands about 6'2 while the woman is at 5'11. The man has light brown hair, almost dirty blond, while the woman has brown hair a couple of shades darker than Taiki's. Both have brown eyes and triangular faces, and both appear to be very concerned. "Who are you and why is my son on the ground crying?" the man asks, his eyes narrowing as he speaks to Atsuro.
The woman, obviously Taiki's mother, says, "Kenshin'kun… he's hurt… Why is my baby hurt?"
Trying to hug someone who's curling themselves into a ball proves to be rather difficult, and Atsuro soon gives up. He kneels down and tries to console Taiki. "Taiki, let's just stop and talk about this. There's still time to think of something. We can forge a doctor's note saying you fell out of a tree or something. It could be hours before your parents— " Speak of the devil(s). Atsuro gets to his feet. He's not someone who gets nervous in the presence of authority figures — or even respects authority figures, for that matter — but their connection to Taiki is able to get some of his respect. "I'm Inuzuka Atsuro," he answers, "And he is— " Well now, he can't just tell them everything, can he? For a second, he considers telling them he was simply walking by and found Taiki like this, but that's not going to work either. "Maybe it would be better if he told you himself. Assuming you are who you say you are, I mean." Gutsy, maybe, but at least he can buy himself some time. And hey, maybe they actually /are/ spies. "Not to be rude, but I haven't even heard you call him by name. How do I know you're on the level?" He sniffs, just in case something in their scent would reveal them as liars. And it makes him look genuinely suspicious as well.
Inuzuka Kenshin looks over the chuunin in front of him, then nods. "I heard about you from Taiki'kun," the man said. "Taiki… has a difficult time of things, but he trusts you more than he trusts anyone in our clan, so that's saying something. If /you/ are who you say you are, I am Inuzuka Kenshin and this is my wife, Inuzuka Yuuka." He moves a little to the side as the dog on is side walks forward slowly. The dog stops about 2 feet from the genin and starts sniffing, then turns his head back to Kenshin, and says, "He's hurt, bad. Looks like he got some decent first aid. Not medic level, so it's not from a hospital, but… It looks like the "training incident" of a few years back."
Tears start to trail down Yuuka's face, and without any further acknowledgement she runs to her child. "Taiki!" she calls out as she falls to her knees beside her son, trying to scoop the child up into her arms. At first he resists, but then settles quickly and holds her close as he sobs. Anger mixes in with her grief as she looks up to Atsuro and reinforces her husband question with more exacting questions. She's apparently a medic of some kind, "Why does my son have a bruised rib, a severely sprained ankle, a split lip, and a black eye? Who did this to him?"
Kenshin actually handled that a little too well, completely taking the wind out of Atsuro's sails. Still not anything definitive, but the "secretly spies" thing was really kinda a long shot anyway. Of course, he still can't say anything. "Look, I can't tell you anything and Taiki can't either," he says, deciding that a straight up refusal might be the best thing to do. "It isn't safe to discuss it here." He tilts his head to the side slightly. "You must know that as well as I do."
Yuuka is handling things about as well as any mother who sees her child torn up would, in a phrase, not well. "I don't care if the entire Inuzuka…"
Her objection is cut off by Kenshin, who calls out, "YUUKA!" Seeing her stop, his face deepens as he shows his wife his sadness. "Not here. Not now." His eyes move toward their son, causing him to breath a long sigh. Atsuro was right, they did know more than they let their son know about. "Take him to the hospital Yuuka. I don't care who gets your way. If anyone tries, they're interrupting Konoha Shinobi affairs, and fall under the laws of the village. And I'll personally see whoever tries to stop you in the interrogation chambers." As Yuuka and her dog speed away he looks at Atsuro and says, "Very well. I will need to get with you concerning my son's training sometime soon. It's about time I turned my attention toward my family." The expression behind his eyes says it all, he will help Taiki solve this, and expects Taiki's Sensei, and probably the rest of the team to do the same. "I need to… cancel some of our appointments."
Atsuro turns his head to watch Taiki leave with his mother, then looks back to Kenshin. "I know that I don't get to order you around, but is that such a good idea? I don't know what you know, and I don't know what appointments you're cancelling, but… it might be more prudent to play it close to the chest for the time being." He looks around, "Of course, being so close to the village, I don't know if that's actually an option anymore."
Kenshin smirks as he turns his head back to look at Atsuro, "The ones I'm canceling I can probably afford to cancel. Besides, this close to the compound the point is moot. And if Taiki is in a bad of a shape emotionally as he looked, some things are probably known already. Thus his collapse." The man looks old now, older than his years would suggest as he says, "I'll need you and your team to keep him upbeat, and to keep an eye on him, please? Things are about to get… intense. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get some of the initial parts done. I'm sure Taiki will be more cooperative in the future."