Date: December 12, 2011
Atsuro meets with Taiki and his dad to discuss what to do about Taiki's little problem
"Team Ten Chronicles: Counterplots"
Top of Hokage Mountain
It's rather late in the afternoon, and most people are going home. At the same time, others, predominantly ninja, are changing shifts. Taiki and his father are currently walking up a path up the Hokage mountain, with Taiki remarking about the carving of the Hokage's face. His father is listening intently, though his eyes shift from side to side. Karo and Shinobu are walking with them, kind of watching out for any unwelcome visitors. Finally they make it to the top of the mountain, and Taiki walks over to a spot to the left of the Hokage's face, somewhere about where the Sandaime's face will eventually be. "This is it," he says to his father as he moves to sit down. "The vew up here's pretty good, and it's one of the few places I can go without spies watching my every move."
Kenshin nods and moves to stand behind his son, facing the village. "I can see some of the attraction right now. So have you brought your Uchiha girl up here yet?" he asks, slightly teasing his son while waiting for the person they were meeting. He's rewarded with a blush and a shake of the head from his son, which causes him to chuckle.
A few minutes later, the scents and sounds of Atsuro and Taizen arrive from further down the trail. Soon enough, the two are in sight, Taizen following behind Atsuro, keeping an eye and nose out for anyone who might have followed. Atsuro carries in his arms a brown paper shopping bag, filled with a few groceries of varying types. "Well hello there," he says casually, "Fancy meeting you here." Is it an act to throw off any listeners-in, or is it just Atsuro? Nobody knows. In any case, he sets the groceries down on the ground and approaches Taiki and Kenshin. "Stopped by the market on the way here just in case."
Taiki turns his head and raises his left hand to wave at Atsuro. "Hello Atsuro'sensei," he says, happy to get off the teasing about Naru. Shinobu and Karo both get up and start to walk around the area, then go down the path a ways. Obviously they're checking for watchers.
Kenshin smiles and nods toward Atsuro, feigning surprise, at least until they know they're alone. "Atsuro'san… nice to see you. I've heard quite a bit about you from Taiki'kun. It's nice to actually formally meet you." When Atsuro gets close enough Kenshin nods in affirmation. "Good idea. The ninken should be back soon enough. I know we weren't followed, it only remains to be seen if you were."
"How are you?" Taking a seat on a convenient boulder, Atsuro watches as the two dogs leave to check out the area. "Nothing good, I hope. I guess our first meeting wasn't exactly formal, now that you mention it." He takes a brief look around. "Dunno if this one is either, actually. But I guess we shouldn't get down to business until we're sure it's safe." Don't think I was followed, but I don't mind the extra precaution."
Taiki lowers his head and breaths out slowly at all the talk about safety. He looks as if he's about to say something, but Kenshin quickly clears his throat. Apparently father and son have talked about this several times over, and Taiki has caved to Kenshin's demands. The boy does not seem to be happy about it however.
Once Taiki's objection was done, Kenshin nods and turns his gaze toward Atsuro. "Oh, there are some good things in there, but a lot of it was how he has to adjust to having you as a sensei. Apparently you're just a little odd to him…" Kenshin chuckles but then stops when he hears some barks off toward the trail. He turns his head to see both ninken return. The two bark twice, then move to the side of their respective partners. "We're alone," Kenshin says simply.
"Good things?" Atsuro grins. "Well, I can't explain that. Despite my best efforts, all the kids seem to like me. Poor judges of character, I guess." He shrugs. "But if you say I'm a little odd, you're better at it than the other two, Taiki. Can't explain that 'little' though. Oh well." He glances back to the barking dogs. "Alright. Well, I guess I'm here to offer my services. Or at least my thoughts. The question is whether you need them or not."
Taiki shakes his head and laughs a little. "I was trying to give you some credit, Atsuro'sensei. Of course if you don't want any credit, then that's fine to," he says at first. "And besides, I've seen a lot weirder." He falls silent as the dogs bark, then nods as they join the group. For now though, he'll let his father answer questions, only right.
"We're not sure exactly what we're doing yet," Kenshin replies as he looks at Taiki and raises a questioning eyebrow. This is about Taiki after all, so the boy might as well speak up. "But yes, we'd like your assistance in whatever form you can give it. Right now his mother, our partners, and I are running interference with the main people who hurt him. I'm also trying to find out who is, or can be with the right incentive, on Taiki's side. I got a few questions as to my rights to do so, and wether or not it would hinder my duties, to which I simply told them that I was going to make sure my son stayed out of the hospital. He's been there far too many times already. Of course I haven't said anything about /how/ I was going to do it.
Atsuro laughs. "Well, maybe you'll understand someday, Taiki. But it's not really all that important right now. Let's get down to brass tacks." He listens to Kenshin's explanation of the situation. "In other words, it's still in the early stages of planning. You need to know who's on your side, and what you should do. I don't know of anyone myself… Berii or Hitoshi — he knows some already — maybe, but it doesn't sound like dragging unrelated genin into this is what you had in mind. As for a plan… I did have an idea about that, actually. But I guess it would only make sense to explain it if you're looking for the same things I think you're looking for."
Taiki looks up at his father and shrugs. "Despite actions to the contrary, I don't want a lot of people out clan knowing what's going on," Taiki says with a shrug. "Berii and Hitoshi deserve to know some of it, because they have to deal with my mood swings and it will be kind of hard to explain why I suddenly shut up when a dog enters the area. Maybe Naru'chan… mainly because she'll get it out of me anyway. That's two Uchiha and a clanless Shinobi. I think that's enough, at least on that level."
"Out clan members may have to know Taiki'kun. I'm not foolish enough to think we'll be able to stop this without taking it up with Konoha's government. I know it will be embarrassing for you, but it needs to be done. So telling Uchiha Naru'san would be a good thing, yes." He then looks over to Atsuro and says, "I would like to hear your idea though. Maybe you've thought of a few things that I haven't. Despite what I had just explained to you, we can't monitor Taiki /all/ the time."
"Maybe so," Atsuro says, nodding to Taiki, "But I'm responsible for their safety too, remember. If they get involved and something happens, their parents are going to hunt me down and cut off my t— toes." He clears his throat. Let's hope Kenshin didn't notice that. "I dunno, they could be useful, but I'd need some kind of assurance that they'd be safe."
He nods a little when Kenshin asks to hear his plan. "I don't completely like it. Not proactive enough. But the watchers have been using recording seals. What if Taiki was to have a recording seal of his own? Catch them making threats and we've got something to use against them. But to be honest, I think the most effective solution would involve completely ruining them. No money, no reputation, no authority, nothing they can use to retaliate." There's a pregnant pause. Atsuro might be holding back a little. "If it only hurts them a little, they can come back for revenge."
"I hate to say it, mainly because I agree with you about wanting to ensure their safety, but they're already involved Atsuro'sensei," Taiki replies as he turns around, brings his knees to his chest, and rests his head on his knees. "And though you are our sensei, I don't think Hitoshi'san at the very least would agree to just forget it. That's part of what a team is, remember?" Taiki closes his eyes and gives another soulful sigh before saying, "That's another reason why I resisted telling anyone… Anyone I tell gets put in danger should they ever find out. It's also why I resisted telling you, or even my parents. I was perfectly fine with trying to help myself…"
"Save you weren't helping yourself to anything other than an early grave, Taiki," Kenshin said with a small growl. "You don't seem to understand how heartbroken your mother and I were when we saw you there curled up in a ball, looking like you were put through hell. We've suspectect for a while that you were hiding something, probably to protect us. But the reality was a hundred times worse. Do you honestly think we want to be safe at the cost of your emotional and physical well-being? Or at the cost of your life? Think agian." Kenshin sighs and looks over at Atsuro and says, "The clan overall is going to take a hit over this, but maybe it will wake people up to the inequality going on here. Either way I have to agree with you, total annihilation is probably the best bet. To that end, I think the Uchiha should at least notify their parents, that should provide them some protection. The question about Hitoshi'san still remains, however. But Taiki is right, he's already involved."
"I thought Hitoshi might be, but how did Berii get involved?" Atsuro asks. "Well, anyway, if keeping them out isn't possible, I'm going to need some way to be sure they don't wind up dead or something." He nods to Kenshin. "Well, I'm glad you agree. Problem is, I don't know if that plan works well enough then. If the recording is the only thing we can do, it had better be something /huge/. It might help to just do some muck-raking in general. If we find out that they've been selling clan secrets or something, that could ruin them too. Or… are you saying we should actually kill them?"
"Remember I told Hitoshi'san to let Berii'san what was going on after he patched me up, Sensei?" Taiki reminds Atsuro. "Besides, sooner or later they're going to get tired of me being kept from them, and either come themselves or send someone out to fetch me while I'm out of the compound. I can't guarantee what either one of them, or anyone else, will hear. As I said, the best thing we can do is alert the families, and maybe if Hitoshi'san's family is out of town, find a place for him to stay. There's not guarantees in life, but if we do our best to work together, I'm sure we can come up with something."
Kenshin listens to them both and sighs. "I'm afraid Taiki'kun is right, keeping them uninvolved is going to be very hard. Forewarned is forearmed though." He then falls silent for a moment before turning to Taiki. "Taiki, get your seals sensei to start making some recording seals for you. She already knows about the one's we're facing, so getting those done should not be a large difficulty. Stick some on Shinobu as well. That will be a start, though I am not happy with leaving you out as a target. In the meantime, we need to know who is on our side, and see if they can help us dig up something on these people."
Atsuro sighs. "Dammit. Well, I tried. I hope I'm making the right call here." He pauses. "There's one more problem with the recording seals. Not that it should stop us if you think it's a good plan. But if the seals themselves are discovered, that's going to make the problem a lot worse." He nods to Taiki. "So hide them as well as you can, at least. And be ready if they find out."
Taiki pales for a moment as the thought of what they would do to him if they discovered the seals crosses his mind. But he gulps and straightens up, then nods to Atsuro. "If I have any forewarning at all, I'll run to a public place with lots of people and raise one large stink demanding to be taken to the Hokage," Taiki replies. His eyes flit over to his father before he adds, "If not, I'll escape as quickly as possible, or send Shinobu for help, then try to stall them."
Kenshin looks at his son and frowns, then adds, "I feel like I'm using my own son for bait… Get as many as you can, and we'll put them on all the dogs. If you're caught, tell them I ordered it and told you it was for training purposes. Since I'm telling you now that's what it is for, you won't be lying. Add that if they have any questions, I gave you strict instructions for them to find me." Taiki frowns at this, obviously ready to object, but Kenshin cuts him off. "No. You will do that. If you don't, there will be no ninjutsu training for a month for you. Do you understand me young man?" At Atsuro's dejected nod, he smiles and turns toward Atsuro. "That's as much as we can do right now. Unless you have any other ides?"
Atsuro just sits the discussion between Taiki and Kenshin out, figuring it isn't his place to get involved, even if the original idea was his own. "There's one more thing, actually. There seems to be some reason the watchers don't come up here. Maybe if we can figure out exactly what it is it would help us somehow? I have an idea of what it could mean, but it's probably better to know for sure before I start throwing ideas around." He puases and shakes his head. "Other than that… if I come up with anything else, I'll contact you. Although we should probably try to keep the meetings infrequent."
Taiki nods to his father, then falls silent. He has his marching orders, as it were, and he finds himself wishing that he were better at seals himself, not for the first time. Kenshin nods then turns his attention to Atsuro, listening to him. The grown man's eyes look around for a moment before focusing back on Atsuro. "I'm not sure either, but I think I'll leave that one to you to figure out. If you find anything, let Taiki know in whatever way you think best and he'll get it to me. In the meantime, we're going to have to go before we're missed." With this Taiki stands up and waits for Kenshin.