Team Ten Chronicles: Pride II


Taiki, Hitoshi, Atsuro

Date: November 27, 2011


On the way to Hitoshi's house for some first aid supplies, Hitoshi and Taiki run into Atsuro. The men of Team 10 end up discussing Taiki's circumstances.

Poster’s note: Profanity filtered in obvious places.

"Team Ten Chronicles: Pride II"

Hitoshi's house

Sometimes it is better to go with the inevitable than to fight it. Taiki was silently regretting going to the training grounds, but he had to get away from the compound, and that seemed like the best place. He should have found another place to train once he saw Hitoshi, but no… he had to stay, confident he could talk it off. But then the Tokubetsu Jounin got involved, and it all went down hill from there. Now he was stuck, and not for the first time he wished he knew more about seals. But since he didn't, he'd have to suck it up, and get ready to answer some questions he really didn't want to answer. At least he could claim Hitoshi's safety if the boy got too close…

He had accepted Hitoshi's help until they were ready to exit the forrest, then he had insisted upon walking himself. The going was slow, and painful for Taiki, but long practice enabled him to hide some of the severity of the limp at least, making it look minor than anything else. At the same time he kept his head down. It would not do for any /other/ jounins to see him like this. He was all too aware any sensei of a team could order him to answer them fully, exposing the situation for what it truly was. And the last think Taiki wanted was to bring down the reputation of the team. So silent he remained, though he did speak up when they moved onto Vine Street, near Hitoshi's house. "Do we really need to do this?" Taiki asks, a small bit of pleading entering his voice. "I'll be /fine/."

"I'm going to make sure that damned leg's not got a fracture before I let you go any further on this," Hitoshi remarks stoically, his hands tucked into his pockets. If he doesn't want Hitoshi's help walking? That's fine. "You're not going to wiggle free of this one, Taiki. You look like a mess and the fact you were limping so bad could be an indication of an even worse injury." He pauses in his talking, his eyes cutting to the side as he looks at the other boy. He was walking slowly alongside of him, so that he could keep at the same pace as him.

"What in heaven's name did you even do to yourself? You look like you got tossed into some moving machinery or something, the way your face is messed up," he remarks quietly, frowning a little bit. "Did you get in a fight with someone and get your ass handed to you? You can tell me… It's not like I'm gonna judge you for it. I'm just concerned."

Sadly, despite all their progress, the boys are going to have to contend with perhaps the worst possible team leader — their own. Coming down the street in the opposite direction is Atsuro, Taizen walking alongside him. In his left hand, he carries a shopping bag. It seems even the life of the ninja has its mundane moments, but the sight Atsuro's about to see is anything but mundane.
When he first spots the two boys coming towards him, he doesn't think much of it. He might find one thing or another to tease them about as he walks by, but that's about it. As he gets closer though, that thought quickly disappears from his mind. "What the Christmas happened to you two?" he asks, not even bothering with a greeting. "Well, just Taiki, actually." He points to Hitoshi, "You don't look bad. Well, you don't look like anything's happened to you, at least. Nyeheheh." Okay, looks like it didn't /totally/ disappear.

Well HOLLY! This day just kept going from bad to worse for Taiki. Now any hopes of getting out of this with anything less than a 75-80 percent explanation went down the tubes, and from the look on Atsuro's face, he'd be lucky if he got to keep that much back! The teasing wasn't fooling the Inuzuka genin in the least, he knew now the gig was up. Shinobu whimpered almost pitifully, a plea to not make as big a deal out of this as even he could see it becoming. But even the ninken knew when that plea would fall on deaf ears. It's one thing to suspect, another to know!

Taiki is so lost in thought that he says the first thing that comes to mind. "Training accident sensei." The response is almost a whisper however, and he immediately kicks himself when he says it. This is his own sensei. That would go over like a lead balloon. "I mean… can we not discuss it out on the streets, please?" Quite a different tune than he was singing with Hitoshi…

Tch. Really?

"Training accident, my reindeer." Hitoshi cuts his eyes toward Taiki quietly, making a small noise as he looks at him, shaking his head. "He -showed up- at the training grounds in this bad of a shape, Atsuro-sensei," he remarks quietly, sighing a little bit. "And I wasn't going to let him just… hurt himself worse, potentially." He shakes his head a little, then, glancing toward Atsuro and rubbing his noise. Well, this couldn't get -too- much worse, right?

"I was going to take him back to my home and at least splint his leg before I let him go on home." He huffs slightly. "We're just a block and a half away, if you're not in any rush to be anywhere important."

Now, what Taiki's just said is pretty suspect, but Atsuro can't call him out immediately. Luckily, Hitoshi does it for him. "I knew it," he sighs, "Seriously Taiki. You're being ridiculous." He nods to Hitoshi. "You're being sensible. I guess I'll come with you," he says. "Can't discuss this out on the streets, after all," he adds, accepting Taiki's request. "I'm not in any rush, so just lead the way. I assume your parents aren't going to mind a couple of dogs in their house?"

Taiki knows when he's beat, and he's beat. "You don't understand…" Taiki mutters, his eyes looking down to the road. "FINE. If we're going to do this, let's get it over with. It's not like today can go any worse. First I have to refuse the offer from the Hyuuga Heir, and now this…" He looks at Hitoshi with the eyebrow on his good eye raised. "The leg is not broken, just badly sprained. But… this is not the place to discuss it. Lead the way Hitoshi'san." To Taiki, the only thing worse would be for either Berii or Naru to show up. Actully, Naru more than Berii… though both would be even worse…

For a moment, Hitoshi pauses after Atsuro's question. He actually looks toward the Chuunin for a moment with pursed lips… before he finally shakes his head, a small smile forming on his face. "Considering they're not home, and I keep the place clean ninety-nine percent of the time… No, no. I don't think they'll mind if I don't." He snickers, then, shaking his head. "S'long as they refrain from getting on the furniture -too- much and using the living room as the bathroom."

And with that, he just huffs a little at Taiki's remarks. "If it's sprained, then it needs cool on it to mitigate the pain and swelling. It also needs elevation and a little time -off- it." He shoots Taiki a look of fire for a brief moment, before contiuning on down the road… until finally, they come to a small Flat, two stories tall, wedged between a couple of other buildings. Modest, not too big, or too small. Right for a family.

He unlocks the door, and pushes it open, gesturing. "Come in, please."

"What's this about the Hyuuga heir?" Atsuro asks Taiki, "Maybe it's better you didn't accept whatever offer. That clan makes ours look so sane. I'd offer to help you walk, but I assume you're going to say no, because that's just how you roll. Yeah, don't think I haven't noticed." If Taiki actually accepts the offer, though, Atsuro will help him walk.
"Aw, that's too bad," Atsuro says, "I kinda wanted to meet them. What can I say, I'm a curious sort of guy. Anyway, I can't speak for Shinobu, but Taizen won't pee on your couch or whatever."
He follows Hitoshi to his house, stopping to take a look at it before he actually heads in. "Oh, the stuff you said before made it sound like you were rich. I guess you still could be, but this I approve of. Should I take off my sandals?"

Taiki wants to accept the offer, because adorn it his leg hurts! But he can't be sure… and if he can't be sure he'd better not. Instead he half-stumbles inside the house, finds a solid wall, and practically collides against it with his back, then slides down to a sitting position, then starts to automatically goes to take off his boots. He looks out the door for a moment, his mind seeming to be considering something before he says, "Once Hitoshi closes the door, I'll accept your help, so long as we stay away from open exterior windows." With this the boot off the good leg comes of pretty easily, but he appears to be having a problem with the bad one… he whimpers slightly as he tries to take it off, and fails. Tears he doesn't even recognize he's crying roll down his cheek, presumably from the pain. "Shinobu won't pee in the house, period, unless its in the toilet," he says helplessly.

Beginning to laugh, Hitoshi shakes his head and just lets it loose as Atsuro brings up the word 'rich.' "Gimme a break," he remarks softly. "We're comfortable, but we're not simply rolling in ryo. But since you mentioned it… My mother and father're actually back in that little border town we just came from to help work on the economic structure. Part of the recovery effort for the townspeople since they were affected by whatever the yuletide those guys were working on." At the mention of sandals, though, he pauses. His eyes also drop to their feet.

"Sandals off. I have guest slippers you guys can wear here," he remarks, gesturing to a small caddy by the door. "Help yourselves." With that, he's removing his own sandals, wriggling his toes as he does… before moving on into the modest flat.

For a kid who lives mostly by himself, Hitoshi apparently knows how to take care of a place. The entranceway leads into the kitchen, which is modest, but well kept, clean, and more or less completely functional. A round dining table is off to the side, wooden in construction - as well as four chairs - one on each side - around it. Beyond that, a living room can be seen - a wireless radio and a few comfortable chairs noticable immediately. From there, a flight of stairs that one can only assume leads to a hallway that leads into their sleeping quarters.

"Please, make yourselves at home." He gestures softly. "Welcome to my home." With that, he bows to his guests, and begins to move on from the kitchen toward the living room. His voice is sharp when he speaks, "Hnn. Atsuro-sensei, help him bring himself on in to the living room onto the bigger sofa, and let's look at that leg. While we're at -that,- you can explain what the jingle you did to yourself, Taiki-kun." With Hitoshi having disappeared, there's audible clanging and clattering - as well as the sounds of shuffling. Apparently, he's getting some things together upstairs? When he comes back down, he's carrying a small basin with some supplies in it.

"Hmm. I think I actually do want to meet them," Atsuro admits, "Maybe I assumed too much about them." Hitoshi's parents: not bougies? Atsuro is willing to consider the possibility.
Not bothering with slippers, Atsuro simply kicks off his sandals and nudges them over to the wall. His feet are clean anyway. He puts down the shopping bag by the wall two, then bends down and checks Taizen's paws to make sure they're relatively clean. All that done, he ventures further into the house. "Taiki," he sighs, "You're a moron." Despite the actual words, Taiki's situation does seem to have stirred some compassion in his heart. There's a certain level of affection in his voice even as he insults him. "Hold still," he says, and lifts Taiki up, then takes him into the living room with a fireman's carry, taking care not to bump Taiki's injured leg into anything.
"I'll take the boot off for you," he says as he lays Taiki down on the couch. "Clench your fist so that you're squeezing your thumb down," he advises, "It'll stop some of the pain." He moves down to Taiki's foot, putting his hands around the boot, but waits for Taiki to prepare himself before actually doing anything.
He looks up at Hitoshi. "Huh, you're good, eh? Guess that stuff about being a mednin someday wasn't just idle talk."

"It's… it's a nice house," Taiki says, though his mind more on his situation than anything else. He looks around for a moment, taking a break from pulling the boot off to gather his strength. Thus he was not expecting it as he was picked up by Atsuro and carried toward the couch. He doesn't protest the help though, but instead he replies to the insult. "No, I'm just caught in a very bad situation, and I have to appear like a moron to try to salvage some of my dignity," he replies. Finally when he is set down, he does as Atsuro tells him to, then waits for the boot to come off.

When Atsuro does manage to get the boot off, Taiki screams out loud very briefly before stopping. The scream happens so fast it seems as if the suppression is automatic, a learned response. The ankle is swollen, and very large, it is probably extremely inflamed, but it is covered by bandages with short sticks on either side to provide support, and a sock pulled over that. He obviously tried to do /something/ for himself. Tears roll down his face freely, and Hitoshi's demand goes unanswered for the moment as the Inuzuka genin tries to get his body back under his control.

"I know the basics of taking care of injuries like this," Hitoshi admits softly as he descends the stairs, "but my chakra control is still not quite there for me to begin learning techniques that'd probably have this completely healed in a matter of hours." With that, he begins to move over toward the couch with the basin. If one is attentive enough? They'll see an Instant Icepack, one of those you can break open. As well as a flexibandage and a few other miscillaneous supplies, like rags, alcohol, and some other things. When he kneels down and he sees the attempted splint… he facepalms again.

"Well, you did at least try to do something. Okay…" With that, he promptly begins to carefully remove these bandages, and the two little sticks, wriggling them in his fingers for a second as he examines them… And bends them.

"A tip, Taiki-kun. If you try this again, you want something that's a bit sturdier than this." He bends at the stick between his fingers, showing that flexibility… before tossing it aside. Once the leg is bared, he examines it, feeling at the ankle a bit as he considers it…. Despite the protests he may get. "It's gonna hurt when I'm doing this… just hang tight." What's he feeling for? Grinding, perhaps… signs of broken bones. But when he can't seem to feel anything, he seems satisfied. And when he's finally satisfied, he sets out to take something from the basin - a modestly sized piece of cardboard. He folds it, three sided, around the boy's leg, up to the knee. And then he begins to wrap that flexibandage around it, tightly… up to the knee, stopping below it, before working back down and securing the ankle.

"Just because you're in a festive situation doesn't mean you need to take abuse like this, just so you know," he remarks idly. "No matter how bad it is." He busies himself with tying the bandage off, before nodding a little bit. That icepack is then taken out, and busted so that it begins to get cold… and he wraps a cloth around it, before carefully placing it on top of the flexibandage. "Hold that there for a while, and put your leg up on the couch with a pillow under it…"

Atsuro bites his lip as he hears Taiki's screams. He lays the boot down on the floor, hoping Hitoshi won't mind it being there for now. His frown only deepens when he sees just how bad Taiki's leg looks. And Taiki's other problem hasn't escaped his notice either. "Well, I don't know gingerbread about first aid," says Atsuro, "So if you need me to do something, just tell me, Hitoshi. Or maybe I can get something for Taiki. Like some water or…" He pauses, then says very quietly, trying to make it so that only Taiki can hear, "I can see if they have some paper towel in the kitchen."

"It does when the alternative is your immediate family suffering worse," Taiki snaps back. He grimaces through the pain, but no more groans are screams escape his lips. Instead he just watches Hitoshi and then puts his leg up when he is ordered to. "And as far as the sticks are concerned, it was all I could find without making it look like I sought professional help, which would have caused… complications." He then sighs and rolls his eyes dramatically. "Who the elf do I think I'm fooling?" he asks, sounding rather exasperated. Looking toward Atsuro he says, "You were right, on just about everything sensei. It's about three members of the Inuzuka Elders, who are being rather hard core about things, and making my life miserable because either I don't fit into the perfect Founders Clan mold, or take it too far. Take your pick." Apparently they have had a conversation about this before. "You can't let anyone know though, or you'll be in danger as well. That and my family will pay the price. It may not be all the Elders, but the ones involved, as far as I can tell, are very well respected, and I'm the black sheep of the clans…"


Clan Drama. Hitoshi quietly sits back on his feet after finishing the work with the splint and he watched both Atsuro and Taiki both, his eyes looking between the two as he listens to them. "This sounds like a bit of a beef," he remarks idly, "that you guys've got going on in your blood. Aaaaaaaaand, it's making zero sense on -this- end of the spectrum." He just shrugs, though, throwing the last of his miscellaneous supplies back into the little basin. The basin is then placed aside as he lifts himself off the ground, moving to find himself a more comfortable seat to watch this.

"Actually," says Atsuro, "I've only know a little bit about exactly what's going on." He gets up and flops onto the couch near Taiki. "I get that you're not exactly at liberty to talk about it, but you already know that they're not watching one hundred percent of the time. And there must be times when they /can't/ be watching." He looks around, trying to see if there's some obvious way for a spy to be listening in. "I would have thought this is one of them, considering. I could keep working on my sense of smell. They hide themselves well, but I'll get so good I'll be able to catch them if one molecule of their stench enters my nose. How about that?"

Taiki looks over to Atsuro for a moment and then nods. "I was getting to that here. Both you and Hitoshi are asking too many unanswerable questions, and I'm already feeling pressure to get you to stop asking." Yeah, like that made a whole lot of sense… really. Taiki sighs and doesn't ask about the paper towels at the moment, but instead looks at Shinobu, then at Atsuro. "The seal we found was both a recording seal and a tracking seal, keyed to me. It's a relatively new design, and the person I talked to couldn't make out all of it. So it's going to be harder to evade them from now on."

Taiki then turns his head to Hitoshi, and after a few minutes of quiet contemplation, speaks. "Hitoshi'san, not many people know this, but the Inuzuka Clan is made up of several different branch clans, each with a different purpose, function, whatever. While there are several branches, the three most pertinent clans to my story are the Alphas, the Founders, and the Betas. The Alphas are pretty much what you think of them as, up-front leaders of the clan. They're the big decision makers. The Founders are the branch that original Inuzuka that came to Konoha. Our job, and yes I am of the Founders branch, is the roll of advisors. We're the power behind the throne, so to speak. Many of us are also Alphas, but a small group of us decided to remain as Founders, my family included. We take reports from the other branches and make sense out of them. That's our job. We're also the best at ninjutsu of the clan, though typically ninjutsu takes a second seat to taijutsu. The third group, the Betas, are the Inuzuka caregivers. They take care of the pregnant mothers, and act as guards when not on missions or taking care of the ninken. This is a brief overview of the important clans to my story." Taiki sighs and then glances to Atsuro, to see if he wants to add anything before Taiki continues, also to see if there are any questions from Hitoshi so far.

As Hitoshi settles in on his seat, he sort of half-lids his eyes, listening to the boy talk as he considers the situation. He makes a small noise as he listens, sort of indicating he's hanging in there with the explanation. As the boy addresses Atsuro, though, his nose wrinkles up a little bit, and he makes a small noise, looking up. He says nothing immediately, and instead just kind of tilts his head.

He finally motions for Atsuro to go on, still listening. "You've still got me hanging in there," he confirms.

Giving a lopsided smile in response to the little noise, he gestures to Hitoshi and points out, "Maybe you should tell him about the seal. You've already talked about it in front of him anyway, and it's relevant." He actually faces Hitoshi. "I actually don't have a whole lot to add. But it's worth mentioning that a lot of the Founder clan are hidebound old dinosaurs. They whine and cry whenever somebody from the founders tries to do something else." He shrugs. "Glad we don't have that kind of snow in the Deltas. We report to the Hokage more than self-important old men."

Taiki seem to take Atsuro's advice under consideration and turns to Hitoshi and says, "Getting a little ahead of the story, there have been "watchers" assigned to keep track of me and what I'm doing. It's done to ensure that I'm acting the part of a "true Inuzuka." In other words, a mainly Taijutsu expert that uses ninjutsu to back up the taijutsu. Sounds a bit different from what I do and profess, doesn't it?" Shinobu whines a bit, causing Taiki to look over at him and nod. "I know boy, but this last bit… I'm tired of it, ya'know?" Then he continues with, "I'll explain that later, but the seal I'm referring to is from a watcher we… got rid of who was eavesdropping on a conversation between Atsuro and I over this. He had a seal on his person neither Atsuro'sensei nor I could decipher, so I had to find out what it was."

Taiki shifts a little in his seat, trying to become more comfortable when he continues. "Anyway, back to the story. I was never what one would call a typical founder clan member. As I grew up I grew to have a faint dislike for codes, politics, and other such "founderly" tasks. Instead I was more interested in the ninken, especially the pregnant ones, and would often sneak out to be with them. Atsuro'sensei is right in what he said about our clan. Any other branch member can decide what they want to do. If they don't like the role they're born into, they can change it. Not so with the Founders Clan. Once born into it, you're future is pretty much set. Normally it is frowned upon for a founders clan member to do anything else, both in Clan and in Shinobi life. So you could see what they thought of /me/…"

Taiki looks up at the ceiling next, his facial expression turning regretful. "Did you know I was a year late joining the academy? That was because my proclivity to look after the pregnant nin-ken nearly got me killed when someone tried to kidnap one… Shinobu's mother, to be exact." Shinobu comes up and rests his head on Taiki's hand, making a soft whining sound, which Taiki seems to appreciate. "So I entered the academy a year later than I should have, with Shinobu at my side. But though I saved our ninken, there were some Elders, one Alpha and two Founders, who did not like that I was involved. That's when all of this crap began. After I was healed the medical records showed a brief "remission" of my injuries, blamed upon my lack of balance. That wasn't it. No, the three Elders decided to teach me a lesson, and threatened they'd do the same to my parents if I told anyone."

Silence prevails as Taiki talks, and it begins to weigh heavily in the living room of the Taniguchi flat as he recounts the happenings of years past. And recent happenings. All the while, Hitoshi is camped out on the floor, having picked up the supplies he had used to splint Taiki's leg up properly… putting it up on the sofa that Taiki's taken rest on. After moving to sit down in his own seat, he tilts his head a little as he listens to the boy talk, making a small noise here and there… he's listening, with intent.

Fingers clasp together under his chin as he listens, and he frowns slightly as the boy's little story comes to an end. He huffs slightly, shaking his head.

"See? This is why I am glad my family just -moved- here. I wasn't born into these bedecked clans and all of their… for lack of a better word, asinine old ways of practicing things…"

Atsuro just sits through Taiki's explanation of things, nodding at a few different points. He does know quite a bit of it already, after all. Hitoshi's assessment of the information gets a different reaction from him, however. "Nyeheh," he chuckles, then leans forward to give Hitoshi a pat on the head. It's a little condescending. "I've just gained respect for you," he says, grinning. "Anyway," he turns to Taiki, "This is why I've been telling you that you, or we, need to do something about this situation. You don't want to put up with this mistletoe for the rest of your life, do you?"

Taiki sighs and shakes his head as he looks toward Hitoshi. "Generally being part of a clan can be a good thing, but like all aspects of life, it has its ups and downs. This is a downside of being in a clan… busybody old relics think they know better and believe they have the right to impose their beliefs. But they forget that every style of fighting has at least one weakness, almost always more, and they can be used against you. It's why focusing on one way of ninja arts is always bad. Too bad people forget that…" Atsuro's words get a different reaction, one of indignant shock. "Please?! Of course I don't want to put up with this tinsel for the rest of my life, but if you can think of a way to do something without bringing the entire Inuzuka clan down, then I'm all ears!"

"That was the first time, but not the only time. Three other times during my academy time I was… disciplined… for lack of a better word. The first was at the end of my first year tests when I came in third to an Uchiha and a non-clan member in both Taijutsu and Tracking. Nevermind that Founders aren't the tracking experts of the clan and anything that didn't have to do with my in-clan duties was frowned upon by nearly every other clan member save my parents. The second was the end of my second year test, when the results were repeated, and the third was mid-way through my third year when I proved better than just about anyone else in ninjutsu. My parents raised a stink about it then, which caused the Elders to stop the physical stuff for a bit, but the mental and emotional stuff kept going."

Taiki then sighs and looks between them, then scratches Shinobu's head. "That's what I meant about the trail going cold, Atsuro'sensei, this is the first time in years they attacked me. And it was over me putting my foot down after our last mission. I scared both of my teammates because I channeled my rage toward them to frighten those two scientists, and I did not like myself much for it. That and my distrust of just about everyone seemed to be pushing my teammates away, as I discovered in that ill-fated dinner with Hitoshi'san and Berii'san. So after I learned Juujin Bunshin I put my foot down, and basically told them to go to hell, that I would be practicing my ninjutsu a bit to follow my dreams. They called me impertinent and said this is what happens when discipline is stopped. So they disciplined me again." The story finally done, he looks down at his lap and sighs, shakes his head, and mutters something about "worth it" to himself. Shinobu, being the closest one to him hears it and whines at Taiki, licking his hand. It's fairly obvious what he said…

"Well, at least some of your behavior during the mission is now explained!"

Hitoshi just shakes his head a little bit, then, taking in a breath. "I wasn't so much… scared, as I was put off by your actions. Even though we didn't know at the time they were foreign agents, for all intents and purposes, they were still citizens of this country - you know, the one we're supposed to be fighting for and defending." He shrugs his shoulders, noting quietly, "I almost said something to you then and there because you looked like you could've ripped both their throats out— but something told me not to."

He then leans back against the seat, hrming slightly at the second half… shrugging his shoulders. "That was destined to fail, the lunch and day of downtime, I mean," he remarks lightly, a slight redness creeping up to his face. "You two stay super busy and I can understand that. I used to be the same way when I was little, and when I traveled with my family actively." He smiles a little, shaking his head…

Finding the couch to be rather comfortable, Atsuro leans back and stretched out, putting his hands up behind his head. "I doubt they're integral to the clan," he says, waving a hand through the air as if shooing a fly away, "Let them reap what they sow. Anyway, step one is to find a way to determine whether or not you're being watched at any given time. That should be simple enough. We just need smell them. You and I can start working on more acute senses of smell. Plus, they might even approve of it." He finishes with a dark chuckle. "Delicious irony, eh?"
The rest of the conversation goes over Atsuro's head somewhat. He wasn't there for either of those things, after all. "I don't know what those things you're referring to are," he says lazily, "I think you've mentioned them before."

Taiki sighs and shakes his head as he looks over to Atsuro before giving a soft glare at Hitoshi. "No, that was not doomed to fail. It was my fault for misunderstanding Berii'san's glances toward you. I thought you two were dating, and felt like I was not meant to be a part of that, which activated my insecurities. You don't suffer years of mental, emotional, and physical abuse without accruing /some/ insecurities, Hitoshi'san. It's my problems that caused that, not yours."

Taiki then turns toward Atsuro and says, "As you can gather, on our last day off Hitoshi sponsored a dinner amongst the three of us. Hitoshi'san said something Berii'san didn't like, and a silent communication started between them that I was not privy to. As I just said, I took it the wrong way and offered to leave them alone to discuss it. They got more upset than I would have thought, and it ended with Berii'san leaving. That was before that mission. During that mission I started to get a sneaking suspicion something was seriously wrong when the guard seemed to miss very important details. Then we went to the cafe, and the so-called proprietors did not know a thing about the food that was supposedly their livelihood. So I assumed they were spies, and that we were set up for a trap. Thus I tried to frighten them, but my resentment toward the Elders sort of bled out and I came across worse than I thought I did."

"Stocking happens. We pick it up, move on, and we learn from it. Though, if you -really- want to know what that spat was all about, I can tell you. You guys just have to, y'know. Keep it between us. Between the Men of Team Ten."

That said, though, Hitoshi nods a little bit, rolling his neck. "Like I said, Taiki-kun, I wanted to call you out on that. We had no reason to believe that they were truly a -danger,- since they were running from us… I mean, even though we're trained Shinobi… we're still kids. If they had been truly something, a force to be reckoned with, they would've probably just snapped their fingers and then we'd have been toast." He shrugs, though.

"As I said, we learn from our mistakes."

Ah, kids. Atsuro actually laughs a little over the lunch thing. "Cute," he comments, "Actually, if I remember right, you seemed a little Kringledoff with each other during the mission too. I guess it worked out all right, but if you do that again, /I'm/ going to be Clausedtoo. Mission comes first, or whatever. Seriously. Be professional." He happens to glance down at his open shirt and vest. "Be at least as professional as me," he corrects.
"That does include treating captives properly," Atsuro says, nodding towards Hitoshi in agreement. "But you still should have kept on your guard, at least. Just because they didn't wreck you the second they saw you doesn't mean they /couldn't/ wreck you. Manger, the whole running away thing could have been just a ruse."

Taiki looks between Hitoshi and Atsuro, then blushes a little. "Hey, I did back off once I determined they weren't a threat. It's just… At that moment all I had to go on labeled them as a possible threat, And… well, I wasn't going to let them hurt us. But… as they say lesson learned." Taiki sighs as he shifts slightly on the couch. Shinobu whines a little in concern, but otherwise isn't very active. He then looks to Atsuro and says, "We weren't really ##red|Santad# off… more just uneasy around each other, because of the misunderstanding. And we didn't have much opportunity to talk it over afterward. Especially when I had to worry about the watchers."

"Which is what's important. I could tell you eased up once you realized they weren't a threat at all." Hitoshi takes a deep breath, rolling his neck slightly. Okay, so, no one wanted to know about Berii's Secret. That's all the same, really… he probably shouldn't be telling people, anyway. He did have a promise to keep, after all.

He waves his hand, then, yawning slightly and rolling his neck. "Moving on from that, though," he remarks softly… "You having to take all of this gift from the people that you are supposed to call family's really… kind of jacked up. In a bad way, too."

"Good point," Atsuro says, nodding towards Hitoshi. "Weeeelll, it's actually pretty obvious, but it does get us back on topic. Partial credit for Hitoshi." He pauses and rubs his chin. "Well, if you're willing to talk so freely," he begins, turning towards Taiki, "I guess it would be fair to say that you're not worried about the watchers here. Obviously they can't follow you inside, but they can't record from the outside either, then?"

Taiki shakes his head as his eyes look around. "No, they can't. The seals aren't sensitive enough to pick up what is said inside a home like this, at least that's what the seal master told me. He said that a moderately built structure, such as this one, will insulate the volume of normal speech enough to render the recording part useless. That and I was sniffing out for watchers on my way here, with Shinobu helping. He can catch them better than I can, his sense of smell is keener." He then looks over toward Hitoshi and adds, "Yeah… it is. I… I've noticed I'm reticent to trust people… I mean /truly/ trust people because of it. This team… is the closest I've come to trusting people outside my parents and…." Taiki pauses a moment, blushing heavily as he admits this for the first time anywhere aloud, "Naru'chan…"

"Well, there's something you're going to have to remember, Taiki-kun."

Hitoshi, at this point, kicks his feet back and lifts them up to rest on the table between the seating, relaxing a bit and folding his arms behind his head as he leans back. "As a team, we have to be reliant on eachother. We have to be trusting in one another, because when it eventually comes down to it… we've gotta be able to look at one another, say 'hey, I'll put my life in your hands. Put yours in mine, and we'll get things rolling,' and then we just gotta do it. If we can't find that trust in one another, there's no way as a team we can truly function without having to gutcheck eachother all the time."

He's getting insanely philisophical. Then, he drops the reasoning: "This all goes back to our teamwork exercises we had to work on in the Academy. It's really no different."

"So then, all we have to do when we need to discuss this is go inside," Atsuro surmises, "What about outside the village? Would they send watchers after you on a mission? Any other kind of trip? If we get enough opportunities to talk about it, then eventually we'll be able to start doing something about it. And like I said, we keep finding better ways to detect them. Let them think you've become exactly what they want, then…" He pauses. "Well, we'll keep thinking about that." He smiles to himself a little at the Naru comment, but doesn't actually say anything. This isn't really the time to tease Taiki over a crush(?), even if teasing is pretty much his hobby. That said, he does hear that name come up fairly often these days, and he's never actually met her. "Who's Naru, by the way?"
Hitoshi's musing gets a nod from Atsuro. "That's right," he agrees, "I'd prefer you guys keep… respectful of each other at least. I'm not much for touchy feely carol, but things are going to go a lot better for all of us if we don't hate each other." He holds one hand out towards Hitoshi, palm up. "I think you might have forced it too much, though."

Taiki looks back up at Hitoshi and nods. "I'm trying." That's all he says to that, but it is evident he agrees with Hitoshi's philosophy on trust within a team. In fact, he adds, "We'll have to bring Berii up to speed somehow… it won't look good if she's the only one that doesn't know." Boy is that the understatement of the year, or was until he follows up with, "She'll blow a gasket. Speaking of blowing a gasket… we're going to have to teach that girl how to cuss, and get her over her reticence to do it. Yeah, I know she'll get holy, but she either blew her cover or nearly did so on a mission because of it. She's going to have to learn."

Shinobu in the meantime is watching out for Atsuro's teasing, but doesn't do more than puthis ears back. In the meantime, Taiki answers his questions. "I can't say on missions, but so far no, we have not found evidence of them following us outside of Konoha. Nor have they followed us to the top of the mountain overlooking Konoha, so far. It's the place I use when I want to be alone, or alone with someone. I don't know why they won't go up there, but we actually watched a watcher we detected turn around and leave when we were half way up the mountain."

"I would say it's the terrain," Hitoshi remarks softly, "but if they're willing to follow you halfway up… why bother stopping halfway?"

He makes a small noise, looking thoughtful at that, and rubbing his nose slightly, he purses his lips. He'll leave -that- particular bit alone for now… as for Taiki's remarks on Berii, though, he makes a small noise, huffing slightly. "It'd be a good idea if you explained it to her, probably," he remarks softly. "She's got her own problems she has to deal with, though… just… fair warning. As far as getting her to curse…" He shakes his head.

"Good luck."

"The mountain…" Atsuro frowns a little as he considers this. "I suppose Hitoshi might be right. Could be something about the terrain, but it can't be because it's difficult to climb. If Taiki and Shinobu can do it, what's stopping the watcher? There must be something that it has to avoid. Maybe… the possibility of detection? Do they know you know about them? If they do know… I think this shady tidings they're pulling here just got a little shadier." He pauses. "But that's /if/ they know. If they only do it because they don't want you to know, that doesn't change much, actually."
He actually grins a little when he hears about Berii. "She can't swear? Oh boy." He can barely contain his laughter. "I think I have an amusing training session in the near future. Evidently neither of you two will need to attend though."

Taiki looks at Hitoshi and says, "You see her more than I do… you can tell her, as long as you so in private," Taiki says, then droops as he shakes his head. "Of course the entire point may be moot with the Heir to the Hyuuga suspecting something. It took all the groveling I could do to keep her from being insulted. "I'll do it if you can't or won't, but it may be quicker for you to tell her. And tell her if she has any questions, to find me and I'll answer them… if I can."

As Atsuro asks more questions he looks his sensei's way and answers them. "I don't believe they know I know about the watchers. They may suspect, with some turning up missing," he says, reminded of the dog he blew up. "But this is all shady enough as it is, Atsuro'sensei. To be honest, I've been looking for a way out of this for a while, and haven't found one."

"S'no problem. I'll catch up with her sometime later or something and tell her about this the best I can." He takes a breath, rolling ihs neck a little bit again as he looks between Atsuro and Taiki both.

"It's starting to get late. And I'm sure if your Watchers trailed you here, they're wondering why it's taking you so long to leave." He then glances toward Taiki's leg, tilting his head.

"You can happily tell any of your people that if they want to take up the matter of your medical care, by the way… that they can come and speak to me directly." He then looks up toward Taiki, smiling slightly. "I'll be glad to tell them that they can -eat me.-" He chuckles, then. "But… you guys probably need to be getting going. Not to be rude… but I -am- expecting my family home sometime or another tonight and I need to start dinner…"

"Well, if we can determine that somehow," Atsuro says thoughtfully, "I might have an idea. But anyway, Hitoshi is right. We should get going." He gets up off the couch, somewhat reluctant to leave his place of comfort. "I assume you'll need some help getting back home," he adds, offering a hand to Taiki. "Thanks for the help, Hitoshi. I assume you're smart enough to know this already, but don't go spreading around the things we've talked about here."

Taiki nods to Hitoshi's logic, and starts to try to stand up himself, but ends up accepting Atsuro's help. "You're right, they will wonder, and ask why I got medical help despite their orders not to. I can tell them the truth, or I can say Atsuro'sensei came upon us and ordered me to. That's up to Atsuro'sensei." Now the incident with Yuzuna becomes clear. "Though if I'm seen entering the compound with the help of Atsuro'sensei, they probably will assume the later. If you don't mind?" he asks the chuunin. It is evident he needs and wants the help, but he is leaving the decision to Atsuro. Either way, they will make their way out the door, and back toward the Inuzuka compound.

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