Date: September 9, 2012
A few days after the release from the hospital, and a grieving Taiki finds himself at the Raman bar, running into a concerned Genin and someone who truly understands his pain.
The Ramen shop, Konohagakure
"Not much of a spar, a genin versus a Jounin. Not like I had much chance…and I know. I intend to show him that sometime. May be a while, but eventually" She nods to Mushi after a few moments, raising a brow at how fast the woman seems to be running out. She shrugs slightly and starts in on her second bowl. "Interesting girlfriend you have, nee-san"
Shintaro smirks again at the talk about his techniques. However, when Mushi seems to make a reason to need to run, he simply gives a nod then rolls his eyes as he looks down at the table. "Gee, I love when she does that," he says sarcastically, letting out a sigh. He takes a few more sips of his tea then downs the rest of it before waving to the waiter. "… Give me a bottle of sake… on my own tab please," he says before looking back over to Usagi. "Very interested, indeed…," he says, nodding in agreement then looking back to the waiter to take the bottle and take a few swigs from it.
Taiki and his two ninken enter the restraunt. There are a few servers that know him, and every one of them stops what their doing and stares at him when they notice he's here. Taiki has changed… a lot. He has his thumbs tucked into his belt, his elbows back, as he scans the room with a slightly haunted stare and slightly vacant eyes. He shrugs and approaches the bar area near where Usagi is, sliding into an available seat. "Tariyaki, extra pork for me. Dog dinner number one for my partners," Taiki says quietly with a horse voice, "And… water." He can't drink alcohol, and caffeine is out for the moment too.
That said, he sighs as he sifts around to get comfortable in the seat. The chains around his upper body clink slightly as he does this, though their actually very quiet. He then looks off into the distance, his eyes unfocusing as he waits for his food.
Usagi pauses for a few moments, taking a deep breath as the two come in. Her hand sneaks to one of her packs, and she brings out two treats, tossing one to each dog. After that,s he sighs softly and comes over to put a hand on Taiki's shoulder. She looks at him for a few moments, if he doesn't strike at her, or shove her off, and simply says "Hey…."
As Usagi's friend comes in, Shintaro glances over and lifts his bottle in greeting before looking back ahead. "I'll see you back at the village later, Usagi," he says as he reaches into his pocket and drops a few bills on the table for what he bought then sinks down into the shadow of the bar and disappears from the area.
Taiki doesn't strike or shove. In fact, for about half a minute he doesn't even register her presence. But he does eventually, as is evidenced by his cheeks turning a bright shade of pink. "Hello," he murmers back in that same rough voice. The dogs don't take the offered treats until Taiki gives them the signal, then they eat appreciatively. "I'm taking care of myself…" he adds quietly.
Usagi gives him a look after he finally acknowledges her, raising a brow and putting a hand on her hip. "Uh huh" The tone says it all. she really doesn't believe him. She looks at the two dogs for confirmation, raising a brow at them and waiting for that answer before she looks to him. "Look, Taiki….have you slept since then?"
The dogs look at each other, then back at Usagi and tilt their heads to the side. This is as close as a "sort of" that they can give to someone who can't understand them. Taiki sighs and turns his head toward Usagi, raising an eyebrow. "I'm trying. I sleep some," he adds a little defensively. In this case, "some" probably means a lot less than would normally recommended. "I just… can't sleep."
Usagi sighs softly, nodding to the two dogs and looking back at him. "Then I'm going to try and help you" Not a question, it seems. She looks him over or a few moments, then back up. "Starting tonight"
Okay, Usagi has his complete and undivided attention now. He looks at her with the arched brow going even higher. "Exactly what do you plan to do? I will warn you, I don't really want overnight company right now. Besides, the entire Inuzuka clan watches me, and will talk if anything even hints at being inproprietous." Taiki is making it a question, it would seem. The dogs start backing away though, looking worried. Taiki is normally more diplomatic than this…
"I plan to make sure you sleep, and sleep soundly. Overnight company or not. I'm not quite sure what -you- have in mind, but I'm staying dressed, thank you" She puts both hands on ehr hips now, giving him a no nonsense look. "And they can watch all they like. What they're going to see is a med nin in training helping a young man who seems to 'need' some help sleeping, get to sleep. And that's it. After you're out, I head home. and I'll check on you in the morning"
Taiki looks over at the dogs for a moment, then allows that face to upturn into a slight smirk. "Oh the tales will be wagging after that," Taiki says, intentionally using the pun. Both dogs whimper at that as Taiki looks off for a moment. "I'm sorry, Nara'san, but I will have to refuse your offer. I do not mean this as disrespectful to you, but given several over-lapping situations, your reputation could not afford the hits." Of course he doesn't say anything about /his/ reputation, but that to him is beside the point. Maybe he doesn't care about it, who knows? "If it will make any difference, I will stop by the hospital for something to put me to a /short/ sleep." Again with the pun….
Usagi gives him a cross look. "If you're making puns, then you're feeling better. But in either case…." she leans over and whispers very quietly in his ear, and then looks at him very seriously. "and I intend to take that very seriously. Reputation be damned, I'm a nursing student. I take the condition of my patient over tongue waggling"
"I'm only laughing on the outside," Taiki states flatly, with no real humor in his voice. It would be very easy to believe that Taiki is indeed putting on a front to be sociable, and that any laughter that he may show is only skin deep. The trio's food arrives, and Taiki sets down the bowls for the dogs as he starts to eat. In all seriousness he adds, "Trust me, you do not want these tongues wagging. They can be vindictive, to say the least. You're better off letting me get some sleeping agent." Taiki's voice is strangely horse, and for any newcomers he is heavily bandaged, but still dressed in ninja gear. Most of the clothing, save the chuunin vest, looks new.
The noren curtain parts as slender fingers slip between them, brushed to one side with a slight dip as Yuzuna smoothly steps inside, only to be met with the rush of dinner in full swing. She calmly lifts a brow and glances around, all manners of people eating and drinking heartily, laughing with the abundant merriment. The Hyuuga kunoichi glances around the full ramen house with hesitance, seriously debating coming another time when it wasn't quite so busy when a waitress makes a beeline for her. "Our tables are rather full at the moment, but I'm sure we can squeeze you in somewhere if you don't mind the company! The bar perhaps?" she says cheerfully. With much more bounce than Yuzuna's used to. She visibly hesitates again as she glances around carefully, "I suppose that will surface…" she murmurs.
Usagi sighs softly and nods. "Fair enough. But if you're not sleeping, I'm going to be coming to check in on you. And if you're 'that' worried, it'll be a five minute visit" She grumbles softly about people with nothing better to do but gossip, but nonetheless, continues to nom on her ramen noodles. "And that's that….I'll see what we can get to help you sleep" She pauses, then speaks again. "You're having nightmares, aren't you" At that though, she glances at the newcomer, nodding to the woman and smiling softly. "Hello there"
Taiki sighs and turns toward his ramen and eats a little. He then looks back at the Nara genin and says, "Ask some of your clansmen about the rumors going around about the Inuzuka lately. Even after all the damage control I've helped try to do, I'm sure you'll get an earful. And then you'll understand why I am trying to look out for your reputation. Believe me, anyone else from my clan, and they would not care in the least." His voice never wavers from that horse quality it has to it, but he's not been crying recently, so its not from crying himself horse. Both of Taiki's ninken continue to eat as he tries to make himself clear. He doesn't comment on the nightmares though, which in itself is telling, especially with nearly dying himself.
"There! You see? It all works well!" The waitress giggles, carrying a menu in her arms as she leads the Hyuuga girl through a sea of people. Yuzuna pauses for a fraction of a moment before she breathes out a slow breath, shaking her dark head once to herself before following after the waitress to the bar without so much bumping into another customer along the way. The young woman quietly glances at the other patrons, quietly watching them with a hint of a polite smile that never seems to quite reach her pale opal eyes. The smile disappears just as quickly as it was on her lips when she slips onto her seat. Her keen gaze catch the sight of the others, specifically the dark band around Taiki's forearm that would otherwise be missed completely. Such is the gift of Hyuuga clan. Lowering her chin, the heiress pulls her gaze away before murmuring, "I am sorry for your loss."
Usagi sighs again. "Most of the Nara honestly don't care…at least the men don't" She shrugs slightly. "I'm here to help you. End of story. Everyone else, save for a few people, can go fly a kite for all I care" She looks him over once more. "I'll also be getting something to soothe your throat a bit" She pauses long enough to nods at the Hyuuga, lowering her head slowly.
"Please don't bother for the throat," Taiki says succinctly. "It was permanently damaged in the mission. I have something at home they're having me gargle." The med-nins were aware of that, at least. "And since I was instructed to drink broth to help sooth it," he says, motioning toward the broth in front of him. Some scars apparently don't show on the outside.
When Yuzuna approaches and says something, Taiki turns his head toward her and nods solemnly. "Domo arigatomasu," he replies formally with another bow of the head. For one brief moment the most perceptible of people could see Taiki's eyes water, as the loss is quite fresh. But the tears do not fall. Instead the haunted look is back in force. "She will be missed." The tone is resigned, but the young chuunin doesn't know what else to say at this point.
Usagi pauses then nods slowly. She closes her eyes and nods. "I'm going to head out and get that medicine. You'll find it at your house soon" She places a hand on his shoulder and gives a soft squeeze. "Take care, Taiki…don't hesitate to seek me out if you need something" she smiles slowly and closes her eyes. She takes a deep breath and heads out, her tab already paid.
Yuzuna quietly lowers her chin with a soft nod, polite as she doesn't stare, doesn't push for details. She's been on the receiving end of that to know that it doesn't help. The kunoichi turns her head as she watches the Nara depart out of the corner of her pale eye, silence for a longer moment still. "She will be missed, and she will live on as long as you remember the good times. How she made the world better." Spoken from someone that knows all too well. That recognizable look in her eye that Taiki could perhaps see inside of himself.
"I certainly know she made my life better…" Taiki barely whispers before closing his eyes. He couldn't believe he let that part out. He absentmindedly rubs them, incidentally catching any unshed tears before they fall. The pain is obviously very fresh indeed. "I certainly know I'll never forget her, or all that she's done for me," Taiki says finally once he's in control of his voice again. He finally looks over at Yuzuna and sees she does know what its like. Though in Taiki's case, given the history, things were slightly different. "I'll miss her smile the most. I l… She had the most beautiful smile."
Whether or not his words are accidental, are meant to be heard by the kunoichi, matters little as she keeps herself quiet. Simply listening. His words though earn a soft, truly genuine smile and for a moment she's lost in her thoughts. "It is always the good ones that are taken from us, hm…" she murmurs lightly. "And the best part is, for those times that you knew them also, you made their world better too. That is a gift in itself, even if… you have to keep repeating it to yourself, everyday…" Yuzuna closes her eyes as she breathes out softly.
Taiki sighs deeply, poking around the ramen now as he all but hangs his head. The words dieing to get out are left unsaid though. He can't truly say he believes he made her life better, for even he knows the true balance of the relationship. The doubts and other feelings are hidden away again, buried deep. Instead he tries to focus on the good points of their past, their finding her bird, her visiting his home in the middle of the night, and other more pleasant memories. They at least allow him to keep from breaking down as he contemplates what to say next. "I can only hope I live up to her legacy. That will have to be enough."
Soft lavender eyes quietly glance up at Taiki, her expression softening her usually passive mask as she lifts a hand to brush back some of the stray, raven locks. 'I am sure she would be honored. At least, I would be if you decided to do that in my stead." The faintest hint of a smile tugs at her lips once more, the only genuine smile she has. "Then again, I am the kind of girl that appreciates such gestures, so it may just be me."
Taiki nods as he looks down at this bowl of ramen. It is cold now, and only half-eaten. He closes his eyes, once more, holding back the self-accusations that ring most in his mind. It would not do to speak of that here, to Yuzuna. He finally opens his eyes and looks into those soft lavender ones briefly, lest he give away his inner-most thoughts with his own. Instead he puts money on the counter and says, "I'm sorry, Hyuuga-dono. It is getting late, and I must get back to my house before Nara-san invites herself in. She's very persistent, and she does not truly understand the position I am in. I am sorry I was not better company, but the loss is still quite fresh. I hope to make it up to you another time?" he offers in what he hopes is a calm voice. He really needs to get out of here before the self blame starts.
The smile changes, becoming something else but still Yuzuna nods once. "Yuzuna-san, please." she murmurs, "That girl from before, she cares. I can see that. She just does not know the right way to show it so she nags." A slender shoulder rolls with a gentle shrug. "And no need to apologize. Not for this. Just keep in mind—" The words stop at her lips as the Hyuuga glances away, pausing. "Be careful… this kind of thing, it tends to swallow your entire life if you let it…" Yuzuna softly presses her lips together as she pulls her gaze away, feeling some of the old ache that never quite disappears.
"Yuzuna-san then," Taiki says as he considers things. "Taiki-san is fine for me as well," he says bowing his head slightly. He looks back at the two dogs and says, "Bu, Noz, we need to get home." The dogs wuff once and stand up, ready to depart. Still, what Yuzuna just said weighs heavily on his mind, for it echoes with what is actually going on right now. "And thank you for your advice. I will endeavor to follow it." He then turns to leave, though the larger of the dogs, Shinobu, looks up at him and whines. "Yes, I did mean it," is heard loudly as they move to leave. What is said next though, Taiki says in a quieter voice that can barely be made out by human words, "As soon as I forgive myself for failing her." Before anyone can say anything though, he and the ninken are gone.