Date: October 27, 2010
Midoru summons Tsukiko to a spare arena for a training session before she has her first match in the tournament. It proves… fruitful.
"Tears of Trust"
World Ninja Tournament Arena
Midoru stands in the center of the stadium arena, the giant of a man simply standing in waiting. It seemed that the sun had just risen, and it was almost as if it had directed his light on him, bringing the glint to his metal. He shifted Mhaldor by it's hilt and fell still, examining the area, eyes weighing.
Tsukiko slowly, uneasily, walks around the arena floor. She's trying to get a feel for the arena, the arena she'll be fighting in soon. This will be her chance to prove herself. Her chance to prove her worth to the village that took her in. As if this pressure weren't enough, she is in a new environment. But at least she can disarm one apprehension. She takes a deep breath, trying to acclimate herself to the arena
The Kuroyari captain remains where he is, now quietly watching Tsukiko. Mhaldor had found it's way out of it's thong on his back and was now partially buried in the earth, Midoru's large hands placed on the hilt. He showed no sign of impatience, seeming to regard this time spent to become comfortable in the arena as important.
Tsukiko takes a few more breaths before returning to face you She bows lightly in greeting, "Midoru-san. Thank you for agreeing to help me
"My honor," repeated Midoru, reminding her of when they had established this. He takes in a breath and draws himself up straight, shoulders squaring. "Well, Lieutenant. Are you prepared for your training session this morning?"
Tsukiko takes another deep breath and settles back to focus her energies. She takes one last nervous look to the stands before looking back and nodding. "I am ready, Midoru-san"
Midoru inclines his head and removes his hands from Mhaldor's hilt, walking around the giant weapon to come in front of Tsukiko, raising a hand in a silent gesture to wait. He crouched before the girl, his own dull gaze finding yours. "Close your eyes…"
Tsukiko suddenly isn't sure what kind of training this is, but she does trust you. She takes a deep focusing breat and closes her eyes, letting her other senses guide her.
"Tell me," rumbles Midoru, deep voice ponderous and expansive. His eyes run across your face, taking in any details he may gain. "What is it that you fear?"
Tsukiko takes a deep breath. She could say that she fears the crowd.. being watched by everyone.. judged.. looked down upon. She could say she feared losing. Failing. Letting down her mentors, Hiroshi and Midoru. She does. But these fears are minor. She answers truthfully "That.. that they were right"
The dull red of Midoru's eyes brightened, as though light had shone through them, causing them to glow. He tilts his head, regarding you, not weighing but taking in. "Are they?"
Tsukiko pauses before she answers. Obviously, the answer doesn't come easy. "I… n..no. No they are not." Tsukiko is just relieved you didn't delve deeper into the matter. Her days as the cursed girl, as the bad omen, as the Pariah.. are over… she hopes.
Midoru rises to his feet in a single fluid motion, fingers closing into a loose fist. The giant of a man lets the fist fly, undercutting metal streaking towards the center of your chest.
Given such a sudden time to shift from introspection to combat, Tsukiko only has time to attempt to parry the strike with a cushion of air. This proved to be a failed strategy the last time she attempted it and proved to be a failed strategy again. She takes the strike to the chest with a grunt. She sighs and shakes her head. "I really don't have instincts, do I?"
"Concentrate," said Midoru, his face serious. It was obvious that this was no play as he stalked towards you, visage reminiscent of when he'd accepting her request for help in training for the tournament. "The villagers. Are they right?" His hand flashes out to grab you by the collar of her shirt, muscles bunching to toss her low to the ground so that you tumble, should he land his strike.
Tsukiko is grappled by the large man and thrown for distance.. except instead of tumbling, she shatters into a pile of mirrored glass. The real Tsukiko strikes from behind, launching a volley of ranged attacks, hoping to distract Midoru from the simple piece of paper left where she was standing
Midoru whirls around, the volley of ranged attacks bouncing off of his armor, expression the same. He started running towards her, the explosion throwing dust to the air and leaving a whole in the ground, and he simply ran out of the cloud of debris, ignoring all that had happened to him. "I expect an answer Tsukiko," is his calm reply as he lowered his shoulder, swiftly traversing the distance between he and you, shoulder lowered for a charge.
Tsukiko draws a mirror up defend herself, but the sheer brute force of Midoru's attack shatters her defense and the mirror. She staggers back before she reaches and grabs ahold of Midoru's fist. In that moment a second Tsukiko rises up from the shattered remains of the mirror to strike her mentor. "No. No. They were not right. I am strong. I am good. I am not…." She cuts off a moment.. the silence lingers. "I am not a curse."
"I am not convinced," said Midoru, his arm flashing out, slamming into the clone so that it reshattered, shards of glass cutting into his face, creating light rivulets of blood. He raised a foot, tensing the whole of his body as he brought it crashing down, the earth breaking under his foot, chunks flying at you. "Where is your conviction, Tsukiko!?"
Tsukiko's eyes flash for a moment. She plants her foot firmly and, for the third time, raises her hand to attempt to parry the force of Midoru's attack with a wind chakra hand. Twice before the girl did this, twice before she took the strike instead. But something different in her eyes, in her stance, in her very essence. Her weight is planted firmly, drawing strength from the ground, up through her body through her hands, just as she was taught. She doesn't flinch, meeting Midoru's gaze. "I.. am NOT… a curse."
Midoru's gaze holds Tsukiko's, again retaining that luminous quality. Slowly, he brings himself to his fully 6'10 height, looking far down at the girl, expression still unchanged. He speaks, voice soft but intense. "And why not…?"
Tsukiko takes a long, deep breath. She pauses before answering, "I am in charge of my own actions. I am not a curse…" The emotions of the lesson obviously getting to her. It… it was not…. my fault." A tear trickles down her cheek. "it… was not my fault"
"Then why?" asked Midoru, gaze unwavering, voice still probing, though it's tones softened in an entirely different way. He notices the tear but ignores is — he hadn't needed to see it to see her pain. "Why do you act as though it was?"
Tsukiko sniffles a moment. She shakes her head as if to shake off the question but faces Midoru again. "I.. All my life.. the storm.. I.. " her answers are disjointed, borne by emotion, not truth. "All my life.. i was told.. the storm… my fault.. all the storms, my fault.. all those deaths…"
"But you know," said Midoru, taking a single step over rubble to reach Tsukiko, crouching before her to bring himself to eye level. "I could hear it in your voice. You /know/, somewhere in that place between shadow and soul — you know that what they say cannot be true, that you, such a young child, had brought ruin of such magnitude, that it was within your heart to do so. You must trust yourself, Tsukiko. /That/ is what I wanted you to learn this morning. You are deserving of that trust."
Tsukiko can't hold back from crying anymore. Not just sniffling.. crying. Years of pain.. years of anguish.. of loneliness.. of fear finally breaking loose. She sinks to her knees, sobbing.. releasing all the emotion that's been haunting her for so long. Like the rain, the tears were needed.. to wash away.. to refresh… to cleanse.
Midoru's hand reaches towards Tsukiko, the metallic gauntlet simply sliding away, falling from his fingertips to land on the earth beneath. Long fingers grip the girl's shoulder, their touch light but noticeable. The large man simply let his presence be known, and let it be a comfort that the girl was no longer alone. Acceptance lies in the lines of his face, and he seems to breath protection.