Date: February 18, 2013
Rinako hates paperwork but loves ero-manga. Suki hates fighting but has just been made into a living weapon. Two very dissimilar kunoichi, with a connection that no two other strangers can have.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The Bond Between Weapons"
Kazekage Administration Dome - Sunagakure
It was your typical afternoon in the Hidden Sand: hot as all get-out outside, only cool indoors because of the earthen-type buildings and crossbreezes created by windwos, unless you were one of those progressive people with that fancy central air conditioning. The Administration dome was it's usual controlled bustle with shinobi coming and going about their own businesses, dealing with the front desk security people. Upstairs the paper-pushers did their inglorious work that was necessary to make the village function. And one office in particular on the upper floors seems to be where the most commotion is coming from.
Rinako had an 'open door' policy, which her administrative staff believed was simply because she was too lazy to close it. In fact, that closed door was codeword for 'Rinako is sleeping in here or has snuck out again'. When she'd first taken the Councilwoman position the staff had been intimidated by the former bearer of the Three-Tails. They had soon found out that deferring to Rinako meant no work would ever get done, and a kind of reverse-slave-driver relationship had ensued in which her aides, consisting currently of a pair of genin, one a Sasaki and the other a Hayato, had to constantly track her down, wake her up, or otherwise force her to do whatever paperwork was assigned to her. Mission assignments, requisition documents, logistics reports, Rinako would run away from them all and spend all her time doing 'practical' things if she could.
She was currently chained, almost figuratively to her desk, by the young Hayato girl. The tan-skinned, sandy-haired little monster and her Falcon sat to the right of her own desk in a slightly-smaller desk. The smaller desk was packed with ledgers and scrolls, while Rinako's was kept much neater and more clutter-free (because her aides frequently cleared away whatever junkfood and drink trash she set on it and neglected). The office was kept neat and organized the same way: by virtue of the hard work of people who were not Rurohashi Rinako.
Every time Rinako so much as shifted in her chair, the little Hayato demon would look up and glare warningly at her, causing the Councilwoman to duck her head back into the ledger she was reading sheepishly. Every so often the Sasaki boy would enter and drop off or take with him more scrolls and paperwork. And this had become half of Rinako's work day EVERY DAY RAAAAAAAGE!
Currently, as the workday was drawing to a close, and her genin aide was bent over her own work, Rinako was leaning back in her high-backed chair, blushing profusely as she holds the ledger up, one leg drawn up in her chair so she can hug her arms around it as she reads. She chews on the end of her index finger as she grins, 'heee's', and turns a darker shade of crimson at something…
Until the blonde is suddenly there and snatching the ledger away to reveal Kishi-Kishi Love Quadrangle's latest Ero-novel installation behind it! "NANI!? Rina-nee-chan! Is this how a respectable Councilor behaves!? All this time I thought you were working and you've just been reading dirty books again!"
"Noooooo, give it back, she was just about to kiss her brother's half-cousin's babysitter's ex-lover! I promise I'll finish the reports, just lemme finish the paaaaaaage!" The dark-haired jounin makes grabby hands at the book the young genin holds just out of reach.
"NO! You can have it back AFTER you finish! …If I don't burn it before then!"
Suki is new to more than just being a Genin. She is also new to ninjas in general, to Sunagakure and 'Hidden Villages', to the Land of Wind, and to this entire continent as a whole. And that's not even taking into account the culture and customs! The little Chinese-looking girl comes from the Southern Lands (totally not China, what are you talking about, your accusation is ridiculous), where she was raised by her mother, and some monks similar to those who trained and raised the Kazekage. Infact, Suki is Kokoroe Sousa's niece. She is small, no taller than 4'8", and looks even younger than she actually is despite having turned 13 just this month.
She has her blue-black hair — extremely long — braided and hanging down all the way past her knees. She is wearing a simple brown robe, sleeveless, with a dull, stained cloth belt about her waist. A pair of sandals on her feet complete her attire. She does not look like a ninja. She looks like some poor person's little lost daughter. The seal that lies just below her belly, and a second seal in the small of her back are not visible through this outfit. But they are there, new additions to Suki's body, and they itch. As she makes her way through the Admin Dome with the aid of directions offered by others, and eventually a humbly accepted offer to escort her where she needs to go, Setsuno Suki eventually arrives at the 'open door' office, with some office-worker who looks like she might be someone's mom standing next to the tiny kunoichi.
Once the woman is sure Suki will be already, she leaves the little one there. Suki waits in the doorway, observing the antics going on, and blinking her purple eyes until she decides to announce herself. She politely steps into the room and bows with her hands together — the fist one one in the palm of the other. "Please forgive my uninvited entrance. I am Setsuno Suki. I was advised to seek out the honored Rurohashi Rinako to deliver a letter of introduction and instructions from Uncle Sousa." The indeed has a scroll tucked into her belt-sash. Wait, Uncle SOUSA?
"Huh?" These comments come from both the older and younger woman currently engaged in a tug-of-war over the said dirty book, which even has censor bars over the cover that reads 'Adults Only' so no one could mistake it for anything but. They both pause, the young blonde girl who can only barely be in her mid-teens and the older dark-haired one probably in her mid-twenties. There's a couple of blink-blinks, before they each throw another glare at each other call some kind of unverbalized truce.
The genin lets go of the book abruptly, leaving Rinako standing there with literary porn in her hand in front of the Kazekage's niece. She goes back to her desk and Rinako slumps back into her chair, popping her book back open. "Oh, really? I'm not fooled by henges, you know. If you were trying to pull off the 'Kazekage's niece' or daugher bit or whatever, you could at least have made yourself look a little like him." She turns her chair away from the door, facing one of the walls with the window, keeping her nose in the book. "I'm sorry, I can't accept your trap-scroll right now because you're obviously a fake. Please come back tomorrow when my fake-intruder trap door will be installed."
There's the sound of wood snapping as the blonde genin's grip on her pencil finally causes the wood to give from where she's been gritting her teeth in frustration. She slams down her hands on the desk, standing up with a fierce expression, drawing in a deep, screeching breath-
And is promptly-interrupted by a rather beautiful boy only around Suki's age, though several inches taller, suddenly in the door way. "Oh, Rinako-nee-chan, the Kazekage's niece is on her way over here, so you might- Oh!" He blinks down at the mild-mannered girl bowing in the doorway for a moment. "She's already here, nevermind!" And then the dark-haired lad is out of there in a blink!
Rinako looks at where the Sasaki male was, then looks at the blonde, who gestures impatiently at the newly-arrived genin. With a sigh, Rinako faces her chair forward once more and lowers the dirty novel just enough to peek over it at Suki like Tim the Toolman Taylor's neighbor over a fence.
"He doesn't want me to… DO anything, does he? Because I'm really rather busy at the moment." Yes, busy reading Kishi-Kishi Love Quadrangle.
Suki calmly takes all this in, and really has no idea what to say in response to being dismissed as a fake. So she simply waits quietly, and things wind up resolving themselves. Funny how life works out for the patient sometimes. Suki straightens slightly, just enough to approach the desk, and despite her placid demeanor, giving a curious look at the cover of the important document that the Councilwoman is reading. Hm. Something about pressure points by the look of the expression on that one girl's face when she is being poked?
"I'm not aware of the contents of the scroll I was given. Please excuse my ignorance." She bows once more, withdrawing the scroll from her belt and offering it laid out across the palms of both hands while staying bowed forward, as though making a sacrifice to some sort of deity. "I was merely informed that I was to bring it to you, and to remain with you until this evening." If Rinako accepts the scroll and looks it over, she'll find an explanation of what's going on. The Kazekage's niece has arrived in Sunagakure with her mother all the way from the Southern Lands. This young girl has recently been made a Jinchuuriki. Rinako has been asked to arrange for proper training and education of the nature of Suki's role, the Village, ninja skills, and so on.
And 'asked' might be a bit inadequate, but it's not outright 'DO THIS NOW OR I WILL KILL YOU' orders. It's still not left open to interpretation what the instructions are, regardless. Suki does not appear to be prepared to leave Rinako alone to finish her ero-manga.
First, Rinako just stares at the girl with a hooded look like a cobra. It was the only way should intimidate people, by making a bad first impression. Because once they got to know her and her big, fluffy-teddybear ways she became completely incapable of intimidating anyone. Yes, she was a big, bad Jounin-level badass of the Village Hidden in the Sand. But her life-promoting, safety-conscioues, child-protecting, kind ways had finally caught up to her. The girl who was once considered naught but a weapon, even to herself, had become a woman the entire village knew they could rely on to do what was right and good.
Unless it involved mounds of paperwork.
Finally, with a sigh that bespoke to long-suffering and often-tried patience (however phony it was), the dark-haired woman leans forward, reaches out a hand and takes the scroll from the younger girl. …And bops her on the head with it. "Enough with the bowing and ****. Have a seat… Snooki, was it?"
For once not looking angry and ready to strangle her boss, the blonde-haired genin is perking up in her seat over there as if she's trying to stretch taller and read what was on the scroll as the Councilwoman breaks open the paper seal and begins to unroll it. She's only mildly frowning, but it gets darker and more serious with every word that she reads. Finally, she sets it flat on her desk.
"Akane-chan." The Hayato girl blinks. "Please excuse us." The girl nods with a slight 'ahn!' as she immediately stands up, bows, collects her nin-falcon, and departs the room, instinctively closing the door behind her. Ther'es a long-stretching moment of silence as the former jinchuuriki simply looks at the girl in her office with hooded eyes, her fingers linked together and held before her chin.
"…I'm sorry." She says at last. "What has been done to you is cruel. It was once done to me, as well. Whether it will be a curse or a gift," Her eyes flash as she pauses briefly. "Will be entirely up to you."
Suki straightens up quickly after being bopped on the head, but then folds her hands together in front of her chest, says, "Please forgive any offense I have caused with my ignorance of your ways. My name is Suki, Rurohashi-sama." Then she just waits with her hands at her sides while Rinako reads through the scroll, asks for them to be left alone, and then the door is closed, and it's just Suki and Rinako. She blinks her purple eyes a bit at what Rinako says, and though she seems to be quite a disciplined little young teenager, confusion is still evident in her face and body language.
"Please forgive me, Rurohashi-sama. I am unclear what you mean. Was the delivery of this message, which I was assured was important, infact merely a…" She pauses. "'Practical joke'?" she tries uncertainly. Not exactly a term she uses often, apparently, but which she has heard of.
Does she really not understand what it means to be a Jinchuuriki? How they are seen by others? How they are treated?
"Just call me 'Rinako'." The older womans waves a hand as if shooing away a fart when she's called 'Rurohashi-sama' with a small grimace of distaste. Then she settles back into her chair and closes her eyes as the suns begins to set behind her. Her body relaxes and she's still for long enough that one might begin to wonder if she'd just drifted off. …Until her eyes pop back open with a quiet snort and her body jerks. She DID fall asleep! Well, it was to be expected since she hadn't had her mid-afternoon nap yet.
Old turtle-habits died hard.
The dark-haired woman stands up and begins to move around the desk, looking at the enormous map spread across the wall, showing the main countries of the continent, their strongholds, rough dispositions of forces, locations of hidden villages, with keys locating and identifying which clans were allied with which village.
"There was once a ten-tailed demon that wrecked havoc across the land. Skip a bunch of boring **** and the beast's power was eventually split up into different tailed beasts, the one-tail through the ninth. We know where most of them are and who has them, but each tailed beast can be put inside of someone, for their power to be controlled, harnassed."
She pauses, looking away from the map. "Every major shinobi village vies for control of these demons and the people who hold them. They see and use them as weapons of mass destruction, intimidation, and deterrence." She stops there, trying to decide how much to drop on the poor kid all at once. Bastardkage, indeed. **** couldn't even have told his own niece himself, she had to hear it from a stranger!? It was her own childhood all over again, separated by everyone she loved for training.
She moves to stand next to the genin, putting a hand on her shoulder to force her to face Rinako, if she wasn't already. "You have been given the Two-Tails, which if I understand it, is currently missing a third of it's power. Have you heard it, yet?" Probably not, if she didn't even know anything about them! "You will. It'll be my job to make you hear. But first…"
And here Rinako probably does something totally unexpected: she moves to try and pick Suki up under the armpits like she's a toddler and, unless resisted, moves her as if she weighs nothing to sit on the edge of the enormous desk. Then she backs up a half-step, leans down and begins to untie Suki's belt. "Don't worry. I just need to check the seal." She assures with a smile. "I need to make sure it's complete."
Suki nods firmly and moves to bow again and apologize for using the incorrect name, but instead just straightens back up and stays quiet. She waits. And waits. And waits. And then Rinako wakes up. And Suki waits some more as Rinako gets out of her chair and walks over to a map. Suki makes little steps to turn herself in a circle to track the older female. She listens to what's said, and what she's being told is… Actually fairly believable. Demons? No problem. They have those back home too! …Though not as strong as what she's hearing about right now.
Suki blink-blinks. "Aa… I have heard something sometimes. Twice now, at night. I have been ignoring it. My mother asked that I keep this power contained and use it for the sake of this Village. I could not refuse." She smiles as though this somehow explains everything. Or anything. So she agreed to become a Jinchuuriki just because her mom asked her to? No force? No trickery? Just being asked? It's doubtful she really knew what she was getting into. But she still doesn't seem bothered by what Rinako is saying… How Suki isn't just a girl anymore. She's… Something more. Something else? Hard to really grasp.
When the blue-haired girl is picked up and placed upon the desk edge she blushes a bit at being man-handled—woman-handled? Well, being just carted around like she weighs nothing (and she barely weighs anything, but that's not the point). Still, she stays seated and bows her head in acceptance when Rinako opens up the girl's robe and checks her seal. The one in front does not even remotely resemble the one that used to be on Rinako. It doesn't even resemble… ANY sort of Seal that has been seen in this country. It looks far more ornate, almost like it was stamped on rather than the tattoo-like 'ink' of other Seals. Suki helpfully supplies some information as this Seal is looked at. "There is another of these 'Seals' on my back, Sifu-Rinako." Well, Rinako DID say she was going to be teaching Suki! Both Seals seem to be intact, but the one in back looks like the one Rinako used to have. Why are there two Seals, and on opposite sides of this girl's body? Why is she set up differently? Once the Councilwoman has had a chance to check both Seals, Suki blushes again as she looks around the office, and finally shows some lesser degree of discipline as she says, "A-anoo… <Ummm…> Is it okay to close my robe now?"
"Yep!" Rinako chirps as she ties Suki's robe back up tightly, probably driving a little air out of the younger girl's lungs and leaving her robe all akimbo after she's finished inspecting the seal both in front and back. "I'm gonna have to have some other people examine them, because… well, I don't really know jack about seals at all. Except for summoning."
The dark-haired woman reaches up a hand and ruffles the younger girl's hair with a comforting smile. "Don't worry, I don't get many peeping-toms in here. Though that seal in front… We'll talk about it later." The Jounin reaches a hand up, grabbing the jinchuuriki's chin in her thumb and forefinger. "I want you to listen to me very carefully, Suki."
The seriousness of Rinako's expression almost seemed like it didn't belong there. It was one her sister might have worn, but it didn't match people's image of the care-free and sometimes irresponsible young Councilwoman! "There are more important things in life than just doing what you're told. Unless you believe in that reincarnation ****," she holds up a finger. "You only get ONE chance to make a difference in this world. It's up to you whether you want to make a positive difference or a negative one, to improve the lives of those around you or to ignore them."
She lets go of the violet-eyed girl's face, taking a step back with that same, determined expression, although with at least a half-smile this time. "I used to have the Three-Tailed beast in me, and I learned to master the taint he brought to my soul, to control all water around me as if it were my own body. And I had to make a choice whether I wanted to destroy life at the will of others… or protect it. And so do you. Right here. Right now."
"I won't train an unthinking, obedient weapon, Su-chan. If you want my help with this thing, you have to tell me now what it is you want to fight to protect."
Suki nods solemnly but lets out a squeak as the air is squeezed out of her a little by the tightening of her belt. When the smiling girl's chin is held up though, that same smile fades away to one of calm and attentiveness as she looks up at her new teacher. As Suki listens she also thinks… She thinks on what's being said… And how different all this is from what she's used to. Discipline is something that has been drummed into her. Hours of meditation, being kept from playing as a child would either due to a lack of other children or because there was no time while on the move — trying to avoid the wars that continue to rage even now in her homeland.
It is one thing to be disciplined, however… To control one's outwards expression of emotion… To wait, think, and then act… To not serve her own wants but to honor her parents… But it is a completely other thing to be a ninja, it seems. One must be loyal to others, and to serve, and follow orders… And yet be able and willing to act for one's own desires based on some sort of difficult, arbitrary evaluation process.
It's all so complicated. She doesn't say it out loud, but she actually does believe in 'that reincarnation ****'. Still, her teacher feels so strongly about it, it might be seen as uppity or disrespectful to contradict her. But at the end, when she is asked to say what she wants to fight to protect, she considers disobeying her training in order to obey this order and just blurt out the first thing she thinks to say. 'I don't want to fight at all.'
Instead, she waits. She thinks. And then she acts.
"I will protect this power that I have been entrusted with, to ensure it does not fall into the hands of those who would use it improperly. My mother and uncle Sousa expect me to do this." She almost seems like she's done speaking, but her mouth hangs open for a second with more words left unsaid, only to close. Then open again. "I do not want to fight at all. Fighting is everywhere at home. To have the means to defend oneself or defend another does not carry with it the obligation or desire to seek out opportunities to use such." She does feel like she could open up more to this woman. Like… There's almost some form of connection. But not quite. Because she does not understand yet, she falls back on a tried and true method of not upsetting honored elders, and she simply closes her mouth after that and stays quiet.
Rinako's shinobi life and philosophy as complicated and probably a bit much to take in at a glance. On the one hand values like duty, honor, and loyalty had to be upheld, but on the other was the need to be good, decent, and her own personal sense of honor and that of her own new teachers and instructors: the beetle clan. When Suki gives the first part of her answer, Rinako's face becomes a bit more closed, her expression gaurded, her almost palpable dislike for the answer evident.
When the young genin goes on, however, she exhales an audible breath out to the side, bows her head, closes her eyes, and smiles as if she had the patience of a saint. She moves to the side, leaning her rear against the desk right beside the jinchuuriki, bumping her playfully with her shoulder as she does so.
"Can I tell you a secret, Su-chan?" She leans in closer with a conspiratorial, tight-lipped smile and lowers her voice. "…I hate fighting. I detest hurting people, even my enemies." Then she leans back, lifting up a leg to wrap her fingers around her knee, pulling back as she looks up at the ceiling. "I used to kill without hesitation, as ordered, or just because the person was scummy. I once dropped a rapist seven stories even though I'd been ordered to capture him after I'd seen what he did to two women. My only thought was preparing myself for the day I would die for the Hidden Sand."
She eyes the younger shinobi-in-training out of the corner of her vision. "I found that life hollow, filled with only destruction and hate. What kind of life could I and my sister had if our only contribution to the world was death? Then I met… some friends. They taught me that I could use my power in other ways. To protect rather than to hurt. To destroy only those who harmed what was precious to me." Finally, she drops her eyes to the younger girl, slipping an arm around her shoulders.
"Gaining power to protect your power would be a waste of your precious life. In this life of yours, only YOU can decide what is precious to you and what to protect. And when you find that thing, or things, do not shy from that duty to yourself. Protect and cherish them and give your heart to that duty above all others." The former jinchuuriki offers a wink and a cocky grin. "I have chosen to protect 'life', not just the Hidden Sand. I will protect this world and all people within it with my bare hands, in this village and every other, as much as I am able, for as long as I am able. THAT is what being strong, what being a shinobi, means to me. You have to find out what it means to you."
Suki is no adept at reading people, but even she felt for a moment she had erred with her words. But then… She had continued speaking, saying what she felt, and it had become okay again. This woman… Rurohashi Rinako… She's so… Different. She's not sure what to do or say around her. And yet her intuition tells her that being open and honest with her is going to achieve better results than the careful respect and politeness and close-mouthedness she's used to giving. 'A child should be seen but not heard', and all that. Rinako doesn't seem to be like that. So as she sits next to Rinako on the desk, an arm around her shoulder, hearing what Rinako has done in the past, how she has changed, it's overwhelming…
…But she believes what she's hearing. That she can choose to be or accomplish something other than merely being a vessel of a dangerous power. But does she want to? If she chooses to do this, will she choose to make a positive change or a negative one? Great peace or great destruction? It sounds like Rinako has taken many lives. Suki has never killed anything bigger than a spider, and when she did it was by accident. She even buried it and said a little prayer for it. She's a vegetarian!
Taking lives to protect something… Can she reall do that? She doesn't know. She doesn't know yet what her answer to all this is.
But she leans against Rinako, resting her head on the side of the Jounin's chest. They just met, but they're already acting as though they are close. Why does Suki feel so differently about this woman? She just quietly offers, "I will do my best."
"That will be enough." Rinako tells the girl quietly. "The rest will come in time."
She pats the girl's shoulder, squeezing her gentle for just a minute, and then she lets go and stands up, helping Suki off the table like she's four or something. "Come on, that's enough revelations for today. There'll be more tomorrow when we start training. Tonight, you'll come to my house and have dinner. And you'll meet the person most important to me in my life." She looks back over her shoulder with a wink as she opens the door to usher Suki out and lead her from the Administration Dome. "My sister!"