Date: May 20th, 2010
After returning from the Land of Waves, the Rurohashi sisters recover in the hospital of Sunagakure. But there's something bothering Ruri. Something about Sheex…
"Scars - The Immortal Man"
Tenrai Hospital - Sunagakure
Welcome to the Hospital! We have nurses and needles…
It was a battle of wills, a contest of strength and determination. To the victor would go everything, and the loser would be left with empty hands, utterly destroyed. Their eyes met, brown on blue, sweat beading on their brows as they tensed, both mentally preparing for what was to come. This was it… she had to move, move NOW, or forever lose her chance!
Slowly, Rurohashi Rinako narrows her eyes, and launches on the attack.
"Do you have any… threes?"
With a grunt of disastisfaction, Rinako leans over at the small table-on-wheels for the discarded cards, picking up a small handful and adding them to her growing repertoire. She was propped up in her bed, leaning back against a small mountain of pillows to keep herself upright. She was still confined to the bed, and felt woozy if she stood for any period of time, and was still required to keep the IV in her arm, which kept her body supplied with fluids and minerals. With the amount of chakra and stamina she'd used, it'd be days before she recovered enough to get out of bed. Her bijuu's healing powers, though, had at least gotten rid of the myriad lacerations that had cracked her skin like a spiderweb.
The six-year-old blonde-haired girl that was sharing a room with her was currently perched on the foot of her bed, giggling behind her ever-diminishing hand of cards at the fact that the dark-haired kunoichi was so bad at this game. Nevermind that Rinako had asked if the girl had had any threes for the fourth time since the game began, she was winning! In a child's mind, that's what mattered.
A candy-striper, meanwhile, puttered about the room, cleaning up and putting away the doctor's tools that had been used on Rinako during the last visit. As she was no longer in direct danger of her expiring, she'd been passed down from med-nin to regular medical staff.
Ruri is in her own hospital room. She had been unconscious for a couple days back in the Land of Waves, before a ship could be comandeered to transport the team back to the Land of Fire. She woke up at some point during the trip across Fire Country, and back to Sunagakure, and has been pretty quiet ever since. It was a good thing that a second team had been sent to escort them home. Shemri and Kara probably weren't up to the task of carrying two people for almost an entire week.
Now they're here in Suna again. Ruri's right eye could not be replaced, according to medical staff. They had nothing suitable to transplant. The slash in her face had been healed, however, so she wouldn't have a scar. The burns all over her body were also healed up. No scarring there. But that eye…
Ruri looks around her room. Some old guy was sharing her room with her. He snored. Ruri looks down at the sheets for a few seconds, then pulls them back and swings her legs out over the edge. She has soon snuck out of her room, bandages wrapped in a sling over her head and right eye, and after looking up and down the hall, she makes her way to her sister's room.
"Knock knock," Ruri says blandly from the doorway, looking at Rinako and the little girl with her uncovered eye. Her hair is hanging loosely down her back, though still a bit spiky.
"Do you have any eights?"
With a huff, Rinako hands over a pair of the eights to the satisfied child, making a huge show of rolling her eyes and being a sore loser, even as the blonde-haired child does her customary victory-giggle. After a few moments, with a quiet word of farewell, the volunteer who was cleaning their room makes her way out the door, sliding past Ruri, receiving a disgruntled wave from the elder twin and a giddy 'BYE BYE' from the little girl.
It's then that a new voice intrudes upon the epic battle of wills taking place in the dark-haired kunoichi's hospital bed.
"Ru! Are you allowed to be up?"
Rinako practically shoots up from her reclining to a sitting position, before her eyes nearly go cross with the sudden movement. She falls back, and a little to the side, over onto the pillows, gripping the side of the bed rail as if afraid she'd lose her balance and topple out of it. After a moment, she shakes her head to clear it, and her brown eyes refocus on her sister. A hand goes to the nightstand, laying her cards down.
"I give up, Aoi, you win. Hey, why don't you go to the cafeteria and see if they'll give us some icecream?" What child could resist the allure of that creamy delight!? The blonde-haired girl hops out of bed with a grin, slapping her cards on the table, then rushes out of the room, brushing past Ruri. "C'mere." She pats the side of her bed mildly. "They going to be able to fix your…" Rinako taps the side of her temple, near her eye socket.
Ruri turns aside to allow the woman to go past, though it seems standing in profile isn't quite as helpful as it could be. She's 18 now, after all. </crypticstatement> Once Aoi has run out, leaving her and Rinako alone, Ruri pads over, barefooted, and turns so she can sit on the bed. She kind of wishes this dumb hospital gown wasn't open in back. They hadn't even given her underwear! "I'm supposed to be keeping up my intake of fluids. Otherwise they haven't given any special instructions. Probably an oversight." She keeps the left-side of her face aimed at her sister.
"No. There's nothing they can do with what they have. They'd need a girl approximately my age with approximately the same size eye. I'll bet we have some in this Village, but they aren't about to go out and ask for volunteers." She then goes quiet again. A few awkward seconds later, she looks in Rinako's direction and asks, "What about you? You looked a bit unsteady when I first came in. Nothing permanent?"
"Volunteers? Gimme a few days to get out of here, and I'll find us a 'volunteer'." There's an evil glint in the elder twin's eye for a moment. "Or, if you ask real nice, maybe I'll let you borrow one of mine."
With a groan, the dark-haired young woman begins to pull herself up, going slowly, practically creaking like an old woman bowed with age. Sucking in a deep breath, she tucks her legs up, then turns to dangle them over the side of the bed, reaching out to use her sister's shoulder for support, careful not to upset her IV line. She offers a weak smile, though she takes several deep breaths, as if that small movement were suddenly enough to wind her.
"Oh, you know me, nothing can keep me down. We just used too much of our chakra. And had too much drained out of us." If Rinako noticed the plural pronouns in reference to herself, she didn't show it. "Any more and we'd probably have been done for, but the docs say we just need time to get it back. I have half a mind to try sneaking out of here. What I wouldn't give to sleep in my own bed again. …The good news is that they let me sleep in as much as I want. If I ever want to vacation near the ocean again, just slap me."
Ruri offers what support she can for her sister to sit up with. Her visible eyebrow comes down sharply at Rinako's words. 'It's my fault. She had to transform into that monster because of ME. If I hadn't been careless… If I had found the solution faster… If I had done things differently, she wouldn't be like this now.' she thinks inwardly. "I see," is all she says outloud, though.
"No, you were right. A vacation by the ocean would be nice. The problem is that I was told to change my plans from 'vacation' to 'cover for a mission'. And I wasn't supposed to tell anyone else until we got there, so that no one could back out. They're going to repay me for the expenses of the trip, because I was spending out of my own pocket. But…" She smiles humorlessly. "I somehow think that they can't compensate us for everything we've lost."
She kept a secret from her sister for years. And when she finally revealed it, Rinako didn't freak out like Ruri had expected. Should she keep more secrets with potentially the same result? Or just tell the truth now? "Nee-chan… I have something I've been wanting to say to you, but I've sort of been too scared to say it."
"Okay, okay, I'll admit that it was nice right up until the time you were like 'Here's our assignment.' Maybe next time go on a boat trip, though, we can just /stay/ on the boat and not bother even getting on land anywhere that they can try and give us another mission to go kill someone. Who turns out to be a disgustingly crazy Jounin with mad ideas about gaining power."
It's said so blithely, as if it hadn't been a life-and-death struggle. And the mention of getting reimbursed for their expenses has her perking right up! "Maybe we should have charged more at those expensive underwear stores you like so much while we were gone, then." Her younger twin, though, didn't seem to be reciprocating her nonchalant humor about the whole subject. After a moment, she drops the half smile, reaching over to grab at her sibling's hand and tug it over into her lap, doing her best not to sway with the effort of sitting up. At least she wasn't having to stand!
"You're not leaving me for another woman, are you? Because I'll kill her. No, seriously. I'll kill her."
Ruri allows her hand to be put in her sister's lap. She looks up a bit and smirks slightly. "No. I really hope I'm not going anywhere." She doesn't say 'I'm not going anywhere'. Just that she hopes she's not. Meaning the possibility exists. She is about to say what's really on her mind, but… She just can't gather the courage. So she divulges a different secret. "It's not a woman. It's a man. He's trying to take me away from you. And from everyone else." She breathes out slowly, closing her eye, and then taking a deep breath. She opens her eye again and turns to look Rinako in the face.
"That Sheex guy… He isn't dead. He's still alive — at least in part — and he's still trying to get to you."
"A man!?" The dark-haired kunoichi looks sharply at her sister, her eyes narrowed and a dangerous scowl on her face. "Who is he? I'll-… /That/ guy? Didn't we trash him already? What the hell does it take to kill that bastard?"
Letting go of her sister's hand, Rinako begins getting to her feet, once again moving like her bones are made of glass. Once she's pushed off of the bed, she stands there for a moment, in a stooped posture, as if a degenerative disease were trying to ruin her spine, hanging onto the metal IV holder for support. "Ugn… Might have to wait a little before I can go chasing him. Help me to that chair over there. I'll take this in stages." With slow, groaning steps, the elder of the twin pair begins to use the metal rod on wheels as a cane in order to slowly hobble her way towards one of the chairs in the corner of her room.
"You think this is bad? You should see me trying to get to the bathroom. …How do you know he's alive? Where'd you hear this? Who's been dispatched to take care of him?"
Ruri immediately leaps up to help her sister, and lead her across the room to the indicated chair. She'll carry her sibling if needs be. Once Rinako is seated, Ruri says, "I didn't hear it. And right now, no one has been sent. Counting myself, following my telling you, there are now two people that know he's alive." She crouches down in front of Rinako, and says, "I'm going to show you something now. Promise not to freak out, okay?"
She then starts to unwrap the bandages on her head and over her right eye. When they're all unwrapped, it is revealed that her eyelids and the skin immediately surrounding the closed eye are darker than the rest of her body. Ruri takes a deep breath. And then another. Her heart speeds up a bit, as she slowly opens her right eye's lids. When they're all the way open, there is just a dark hole in her face at first. Infact… It's almost like the space inside that eye socket is far greater than what there should be. Like the limits of Ruri's own head don't apply. Suddenly, an eye grows out of the darkness, filling the awful void.
The scelera of the eye is pale yellow, like a wolf's, surrounding a solid black pupil. It looks around wildly, independent of where Ruri's left eye is looking. "When I got sucked into that flesh mountain summon of his… It tried to invade my body, and turn me into a 'back up' of Sheex. Just incase. The reason I was unconscious for almost three days is because I was trapped in my own head, fighting against his attempts to take over." The right eye looks towards the left eye, as the left eye looks straight ahead at Rinako.
"And he still hasn't given up. I can feel him even now, trying to… 'Corrupt' my body, and turn it into his. I hid this from the Medical-Ninja, because I knew that they'd report it if they found out. And then I'd be locked up somewhere probably, so they can experiment on me." The yellow eye looks towards Rinako. And the eyebrow on that side goes DOWN in an angry expression. Ruri winces and clutches her hands to the right eye, trying to close the eyelids that are refusing to obey her. "S-sorry. I have to cover it back up now."
"Do I /ever/ freak out?"
Rinako slumps down into the seat as if she had suddenly gained sixty pounds and were no longer capable of supporting her own weight, leaning her head back against the low rest as she slouches limply down into it, looking speculatively at her crouching sister from under her lashes. Her posture straightens marginally as her sibling begins to unwrap her injury, the elder of the pair almost lifting a hand to stop her from doing so. She halts the movement, however, because moving was hard, and this was probably important to her, anyway.
At first, she sees only the empty socket, looking at it mildly before she turns her eyes back onto the single brown orb of her sister, one eyebrow arching as if in question. Then that… /other/ eye shows up. The dark-haired young woman recoils mildy for a moment, before leaning forward slightly and lifting a finger, as if she were about to try and poke it out. Thankfully, she's not quite /that/ rash.
"Oh, Ru… what the hell! You /have/ to tell them! The medical ninja don't experiment on people, don't be so paranoid. They can /remove/ it. You can't live with something constantly trying to take you over." Even as the lecture heats up, Rinako's serious face begins to run out of steam, slouching back against the back of the chair, as if it were sucking all the energy out of her. "You /know/ we have to have them remove it. What if it takes over and starts killing? You should have /told/ someone."
Ruri starts to wrap the right eye back up again with the discarded bandages. "I HAVE told someone. I told YOU. And I'm trusting you not to tell anyone else until I say it's okay. It's not that I don't trust the Medic-Nin… It's that they follow the orders of those who I don't trust. That bastard Kazekage… The Council jerks… They're the ones who call the shots. And that bastard made YOU into an experiment, didn't he?" She glares at her sister as she stands up, and ties off the bandages.
"Beside all that, if I have to have someone else remove this piece of shit from my head then it's the same as admitting defeat. I'm going to get rid of him, but I'm going to do it MY way. I'll kill every last trace of him. I'll defeat his mind and spirit, and then erase him from this world. And then…" Ruri grins viciously. "…Then I'll take the powers he left behind. That regenerating flesh mountain… I could use that. And anyway, it would let me replace the eye he took in the first place."
She reaches her hands out and squeezes her sister's shoulders. "Don't worry. I'll deal with this. I shouldn't have told you about it to begin with. But I wanted you to know that I'm strong. Because… You're an inspiration to me. People think of you as being just the Three-Tails, but if they meet you, they can tell immediately that you're a person. You can control the monster and show everyone that you have the will to stay yourself, even when something is constantly trying to eat away at who and what you are. So… Just like you, I can fight something trying to take over. Am I Ruri, or am I Sheex? I'm going to fight with everything I have to make sure the only possible answer to those questions is that I'm your sister."
With a classic roll of her eyes, Rinako says, for probably the umpteenth time over the years, "I'm not an experiment, Ru, I'm a /weapon/. And in case you've forgotten, we /both/ serve at the pleasure of the Kazekage and Jounin Council, for the safety of this village. You want to blame someone for the bijuu, blame our parents for ever agreeing. The Kazekage was only doing what he had to in order to secure peace."
The jinchuriki feels the fatigue wash over her as the emotionally taxing arguement taxes it's toll. She drags a hand down her face before looking off to the side as her sibling grabs her shoulders, refusing to look her in the eye, setting her jaw in an unhappy stance. For a moment, she doesn't do anything other than grind her teeth.
"It's different with me, you know it is. …Ten days." Her head turns back to glower at her younger twin sternly. "You have ten days to prove to me that you're making some kind of progress with this… this /thing/, or I'm going to the council myself. And if I even /think/ that bastard is gaining any influence over you, I'll hold you down and rip it out of you with my own two hands."
Reaching up, weakly grips Ruri's wrist in her hand. "Never a dull moment with us, huh? I mean it, Ru. I'm not going to risk losing you, so you'd better get that giant egg-shaped brain of yours to work."
Ruri shakes her head at Rinako's argument that it's the fault of their parents that things are like this. She never agreed with that point of view. Their parents probably didn't have a choice. The Kazekage forced them. 'Give up one of your daughters or we'll kill you and take both.' That's how she imagines it went. Maybe it's real, and maybe it's a fantasy. She doesn't know. But she doesn't want to talk about this subject again.
She just smiles and says, "Ten days, huh? That should be plenty. Thanks, Rin. I'll show you I'm strong real soon. I've always wanted to be like you… And now I can be." She releases Rinako's shoulders and slips away, heading towards the door. She's going to start right away. 'You hear me, you scumsucker? You thought you could take over a nice weak host body. But you were so very wrong… And now you're going to die. <3'
"You were always strong, idiot."
Too bad that 'endearing' sentiment is only uttered after the younger sibling has left the room. It's quiet for a few moments after that as the elder twin frowns around at the near-bare room around her for a few more moments. "Tch, didn't even get a kiss goodbye."
As she sits up a bit in her seat, lamenting the day's turn of events, another fresh wave of fatigue settles across her shoulders, making her eyelids heavy. She looks longingly at her bed, then down at the chair she was in. …Great. She hadn't had Ruri help her back to her bed before she left! Which meant she now got to wobble the whole way back by herself. Sure, it was only seven or eight feet, but it might as well have been a mile for the effort she'd have to put in. But one thing was still nagging at the back of her mind…
"…Where's my icecream?"