Date: October 23, 2012
Trust between Usagi and Taiki
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"To find a friend, and one to trust"
Genin Training Grounds, Konohagakure
It was rather quiet out on the Genin's training grounds, what with the sun having gone down several hours ago, most of the ninja at this level of training were at home and fast asleep. It was a mostly clear night, with a few wispy clouds dotting the sky here and there, but doing nothing to obstruct the moonlight that shone on the grounds. A beautiful, peaceful night, all things considered
Except for one person….
Up sometime late this night was one person, particularly hard to see at this point due to the natural darkness and something else….it almost seemed as if the shadows themselves concealed this person, certainly obscuring their identity within this moonlit place. Even their movements are difficult, but due to the proximity to the training dummies, one can only assume that a person is hard at work training, or perhaps up to some nefarious deed. There's no telling, but the form does seem to be moving back and forth between the dummies quickly, only staying momentarily before moving to the next.
The approach of whatever it is coming into the training grounds is heard long before whatever it is can be seen, or would be normally. The sounds sound a little clumsy, as if whatever it is walking through the forest is unsteady. The sound of breathing also echoes through the area, but in order to be heard in this magnitude, whetever it is would have to be enormous. A slow, deep "thump" can be heard with each step, as can the sounds of tree branches bending and, in some cases, breaking. If one were a monster movie buff, this sounds just like something large.
Finally something dark half-trips, half walks out of the forrest. It is indeed massive, about three to four feet taller than the shortest trees in the forest. It is covered in a pale red (but not pink) fur that goes from its claws all the way up to the tips of its three noses. That's right, three noses, which are attached to three heads. It's dark enough out here for only the vaguest of outlines to be seen, though what can be seen would easily remind someone of something canine in nature.
The form stops, looking over to the outline of the massive creature. It simply stays put for a few moments before making its way towards that direction, seemingly in an unhurried manner. After a few moments, the form literally walks up to about twenty feet in front of the behemoth, and simply states, in an easily recognizable female voice. "So….trying things out a bit early, huh Inuzuka-sensei" The misty shadows seem to drop right off her form, and she leans to the side a bit and puts a hand on her hip. "Granted, I probably won't understand the answer…"
A puff of smoke later and Taiki and his two dogs appear, standing in front of his student. "I was always a quick study, and had the entire balance issue done a couple of days ago, with both ninken individually. So why wait?" Taiki says as he shakes himself for a moment. "Besides, we just started the triple technique today. It's both easier and harder than I thought…" He looks her over and then at the training posts. "I thought Shadow skills were a bit difficult to perform at night, yet here you are working at night, all alone with no one watching. Everything okay?"
Usagi shrugs slightly, noddng ot Nozomi and Shinobu as well. "It can be…and it is. The moonlight provides shadows to work with for right now, and I still do have my own" she takes a slow breath and looks them all over. "Not tiring yourself out, are you?" She glances between all three, looking for signs of exhaustion on any of them, her own form having a slight sheen of sweat to it.
Oh, they all bear the look of a well-exercised group of individuals, but they have not been pushed nearly to the point of exhaustion yet. Not surprising given Taiki's sheet stamina, which is said to be at High Chuunin levels. Everyone in the medical field knows his ability to accept pain, so its hard to get an accurate reading, but he looks fine. "No, we're not tiring ourselves out. We've only just begun to work out. I spent most of the day at the hospital with Tenken'sama, pouring over what was left of the body. Interesting stuff, really. We almost have the partial parchment figured out."
Usagi nods to the tow of them, taking a slow breath. "Good to know. And what will that parchment give us? A lead, or perhaps a way for them to strike at us more easily…" She sighs softly, then shakes her head. "there's no way of telling at this point. Honestly"
Taiki tilts his head as the dogs sit down for a moment. He seems to regard Usagi closely, then shakes his head. "It could be either. The Recluse are definitely devious and sadistic enough to lure us in with something like that. At the same time, I for one have to… well… for the lack of a better word "hope" that it is something advantageous to us. The bad thing about being hunted by a secret organization is that it becomes very hard to strike back. And quite frankly, we need something."
"Which is why you're finding me out here practicing taijutsu while I'm maintaining my cloak of shadows during the night hours" Usagi offers a small smirk. "I know I'm not much of a frontline fighter right now, but you don't have a better scouter either, aside from yourself" Usagi gives him a frank look. "And that's what I intend to do…scout. Find something out. I'm not going after recluse info right now…that's entirely too risky. But I'll get there eventually"
A subdued look of concern crosses Taiki's normally minimally-expressive face. He seems to consider Usagi again before saying, "You've seen what they can do, both on the field and off. It is highly unlikely my father will ever be able to walk again, much less mould chakra. The Recluse did that, Usagi. There are only two reasons I survived long enough to become a chuunin. First, they were operating through the Inuzuka traitors, and second, because they underestimated me when they finally chose to act on their own. So believe me when I say I'm happy when you say you know going after them now is too risky. I cannot help but to be concerned, however, about when you will consider yourself ready. For that reason I will ask you have either me and/or your brother evaluate your skills when you think you are ready, and abide by what we tell you. I don't want your death on my hands."
Taiki then looks at his dogs briefly as Nozomi whines at Taiki. He nods before turning his attention back toward his genin. "As far as not being much of a front-line fighter, remember that most front-line teams have to have some kind of support, that's what you are. You set them up, we knock them down. I am a part-time scout and powerhouse, Ryo is a full-on kenjutsuist and fire elementalist, and Ryuunosuke'san is also a heavy hitter. You are the part of the team that keeps the rest of moving, minimizes the damage we take, while healing us when we do get hurt. Remember that, okay?"
Usagi shrugs slightly. "You'll be surprised at what I can do at a later point, Taiki. I know what I do now. And I know why I do it" She chuckles softly. "And I'm not planning on going after them until I make at least Chuunin, and only when my brother tells me I'm ready. No offense to you, but he knows me better than you, and knows more of what I can do, mainly because a lot of the things I'm going to be learning, I'm going to be learning from him" She takes a slow breath and shrugs. "either way, I hope we don't have to find out the hard way…and who knows, I'm going to be a med nin. Maybe I can help with those things once I start learning"
"Do not get me wrong," Taiki starts as he folds his arms in front of him. "I am not in any way trying to learn anything special about your clan's techniques. But I fear I must point out that while your brother knows you best, and knows your abilities better than anyone, bar none, I know the Recluse better than anyone, also bar none. It may not seem as if I know all that much, but believe me, I know more than anyone else not part of that organization has a clue about. It's another reason they want my death," Taiki says with a shrug, as if adding another reason is unimportant. "Until the problems with the Inuzuka, these people simply did not exist that anyone knows of, that much I do know. This tells me they're experts at both subterfuge and stealth, in addition to their already shown experties in seals and medical knowledge. Your brother simply doesn't know them as well as I do. That's why I included me in that request."
Usagi sighs and nods once, slowly. "Fair enough" She takes a seat and leans back, closing her eyes. "Ryo's already basically a chuunin in terms of skill….just not in name, isn't he" She doesn't open her eyes, doesn't even turn to look at him, just resting and breathing deeply for the time being. "And secondly, I'd like for you to write it down…what you know. Not show it to anyone, but have a way for it to be found in case they 'do' get to you…that way we can finish this, one way or another"
Shinobu lays down, allowing Taiki to sit down with his back leaning against him while Nozomi curls up next to him. This looks entire too normal to be a one time thing, really. It appears that the trio is close, very close indeed. Part of that would only be natural, but his sincerely loks as if they rely on each other. "I am already doing that, the writing down of the information that I know. As I said, it isn't much, but I've already started it, and back it up to an undisclosed location. Should I die, that location will be disclosed to the appropriate people. I know I've been lucky so far, and eventually my luck will run out, or they'll be forced into the open. I don't think they want that. It's why I'm pushing myself so hard, Usagi-san." Taiki has an odd expression on his face, one that looks worried, save that Taiki never looks worried.
"As far as the rest of the team goes, Ryo is definitely chuunin level, and to be honest I'm not sure who would come out on top in a fight. He doesn't want the position right now, but he'll take second in command. I thing he doesn't believe he has enough experience to command fully. I've never asked. Ryuu… he's an experienced genin who I had to save from the same cave in that came close to killing me. But don't let their experience and skill discourage you please. I can already tell you're learning quickly, just from what I saw when we arrived here."
Usagi gives him a look. "I'm aware. I just don't like being the part of the team that's slowing everyone else down" She doesn't even look down and out after that, she only opened her eyes ot give him said look. They're closed again, and she's looking relaxed. "Sides, if it's just me, I have to have a way to defend myself effectively too" Arms behind the head, and she reaches down to pull a water bottle out of her pack, taking a drink from it.
"I can understand that," Taiki says, having just said pretty much the same thing about himself. "But from my point of view you're not slowing us down. For one thing, you seem a lot more even minded than Ryuunosuke'san," he says with a slight grin. "Must be your upbringing. And considering I myself am not always the best card in the deck, that is a very big contribution. I heard about the "Senju Brothers", or so I've heard them called, and the caravan mission you and your brother undertook. I also heard you dressed them down afterwards. That kind of balance is something this team desperately needs, so you're not holding us back nearly as much as you think you are."
"They still owe me dinner for that" Usagi's tone is a bit more matter of fact than it honestly needs to, but the grin that splits her face and the chuckle that follows makes it pretty obvious she still finds the situation funny. "Just don't get me started on Isato. Speak with Atsuri-san about him…he's a good kid, but he's going to get himself in a 'lot' of trouble with that attitude of his" She sighs softly and shakes his head. "My brother even told me there's no way in happytown he'd let me pollute our bloodline with his children. As if I eneded 'any' motivation not to date him" NOW she gets a bit of a cross look on her face. "What, did he think I was braindead?"
"Don't ask me, I suck at the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship," Taiki says with a shake of his head. "My last girlfriend turned out to like girls, and didn't think we meant anything to one another, at least in that manner," he concludes with a shrug and a slight frown on his face. "All I can say is that you're an attractive young woman, he's more your age, and we're all ninja, subject to the three vices, supposedly."
THAT gets Usagi's attention, as she turns to look at Taiki. "You are kidding me….Naruse…." She doesn't even finish the sentence, just stopping and shaking her head. "….was NOT expecting that…" She looks up heavenward, then takes a slow breath and releases it. "Thanks for saying so. And I don't care that he's my age, he acts like he's eight. Not going to happen. just about anyone I know has a better shot than he does. I'd rather date Shinobu than Isato"
Shinobu perks his head up at that and lets out a few awoo-woo-woo's that is supposed to sound suggestive. Taiki's expression turns into a feaux grimace as he lightly swats his "pillow" on the arm. "Behave, and no, I won't tell her what you just said," he says in what passes as a teasing voice.
Turning slightly red, he turns his attention back to Usagi. "I'd rather that not get out, Usagi-san, but yes. Her lover was a girl, who met a tragic death on the mission from which I recovering when you first met me. I haven't even told Atsuro who Naru-san fell for, I had to find out when she tried to seduce me while she was drunk, both about having the lover and about the identity. Why do you think things are so… rocky between us now?"
"Oh, now you 'have' to tell me. I can't understand what he said, but I heard that tone was a lot different" Usagi leans up and looks at Shinobu. "I'm gunna have to find out, and I want you two to help me" She looks at Nozomi with a grin, then back to Taiki. At the mention of what's going on, she sighs softly. "I see" She doesn't say much else for a few moments, but then finally says. "did she blame you?"
Nozomi wuffs and nudges Shinobu in the gut, causing him to wuff as well. "No, not going to say it. I'll leave what he said up to your imagination, as that is a little… too much information. Atsuro would say it is sick," Taiki adds with a shake of his head. Its reasonably clear it was an exaggerated come on of some kind, both by Nozomi's reaction and Taiki's refusal to say much.
Finally he sighs and shakes his head. "I am not without faults, Usagi-san. I can be somewhat self-centered and short-sighted, especially where interpersonal relaitonships are concerned. She got to feeling ignored, and thus…" He shrugs again and says, "She still could have confronted me first… or told me in another way."
Usagi gives Taiki a look for a few moments, then shrugs. "Alright…" She closes her eyes again, then leans back once more. At the mention of what was going on, she states simply. "No one is perfect, Taiki-san. No one. Not the Hokage, not 'any' of the Kage's, no one. Part of who we are is how we deal with that in ourselves, and others. What does that say about you?" She's staying relaxed, eyes closed. Not another word from her for the time being.
Taiki closes his eyes and 'looks' upward, his expression growing serious. "I accept my part of the blame," he says bluntly, though from the sound of his voice he probably takes on more than he should. "At the same time, I can't help but to feel betrayed by her. From her arguments, and even from the talk we had since the ambush, we were never dating. Of course that discounts the fact she has my first kiss, or the fact that she and spent the night on my parents' couch, snuggled up sleeping together. Maybe she's right, maybe I do live too much in the past. But at the same time… she knows, better than just about anyone, how I feel about betrayal. She knows that being betrayed is the one thing I cannot forgive. Part of me is trying, but a greater part of me was lost when all that went down." He sighs and shakes his head. "I don't even know why I'm telling you this…"
"Because it helps deal with it….sharing the burden is a strength, not a weakness" Now she opens her eyes and stands up, coming to stand in front of him as well. She looks at him, her expression having a touch of concern on it as she looks him over. "I'm also hoping that it's because you trust me, in some part" she reaches out to place a hand on his shoulder. "And I will do my best not to betray that trust, as a friend" she nods, pulling her hand back slowly.
Taiki doesn't pull away or even twitch at the touch, partly because he is taking visible comfort in his ninken. It should become apparent to her that the ninken, while not crutches, provide a warmth, both physical and emotional, for Taiki that he is missing, as well as a stablilizing influence the young chuunin really needs. He takes a shuttering breath, and then another one, before finally speaking. "It is very hard for me to trust people Usagi. It's been that way for years, since before I joined the academy." His voice is emotionally flat, with only a very small touch of profound grief. "My uncles did their best to beat any trust I had out of me. They didn't quite succeed, thankfully."
Taiki sighs and then opens his eyes to look up into Usagi's. It is there, only there, that the feeling of utter loss and grief can be seen. The rest of his face is fairly impassive, really. He's been pushed, he's been tormented, and he's had his entire world fall apart around his ears, but there's a spark of determination that just doesn't die, even when faced with soemthing that would kill lesser men. "Please don't betray it. For in some way, for reasons I can't quite understand yet, I do trust you."
Usagi nods once, slowly, taking a slow breath and releasing it. She closes her eyes and sits back against the tree trunk, continuing to breathe deeply. She's in thought as of right now, and she has a look to her face as if she's trying to find the best course. It does take her some time to respond, but she does finally do so.
"I'd rather die than do that…"
Taiki nods once and closes his eyes again, this time lowering his head to hide a blush. "Thank you," he says quietly, more like a wisper on the wind before a sigh escapes his throat. He remains silent for a few minutes, feeling profoundly vulnerable. This is a side of him that very few people see, a side that reflects a lot more what people would expect for him to be like, given his background and history. "I have very few real friends anymore," he finally says quietly. "Most have either died, moved away from me, or simply don't know what to do. What they don't realize is that I'm largely faking it myself. I don't know much more than they do."
Usagi nods once, slowly. "Then we'll find out. Or we'll go out in a blaze trying" She opens her eyes and looks skyward, taking a deeper breath than normal and let it out in a sigh. "Always moving forward, hm?" She gives him a soft smile, looking over him and waiting for his response.
Taiki actually lets out a small, dry chuckle at that. "Almost. Always move forward, never move back. To stop is to die. To bow down is to be destroyed. Never give up, never give in…" He shakes his head and lets out another dry chuckle. "The best expression for my nindo, which has become my way of life, is "You knock me down, I'll get right back up. You knock me down again, I'll jump right back up. Knock me down a third time, and I'll get up with my teeth in your throat. I won't give up, so stop trying to make me." It's sad, in a way. But I can't focus on the grief, for to do that is to stop moving."
"Then we can deal with it on the way. As it comes, as it goes" Usagi leans back again, another smile coming across her face. "You are not alone" She stands slowly, pausing for a few moments. She looks unfocused for a bit, then shakes her head. "I don't have a nindo right now….though from what I can tell, it's shaping up in a certain direction" She shrugs slightly. "Right now….I just want to be better for the team…and for you. I want to make my brother proud"
"I'm sure he's proud already," Taiki says honestly. "He was really worried about you when he took me to task for that Ambush. But you're showing him every day that you stand up for what you believe. That's a good thing…"
"Problem being with that, I can't let it get to my head. Nor can I make the mistake of my beliefs outpacing my ability. I know someone in particular who does that, and you already said I dressed him down pretty dang well for his actions" She smirks once more, then leans back. "I think I'm done training for tonight, though…we both probably are"
Taiki looks at the dogs, and then back to Usagi and nods. "I think we'll probably make our way back to the Inuzuka clan compound, and get some rest. Tomorrow's another day, really."