Date: February 3, 2017
A sparring session with a parental figure exposes unwelcome truths and harsh realities. A crazy person offers moral support.
"Truth and Facts"
Hyuga Village [Konohagakure]
It has been quite awhile since Aru has sparred with her father. She has grown considerably, in many ways, but her progress once she was no longer under the watchful eye of her parents, completing missions with Team 13, growing as a person and a ninja, has given her more confidence and more of a sense of her true potential. She went into the spar thinking she might impress her father with her skill level.
Of course, her greatest skills she couldn't use indoors. Making a giant dome of Chakra would destroy the dojo, and going all out like that in a spar would be unseemly.
And yet she was beaten soundly, and left exhausted and sore and disappointed that she hadn't made a better showing. But nothing like the anger she felt at her father's words as he stood over her, looking down at her judgingly.
"You need far more training. You wish to defy us and continue your shinobi work, but this is the best you can do?" Hyuga Ryomi said gruffly, arms folded.
Aru looked up from where she was on the floor, on hands and knees, her breath catching in her throat in shock and then fury. Trembling, she tried to keep her irritation out of her voice. "Sumimasen, Otou-sama. I have grown considerably just in the past year. I am a valued member of Team Rinoko, and—"
"Then they value a child whose 'growth' is marginal at best." her father interrupted her.
Aru clenched her hand, her carefully polite voice tone starting to betray the emotions she was feeling. "With ALL DUE RESPECT, Otou-sama, both Rinoko-sensei and Tsugumi-sensei have helped me advance more than you have." Aru could practically feel her mother's eyes on her, shooting her a warning look, from the sidelines, but she could not turn to face her right now without losing the stare down she was in.
Her father's eyes narrowed at her, as he responded, "They have taught you nothing of our Clan's fighting style. You are a member of the Head Family, but your skills are no better than a child's, and so are your manners. Perhaps I was wrong to think you ready to be married with such an immature temperament."
Aru bristled at the implication that whether she was married or not was even up to her father instead of her own choice. That he was using that as a way of condescending to her when it was HIM who was forcing the matter. She pushed herself up and onto her feet. "I fully acknowledge that your proficiency with Gentle Fist is far greater than mine. I have no doubts about that. But the only reason the battle went as it did was because I chose not go all-out against my own father in a sparring match, and my greatest techniques would have damaged my surroundings—"
Then Ryomi lowered his hands to his sides and raised his voice as he talked over his daughter. "And what if this had not been a sparring match?" he demanded.
This brought Aru up short. Before she could formulate an answer, the older Hyuga carried on.
"If you were in another situation, where using your techniques would cause damage to your surroundings, and you could not use them on that basis, what would you fall back on? What lives would be sacrificed due to your incompetence in the basics of hand to hand combat!?" He was clearly extremely displeased with Aru.
Ordinarily, the one who raised their voice first 'lost' the argument in her household due to a failure of manners. Aru had been on the verge of being the one who do so, but this time it was her self-controlled father. And the fact his words, insensitive as they were, carried a great deal of truth, made her even more humiliated and angry.
"You asked to be permitted to join a shinobi team in order to represent the Hyuga's pride, and to support your older sister, Reime, surrounded by Uchiha. You demonstrate none of the attributes valued by our Clan, your sister is no longer active in shinobi work, and you place an Uchiha over your own family." her father said condemningly and disapprovingly.
Aru finally snapped and raised her voice. "AT LEAST UCHIHA TSUGUMI ISN'T A TERRIBLE PARENT!"
Aru's voice rang throughout the dojo, and she regretted her outburst immediately as she heard her words echoing back to her. She could feel the horrified look on her mother's face. She could read the stony expression her father wore, and what lie on the other side of it.
Hyuga Ryomi turned his back on her and said, "Then perhaps you should find yourself a new home with her from now on." Then he began to walk away.
Sayuri called out, "Anata!" after Ryomi, as he kept walking away. She got up from her kneeling position, taking only a moment to look at Aru before chasing after her husband. "Ryomi, please wait!"
Aru couldn't even meet her mother's gaze, feeling awful and childish and alone and yet still mad at her father for not understanding, and for being right in a way she could not refute.
Soon she found herself fleeing the Head Family's compound and wandering out into the rest of the Hyuga Village, still wearing her training uniform.
It's been about 20 minutes since then, and Aru has a lot going on in her head. She has no idea where she's going, if she's even able to go back home anymore, or if she even wants to. So she just wanders, tired physically and emotionally, running through how she wishes all that had gone instead in her head, as the sun slowly sets.
As Aru wanders in her melancholy, a light scratching is heard from one of the nearby ceiling tiles and then as soon as Aru shows any sign of taking notice, the tile drops and Shinjiro ducks down out of it and looks at her, "HEY ARU!" He shouts, far far louder than could possibly be necessary, a slight slur from a large purple bruise on his ever slightly pleased face, "Whats the matter? You're lookin distraught." He says cheerfully. Regardless of prior interaction, Aru would at least know her clansman by reputation, the so called 'Little Dragon' of the Hyuga clan's main branch. An obnoxious, foppish, incompetant with all the taijutsu skill of a cherry tree. There are rumors that he is deranged, possibly from whatever killed his mother in childbirth, but these are unconfirmed. Regardless, he is likely a rather unwelcome sight.
Plenty of things are unwelcome right now. A distraction from her troubles isn't one of them. Thus, as someone starts calling out to her, Aru turns readily when she hears her name, and finds the one addressing her. She looks from the newly appeared Hyuga, to the displaced roof tile, and then back. "Personal problems. More importantly, whose house is that, which you've just vandalized?" She also squints at the younger Hyuga and the bruise on his face. "…Are you injured?"
Aru looks a little roughed up herself, but more due to toussled hair and sweat and signs of fatigue than actual injury. Juuken doesn't tend to leave much in the way of messy exterior wounds, though bruising isn't out of the question if there's been some sort of subdermal rupture.
Shinjiro drops down, picks the tile up, walks back up the wall, puts the tile back in where he got it, and drops back down before approaching Aru like nothing happened, "I dunno. Hey, Aru, what do girls like?" Blunt as always. It would seem his reputation as a fool is well deserved.
She almost responds with, 'not being asked foolish questions', but decides to be kind to the younger ninja. "Aside from being permitted to make our own decisions about our lives? It depends on the girl, the same as it probably does for boys. I doubt every boy likes all the same things as every other boy. It's the same for girls. Why do you ask?" After a pause she adds on, "Also, that is Aru-SAN to you."
Shinjiro crosses his arms and scratches his chin, "Hmm….Not helpful. Thanks Aru." He slowly smirks at the lack of honorific there. Seems being an obnoxious git is intentional, "Thanks for the advice. I got a girl I like to agree to go out with me, but I dont know what to do. I'm thinking ramen and showing her this field I found. So, how'd the spar with the old man go? I heard yelling. Need to talk about it?" Was it that loud? Or was Shinjiro just being nosy. You make the call!
Aru narrows her eyes slightly at the intentional lack of honorific. "Aa, soo. Well, if I'm no use to you, I'll be on my way. Though something to keep in mind is that you didn't give me any context to work with. If you want to know specifics, you'll need to provide such yourself." She then turns and procedes to start walking away.
"Sorry, but I'm not inclined to discuss my business with you. You've ignored both of my questions about yours, after all. Have a good day, Shinjiro-san." she offers as she departs. She doesn't know where she's heading, but it's not going to be around here. Maybe she'll go look up Suzuha. Or try to track down Reime. As much as she loathes the attitude her father has, he was right that she needs to be able to use the basics of Juuken better, not just rely on advanced techniques that can't be used in close proximity to her allies or in delicate situations.
And she doubts she's going to get that standing around here.
Shinjiro follows Aru, "I'm sorry Aru-san…I was trying to cheer you up. I heard…well, spied on, your fight with your dad. I figured something random and disorienting might help take your mind off of things. That was Jien's house, he'll never notice, and the bruise is from getting punched in the face the other day." He hustles to keep up with Aru, "Please dont push me out. I just wanna help…"
Aru continues walking for a bit as Shinjiro chases after her but eventually she slows and stops. She sighs, and says, "I appreciate the apology. And I'm sorry for my short temper. I'm not in… The best of moods right now." She looks to the younger ninja and smiles just slightly. Then she closes her eyes and thinks. "I'll have to resolve that problem on my own, I think. There's too much history to unravel and I'm not even sure how I feel. But I know that I need to continue improving if I'm going to continue being independent as a shinobi."
She opens her eyes and says, "I meant what I said about girls liking having a choice in their own lives. One of the best things you can do is ask this girl what she likes. Maybe even let her choose where the date is, or at least offer her the option of choosing." She looks at Shinji again and says, "I'm not saying ramen and a field is… Inherently… 'Bad'…" That isn't what she'd want to do on a date, but as she told him, tastes vary.
"…But you should both be able to choose, and have your feelings respected. Communication is very important." She looks ahead of her, looking a bit sadder. "It's sometimes hard to get a point across, but you should never underestimate the value of talking something over. It might even help you understand them better."
Shinjiro hmmmmmmmms, "…Thats good advice. Thanks Aru-san!" He gives Aru a low walking hug, not tall enough for a proper one, "If you want, I can give you one of my notebooks on your old man. Might help ya get inside his head a little. Who knows, maybe I've seen some things you haven't. People have a habit of overlooking me afterall." He gives a low devious chuckle.
Aru returns the hug awkwardly, the height difference between them making her try to avoid making it even more awkward by doing it one-armed, from the side. Thankfully, he's already hugging her from the side so just turning a little bit keeps any embarrassing accidents from occurring. "It's not a problem. I'm glad to be useful for something." At the mention of a 'book' on her father, she has to squint though.
"…I'm good without such, thanks. And I don't think you should continue spying on people. Especially not within our own Clan. Especially not someone like my father." Then she steps away and turns to face Shinjiro full. She squints hard at him.
"Have you been spying on me too?" She hopes this kid isn't some kind of… Pervert.
Shinjiro shrugged, "Oh well, worth a shot. And I figure with how many times he or one of his direct retainers has left me bleeding internally, the least he owes me is a few notes here and there." He says nonchalantly. At the question of if he's spied on her, Shinjiro grins, "Of course I have. I spy on everyone. You're just the only one who's ever asked. And if I dont spy on our own clan, how can I determine who is most likely to turn traitor at some point, or have me killed for my 'incompetance' and 'being an unapologetic stain on our clan's good name'. You'd be surprised how many buds have been nipped thanks to my snooping. Remember cousin Jinryu?" He refers to a cousin who was sent off on an assignment by the clan head a few months back…and hasn't been heard from since. His smile is beginning to seem less like that of a fool, and more like that of a trained psychopath.
Aru listens to the explanation, and just keeps looking at Shinjiro calmly. At the end, she asks, "…I see. And does Hokage-sama know about your activities?" She's already thinking through what to do when she's done here. First stop is Rinoko's apartment to ask her to develop a seal that blocks the Byakugan's vision so she can plaster her room in them. But for the time being, she needs to know more details about all this. How far it extends, and who is involved.
Shinjiro nods, "I slip pertinent observations up the chain as needed, no reason to hide it from those its in service to. That'd just look suspicious. I mostly keep it contained to people I have reason to watch, people around town acting off, unexpected visitors, our entire clan, ectera. Its not like I go around stalking everyone, that'd be insane." He says with a small chuckle, "I just want things kept safe and orderly, with as little attention on me as possible."
Aru doesn't challenge Shinjiro's claim, but she's going to double-check it. She's sure her family does NOT approve of being spied upon anymore than she herself does. But she does offer a bit of advice. "If you want to make a living out of spying on allies and enemies alike without… Repercussions, perhaps you should try to join the ANBU. I'm sure they'd appreciate a spy."
Shinjiro chuckles and shakes his head, "Would that I could. To weak, to slow, to green. I'm fine with just lending a helping hand where I can. Besides, if I were in the ANBU, the assassins would send appropriate measures when its that time of the month." He says with a chuckle, "Better to just be the lazy disgrace that never helped anybody, right?" He says with a wink, "Hey….thanks for talking to me about this. Its nice having someone to let this out to. Hope you aren't gonna tell anybody, they'd probly think you're crazy. And dont worry, I'm not doing anything malicious, and I'm not selling secrets or anything like that. I'm as loyal as can be. I just dont trust anyone else to keep up to the same standards."
Aru pauses, tilts her head, and then just nods. "And thanks to listening to me and my problems and trying to be there for me. But I mean it. If you're actually any good at it, you should work to improve your skills, and try to join the ANBU. A Byakugan would be very useful, and they're always on the look-out for talent." Then she sighs, feeling the weariness, physical and emotional, hit her like a wall of bricks suddenly. "I think… I'm going to visit a couple people, and then head home. I've had enough of everything for today."
Shinjiro pats Aru on the back, "Careful on your walk. Feel free to come find me if you ever need someone to talk to." He says comfortingly before walking off in a seemingly random direction, perhaps only coincidently aiming at the training grounds off in the distance.