Whispering Shadows: Unmasking the truth


Eremi (as Hayai), Etsu (as Tamafune), Zankuro (as Kai)

Date: October 31, 2015


An exercise at building trust that may actually lead to more awkward situations

"Whispering Shadows: Unmasking the truth"

Hokage Mountain

A new day meant a new assignment for team Gozanze. This one happening only a day after the return from the Land of Rivers. Apparently there was no rest for the weary, as the journey back was several days long as it was. So to be sent out already seemed a little brutal. Unimaginable. Almost, improbable. Impossible? No.
Hayai would request the other two of the team; Tamafune and Kai, meet with him atop Hokage Mountain. While it wasn't secluded, it was completely open. Making it easy to spot anyone that might approach from all sides. A task made easier with a clear sky and the sun shining brightly overhead.

"Another mission?" Tamafune spoke. "I'm not opposed to it," she remarked as she arrived on Hokage Mountain. She peered down at the village from this vantage point and took pride in what she saw. All that was here she wished to protect. "At least it's not raining." Still didn't stop her from wearing a cloak.

Kai could not have been more glad for the the mask than today. His eyes were heavy from exhaustion. Nevertheless, the order was answered without question; only a mild concern regarding the meeting point. If he did not know better, their captain was finally ready to get the team started on some real training, and not just an impromptu mission.
"Ohayo…" He says quietly during the approach, suppressing the urge to yawn. The same can't quite be said of the hand raised instinctively at first, but it soon falls to the wayside. "Tamafune-san. Hayai-san." He inclines his head to both.

Hayai was looking over the village through the slits in the mask, continuing to do so even as Tamafune and Kai had joined him. "Ah, Kai and Tamafune. I'm glad you could both make it. Beautiful isn't it? It's what we all work for here in Konoha as Shinobi, ANBU and even as villagers. We all have our place in the village. Our tasks and duties are different from one another, but all with the same goal." He didn't say what the goal was, it was left unanswered so the two could assume what he meant, even though they might have different guesses.
"Anyways, I brought you both out here so quickly after our return for a reason. We did well together on our first mission, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. Working together and training will improve this, but there's something else that will help this as well….Trust…"

"It is beautiful. I feel my heart swell every time I look at this village and my determination to do more rises with each passing day and breath that I breathe," Tamafune spoke to Hayai. "That aside, I am glad that you felt we did well, but I have no reason to disagree with your assessment. If trust is what we need, then I hope to build on it."

"Mm." Is all Kai bothered to emit at first. His eyes — or at least, his general focus — however remained steadily on the village after Hayai reminded them of their main mission. And what else could he say that Tamafune had not already spoken of? After a brief moment of silence, Kai turns to Hayai, and with a note of wariness and mirth in his tone asked, "You're not gonna make us perform a trust fall here are you?… Not that I don't trust you two or anything, but… I don't think the Hokage would like to find out that somebody graffitied his face… with their blood."

Hayai nodded in recognition of Tamafune's heart felt words and expected much the same from Kai, though was quickly reminded how the boy was a bit of a worrier. "Well…" Hands that were once clasped behind his back came undone to allow a single finger to tap against the chin of his own mask. "I hadn't thought about that, but that's not a bad idea."
He'd let that sink in for a while before shaking his head and walking away from the two before turning about to be able to face both of them at the same time. "No, I brought you up here for something different. Trust can't be forced through something as dangerous as 'hokage mountain trust falls'. While here in the moment you'd be relieved that I caught you during such an exercise, you wouldn't necessarily trust me. No, and I don't expect you to. How can you? You don't even know me."
He chuckled slightly, "Well, I guess that isn't true. Though I don the mask of the ANBU, I'm sure you have your suspicions of who I truly I am, but I did not come forward with the truth of who I am and that's not fair. I know each of you and in return there's a chance you know one another, but we haven't come forward with who we are."
There'd be a brief pause as Hayai looked between the two before the man brought up his hand once again, this time however he did not tap on his mask, instead he gripped it tightly and pulled it away from his face. "Naturally, I am Satonezu Eremi." One visible eye peered at the two, while the other was hidden behind bangs that fell over his face once the mask was removed.

"I'd perform a trust fall, but I'd have to kill the person that wasn't mindful enough to catch me. At least, they could trust that my anger would be fully against them, both in this life and the next," Tamafune remarked on the idea. "But I am relieved we won't be jumping to our unwarranted deaths here." She took a few steps back away from the ledge and leaned against the wall. "It is true we don't know who you are and I do carry my suspicions, but questioning can often lead to reprimand and I'd rather spare myself that problem in these ranks. This is not the same as being a shinobi," she admitted.
She folded her arms and looked at Kai for a few moments as if to scrutinize him and who he was. She didn't know him either, but they were all in the same boat. They didn't know one another, but all that was about to change when Hayai removed his mask. She turned to look back at him and found herself frozen. It was him? It /was/ him. …It was /him/?! She rapped her fingers lightly and lifted her hand to remove her mask and reveal herself to the team. While she isn't one that tends to express much emotion, it was evident that she had a visible mixture of displeasure and relief, but there were also others in there.

'Fffffffffff — '
Kai stopped himself short of completing the thought. Instead, a very helpful mental reminder was set up to avoid cracking morbid jokes in the future. It truly would spare him a great deal of pain considering how often said jokes tended to be taken as literal good ideas. The longer Hayai continued to remain silent as if actually considering the 'trust' fall, the more pale he became behind the mask. Every now and then a furtive glance is cast back down the way he came up the mountain.
If he ran now, he might just —
Kai tenses up, then snaps his focus fully back to Tamafune. "That's comforting." He deadpans, only to grin moments later. With another small visible shake of his head, Kai turns back to Hayai as he spoke. Tension visibly eased from his shoulders as the subject changed, only to return slightly as certain pieces back to fall in place in mind. "Satonezu Eremi… Satonezu Eremi, hmm…" Kai lowered the chin of his mask into his hand. "Oh! *finger snaps* You're that legendary drunkard I heard stories about! Ha! Of all people to have for a leader, right? Tamafu-…" Kai took one glance at her and froze in his track.
Tamafune was perhaps… one of the hottest chicks he ever did saw! For one brief instance, the koi-masked shinobi almost fell back into an old rhythm sure to get him thrown off the mountain within minutes. However, he stopped and did a double take. After a bit of back and forth glancing between the two, a sly smile spread across his unseen mug. "Oh ho~ What is this?~ I'm sensing a little history between you two! I'll think I'll just — " He swiped the mask off. "Excuse myself so that you two can get… reacquainted."
Eremi could certainly attest to it if not Etsu, but there was something /definitely/ different about Zankuro. His face, his voice, even the way he carried himself had been off. But one would naturally assume it had something to do with his Anbu persona… Right? Nope! He'd gone from a young man of flab to a something else altogether in a matter of months!

As the masks were removed, Eremi allowed a brief moment for the reveal to sink in before continuing. "Uh, yes…The plan was that by revealing who we are, perhaps what should be one of our greatest secrets, then trust can be formed as it needs a foundation to be built upon. So, if you don't already know…What?" Focusing on Zankuro, not sure if the kid was being serious or not. "Legendary Drunkard?" He wasn't sure how to feel about that. "Anyways. Etsu, Zankuro. Zankuro, Etsu." He'd tuck his rabbit mask behind his back then bring up what might be a familiar handsign to the others that once formed caused Eremi to vanish into a puff of smoke only to reappear in the same spot in his normal attire. "Of course there's always the chance by revealing who we are we trust each other less, but let's hope that doesn't happen."

"Zankuro, don't think you're getting out of this. You'll stay here and participate in this exercise, no matter how painful it is to endure right now," Etsu commanded of him, though her eyes never left Eremi. "So, now that we've revealed who we are, I feel…strange. I won't say I feel betrayed because I never got that air from any of you, but I do feel vulnerable right now," she described. "So no, this doesn't reduce my trust one bit. I expect you all to perform according to your parameters and what's expected of you, but…" She slipped her mask behind her back.
"We don't need to be reacquainted and I already caught you gawking at me." She could grind her fist into Zankuro's face, but that was the least of her concerns.

"You wound me, Etsu-chan." Zankuro comments while idly affixing the mask in place. Once that bit of trouble is out of the way, the chuunin immediately went to work patting himself down until a scroll is produce. A few hand seals and a quick couple of twirls later ultimately concludes with Zankuro's old everyday wear replacing the new, mask and all. The shirts were at least several sizes to big for his frame, but he didn't seem to care all that much frankly.
"What can I say. Eremi-san here has some pretty nice taste. Don't quite not get why you two aren't really a thing already tho'." Zankuro rubbed his chin idly with one hand while pocketing the scrooll. "The booze… no… Well anyways! I wasn't trying to get out any exercise.. this time. I just saw an opportunity to let an old flame turn into a raging fire, and figured.. why not? Eh, Eremi? Ehhh~" He throws a few air nudges at the Satonezu. "C'mon. If anyone can light a fire up under this aburame…" Zankuro glances back at Etsu and looks her over a couple times before nodding to himself. "ANyways! If anyone can do it, I bet you can boss!"

"Vulnerable was sort of what I was hoping for as we stand here at the top of Hokage Mountain looking over the village. Behind the masks we are someone else, without them, we lose who we are and what we are fighting for. We become vulnerable. That's what I was hoping for anyways." An emerald eye glancing over toward Zankuro, the kid only making things worse in light of the situation. "Well, not to make things anymore uncomfortable but perhaps bring a bit of good news depending on how you look at it." Eremi coughed slightly, "I'm treating you both to a nice meal. Not ramen or barbecue, something a little more costly. We'll have our fill and I'll even share with you what's in gourd number….two." Tapping one of the three gourds now hanging from his waist. "Afterwards, we'll go get you both branded…and by that I mean an ANBU Tattoo."

"I think you should be careful about being the bellows to the fire. I'm certain I could have killed either one of you, but yet here you both are, so it means you've done something right." She looked between Zankuro and Eremi. "And that isn't the kind of vulnerability I was speaking of, but for the sake of whatever, let's use that definition." She huffed. "Come on, let's all get this meal," she was the last to change out of her current clothing into her normal wear. "I deserve a lot for what I've gone through…"

Zankuro deflates quickly with a sigh. 'So much for keeping things light-hearted with this lot' He thought, smiling in mild amusement as he shook his head lightly. The smile soon turns into a frown as Eremi made clear his intentions. Just as he opened he opened his mouth to say something, the promise of food followed Etsu's threat made things so awkward that he coughed into the back of his hand. "Y-yeah… a meal sounds good. Though if we're getting branded afterwards, I'm gonna need larger swig of gourd number two there Slick-san." Zankuro says, flashing one last toothy grin before following after the others.

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