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Cosmos Quest (Naruto/Lupin III)

Discussion in 'Quest Archive' started by FurikoMaru, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] And don't forget to smile~

    Holy crap, no wonder Mom said this place was too expensive, this bath is like a waterpark but with extra heating. She isn't anywhere in this section, and you have no idea how to find her - hell, how are you supposed to tell she's even here?

    Frustrated, you decide to work on the other mystery here for a little while.

    No one pays much attention as you run your hand lazily along the wall, coming to a stop at the exact spot you know the strong guy is hiding.

    And surprise surprise, there's a hole in the wall.

    You peer through.

    A dark eye blinks back at you.

    [X] *poke!*

    [X] "Yo, what's up?"

    [X] ._.; "Y'know, you could just henge into a lady and come over here if you're that desperate to see boobs."

    [X] "Dude. Don't peep on my Mom. She will end you." You're only half kidding; you don't fully understand the workings of momkra yet, but you wouldn't rule out the possibility of it producing an instakill technique or two.
     
  2. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] ._.; "Y'know, you could just henge into a lady and come over here if you're that desperate to see boobs."

    There is an abrupt jangle in the guy's chakra signature and the eye disappears from the hole. Before you can so much as react, there's the bizarre staticky sound you associate with a shunshin, someone's grabbed you and stuck a hand over your mouth, and you're on the other side of the barrier.

    "Shh! Yamanaka Ino, right?" While you struggle, the voice continues. "I'm on an A-ranked mission to- ow!"

    You leap away. "Bullshit this is an A-rank," you say in a whisper. "If it were you'd've just knocked me unconscious and gone back to work. You're just trying to get a look at those ladies' goods!"

    The old boy looks rather nervous at this. "Ah, maybe you're a little young to be talking about-"

    "And I want to know why you aren't just henge'd and in there," you continue. "It's not like there aren't S-ranked kunoichi, no one'd look twice except a sensor."

    His eyes bug. "... um...?"

    "What? What's the matter?"

    "... why aren't you screaming for help?"

    o_O "... should I?" Now that everything's settled down, you can hear that he isn't hostile; just a little jumpy.

    "No!" he says immediately, palms up defensively.

    Oh, you get it. He's worried about Onnarashii Houfuku no Jutsu, the infamous nintaijutsu technique that subverts reality to allow women to punch ridiculously far above their weight class.

    Well. This puts you in an eminent bargaining position.

    "Oh, I don't know," you say with a small grin, "I think it sounds like rather a good idea, personally; I've never seen a bunch of civilian women beat up a Kage-level shinobi before."

    "It's not very interesting to see, trust me, you're not missing anything," he says frantically.

    "Who are you?" you ask. He looks familiar, but as you're the only Academy student who owns an (out-of-date) Bingo Book, all that means is that he's probably as big a deal as he sounds. "How do you know who I am?"

    "... I'm Santa Claus!"

    XD "Liar."

    -_- "Worth a shot."

    You cross your arms. "C'mon, tell me. Or I'll let the girls on the other side of that wall decide who you are."

    "Fine, then. Prepare yourself, Yamanaka Ino, for I am..." He poses dramatically, hand splayed, head rolling on his neck, and stomps a foot. "Mt Myoboku-gama's holy master sennin, the Toad Sage! Jiraiya of the Sannin!"



    [X] "Are you for real?" Seriously? Kabuki in this day and age? -_-;

    [X] "Mm. Pleased t'meetcha." Foolish onceborn. Ham has no effect on you!

    [X] :3 "Huh. A toad summoner? What're the odds? I'm under consideration for a summoning contract myself."

    [X] "Oh, that explains it. I've always wondered, does visiting a hot spring count as a business expense when you're a pornographer?"
     
  3. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] "Oh, that explains it. I've always wondered, does visiting a hot spring count as a business expense when you're a pornographer?"

    His face acquires a grimace, and a twitch to his right eye.

    "... what's the matter?" you ask, feigning innocence.

    "... what... WHAT THE HELL KIND OF KID ARE YOU?!" he hollers, pointing at you in an accusatory manner.

    You shrug, grinning. "Me? I'm Ino the Fifth. Yamanaka the Fifteenth, Konoha's Poisonous Blossom, if you wanna get technical."

    "That's not what I meant!" He starts moving his finger up and down, as if trying to include the entirety of your being in his pointing. "For starters, nice little girls don't use the ore pronoun! You are entirely uncute!"

    "How cruel!" You turn on the shiny-good-girl eyes. "How could you say such a terrible thing? Did... did I do something wrong?"

    "Much better!" He gives you a thumbs-up and a look of relief.

    Wow. Note to self, use of 'atashi can only creep out people with more brains than a loaf of bread where chicks are concerned. -_-;

    "And another thing," he says, "you're too young to know about..." Hah! Is this for real? He's a grown man, why is he blushing? "... this and that!"

    "What's this and that?" you ask with a smirk. "Do you mean sex?"

    "Augh! This is just.. y-y-you should be having this conversation with your parents!"

    ^_^ "I did have this conversation with my parents. How do you think I know what sex is?"

    "Stop saying that!" >_<

    "Geez," you say, shaking your head, "that's pretty sad. Mr Big Bad Sannin can write books about gettin' it on, but get 'im in the presence of a lady and he can't even say the word."

    "What lady?! All I see here is a warped, uncouth brat!"

    "And all I see is a middle-aged guy with absolutely no moves, so I guess we're both a little disappointed." :D

    "YOU-!"

    "KEEP IT DOWN OVER THERE!" A bucket flies over the barrier and, in defiance of all narrative convention, completely fails to hit either of you on the head. It lands in the empty bath beside you instead.

    =

    You are a best-selling author, a sage, and a member of the Sannin, and you ain't gotta take this kinda lip from any rugrat. Time for the no-fail impression-maker with kids: cool jutsu.

    "No moves?" you growl, turning so she's out of the line of fire. "How's this for no moves?"

    [X] "Housenka no Jutsu!" Little kids love fireflies, right? This is basically like a lethal version of that. Razzledazzle'er.

    [X] "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" A large adorable animal is always a hit, especially if it can talk. Toads are cute, right?

    [X] Hell, she talks like a delinquent; maybe petty vandalism is the way to get her on your side. Shikoku Fuuin it is!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  4. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Serenade

    With a flourish, Jiraiya scrawls your name in flamboyant, three-foot-high script on the barrier.

    You whistle. You can't help it. First of all, he got the kanji right; that never happens - everyone always assumes you're literally named Piggy.

    Second of all, he did it with his finger.

    "All comments regarding your player cred have been withdrawn," you say with an impressed nod.

    The sage nods smugly, before frowning slightly. "... that's not an apology..."

    "That is one hell of a technique." You touch the kanji; the glow of the chakra hides it, but it's actually been etched into the wall a bit. "Does it work like Jyuuken, where you have to keep pulsing your chakra regularly to make an impact, or do you let it out in a constant stream and loop it on itself like in a seal?"

    ... what is he looking at me like that for? It's weirdly intense, whatever the reason is; it's kinda like that expression Dad gets from time to time, where it seems like he's looking through you.

    "Ano... tottsan?" you ask, and something wiggles happily in the back of your mind. Great, now you've moved on to weirding yourself out.

    Jiraiya seems to snap out of it. "Mm? Oh, it's nothing. And don't call me an old man, I'm still in the prime of life!"

    Awful long time to be thinking about nothing, you think uneasily, but you let it slide. He's launched into an explanation of how the technique functions, and despite yourself, you're interested.

    "Awesome," you say when he's done, and promptly add some furigana next to the kanji.

    "YOU IDIOT!" he yells, grabbing your hand.

    "OI! DON'T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE, BOYS!"

    "Were you paying attention at all?!"

    You raise an eyebrow, look over at the completed kana, and then back at him.

    Jiraiya sighs in frustration. "I meant the fact that this is a C-rank jutsu that even most genin would have trouble with. You could have-"

    "Permanently paralysed my hand?" you guess with a snicker. "Yeah, you're a little late to that party, tottsan; people've been telling me I was going to lose my hand for as long as I've been playing with seals. If it didn't happen the first three hundred times-"

    "What?!" Glancing with an anticipatory wince at the barrier, he turns back to you with an incredulous expression. "How long have you been experimenting on seals?"

    "'Bout seven years, give or take."

    "You're eight!"

    "See, you know that, and yet you don't think to wish me a happy birthday. This is why women don't like you."

    Eventually the whole story comes out.

    "... this is... hell, there isn't a word for this," Jiraiya says, squatting next to you as you demonstrate your speed and efficacy on a seal that serves as the sage's sock drawer. "Congratulations, ko-musume, you won the genetic lottery."

    "I think I figured that out when I turned out to have a dual-affinity bloodline, but thanks," you say cheerfully.

    "..."

    "Oh, it's completely unusable for the most part, 'cause my reserves suck and there's no one to teach me how to use the elements together even if they didn't. It's not a huge deal; I'm really more interested in genjutsu and infiltration, anyway."

    "....."

    Yeesh. With this reaction you're glad you didn't mention the whole Cat issue. ._.;

    "... right." he says finally. "It's late. You should go to bed. I'm going to go have words with some people about... some stuff." He stands, and dusts himself off.

    "Wait!" you say.

    [X] "... will I see you around sometime?" He's a dork, but he's kinda fun. And he knows stuff.

    [X] "Dad said I can only move on to more advanced seals if I get instruction from a seal master first. Can you write me a note or something?"

    [X] "In my room there's a lovely violet-haired lady who's one of your biggest fans. She'd kill me if I met you and didn't bring you around to say hello."
     
  5. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] A Visit From Saint Nicholas

    You never noticed before (probably because she only pulls it out for Sasuke) but Ami's little squee of surprised happiness is adorable.

    "Tottsan, this is Ami. Ami, as you can see, I got you your birthday present like a year early, so be grateful."

    The six-foot mountain bows awkwardly, one hand behind his head. "Um, nice t'meetcha, ojou-chan."

    Wow, she's actually speechless. Time to savour the moment, you know this ain't gonna last.

    "Ami is a chakra-reinforcement prodigy," you brag. "She can take any crappy school-kunai and make it as sharp and balanced as the Kusanagi."

    "I'mverypleasedtomakeyouracquaintanceJiraiya-sama!" Ami finally manages to blurt out, bowing her deepest and most formal. "Um, I, please feel free to make yourself at home! I think I still have some cookies from earlier today let me just get those!"

    Jiraiya, meanwhile, decides this is the best time to have a minor breakdown in the corner of woe.

    D : "How many little girls have been buying my books all this time?! :'( Oh god, I'm contributing to the lolikon epidemic! I'm a disgrace to respectable perverts everywhere! I am unclean~!" ;_____ ;

    "If it makes you feel any better, as far as I know, it's just Ami, and she only used 'em to learn how to read," you say, patting him on the head. Hee. He's fluffy like Tora. :3

    "On what planet would that make me feel better?!" o_O

    He's quiet for a moment, glancing over at her as she prepares tea. "She an orphan?"

    You laugh bleakly. "Don't we all wish. Nah, it's her and her dad."

    "Mm. Interesting," he says. "What's his name?"

    "Kuwabara Rei," you reply, "why?"

    "It's ready!" Ami says, pouring three glasses.

    ._.; "I can only stay for a minute, to tell the truth-"

    ^_^ "Speaking of the truth, what d'you want me to tell my Mom when she asks how we met?"

    And thus it is that you and Ami end up having a tea party with a Sannin.

    You pester him for stories about international diplomacy, and Ami cuts in every now and then to ask questions about Icha Icha's plot, which surprises you, since aside from slap-slap-kiss and the occasional onset of lesbian yearnings you weren't aware that it had a plot.

    Jiraiya's... well... actually pretty gallant, all things considered. He pays attention when you guys talk, chews with his mouth closed, even stops you from poking fun at Ami's Sasuke obsession when it comes up, with musings to the effect that the heart wants what it wants. Ami eats that shit up sparklyeyed, of course, but he did manage to express such hackneyed sentiments in a way you hadn't heard before. Maybe he's actually a good writer, in addition to a master porn-peddler.

    It's weird how the right circumstances can conspire with or against a person; back in the hot springs he was just some old geek, but stick 'im next to a girly girl who's nadeshiko'ing as hard as she can and he seems sorta cool.

    You wonder if that's why traditional ladies like Mom are damn-near universally considered the hottest; there're more lame guys in the world than awesome ones, after all. Not everyone can handle a tsundere or a charismatic lady like yourself. 8)

    Eventually, after about an hour, the party breaks up.

    "Will I see you around the village any time soon?" you ask. You can't help it; you've never had this much fun talking to an adult before. Plus he actually taught you a C-rank jutsu! Usually responsible authority figures are trying to keep you from learning those.

    He shakes his head. "Sorry, ko-musume. Can't play all the time, and work keeps me out of the village two years out of three."

    Ami and you both make disappointed noises. After a moment, though, you brighten up. "That's okay, I guess. I can always just go into espionage if I wanna see you again; that'd make you my boss, right?"

    He stares at you in silence for a moment, before laughing under his breath. He ruffles your hair, ignoring your squawk of protest. "You're really a scary girl, you know that, kid?"

    You just smile innocently.

    Ami elbows you in the ribs. Oh, right, Sannin, formality, all that crap. The pair of you bow. "Thank you for gracing us with the pleasure of your company," she murmurs a trifle siffly.

    He waves the pair of you off with a cheesy grin. "What're you saying? I'm the one who got to have tea with two pretty girls."

    Ami blushes, and clutches her newly-autographed uchiwa in both hands like a talisman; if she squeezes any harder she'll break the handle.

    "Travel safe, tottsan," you call with a not-wave, as Jiraiya heads back down the hall.

    "Stop callin' me pops, you twisted brat!"

    Ami waits until he has rounded the corner, then turns to you. "Ino," she says solemnly, "I have given it some thought, and have decided that in recompense for tonight, when I am Sasuke's wife, you shall have exclusive mistressing rights."

    =

    Ami and Mom both sleep so late that it's 1 pm before you get to the castle. The three of you have fun looking at the miraculously intact jewellery collection of Eboshi, first and last daimyo of the shortlived Gold Country, late mistress of this fortress.

    As always when viewing jewellery under glass, you feel a stab of pity for the gems. They were made what they are to bring joy to a wearer, and now before they've even worn out, here they are, in a box, where they'll never be worn again. It sounds terribly lonely.

    And, if a particular blind spot you noticed in the security coverage is now short a pair of emerald earrings, a diamond choker, and a white jade engagement pendant from the Warring Clan era, well... there's a reason it's called a blind spot. ^_^;

    The bus ride back to the dropoff point is a little sad, not least because you know you'll have to carry all this stuff back to town on a rented bike once you get there, but you buy some ice cream before boarding and try to make the most of one of the very last days of summer sun.

    When you arrive in Konoha, it's almost sundown, and all your muscles ache from the added weight. You almost forget to say goodbye to Ami when she parts ways with you at the turn to her apartment, you're so tired.

    The best part of the whole day is when you finally stumble upstairs after dinner, fall into your own bed, and get a good night's sleep.

    ----------

    Projects for the months ahead (pick three and add a memory-palace boost to one):

    [X] Refine Shikoku Fuuin! Use it on toast, for god's sake!

    [X] Expand your sensing range.

    [X] Improve your sewing and mask-making. Hey, if you wanna work in infiltration, you need to be the best.

    [X] Practice Art of the Harmonious Spirit with Ami and Menka - let's see how it holds up against chakra-reinforcement.

    [X] Tessen.

    [X] Learn more about the Takazono.

    Outside of training, who do you hang with most?

    [X] Shikamaru

    [X] Chouji

    [X] Menka

    [X] Ami

    [X] Sasuke

    [X] Hinata

    [X] Kiba (isn't it sad, Kitchen?)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  6. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Days of Future Past

    There is a tradition in the city of Nakanoyou, dating back to its days as the ninja village Hidden Leaf, that there are certain kanji which are lucky.

    The most well-known of these is of course shoku; the city's shops and museums put shoku-decorated wrapping paper on all purchased souvenirs, regardless of whether the contents are edible. (Tourists are strongly discouraged from making jokes about this.)

    Among schoolgirls, there is an old folk tale about the Nekobuta, a monster that supposedly terrorized even the ninja of Konohagakure.

    Details vary from source to source, but the most popular version has it that the Nekobuta was once a young girl who wandered too far from her parents one day and was possessed by a dying cat demon. The demon at first intended to simply regain its strength and then move on, but it had a weakness for treasure that would prove its downfall. It began secretly marking objects and even people with the kanji for Good Field to claim them, until eventually it was found out and the girl was exorcised.

    The tale is most likely derived from stories of the real-life kunoichi Yamanaka Ino, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED], who was known to leave Finger Carving Seals spelling out her first name on every available surface, including a desk now in the possession of the Ninja Academy Museum that is believed to have been hers; on at least one occasion [REDACTED]. The oldest buildings in Yamato Ward usually have an 'Ino' signature somewhere on them, to the point that finding three of them is one of the requirements for completing the Nakanoyou City Historical Society's annual Scavenger Hunt.

    These days, there's a superstition that writing 'good field' on one's possessions will keep them from being lost or stolen, and that scratching it into the back of your locker will attract love letters.


    [X] Shadow of a Man

    Shikamaru doesn't have as much time as he used to; now that he's no longer 'just a little boy', his mom has really pulled out the stops trying to get him to train. You hide him as best you can when he's on the run (that's what friends are for), but she always finds him eventually.

    The two of you are getting frighteningly good at shogi; one day you even beat Shika's dad outright. It's with a handicap, of course, but it feels awesome when you play him the next day and see that that handicap is down to three pieces from yesterday's four.

    =

    It starts with an offhand comment while he doesn't even have his eyes open. That's how it always starts with Shikamaru.

    "It'd help if you used some hard substance to form a second layer. As it is the only thing someone has to do to know your cheekbones aren't where they appear to be is touch your face."

    It ends when your Mom has to separate you two after face-poking for science turns into face-poking to get this jerk to stop poking me in the face.

    =

    You are now in your third year at the Academy. Having seen your new facility with Shikoku Fuuin, Dad has reluctantly granted you permission to start learning D- and E-rank jutsu not yet covered by the Academy.

    [X] FUCK YEAH HENGE TIME!
    [X] The Shunshin!
    [X] Bunshin - instant distractions? Oh, my, yes.
    [X] Kawarimi - aka, fuck that, you deal with him, Mr Log.
    [X] Demonic Illusion: Hell Viewing Technique - genjutsu is where you show the most promise, after all.

    Also, friend-time?

    [X] Who?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  7. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] *whistlin'* Ma~gic Mo~ments...

    "Why don't any of my friends' parents like me except Shika's?" you whine.

    "I don't think father dislikes you," Hinata says, sounding a little hurt. "He's just not used to... boisterous people."

    You snicker. "In this village? As a jounin?" Granted, you haven't met all that many jounin yourself, but Shikaku is their commander, and when he's in the right mood (that is, ever-so-slightly tipsy) he has some absolutely classic stories to tell. Apparently there's some guy in a green bodysuit who can cast minor genjutsu through sheer force of personality in much the same way other people can cause slight hallucinations with their killing intent - that's just kick-ass, as far as you're concerned.

    The two of you are enjoying a tea break on the wrap-around walkway next to one of the gazillion sitting rooms the Hyuuga have for company, each tailored to a specific level of formality. You know it isn't just to flaunt their power, either; the Hyuuga have a long history of dealing with their 'fellow' aristocrats (capital scholars tend to be a bit huffy about granting the designation 'noble' to clans that kill for money) directly, rather than through proxies like most clans. Setting one's clientèle at ease with familiar surroundings is something you can appreciate, even if you think they must spend a fortune on maids to keep the whole place tidy.

    The two of you have been practising the Shunshin and, to be honest, you're kind of let down by how easy it is; Hinata picks it up almost as quickly as you do. You can vary the amount of chakra you use on it perfectly, so any exhaustion issues are nipped in the bud right out of the gate. All that's left to train is your precision in ending up exactly where you intend to and (eventually) seal-less casting.

    As you sip your tea, you suddenly sense a small child entering your range, and almost immediately thereafter pup-pup-pup comes the pounding of tiny feet down the hallway.

    "Nee-san~!" calls a high pitched voice. The tiny brunette attached to it eventually passes the room you're in, but doubles back as quickly as possible. "Nee-san!" she says delightedly. Hinata smiles warmly.

    "Ino-chan, this is my sister Hanabi. Hanabi, this is Yamanaka Ino."

    "How do you do?" Hanabi chirps politely, bowing.

    "Pretty well, thanks. And you?"

    She nods, then asks shyly, "... you made 'Sagi-san?"

    "That's what we call the bunny you made for me," Hinata explains. "She asked me the other day where Sagi-san's mommy was, and, well..."

    You grin. "Yeah, that was me."

    Hanabi's pale eyes widen. "One of her ears is crooked," she declares.

    "Hanabi," Hinata says reproachfully.

    "It is!" Hanabi protests.

    You scratch the back of your neck, embarrassed. "Yeah, I was just learning how to sew back then. I'm a lot better now." You pull a needle and a spool of thread out of your sleeve. "I can fix that ear, if you want."

    Hanabi gives you the biggest smile you've ever seen on a Hyuuga and runs off to get the black rabbit.

    "What's it like, having a sibling?" you ask Hinata.

    She hesitates, then admits, "... I don't really remember not having one. I don't think I would want to be an only child, though," she adds. "It seems like it would be quiet a lot of the time."

    "Sometimes I wish I had an identical twin," you muse, threading the needle and pulling out your scissors to snip it free. "We could switch places whenever one of us got in trouble. Cover for each other, you know, like-"

    "Oh, Ino-chan, you shouldn't wish for that!" Hinata says passionately. "Twins are really bad luck!'

    You blink. "I hadn't heard that one before. Yuji-sensei used to say they were good luck. I think Tora and his sister are twins."

    "... maybe it's different in other clans," Hinata says, biting her lip. "I'm very glad Hanabi is my little sister."

    "What say?" Hanabi asks eagerly, carrying Sagi-san over to you.

    "You should say 'what are you talking about', Hanabi," Hinata says, patting the girl on the head.

    "What- what are you... talking about?" Hanabi enunciates patiently.

    "Hinata-chan was telling me about how awesome a little sister you are."

    "Mm!" She nods proudly. "I'm gonna protect nee-san."

    "From whom?" you ask politely.

    Hanabi makes a face. "Boys," she declares, with a surprising amount of disdain for a 4-year-old.

    You try not to laugh, but the look on Hinata's face just makes it. "I'll bet your dad will be happy to hear that," you say.

    "Yes," Hanabi says sweetly.

    "But Hanabi-chan," you ask, "what about girls?"

    She looks a little perplexed for a moment, then smiles and gives you a big thumbs-up.

    "Good to know," you say with a grin.

    "What's this about girls?" Hinata asks in confusion.

    Fixing the ear takes about five minutes, tops. Hanabi looks over your handiwork and pronounces it 'good'. Then she gives you a hug out of nowhere and runs off to play.

    "I take it Hanabi doesn't know about sempai?" you ask.

    Hinata droops visibly.

    "Hey, you have nothing to worry about on that front," you say, patting her hand. "Lee is exactly the kind of guy fathers will begrudgingly admit isn't a monster in human flesh. I doubt even your dad could find fault with his manners."

    "It won't work anyway," she says sadly. "Lee-sempai can't mould chakra... what if his condition is hereditary? I have to think of what's best for the clan."

    "... who said anything about marrying him?" you ask incredulously. Man, that's Hinata-chan all over; serious to a fault. "You aren't the Clan Head yet, you know. You have years to do all sorts of stuff if you want." You pose dramatically. "Chase true love, even if you trip along the way!"

    Hinata's expression brightens a bit in amusement. "I knew you'd say something like that."

    =

    Time skip a year. You want to see memories made with:

    [X] Who?

    Jutsu learned (pick three):

    [X] Henge
    [X] Bunshin
    [X] Kawarimi
    [X] Demonic Illusion: Hell Viewing Technique
    [X] Water Purification Jutsu (technically a C-rank, but only because of chakra-control issues, which are nonexistent for you and your dad knows it)
    [X] Matchless Flame Jutsu (D-rank) - will be difficult for you, considering your primary affinity, but is a good place to start if you want to learn more fire techniques down the line.
    [X] Utsusemi no Jutsu (D-rank, supplementary) - aka 'throw voice'

    Free-time:

    [X] Tessen
    [X] Work on memory palace constructs
    [X] Gun research
    [X] Pester Mom to learn about poisons and healing salves and stuff
     
  8. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] To be happy forever, I know

    Genjutsu takes a lot more effort than the Throne, but in a way it's more rewarding, you think. Pushing your reality on others instead of inviting them into your world should be a challenge, and it's one you rise to admirably.

    Hell Viewing is really simple and efficient to cast, even with lacklustre chakra stores; it mimics the effects of greater genjutsu by putting most of its focus onto getting a person's mind to come up with the illusion for you. There's less detail-work, so it's a common my-first-genjutsu to teach kids.

    The problem with it is that it's expressly designed to prompt the victim's mind to envision the worst thing it can imagine, so it's essentially useless for the kind of ninja you eventually want to be; kinda hard to be a charming daredevil when you leave quietly sobbing people in your wake.

    Regardless, it's an important first step on the road to genjutsu mastery. You know you're already pretty far ahead of everyone else on theory, so you don't see any harm in building up your practical ability in the subject. Shahera-sensei says that if you have the talent young it's important to practice, since most people don't bother much with genjutsu until they're older, making it a valuable skillset to have in the *~mysterious~* chuunin exams that no one ever goes into detail on.

    On this particular afternoon in early summer, you're 'writing an essay' on the comparative merits of scent-based genjutsu and hearing-based ones, which means that you're sitting at the kitchen counter with an exercise book and pencil, talking to mom about the theory behind the Hell Viewing Technique and its sister jutsu, the Paradise Viewing Technique.

    "It's such a simple modification I don't know why we aren't taught the Paradise in school," you say, tapping your pencil lazily on the side of your head. "We could test it on each other, even, the biggest problem would be accidentally finding out someone has an embarrassing 'paradise'. And it would be harder to get out of, since in order to break a genjutsu you have to first recognize that you're under one, and no one's gonna want to leave a perfect moment."

    "You might be surprised," Mom replies, turning the pasta sauce down to minimum. "In some cases a happy illusion is more likely to be perceived as unrealistic than an unhappy one."

    "I get that," you acknowledge, "but wouldn't that just be all the more reason to practice? Repeated exposure would dull the effects for those who buy into it too much and make the casters better at keeping in the people who escape easily, wouldn't it?"

    "Sweetheart..." Mom hesitates. "Has Shahera-sensei ever put you under visual genjutsu before before?" she asks quietly.

    You shake your head. "She says only jounin-sensei are allowed to do that kind of thing. There are laws about it and stuff. Dad can do it when he gets home, though," you add, "if you think it's important that I go through it."

    "No need to trouble him," Mom says, years younger and wearing completely different clothes than she was half a second ago, smiling. "I can replicate the effects in a limited manner, I'm sure."

    You leap backward out of your chair in shock, but Mom is already gone.

    Wait, she can't be gone, you can sense her, she's-

    Oh, what the fuck, she's everywhere, the song is coming from every corner of the room, and it's more organized and complex and massive than you've ever heard in your life, it's pressed against your skin, it's like you're drowning in sound and glory-!

    "You will not understand the pure cruelty of genjutsu until you have seen a kind lie turned to dust."

    You jerk awake as the Fiat goes over a pothole.

    "Geez. We've only been trying to wake you up for the last five minutes," Jigen says. "I thought ninja were supposed to be light sleepers."

    "The ones who prefer to get a full eight hours usually are," you reply, stretching as best you can in the cramped back seat. Your knuckles brush against a soft cheek - "Oops! Sorry, Goemon-san." Your own cheeks go hot.

    "I-it's fine," he says, suddenly becoming very interested in the pedestrians on the sidewalk out the window.

    "So? What was your dream about?" Lupin asks, making a turn. "You were talking in your sleep."

    "Mm? Oh. It was kind of weird," you say, rubbing your eyes. "I was back in my mom's kitchen, talking to her about genjutsu, and she... put me under one, I guess. Or the dream just acted like a dream, whatever."

    "I thought you said your Mom isn't a ninja," Jigen says with a quirk of his eyebrow.

    You shake your head. "She isn't. But she's strong in her own way."

    As if in confirmation of this thought, the men and the car go dark, the lights come up, and you realize with astonishment that you're seated on the couch in your living room.

    Was...?

    The tears well up.

    Did...?

    But you blink them away.

    Your mother is standing in front of you, in a long red dress. You stare up at her, hurt and confusion and worry and anger and above all fear warring within you.

    "The Princes known as Hope and Despair," she says, smile as empty as a doll's. "As they torment humanity in its waking life, so too do they rule its dreams."

    "Mom?!"

    "Mm?" she says from the kitchen. Steam blooms wildly from the sink as she pours the pasta into the colander. "I'm sorry, sweetheart, could you come here to talk to me? Lunch is ready."

    Slowly, cautiously, you make your way over to the seat you were in before, and resume it, eyeing your mother suspiciously.

    "Do you have a better understanding of the nature of illusion now?" she says, putting your plate before you.

    "... are we still in one?" you ask, eyes hard.

    "I have my answer," she replies with a sad smile. "Kai it and see, sweetheart."

    You do so. Nothing changes.

    "I'm sorry, Ino," Mom says sympathetically, clasping your hand. "Whatever I gave you and then took away, I am so sorry that I had to." She sighs. "But if you continue down the path of the illusionist, you should know these things. You need to understand what it is you're really doing to people. Genjutsu isn't something you can just build up an immunity to, and if you try, you could easily drive yourself mad."

    "... Mom?"

    You raise your strange eyes to meet hers.

    "Who the hell are you?"
    I used to be a witch.
    "Don't use such rough language, and eat your lunch before it gets cold," she says, and turns back to the stove to fix herself a plate.

    ----------

    Without chemicals, she points. 8)

    This year you're learning the Academy Three. Since you already know the Kawarimi, you have a free spot in your training open for one jutsu that isn't covered at the Academy.

    [X] Water Purification Jutsu (technically a C-rank, but only because of chakra-control issues, which are nonexistent for you and your dad knows it) - good for survival missions and long stays in remote parts of certain impoverished foreign countries.
    [X] Matchless Flame Jutsu (D-rank) - will be difficult for you, considering your primary affinity, but is a good place to start if you want to learn more fire techniques down the line.
    [X] Ear-Blinding Jutsu (D-C-rank) - a deafening genjutsu. Usually applied right after you've set off an exploding tag, so the person won't suspect it's a genjutsu.

    Memory to recall:

    [X] Kiba

    [X] Sasuke

    [X] Menka

    [X] Ami

    [X] Lee

    No Mom for anticipation-building reasons. No Hinata because I am running out of things to write about her.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  9. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Milestones

    >__< "Y'know, when you said you wanted help training in jutsu, the nice thing to do would've been to go into detail about what kind of help you wanted, exactly."

    You roll your eyes. "You're the dumbass who said yes without asking. Considering what everyone else in school considers 'awesome jutsu', you're lucky you aren't regrowing some burnt-off eyebrows right now."

    The anaesthetic Mom gave you to practice with is probably the weakest poison she has; dentists use it in stronger quantities to numb mouths before extracting teeth. It's used in preference to ordinary unsanitary water because if your jutsu can purify intentional poisonings out of your drinking supply, chances are it can handle anything nature can throw at it.

    When you were first starting out with it your main test subject was yourself, but over time, as Mom had warned you might happened, the 'safe' dose didn't have an effect strong enough to be noticeable to you anymore. You think you've perfected Shisetsu Jousuichi no Jutsu, but how the hell are you supposed to tell?

    That's where an Inuzuka guinea pig comes in handy. Kiba'll taste even a single drop of something off, no matter how many times he drinks the stuff.

    "Man, aren't you some taijutsu prodigy? Isn't that why you got skipped ahead?" he asks, leaning lazily on the desk, watching you pour about half the remaining amount of liquid into the water cup. "Why're you wasting time on survival jutsu?"

    "I got skipped ahead because I'm not a taijutsu prodigy," you say with a sigh, screwing the lid back on the bottle; no matter how many times you explain your circumstances, he never seems to get it. "And whaddya mean wasting time? Your whole clan is about wilderness skills and stuff."

    "Yeah, and I wanna know why you're hornin' in."

    You stir the mixture with a plastic swizzle stick. "Because I'm not going to be on a team with an Inuzuka, remember?"

    "You don't know that," Kiba says sullenly.

    "I've known that since I was four," you reply jadedly. "All that stuff about grades determining the teams is just a front for the politics. The Yamanaka, Akimichi and Nara heirs are always on the same team because our parents would complain if it didn't happen. Why do you think Shika-chan never does any work?"

    "'Cause he's a lazy bastard," Kiba replies flatly.

    "Yeah, 'cause he can be. It's not just the Ino-Shika-Cho thing, either," you add. "The jounin trade people around based on who they want to teach, I think. I mean, what's the point of an apprenticeship where you weren't actually picked by your teacher?"

    Kiba scowls. "Whatever! I don't care! Just do the damn jutsu so we can go out for recess!" Akamaru barks in favour of this motion.

    "Geez, okay, I was just answering your question." You cast the jutsu.

    "Finally!" He throws the drink back with no ceremony, and wipes his mouth on his sleeve. "There. Can we go now?"

    Well if he's gonna be that way about it, time to get him back a bit.

    O.O "KIBA!" you shout.

    "What?" he asks.

    "The anaesthesia hasn't been drawn out yet!" you lie dramatically. "The handseals are just the first part of the technique!"

    "... WHAT!" He leaps to his feet in a panic, looking around as though expecting someone to just appear and hand him the antidote. Akamaru licks his forehead and whimpers, trying to calm him down, but to no avail. "B-B-B-But I didn't taste it!"

    "Because you just swallowed it!" you point out. "If you had even bothered to taste it properly-"

    He flutters around like a concussed bird. "I-I-I need to go to a doctor! Am I gonna die?"

    "No, no, don't worry about that," you say soothingly, "it's the same stuff they use at the dentist's, only stronger. You're just gonna be, um... drooling. Uncontrollably. For a few hours, at least."

    Up to this point your poker face has held admirably.

    But then this happens:

    "WHA-WHA-WAN-WAN WOOF?!"

    And you laugh your ass off.

    It's cruel, it's unfair, and it's the funniest thing you've seen in months. Seriously, he didn't say 'woof', although that would have been great too, he genuinely barked. You lean over on the desk, gasping for breath. You laugh so hard that you can't even break off to tell him he didn't drink anything.

    "Damn it, nekobuta, I'll give you something to laugh about!"

    His sharp teeth nick your lower lip. His mouth still tastes like the tempura he had for lunch.

    "There!" he says triumphantly, shoving you back into your chair. "Now you have to drool on yourself too!"

    You blink. That... you think, wasn't where I expected this to go.

    A smirk crosses your face. But okay.

    "Gochis'-san da, Kiba-chan~" you trill, and rising to your feet, you dash for the windows and throw one open. You toss off an Utsusemi, and take a deep breath.

    "GOOD AFTERNOON, DISTINGUISHED CLASSMATES!" you shout at the top of your lungs. The kids on the field below look around in confusion, before someone spots you and points.

    "INO!" Iruka-sensei calls angrily from a bench, "come down from there and stop yelling!" Hee. He's a lot less intimidating with one of Suzume-sensei's homemade bento in his hand.

    "Ino...? What the hell are you doing?" Kiba asks worriedly.

    "LET THE WORD GO FORTH FROM THIS TIME AND PLACE~!" you declare, flashing a manic grin. "I, YAMANAKA INO, HAVE STOLEN INUZUKA KIBA'S FIRST KISS!" Aaaaand just to cap it all off, some evil laughter. There! That should do it.

    "... is that all?" someone asks as you shut the window. Pff. Philistine.

    Meanwhile, Kiba has been bonking his head gently against the wall and groaning.

    Akamaru makes a chuff noise that you'd bet ryo to yen means, Drama queen.

    ----------

    tsuzuku~
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  10. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Outsmart Boollit?

    "... these are pretty fun," Kiba says, looking thoughtfully at the hunting rifle in his hands and the neat bullethole in the target. "Kinda loud, though. Why don't we learn how to use them in the Academy, again?"

    "I think it's 'cause of how inefficient they can be," you say, making notes on the latest refinements you've made. "They only get one or two shots off before you need to load more bullets. And they're kinda big; you'd need a storage seal to carry one discreetly."

    "Well, when you work out the details, make me one first, you got that? I call dibs."

    Akamaru whimpers in dismay, and Menka pats him sympathetically, offering him some of his fish.

    "I don't think I've met a dog who liked fish before," you reflect, watching as Akamaru eagerly tears into the offering.

    "Yeah, Akamaru can be picky like that," Kiba says, taking aim at the target again. "None of the other nin-dogs like seafood, so I hafta make his meals special or he pouts."

    You nod and 'hmm' like an old man. "How admirable. You make a wonderful mother, Kiba-chan."

    "Shut up," he grumbles, and fires again.

    "So this is what you skipped out on our grappling practice for," Inuzuka Hana says as she steps out from behind a tree.

    Kiba looks stricken, and drops the gun. "Nee-chan-"

    "You're Yamanaka Ino, right?" she asks, turning away from her brother with a 'friendly' 'smile'. "The one who tricked him into kissing you?" Oh, hello, Mr Kunai, you're looking particularly pointy today.

    Kiba frantically motions behind her back for you to run while you still can.

    "And you're Hana-san," you say brightly. "You were the one who spent most of her time making out with her boyfriend while Yuu-san played with me on the floor."

    Her expression abruptly changes to one of shock. "What...? How do you...?"

    You let out a noblewoman's laugh that once made Ami's hair stand on end, and snap open your tessen to hide your mouth demurely. "You mustn't underestimate a Yamanaka genius, Hana-san!" You smirk. "I even remember that your bra was red with black lace on it - how daring!"

    Kiba makes an 'urk' noise, expression one of fascinated horror. Menka facepaws.

    "Th-that's in the past!" the veterinarian declares hotly. "What's important now are your intentions toward my little brother!"

    "What, Kiba?" You size him up. "He's not a very good kisser, but then, from what I recall, that runs in the family."

    Hana looms, making a high-pitched hissing noise through her gritted teeth. "You little-!"

    You make calming gestures with your hands, laughing in glee. "Maa, maa, cool down, Hana-san; it's a joke, a joke!" You tuck your fan away. "You can rest easy knowing I'm not tryin' ta seduce your brother. I'm not that kinda girl." You pause. "Well, actually, I'm pretty sure I'm entirely that kinda girl, but that's beside the point. Kiba's just my friend and I like to give him shit. That's all."

    Hana takes several long, calming breaths. "Why didn't you just say that?" she says finally.

    "Because you bare your fangs when you're angry and it's really cute," you say cheerfully.

    She stares at you, and then sighs. "You really are a Poisonous Blossom," she mutters, and with a shake of her head, she walks back the way she came.

    Kiba looks at her retreating back, then at you.

    "... are you a witch?" he asks in wholly sincere awe.

    "... I'll get back to ya on that."

    "KIBA! AKAMARU! HOME! ON THE DOUBLE!"

    "YES!" Kiba shouts immediately, running after his sister, Akamaru following. "See ya, Ino."

    You wave after them, and pick up the gun to put it away. Damn it. You'd just got all set up to analyse the differences in the various bullets you've devised, too. You can't fire the rifle yourself, the recoil'd break your shoulder like a piece of kindling.

    "I can take over, if you want," Menka volunteers, and in a puff of henge smoke, he's in the same guise he wore to visit you in the hospital when you were seven.

    "That form won't take too much out of you, will it?" you ask, handing over the weapon.

    He shakes his head. "I'm actually more comfortable like this than as a kid." He deliberately avoids your eyes under the guise of checking out the sight. "Y'know I'm really older than you, right?"

    "Mm. You'e achieved the dream of little brothers everywhere and surpassed your elder sibling in age and strength," you tease. "I'm not surprised you'd want height to go with it."

    "That wasn't my dream," he says, picking up a pair of tester bullets and loading the rifle anew. "You know what my dream is."

    "Even if you don't get a summoning contract, or you get it with someone else, I'll help you become the best ninja in Konoha. I promise."

    You smile wistfully. "Yeah. I remember. We were about the same age then, weren't we?"

    Menka laughs quietly. "Y'know," he muses, aiming the gun, "Gyogo is a great language, and I've never regretted studying it, but in some ways it's really deficient."

    "Yeah?" you ask, surprised at this sudden turn in conversation.

    "We were never the same age," he says, and fires, flinching as he does so. <"You were older than me, and then one day I was older than you.">

    You recognize the phrase.

    It's from a poem by Shiroi-no-Nraohi, a Fortress-born artist distantly related to Menka. The original line goes 'I was older than he, and then one day he was older than I'.

    She wrote it about a human, her lover, as his eulogy.

    "I'm sorry, Ino," Menka says, handing you the gun and making the notes himself. "I'm not mad at you. You didn't do anything. I just..." He stares at the Hokage Monument. "... one minute I'm makin' cool-guy promises to the girl of my dreams, and the next I'm an adult, and the first thought through my head when I hear she's kissing boys is, 'so she's at that age now; isn't that cute'."

    He falls silent.

    He takes back the gun, and aims it at the target again. "It's almost funny," he remarks, taking a deep breath. "If Nekomata hadn't banished the Clan, I never even would have met you."

    You have no idea what to say. "You're probably right."

    "Regardless..."

    This bang, coming so close on the heels of the last one, doesn't send any birds or other animals scattering. It just leaves another hole in the target, so far to the left in the outer circle that the bullet very nearly missed it entirely.

    "... I cannot forgive him."

    ----------

    Only one choice this time. Who would you rather be on a team with?

    [X] Sasuke

    [X] Ami
     
  11. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] I'll see you in hell, Pachelbel...

    "... Team 5, assigned to Sarutobi Asuma, are Kuwabara Ami, Inuzuka Kiba, and Yamanaka Ino..."

    As one, three voices ask, "WHAT?!"

    Shikamaru actually sits bolt upright to say it. Chouji's on his feet, both hands flat on the desk.

    Okay, granted, there were a few raised eyebrows when Sasuke was put together with Naruto, but maybe they had to restructure the teams when the blond goofball graduated at the eleventh hour, or maybe Hatake Kakashi has some sort of connection to him and requested him. Or something. Breaking up the Ino-Shika-Cho, though...

    "But, sensei, that has to be a typo," you say, still slightly stunned. "Chouji and Shika-chan and I are supposed to be together."

    "There's no mistake, Ino," Iruka-sensei says. "I agree, I was surprised to see it as well, but it's consistent with your position as Kunoichi of the Year; your grades balance out Kiba's."

    "Hey!" Kiba protests. "Don't lump me in with Naruto!"

    You're still not sure how you ended up with Kunoichi of the Year. You were trying for Rookie, damn it! Stupid Sasuke and Hinata being actually good at taijutsu. When Lee-sempai's class graduated, you were dropped back into your grade's taijutsu courses and lost your only real challengers in the speed department, Neji and Tenten 'the Professional', a chick who worked her way up from the bottom classes to reach the secondary ones in her final year. All this year you've just been hopping around people waiting for them to get tired and then upper-cutting them, which is only impressive in the sense that someone with taijutsu as lazy as yours really shouldn't do so well in close combat.

    Shika's eyes find yours, and you share a look of disappointment. You hadn't really discussed it, but both of you were waiting with a certain expectation that this would be the day you two and Chouji would be back together, like you were, and that the three of you could finally start fresh.

    Apparently not.

    You wait, somewhat sulkily, for Iruka-sensei to finish.

    "It could be worse," Ami offers, in a more sympathetic tone than she's ever used on you before. "You could be stuck on a team with two people you don't know, like poor Sasuke-kun."

    Shika and Chouji get assigned to someone you've never heard of called Yuuhi Kurenai, along with Hinata, and an early lunch is called for all the teams while you wait for the jounin-sensei to arrive.

    "So. You thinking what I'm thinking?" Chouji asks as he and Shika arrive at your desk.

    "Interrogate the Hokage?" Score! A chance at the Hat!

    "... eventually," Shikamaru concedes. "Maybe."

    Chouji looks at both of you like you're nuts.

    "You're right," you say with a firm nod, "parents first. They have to know something. And if they don't they're probably gonna wanna hear about this."

    The three of you book it; the lunch break is only an hour long and this conversation is probably gonna take a while.

    Shika's house is closest, and apparently you're in luck in that regard, because just as you're rounding the corner you see your father in the Nara's front garden punching Shikaku in the face.

    You and Chouji grab Shika by both arms to keep him from running over to find out what the hell's going on and pull him back into the side street you just exited.

    Peeking around the corner again, you see your dad run off in the direction of work. If you hurry you might be able to catch him before he arrives.

    [X] Go after Dad.
    -> [X] Ask what the hell that was about.
    -> [X] Tell him about your team assignment and pretend you didn't see what just happened.
    [X] Go with Chouji and Shika to talk to Shikaku and Yoshino-angel. And hey, is that Chouza-san?
     
  12. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Aw, damn, you guys just had to pick the boring side that doesn't work as a dialogue. Time to cheat.

    [X] Family Meetings

    "I'll catch up with you later and we'll compare notes," Ino tells you, and you nod as she zips off at top speed. You wonder briefly where on earth she gets the energy to move like that.

    Shikamaru, having got his emotions back under control, strolls casually over to where his father lies in the garden, and prods him with a foot.

    "Get up, old man," he says, "you aren't fooling anyone."

    "Shut up, boy, this is the closest thing I'm going to get to a nap today."

    "Shikaku!" a voice calls from inside the house. "If you're done rough-housing with the dirty hippie you can come back in here and help me chop up vegetables for the stew."

    "Are you okay, Shikaku-san?" you ask timidly.

    "I'm fine," Shikaku says placidly, getting to his feet. "I hurt him worse, I think."

    "I guess you told him the team assignments?" Shikamaru asks grimly.

    Shikaku shakes his head. "He already knew that. What I told him is that I recommended it."

    "What?" you blurt out. "Why? Why would you do that?"

    "Because I've known all three of you for all of your lives," the scarred man says, leading the two of you inside, "and I know what a waste it would be to have Shikamaru and Ino on the same team."

    "Waste?" You feel stung. "A waste for who? What about the Ino-Shika-Cho bond?"

    Shikaku-san looks at Dad, who to your surprise is seated at the Nara's kitchen table.

    "Chouji..." he says with a sigh. "The Alliance was forged in the Warring Clan era. If it survived that, it can survive Ino-chan not being on your genin team."

    You bite your lip. "But... she's our friend!"

    "Is she."

    ... Shikamaru's dad's eyes are kind of creepy when he stares like that. He isn't angry, and he isn't disappointed, and he isn't sad. He's just... watching.

    Shikamaru watches, too, but that's different; it's more like he's just paying close attention. When Shikaku's eyes linger somewhere they're almost sucking in whatever they're looking at.

    You try not to blink.

    "So what if we don't hang out so much anymore?" you say defensively. "We grew up together, all three of us! We belong on the same squad!"

    "What do you think friendship means, Chouji?" the Jounin Commander asks calmly. "Because if you think it comes down to just being around someone all the time, then you really don't understand the Ino-Shika-Cho bond at all."

    The words sting, not least because you know they're true. But I thought we could be done being apart now, you think miserably.

    You're the only one who thought you needed to be apart in the first place, comes the bitter reply.

    Shikamaru takes a step forward. "If you think Chouji and Ino can't work together-"

    "Oh, hell no. The problem is you," Shikaku says flatly. His son looks flabberghasted.

    You blink. "Wait, that doesn't make any sense. Shikamaru and Ino always work together really well."

    "Exactly." Shikaku crosses the kitchen to the fridge, ignores his wife's meaningful look at the unchopped carrots and potatoes, and gets himself a beer. "They trust each other perfectly. And nine times out of ten, the way they end up working 'together' is by working apart, because they understand that their play styles are incompatible." He nods at his son, passing another beer to your Dad. "Even down to how you handled this situation. I'm guessing Ino walked home with you two, but went off after Inoichi when he left, right?"

    "Genin perform concurrent investigations all the time in pursuit of mission objectives," Shikamaru points out.

    "Is that what you told Ino?" Shikaku asks. "Or did she chase down her father on her own initiative, and tell you two to come talk to us?" He smirks a bit. "For someone who claims girls are troublesome, you're awfully... what was your word...? Whipped."

    The boy scowls. "What does it matter if she's bossy? If Ino wants the leadership position on the squad she can have it; we sure as hell don't care, do we, Chouji?"

    You want to shake your head. You ought to, because you know you don't want to be in charge; not yet. You do daydream from time to time about taking on a genin squad of your own as a jounin-sensei, but that's in the far-off future when you've gotten some field experience and are settling into adulthood along with your friends. Besides, you can't imagine ever telling Shikamaru what to do - half the time you don't know what to do yourself, and he's who you ask for help. You know you aren't ready for even the minimal decision-making being an unofficial leader requires.

    But when you think of the kind of decisions Ino makes...

    You look at your feet.

    "It matters," Yoshino speaks up, scraping chopped onions and garlic into the pot on the stove, "because out of thirty members of your graduating class, precisely two students have been noted to already possess the primary qualities necessary for promotion to chuunin rank and by extension a leadership position. Yamanaka Ino, and Nara Shikamaru." She's obviously trying to break the news gently, but she cannot suppress the faint note of pride that creeps into her voice when she says her son's name.

    Shikaku sighs. "That document is cl-"

    "What 'document'?" She snorts. "Five pages out of an unruly heap of paper on your desk that you leave out for your wife to clean up do not constitute a document, you idiot, classified or otherwise. Not in a civilized society."

    "I had everything laid out perfectly before," Shikaku mutters, scratching his arm. "Now any jackass who can crack a substitution cypher can come into my den and read whatever he wants."

    "The point is," Dad cuts in before the argument can get off the ground, "it isn't in the best interest of the village or even the Alliance to put Shikamaru on the same team as Ino. When we joined Konohagakure we swore an oath to serve it to the best of our abilities. If we hoard every genius our lines produce, we could all go the way of the Uchiha, mistrusted and self-focused until we're destroyed from within."

    "... this is such a drag," Shikamaru grumbles. If anything, you consider this an understatement. You don't quite get all that sudden talk about it somehow being bad for two team mates to trust each other, but you do know now that this obviously isn't a recommendation that Shikaku-san made lightly.

    That doesn't really make you feel all that much better.

    "So what made Inoichi-san so mad?" you ask finally. "If this is such a great plan, why doesn't Ino's dad agree?"

    Shikaku snorts. "What am I, his fist's personal translator? Ask him."

    "I think the best thing you boys could do right now," Dad says firmly, eyeing Shikaku, "is to go find your third team mate and spend the rest of the day with her. She's probably feeling lonely right now."

    With a jolt, you realize he's right. The three of you ran off without so much as a word to Hinata the minute school was out.

    Huh. You're really getting good at abandoning people, aren't you? the voice inside your head remarks nastily.

    ~tsuzuku~
     
    Cattongue, EVA-Saiyajin and assana73 like this.
  13. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Meanwhile, on a rooftop across town...

    [X] It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing

    "Okay, Dad?" you interrupt, patience finally spent. "You need to stop thinking of my situation like I'm some kind of living party-line for a group of bored spirits, or something. I don't have any special knowledge of Konoha's future and neither do my head-guys - hell, I'm not sure they could point out Fire Country on a map - and I gotta say, I'm not really happy to know you think I wouldn't tell you if I did."

    Shock and hurt fill his face. "It's not that I doubt your loyalty, sweetheart-"

    "That is exactly what it is, Dad." You just stare at him for a moment, willing this to be some kind of bad dream, or a genjutsu. "You told me once you didn't believe I was possessed, or a sleeper agent. That you just think I'm a prodigy. Is that still true?"

    "Of course it is," he says desperately, "but-"

    "Then you're doing a lousy job showing it, talking like me being good at stuff is a bad thing and 'their fault' just because I don't get to be with Shika-chan and Chouji!" You glare. "I was seal-breaking before I had any of the dreams, remember? Or do you think I can do anything myself?"

    "Ino-"

    "I've got to get back to my team," you say quietly, and turning on your heel, you roof-hop your way back to the Academy.

    =

    When you arrive, Chouji and Shikamaru are seated on either side of Hinata in her row. When she sees you she stands and opens her mouth, probably to apologize, but you hold up a hand.

    "Just..." You sigh, and try to smile. "... look after them for me, will ya?"

    Her eyes widen. With a straightening of her spine and a hardening of her eyes, the Heir of the Hyuuga Clan nods.

    "Did your old man tell you why he socked mine in the face?" Shikamaru asks as you take a seat next to Ami in the row in front of him.

    What does it say about the future of the Alliance that the voices chose a different team for you?

    "He did it because he's an idiot," you declare flatly.

    Shikamaru twitches. "Don't use that tone, you sound like my mom."

    Despite yourself, you grin. "Oh, really~?"

    "... fuck."

    ~tsuzuku~
     
  14. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Old Familiar Faces

    Your sensei is the first to arrive, and he's not in the door two seconds before-

    "JIGEN-SAN?!"

    Asuma frowns in confusion, raising an eyebrow. "Well, I've been called worse, but..."

    And just like that, you feel terribly embarrassed. Of course he isn't Jigen. Jigen's thinner, and paler, and older, and foreign. Sarutobi Asuma, your new sensei, is as Fire Country-ian as Mom and miso soup.

    "Sorry," you say, covering your disappointment with a nervous laugh. "You just look like someone I used to know."

    "... mm. Well, come on, then."

    The park you eventually come to isn't one you normally visit; it's full of old guys playing shogi, and if there's one thing old guys playing shogi hate, it's chatterbox little girls playing shogi. Ruins the vibe.

    But you're not here to fuck with people today.

    "Okay, introductions, likes and dislikes, and dreams for the future," Asuma says, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and tapping one loose. "Let's start with you, dogboy."

    "Awright!" Kiba says. "I'm Inuzuka Kiba, and this is Akamaru." The puppy barks cheerfully. "I like beef jerky, goin' camping with Akamaru, hanging out with my friends, and rifles." Asuma's eyebrows rise at that, but Kiba goes on, oblivious: "I hate stuck-up idiots who think being from a noble clan makes them better, recoil, the way cheaper guns sorta jump to one side when you pull the trigger, the fact that you hafta keep reloadin' 'em, and any food that isn't chewy. My dream is for me an' Akamaru to become elite jounin."

    That's weird. Why do you feel kinda hungry when you see Asuma-sensei light up?

    "I'm Kuwabara Ami," Ami says at Asuma's nod. "Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Asuma-sensei. I like millefeuille cake with Ceylon tea, kenjutsu, enka music, romance novels, going to the theatre, shopping, and... Uchiha Sasuke." She blushes, but her expression dares any of you to make somethin' of it. Kiba feigns gagging.

    Your fingers twitch. Maybe if you ask for one he'll be cool with it. I mean, sometimes they let genin into bars, right?

    "I hate uncivilized people," Ami adds, glaring at Kiba, "and Uchiha Itachi. My dreams are to found my own kenjutsu school, marry Sasuke after he kills his brother, and help him restore the Uchiha Clan."

    ... mm? Oh, it's your turn.

    [X] Write-in, Like A Thief.
     
  15. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] As wise in thought as bold in deed

    "Yamanaka Ino the Fifth," you declare with a playful wink. "I like cats, fucking with people, 'shopping'," you're not sure whether Ami's facepalming because you decided to show off your Kiba impression or because the way you said that clearly showcases the fact that there are quotation marks around the word shopping, "and apparently cigarettes. Can I have one of those?"

    "You serious?" Asuma asks incredulously.

    "You gonna leave a lady hangin'?" you respond curtly. Gimme. Gimmegimmegimmegimme...

    He just looks amused, and takes another drag. "Buy your own."

    You pout. In Ami's voice, you continue sullenly: "I dislike Uchiha Itachi and being told I'm too young. And," you smirk as you see both Ami and Kiba straighten up in surprise as you go for broke with an impression of the man standing before you, "my dream is to become the best at what I do."

    Asuma's grin broadens. "Infiltration specialist, huh? Not bad."

    "Neither is this, I'd say," you reply gleefully, holding up his pack of smokes.

    He nods. "Not bad at all..."

    The pack explodes in a shower of confetti and blue paint.

    "... for a genin." His smile is absolutely evil.

    Kiba laughs uproariously. Ami giggles.

    You are torn between embarrassment, anger, utter surprise, and being-covered-in-paint.

    "As for me," Asuma says, "I'm Sarutobi Asuma. I like shogi and soba with tororo. I dislike people trying to take my cigarettes away. My dream for the future is to see all three of you become chuunin."

    Kiba grins. "That dream'll come true easy, sensei, with a team this awesome."

    "I certainly hope so," Asuma retorts dryly. "I'm not sure I could take being stuck with a spacecase, a fangirl and a dumb mutt for longer'n a couple years."

    "You think you've got problems?" You scowl. "We're saddled with a guy who doesn't even understand the common courtesy of puff-puff-pass."

    "Kids these days," your teacher mutters, "no sense of humour."

    You spend the next hour or two playing shogi, three on one. You play like shit, being slightly distracted (NO, REALLY?), but you still manage to beat Asuma in the first thirty minutes; the rest of your time you spend assisting Kiba. He didn't want to ask for help, but the circumstances (he thinks a Silver General is a double cheeseburger with teriyaki, garlic and onions at the Akabeko) forced his hand. Ami refuses to let you so much as look at her board - she's determined to get her own back for that fangirl remark.

    Kiba and Ami both lose their matches in the end, Kiba from simple lack of familiarity and Ami from not being the strategy game type, but Asuma seems satisfied.

    "Be at the Tower at 9:00 AM tomorrow, and make sure you eat a big breakfast first. We're starting D-ranks." And he shunshins out.

    "We drew the short sensei straw," Kiba grumbles.

    "Who on earth does he think he is?" Ami demands. "Me! A fangirl! After all I've done to keep them from bothering my Sasuke-kun!"

    "How did he know I was going to try to get his cigarettes?" you finally ask, confounded. "I didn't even know I wanted them until he lit one up! And that trap had to have been set up ahead of time."

    "Of course he could stop you," Ami says reasonably. "You didn't really think you were going to get past a jounin, did you?"

    "Maybe not," you admit reluctantly, "but that doesn't answer my real question."

    "We've gotta get him back for what he said," Kiba declares, punching his fist into his palm for emphasis. "Smug jerk."

    "And what exactly are we going to do?" Ami rolls her eyes. "Get Akamaru's fleas on him?"

    "Akamaru doesn't have fleas!" Kiba says angrily, the puppy snuffling in distaste.

    You

    [X] decide if they're gonna get revenge on the hoarder of tobacco products, you want in.

    [X] decide there's no point in being a sore loser. The man's touchy about his moku and you've gotta work with him for the time being; prankin' 'im, while satisfying, is just gonna antagonize him.
     
  16. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Ein kleine Anerkennungmusik

    A thought occurs to you.

    "... he said that one of his dislikes is people trying to take away his cigarettes," you say, thinking aloud. "Like it's happened before. Maybe that trap was for someone else."

    "What is it with you and cigarettes all of a sudden?" Kiba asks, obviously weirded out. "Those things'll fuck up your lungs, you know."

    "The Hokage smokes," you point out, "doesn't seem to have slowed him down at all."

    Ami whaps you on the head. "You are not to start smoking under any circumstances and that is final, nekobuta," she decrees. "I'm already mentally-preparing myself for having to deal with dog-related odours the first time we get an overnight mission somewhere, I don't need you adding the stench of broken promises and regret to the mix."

    Kiba stares. "Geez. You really are an enka fan, huh?"

    "Is there something wrong with that, Inuzuka?" she asks imperiously.

    "If the trap was for someone else," you cut in, "then that means we might have an ally in the fuck-with-sensei-chan's-day department. I think our best bet to find out how to really stick it to 'im is to track this person down."

    "How, exactly?" Ami demands, arms crossed.

    [X] "There's a Sarutobi in the lower grades at the Academy, isn't there? We can start there, see if the kid knows anything." You've got enough chocolate for a bribe, you think.

    [X] "We can ask at the mission desk. Iruka-sensei works there after school; if we keep the nature of our interest on the DL I'm sure he'd be happy to satisfy our curiosity about Asuma."

    [X] Write in, Like A Thief!
     
  17. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Teach us, Jigen-sensei!

    Goddamnit, you little bastards pulled me out of a possible threeway with Turkish twins! >: < What is it now?

    ... fuck's sake. -_-

    Look, kids, it's really simple. What kind of information do you honestly want to get? Personal or professional? Granted, the kid's not likely to know every little thing, but you're supposed to be a bunch of Brainiacs, you can piece somethin' together from what he does know, if you're really interested.

    Get it? Got it? Good. Now if you'll excuse me, Ayfer and Zerrin await. 8)

    Thank you, Jigen-sensei! Everyone, do your best!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  18. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends

    "What am I, five?" Konohamaru (what is the deal with ninja parents? Why is Ami your only friend without a 'significant' name?) scoffs. "I'm not tellin' you anything for a lousy chocolate bar. How do I know you aren't spies for a foreign village?"

    You're actually kind of impressed. "Huh. You're smarter than I gave you credit for."

    "Of course!" He puffs out his tiny chest. "I have to be smart if I'm gonna be Hokage one day."

    "Ehh? Quite the goal you've got there," you remark. "You sure you're up to handling all that diplomacy stuff? It's a lot of work. They'll make you talk to total jerks all the time, and you won't be allowed to hit 'em."

    "I definitely can do it!" His nod makes his ridiculous hat-and-hair combo wobble, and a strange gleam comes into his eyes. "If I have to do it to be Hokage, then that's what I'll do. No shortcuts, just like the Boss said."

    What sort of appalling things have they been teaching this kid? Shortcuts are the father of innovation!

    In any case, you've got traction now; time for the all-out rush.

    "Well, y'know," you say slyly, "one thing you need to be Hokage is the approval of most of the clan-heads. And as the future leader of the Yamanaka Clan, I can't say I'd approve of a Hokage who wouldn't help a lady in need."

    Konohamaru snorts. "What lady?"

    "Ami," you say without missing a beat, gesturing at her.

    She looks surprised, but inclines her head politely at the kid. By civilian standards she isn't dressed femininely, but between her tunic-and-leggings combo and her long braid, all it takes is her height and her slight embarrassment at being bluntly called a lady to make her look the part of a kindly kunoichi onee-san.

    "Your uncle called her names and made her sad," you elaborate. "Kiba and I are trying to get him back to avenge her honour." You pinch Kiba before he has a chance to so much as snicker.

    "Tch. What do I care what he says to some girl?" Konohamaru mumbles.

    "Isn't a Hokage supposed to care about everyone in the village?" you ask archly, and you're pleased to see him flinch.

    Eventually the little sourpuss caves. It isn't him trying to steal Asuma's smokes, so he doesn't know anything about any traps, and he can't think of anyone else who'd bother. He does know that his uncle eats lunch at the Yakiniku Q every day and always orders the sausage platter. In addition to this helpful pranking info, over which Kiba and Ami are pleased as punch, you learn that Asuma and Konohamaru's dad don't get along so well, and that his mom says it's because Asuma left Konoha for a long time.

    Ami gasps. "He was a missing-nin?"

    "No!" Konohamaru scowls. "It wasn't like that, he had permission or something; Grandpa let him go. But Dad was mad anyway." He shrugs, as if to say, 'Adults. What the hell, am I right?'

    "Well, now that we know what your dad thinks, what do you think of 'im?" you ask. Kids sometimes notice stuff that older people don't, after all.

    Konohamaru looks somewhat taken aback. "Um... I don't know..."

    You tsk. "Are ya a ninja or not? You gotta have some kind of opinion." You hope he spits it out quickly; someone kind of pissed off is headed your way, albeit much too slowly to be looking for you.

    "... he's nice," the kid says finally. He looks at Ami. "I don't know what he said to you, but he probably didn't mean it. Sometimes he just says stuff."

    Ami frowns, but nods.

    "There you are!"

    A black-clad figure pounces on the kid.

    [X] Help the kid out. It's only fair after he told you what you needed to know.
    -> [X] Paradise-Viewing. Not going to do much against the guy long-term, if his general level of strength is as solid as it feels, but it should make him let go of the kid for a second, and a second's all you need.
    -> [X] Kawarimi with Konohamaru and then slip out of the guy's grip.
    -> [X] Write-In?

    [X] Ask the kid to introduce you to his playmate. You're amazed he hasn't seen fit to do so already; clan children nowadays! Why, back in your day...

    [X] Tough break, kid. See ya 'round.
     
  19. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Fight the Power

    While the assailant's distracted, you launch into the handseals for Paradise Viewing. By the time he's started berating the struggling brat in his hands he's hit, and by the time they've taken three steps you can tell the vision has him. His grip on Konohamaru slackens, and the kid jumps back, frowning in confusion at the sudden dazed look on the man's face, eyes widening in shock as he outright keels over.

    Holy shit. You just dropped a dude with chakra reserves thrice the size of yours like it was nothing. Genjutsu truly is the best thing ever.

    "Oh, gods, Ino, what did you do now?" Ami moans. Kiba would likely add something, but with all the guffawing he's probably too out of breath.

    Shunshin'ing over, you scrawl 'Beware! Kidnapper!' on the man's back in elegant script, then turn to Konohamaru with a grin.

    "Run for it, Hokage-chan."

    ;D "THAT WAS AWESOME!" The kid cheers in glee. "You're almost as cool as the Boss, nee-chan!" Suddenly he stops short. "Hey, don't call me -chan, I'm not a little kid!"

    "Hai, hai, Hokage-kun," you say, grabbing his hand and tossing him onto your back.

    "Ino, you cannot just steal children!" Ami hisses in disbelief.

    "Huh." You look over your shoulder at Konohamaru. "You mind bein' stolen?"

    "Not if you'll teach me that awesome jutsu!"

    "As my Hokage orders," you intone solemnly, before grinning at Kiba. "Wanna show off your firearms to an impressionable minor?"

    ;D "You know I do!"

    And the five of you - you, Kiba, Akamaru, Konohamaru, and the long-suffering Ami - charge off toward glory.

    =

    Dad isn't home when you get back in, but the look on mom's face says she knows you two have quarrelled. She doesn't say anything about it, though; you're grateful for that, since you still aren't sure if you want to talk about the situation just yet.

    It's only when you take off your haori that the note flutters out of your sleeve.

    Free piece of advice: any time a protagonist encounters a minor vice for the first time, they'll decide either to indulge in it or to vehemently shun it. Predictable as clockwork. Welcome to Team 5. Asuma.

    =

    The next morning Dad apologizes to you profusely, almost desperately, for the things he said, and you forgive him. Both of you were blindsided and angry about what happened, it's not surprising he didn't think before speaking.

    =

    "So how's your team so far?"

    "I am in hell," Sasuke hisses as the two of you slump against the retaining-wall of the bank's roof. Hinata had some family thing to attend and isn't with you this morning.

    "Well, at least you didn't end up with Ami like you worried about."

    "Ami knows what chakra is," he fires back. "That makes her an automatic improvement on the dead-last."

    "Ouch." You wince. "How did he pass again? I mean, I know the teachers don't like him, but I didn't think they'd outright throw him to the wolves."

    "I wish I'd known they were splitting the Ino-Shika-Cho," Sasuke grumbles. "As the head of the Uchiha Clan I'm allowed to make team-assignment requests, I could have asked for you to be put with me."

    "You me and Naruto on the same team? Konoha'd be a smoking crater within a week." You stretch. "Well, it could have been worse. I've still got Ami, and Kiba's an all-right guy."

    "Kiba's an ass," Sasuke says flatly.

    You shrug. "He's never shaken down underclassmen for protection money."

    "I charged them less than the bully I beat up for them did! And I forgot my lunch that day, so shut up."

    "So what's the 'Sharingan-thief' like?" you ask.

    Sasuke rolls his eyes. "He showed up forty-five minutes late, after all the rest of you left, and lead us up to the roof for introductions and a briefing. Naruto acted like Naruto, inevitably, and Shino told him to shut up and stop interrupting. Of course, being Shino, he did that thing he does and gave actual reasons why it'd be a good idea for Naruto to shut up. When Naruto yelled at him to stop using such big fancy words, Kakashi remarked that, in a 'happy' coincidence, Shino's file says he's fluent in B.G. codetalk. The two of them proceeded to speak it and nothing else for the rest of the time we were together."

    "Ha!" You cannot contain your glee. "Awesome!"

    -_- "No. No it was not awesome. It was the opposite of awesome. I swear to god, the next person who answers one of my questions with a 'hn' is getting a gutpunch." He unscrews the lid of his water bottle and drinks deeply. "Can I come over to your place for breakfast? We have some sort of survival training for our genin test later today and the bastard 'advised' us not to eat beforehand. I'm staying out of restaurants until I can be sure he isn't keeping tabs on me."

    "Huh. So either he's testing to see if you guys're professional enough to follow weird orders and respect that you don't have clearance on certain things, or he's trying to see who among you is too thick to realize that stupid orders should sometimes be discreetly flouted. That's... an interesting guy you're saddled with, there."

    "... would you mind not smiling when you say that?"

    =

    Ami has a sheathed sword in her hands when she arrives at the foot of Hokage Tower. She barely looks up to say hello before taking a seat next to you on the steps.

    "Graduation present?" you ask.

    Ami nods slowly. "Dad said it's a tradition... in the business." She stares at the screaming-Suzaku pattern on the lacquered sheath. "When someone becomes a full member of the organization instead of just being under someone's protection, they get a sword."

    Her chakra doesn't indicate that she's angry, even if she kinda looks it. Mostly she just seems confused and a little sad. You can't blame her; Ami's relationship with her dad has never been great, but lately it's just been... weird. And by lately, you mean the past two years or so. Used to be they'd have daily arguments, or he'd bring his friends or business-associates up from the bar at all hours and expect her to play hostess to them. Now he just avoids her, for the most part.

    You have a couple of ideas why this should be, but you haven't shared any of them with Ami.

    Santa Claus is only for little kids, after all.

    "The steel is absolute shit," she says suddenly, pulling it out a bit for you to examine.

    "He's a civie," you say with a shrug. "I think my dad knows a guy who could adjust the sheath to fit a better sword. Your old man probably won't know the difference."

    "Mm. Probably not."

    It's a long, quiet wait in the sun until Asuma and then Kiba show up.

    =

    <"Hey, Miun-chan. Haven't seen you around in a while.">

    <"Hi, Ino! Daddy sends his apologies, but he's been having some liver trouble lately, so I'll be filling in for him. Ooh, right behind my ears, mm~!">

    .__.; "... I'm guessing this is why you kids call her nekobuta?"

    =

    Regarding the prank on Asuma:

    The members of Team 5 have made a pact to never discuss The Sausages again.

    =

    In the past month you have trained mostly:

    [X] Taijutsu
    [X] Genjutsu
    [X] Ninjutsu
    [X] Tessenjutsu

    and hung around with (pick two)

    [X] Ami
    [X] Kiba and Akamaru
    [X] Menka
    [X] Sasuke
    [X] Shikamaru
    [X] Chouji
    [X] Hinata

    Request a C-rank in your second month?

    [X] Yes
    [X] No
     
  20. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Furiko's Omake Theatre~!

    Scenes From A Parallel World Where Team Kakashi Consists Of Uchiha Sasuke, Uzumaki Naruto, and Yamanaka Ino

    "Well, we do have C-rank escort mission that just came in-"

    "We'll take it," Sasuke cuts in. "Anything to end his complaining."

    "But we promised Gin-kun we'd help him build a bigger cake-mix-balloon-launcher next week!" you protest.

    "Ah, that would be Hijikata Gin, yes?" Iruka-sensei looks at you over the sheaf of paper in his hand. "His parents have requested that you never be assigned to babysit their son again. Ever."

    You sniff. "Artists often go unappreciated in their own time."

    "That's true, that's true," Naruto agrees solemnly. He pats you on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Ino-chan! We'll make it up to him when we get back."

    You're not sure, but you think the Hokage smiled at you for a moment there.

    "The mission is to escort a young woman and her son back to their village in the Land of Waves..."

    =

    "I'm not leaving them."

    You and Naruto blink at each other in surprise. That was eerie. It was like you shared a wavelength for the second it took both of you to say that.

    "Ino, she lied to us," Sasuke says. "If she had pulled this on another genin team they would have been killed, just because she didn't want to pay for an A-rank!"

    You smile at Tsunami. "It's a lady's prerogative to bend the truth from time to time."

    The anxious spiral in her chakra loosens slightly, but her son still clings to her leg, trembling.

    "You really are a piece of work, you know that, you asshole?" Naruto scowls at Sasuke. "What kind of guy abandons a mom and her kid to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere?"

    Sasuke grits his teeth. "What kind of adult hires genin to protect her from missing-nin?"

    "Maa, maa," Kakashi cuts off both your protests and Naruto's, turning to your client. "Tsunami-san must have her reasons, I'm sure."

    =

    Tsunami's son doesn't talk much. He doesn't do anything very much, besides shadow his mom everywhere she goes. After what happened to his father and grandfather you can't really blame him for that.

    One night you wake to his sobbing pleas for his mom to just give up on the bridge and run. Evidently he's had some sort of nightmare and she's trying to soothe him back to sleep.

    They aren't pleasant sounds, but they're made even less so by the addition of Naruto grumbling in the next tent that maybe the kid needs to toughen up, and the scuffle with Sasuke that it provokes.

    You try to lighten the mood over breakfast by making tsundere jokes about your teammates with Kakashi-sensei, but your heart isn't really in it.

    =

    The 'throne room' has the jubilant lack of class typical of yakuza interior decorating. Its new occupant either can't be fussed to redecorate or, perhaps, takes a kind of morbid pleasure in preserving his former employer's office just as it was.

    "So," Kakuzu says, drumming his fingers on a severed, eyeless, grey-haired head, "you think you're in a position to negotiate. That's cute."

    "Think of it as an investment," you say, your voice sounding as cheerful and relaxed as it can be. "If you hold us for ransom, you get the opportunity to collect that ransom, along with the bounties of whoever Konoha trusts to retrieve the Last Uchiha. But you also stand a reasonable chance of dying or at least ruining your reputation, since the kind of guys we'd trust to do that are coincidentally the guys who tend to be in your league, and I'll bet the same is true of Kumo and all the other villages who'd love to put Sakkun out to stud."

    Huh. Sasuke's expression at this description looks remarkably conflicted. Maybe he's finally entered puberty.

    "Even if you emerge victorious in the end," you continue, "you're not getting top dollar, since what people are paying for is breeding-rights and/or research materials. It's a huge hassle for little gain. Whereas if you let Sasuke go back to Konoha and access his considerable fortune as head of the Uchiha Clan," you gesture expansively with both arms, "you could have a boatload of cash to help you solidify your claim over Gato Corp without having to lift a finger. You can even keep me and Naruto as collateral until the money arrives," you add, ignoring Naruto's squawk of protest at this. Honestly, he's the one who said you should avenge Kakashi's death. Doesn't he know an opportunity when he sees it?

    Kakuzu's face is unreadable, but his chakra sounds... promising.

    Eventually, he rises from his chair. At six feet tall, he looms over you and everyone else in the room.

    "What makes you think I won't just kill all three of you right now?" he inquires, and you have to force yourself not to gasp at the pressure of manifest malice he suddenly exudes.

    Oh, don't you dare try to frighten me, zombie-man; Itachi's scarier than you will ever be, and you'll find that out if you kill Sasuke.

    "Because you don't seem particularly stupid," you say bluntly.

    Two sets of pupil-less eyes bore into each other.

    =

    I asked sensei once if it was true that Kakuzu the Five-Hearted was the one who gave her and her teammates their title. She laughed, and said she was glad he didn't; if he had 'had a Hanzo moment', as she put it, she wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face.

    "He just told us to get the hell out of his office and not to come back until we were each worth at least twenty million. To this day, I have no idea how we pulled that one off."

    - from the prologue of Beckoning Cat: The Nine Lives of Yamanaka Ino Gosei, by Kuroba Kaito

    The enduring popularity of the classic film The Tale of Uzumaki Naruto, along with the real-life story of the Legendary Sannin facing down Hanzo the Salamander, has ensured that the idea of Kakuzu bestowing titles upon a young Team Kakashi is permanently fixed in the public consciousness, despite the first recorded instance of the term 'Omamori-tachi' to describe them not occurring until approximately two years later, well after the First Invasion of Konoha. Uzumaki Naruto Monogatari is, however, accurate in its depiction of the reactions of each of the children to their new nicknames; Golden Toad Naruto's enthusiastic insistence on being addressed as such is drawn directly from his correspondence (all known letters from his tenure as Shichidaime Hokage are signed with the title), as is Sasuke the Daruma's undisguised loathing for that epithet.

    - from Utterly Gutsy Ninja: The Fourth Shinobi War and the Shaping of the Modern Heroic Ideal, by Hyuuga Mejiro

    "If I had actually nicknamed them, I'd have called them the Retirement Fund."

    - quote attributed to Kakuzu
     
  21. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Furiko's Omake Theatre~!

    A Less-Depressing Scene From Another Parallel World Where Ino Is On Team Kakashi

    "No..." you say, your voice burbling as the blood pours out of your mouth. You grant him a scarlet-tinted grin. "It's me who's got you."

    Demonic Illusion: Paradise-Viewing Technique.

    Kiba's grip immediately slackens, and his pupils dilate.

    Gently, you pluck his hand off of your neck, pull out your fan, and symbolically press the edge to his throat.

    "Winner, Yamanaka Ino."

    "YEAH! THAT'S WHAT YOU GET!"

    You laugh, and wince at what it does to your ribs. Shit. When you get to that infirmary you're gonna lie right down and sleep for a week. Between the forest and this, you've earned it.

    As you make your way up the stairs, Naruto and Lee rush to the landing to greet you.

    "Aw, that was so awesome!" Naruto hops from foot to foot in excitement. "You showed that jerk!" He scowls as the medics carry Kiba's passed-out form out of the arena. "Expecting you to forfeit right away just 'cause you're friends..."

    "You've grown so much, Ino-chan!" Lee declares, beaming. "Your fighting spirit is an inspiration!" He clenches a fist in determination. "But I can't permit my kouhai to upstage me so easily! Yosh! I'll finish my fight in half the time, or I'll spend all my free time for the next two weeks catching falling leaves!"

    "I'll hold you to that, sempai," you say wryly.

    "Ah, Lee, it makes my heart glad to see the strength of your bonds with your underclassman!" Maito Gai gives you a thumbs-up. "A valiant fight, Ino-kun."

    "I can't believe he actually called genjutsu weak, out loud, in front of you of all people," Ami comments from her perch on the railing.

    "Yeah, he could have thought that through a little better," you muse.

    "Ino."

    You look up, and see Kakashi leaning against the wall of the hallway to the infirmary.

    "You did well."

    Slowly, you nod once. "Kakashi-sensei."

    The moonlight overhead bathes the room in blue shadows. You saunter past the grey-haired man, and for a moment, time seems to freeze as each of you smile wistfully at the empty air before you. The only thing that moves in the captured moment is the gentle breeze that rustles your hair and your clothes.

    As you continue down the hall to the infirmary, you hear Maito Gai's barely-suppressed howls of woe as Lee-sempai murmurs in awe, "S-so cool..." :eek:

    "Wait, where is that saxophone music coming from?" Naruto asks.
     
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  22. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] A pervert, a tsundere and a freaky dog guy walk out of a movie theatre...

    "Your mind is a weird-ass place," Kiba says, shivering, as he helps you to your feet.

    You frown. "Huh. The technique isn't supposed to let you see any of my thoughts."

    "It doesn't," Ami says, shaking her head. "There's some kind of wall of... commercials in the way."

    "Commercials?" you ask, eyebrow raised.

    She shrugs. "That's the best way I know to describe it. But yeah, flashing lights, loud noises, jingles... of course, knowing you, that could just be what your normal thought processes look like."

    "I was talkin' more about the killing-intent, actually," Kiba says, a trifle confused. "How the hell does that work when you aren't in your own head to generate it?"

    Ami looks somewhat taken-aback. "What are you talking about?"

    "You didn't feel that?" Kiba asks, boggling. "From the moment I got in 'til the moment I left it was like someone was breathing down my neck."

    "I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about, Inuzuka-kun," Ami says, sincerely confused. "Ino? You know what he's talking about?"

    You shake your head. "If it's there, I'm not doin' it consciously." You wonder what's up with that; could your mental defences have subtly upgraded themselves somehow?

    =

    Now that you're an active-duty ninja, Menka insists on accompanying you everywhere, riding on your shoulder the way Akamaru does Kiba's head. Ami jokes that she should try to get a bird-summoning contract to 'complete the set'.

    Menka doesn't get to do much, since his full capabilities are a secret, but it's nice to have him along. Asuma-sensei in particular seems relieved to have someone resembling 'backup' in the adult department. The two like to talk shop about kenjutsu from time to time; most of it goes over your head, but Ami hangs on their every word, so you assume sensei-chan knows his stuff.

    The five of you (six, with Asuma, but he's more of a supervisor than a teammate on these D-ranks) do a lot of babysitting over the next few weeks, but it isn't as fun as you anticipated, mainly because Ami is boring and doesn't understand the true potential of glitter and superglue. Any time you want to do any crafts or play any games, she always kills the fun right out of the cradle unless you manage to keep under her radar.

    You suppose she's better'n Kiba, at least; he's always been the youngest in his family and has no idea how to wipe sticky faces, or even just talk to kids. Luckily, his awkward refusal to get directly involved gives him a tough-guy cachet among the boys you look after, so any time you need to get Eichiro or whoever to eat his damn peas, all it takes is Kiba having some to make them stop whining.

    You try to request the Tora mission whenever possible, but apparently the Hokage considers cat-chasing to be character-building for less speedy genin, so you only get to take it about once a month. It's better than nothing, though; always nice to see Tora, or, as is increasingly common lately, Miun.

    =

    "That was the worst movie I've ever seen!" Kiba pokes Ami in the shoulder. "You said there were going to be sword fights!"

    "Those were swordfights," she says for the millionth time. "That's what swordfights are like with non-ninja. Not everything is about looking flashy."

    You snicker. "Says the girl who periodically sets her sword on fire."

    "Asuma-sensei says fire chakra enhances the defensive power of the blade!" she counters. "It's completely practical."

    "And that stupid romance," Kiba continues, "what was with that? What, she's got all those family techniques or whatever they were and enough reserves to defeat half an army with 'em, but she has to get rescued by the wimpy daimyo's son?"

    "He wasn't that wimpy by the end," you point out.

    "He had like one sword lesson! How did he beat up that guy when she couldn't?"

    You shrug. "Does it matter? He pulled the resolve up from within to save his lady. It's admirable."

    "Exactly!" Ami nods.

    "But he wasn't even the main character!" Kiba says. "Yarihime was! Why shouldn't she get to defeat the bad guy?"

    "No girl is ever going to like you if you expect her to do all the fighting for you," Ami declares haughtily.

    "No sane guy is gonna like you if you expect him to do your fighting for you," he grumbles. "Is this really the kind of stuff civilian chicks like?"

    Ami cuffs him in the side of the head, and Akamaru scrambles to maintain his perch. "I'm not a civilian, you mutt!"

    "I think I get Kiba's point, maybe," you say reasonably. "It's better when both lovers can save each other, is that what you mean?"

    "Um, I guess," Kiba says, looking vaguely uncomfortable.

    "But you don't fall in love with people based on how strong they are," you point out. "You love them for who they are, not how great they are at taijutsu or whatever. It seems kind of cruel to expect someone you love to put themself in harm's way if you think you can solve the problem yourself."

    Kiba frowns. "By that logic Yarihime should have been the one to defeat the villain. I mean, if she loves the drip, why's it so important that he save her when by all rights she should have expected him to get pummelled?"

    "He's her prince," Ami says, as though this is the most obvious thing in the world. And, when you're Ami, it probably is. "A prince is the princess' reward for all her hard work throughout the story."

    o_O "... you know slavery is illegal, right, Kuwabara?"

    "It's not like that," you say, laughing despite yourself. "You could just as easily say the princess is the prince's reward for being brave and cool."

    "Ino, you too?" Kiba says incredulously. "You guys have some seriously creepy ideas about romance, you know that?"

    "Oh~?" You smirk. "You must know a lot about it, to say that with such certainty. Why don't you teach us some more about it, hm? Correct faults in our romantic training~?"

    Kiba goes stock-still. "I-Ino?" he squeaks.

    "Ne, Kiba-sensei~ oshie- oof!"

    You once asked why Ami prefers to hit Kiba in the head when she's mad at him, but generally goes for your midsection on those occasions when you leave an opening. She replied that while he probably can't get any stupider, she's not certain you can't get crazier.

    =

    Three months have gone by. Sasuke's team left about two weeks ago for their first C-rank. Do you want to take one of your own? Asuma has pissed off Kurenai and wants to get the hell out of town for a while thinks you guys're ready.

    [X] Yes
    [X] No

    If no, what do you want to train for the next little while?

    [X] Taijutsu
    [X] Ninjutsu
    -> [X] Further refinement of Mind Body Switch Technique
    -> [X] Tobideru Shiryoku no Jutsu, the Art of Projected Sight. Lets you piggyback on someone else's vision. Limited range, especially compared to your sensing, but sometimes it's nice to actually witness stuff properly.
    -> [X] Take it away, Oro-pyon, just remember you're better off keeping things simple for now.
    [X] Work on connecting your memory palaces into a dream complex.
    [X] Genjutsu
    [X] Tessenjutsu
     
  23. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] On the road again~ just can't wait to get on the road again~

    Your client is accompanied by two bodyguards already, but you can see why they'd want some ninja backup; they're obviously taijutsu- and weapons-focused to the exclusion of all else, and much as you respect Lee, these guys aren't even on his level. They're probably of that class of noblemen who think because they've had kendo instruction in padded gear since they were kids they're all masters of the blade. Ami's gonna have some fun with them, if Kiba doesn't get to them first.

    They're wearing matching white uniforms, as is traditional for men travelling with a bride-to-be; meant to indicate that they're symbolically dead, so there's nothing improper about them being alone with a young lady for sustained periods of time. The only ornamentation to their sombre attire is a small crest above their hearts, indicating their allegiance to your client's family.

    The client herself is a petite woman in a juunihitoe. Barely taller than you, her very presence as she enters the office seems to cow the two men with her; they hunch and avert their eyes from her calm, delicately-featured face. Her long hair falls down her back in old-school princess fashion, with two forelocks framing her pointed chin. Eyes like bronze exude a gentle warmth from beneath demurely half-lowered lids.

    You have to hand it to her - it's a pretty good façade. But you're a Yamanaka. You knew she was pissed before she even came into the room.

    [X] "Well, hello again, Rouga Nabiki." 8)

    [X] "Ah! Na-baka!" you exclaim cheerfully. "It's been a while."

    [X] Pretend you don't know her. Maybe she wants her hairpin back. ^_^;
     
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  24. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Makin' music with my friends

    Well that certainly got her to open her eyes all the way.

    "How dare you address Nabiki-sama-!" one of the guards roars, but is cut off by Iruka's Big Giant Head jutsu hollering at you for disrespecting a client. Yeeeeee~! That thing gives you the creeps every time he whips it out (As the Actress replied to the Bishop). Even Asuma-sensei inches back a bit.

    The younger guard's eyes lighten with sudden comprehension. "... you're that same blonde girl!"

    You whistle. "Wow. You got tall, Jiro." And cute, in a scholarly sort of way.

    He coughs, and attempts to hide a blush. "It's Tsuruhiko, now."

    "When did you meet these guys?" Kiba asks, looking the party up and down. Ami is too busy trying not to look completely mortified to say anything.

    "I'm surprised you remember," Nabiki murmurs softly, a small but genuine smile touching her lips.

    You grin. "People say that to me all the time."

    Hmm. This... isn't quite what you expected. Granted, it's been ten years, but Nabiki's still giving off waves of low-level hostility toward the world in general, or at least the ninja parts of it. Why should seeing you make her less angry? The last time you saw her you were... um... 'outspoken' would be the polite way to put it.

    You decide to just go with it for now. You've got a whole week to figure it out.

    =

    Mom and Dad are incredibly sappy about this being your first 'real' mission; Mom makes your favourite meal for dinner, and Dad actually chokes back manly tears when he leaves for work. Geez. You'd think you were going off to war instead of a wedding.

    The basic sitch is this: Nabiki's family wants to unite their taijutsu school with one in Tanzaku Gai by marrying her off to its head, a certain Edajima Hisui. As the heir to the Dim Sum School, she isn't allowed anything more than a ceremonial guard to vouch for her virtue; it's expected that she'll defend herself from any and all threats. However, since she's travelling with her dowry through the woods at the height of the summer bandit-season to get to the Pickpocket Capital of Fire Country, Team Asuma has been hired to make sure that no one makes off with the valuables until the wedding ceremony is complete.

    It's a very nicely executed bit of face-saving, in your opinion. Nice to see Na-baka's mind has gotten a little sharper as her tongue's gotten softer. You still think it would have been smarter for her to go totally incognito on the bus, but these old samurai families like to put on a show (and with all the money they have to throw around, can you blame them?), so she's going by carriage, turning what would be a three-hour bus ride into a two-day slog.

    You meet the rest of your team at the gates at ten am sharp, as instructed. You've left your red haori at home; no sense showing up the bride, after all. This'll be a green-jacket run.

    "Excited?" Asuma asks as the three of you stand waiting for Nabiki's crew to show up.

    "What's there to get excited about?" Kiba growls. "We're stuck babysitting some girl's luggage for a week."

    "... right." Asuma raises an eyebrow. "Kiba, you are armed, right?"

    "Of course I'm armed," he fires back, stung. "Not that I'm gonna need it." he adds sullenly.

    Your teacher takes a longer than usual drag, eyeing Kiba speculatively. He lets loose a few smoke rings (bastard bastard bastard). "... interesting theory."

    "Oi, sensei! How come Kiba gets special concern?" you whine in mock protest. "You didn't ask if I'm armed."

    Asuma just snickers.

    "I wish I'd had more time to consult with Takae-sensei," Ami says nervously, patting her painstakingly-coordinated hair and clothes. "What if Nabiki-san makes a reference I don't understand and expects an appropriate reply?"

    "Oh, don't worry about that," you say, waving her off. "If she's anything like I remember, she'll probably spend most of the trip pretending we don't exist. Na-baka doesn't think much of shinobi."

    "And how are we supposed to change her mind if we behave like hicks?" Ami retorts. "Show a little pride in your position, Ino; hell, you're the Gojuudaime Yamanaka."

    Translation: Don't fuck this up for me, Ino; if we want to help Sasuke restore the Uchiha, we're going to need a client base.

    The carriage trundles up to the gates shortly thereafter. The older guard sits next to the driver at the front; Jiro - Tsuruhiko, seriously? His family's got a lame sense of humour - stands before the horses, a sword at his side.

    [X] Asuma orders you into the carriage; you're the only party member with training in close-quarters fighting and you're the only one dressed in a manner befitting a gently-bred handmaiden, despite Ami's best efforts. If something goes catastrophically wrong, someone will still be able to look after Nabiki until the ransom is sorted out.

    [X] Asuma orders Ami into the carriage; you're the only sensor on the team, so you and Kiba need to be outside where you can more easily communicate with your team leader in the event of an attack. Also, you're faster than the other two (Ami much more so than Kiba), so it makes more sense to keep you in the open where you can best make use of that speed.
     
  25. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Strange roads, going nowhere in particular

    Ami gives you one last pleading look as you remove your sandals and Tsuruhiko knocks on the carriage door.

    "My lady?"

    "Yes, Tsuruhiko?"

    "Asuma-san has requested that one of his genin accompany the parcels themselves at all times. He has suggested Ino-san. Are you in accord with this suggestion?"

    "... send her in."

    The carriage's façade, painted a raucously auspicious red and heavy on ornate gold-plated panels stamped with images of the Heavenly Warrior Couple in their animal guises, is mercifully non-indicative of its interior. The small shrine built into an alcove next to the window has a beeswax candle burning before it, not the sandalwood incense you would have expected, and the overall colour scheme has more in common with a breezy seashore than a fortune-teller's shop.

    To your astonishment, you realize that aside from your own home, this is the first time you've ever been in a tastefully-appointed living space that still looks like someone actually lives in it.

    That's the difference a Capital lady's touch makes, I guess.

    "Mornin', Nabiki-chan," you say brightly, setting your sandals next to hers in the small box by the door.

    "Good morning," she replies. "I see you still haven't learned how to properly address noblewomen."

    You shrug. "If you want someone to call you -sama with a straight face, you should have asked Ami in here."

    The carriage's pace is entirely unhurried, and you adjust your estimate of your arrival time accordingly; it might take three days to get to Tan-Ge', at this rate.

    "Ami is the other girl, then?" A fan emerges from Nabiki's sleeve and pulls back one of the gauzy white curtains that obscure the view out of the window. "She seems a little overdressed."

    "She doesn't want you to think we're a buncha ruffians." You slide into the seat across from her and stretch out as much as you can with a smirk. "I told her that's an impossible dream unless all five of us take a very early retirement."

    "... perhaps." Nabiki lets the curtain fall back into place. "Five, you said?"

    "Including Kiba's partner Akamaru and Menka here, yep." He mews at her and rubs his cheek against yours.

    Nabiki smiles. "Hello, there, Menka," she says, then turns to you. "Is it all right if I pet him?"

    Menka, sensing weakness, leaps from your chest to Nabiki's lap. Her laughter is like a chiming bell as she proceeds to give him the babytalking and belly-rubbing of a lifetime. He purrs contentedly.

    "Yes, such a handsome fellow," Nabiki remarks warmly, stroking his ears. "I had to leave the my cats behind when we left Hikari-kyo; it's been two weeks since I've been able to pet a kitty."

    Despite yourself, your interest is piqued. "Is that so? Why couldn't you bring them with you?"

    "Well, they weren't really mine," Nabiki admits. "They belong to the dojo. At least, Haru-san and her children do; Patches and Button just show up when it's dinner time." A flicker of melancholy shoots through her, and is quashed. "My bridegroom is fond of dogs, apparently. Perhaps I should befriend a puppy when I have settled myself."

    "It's strange to think of you getting married," you say, before mentally kicking yourself and backtracking. "Not that you're not wife material or anything, just that it's strange to think you're an adult. I know it's been ten years, but in my mind..."

    "I understand the feeling," she replies, looking up from Menka for a moment. "I still can't believe you're the same little girl who teased me all those years ago. How old were you then?"

    "Three, I think."

    "And your parents let you run around on your own?" She sounds horrified.

    "I think you can attest to the fact that I was not a normal three-year-old," you say, laughing. "Besides, Konoha is safer than an ordinary city of the same size would be. Until unruly martial arts heiresses invade and start picking on the civilians," you add.

    Nabiki has the good grace to blush. "I was not a terribly well-behaved child, in retrospect. I suppose I made myself ridiculous."

    "No more so than Shisui did," you say magnanimously.

    "Shisui?"

    "The wild-haired boy, the one who kept saying that tactless stuff."

    "Oh, the lackey." She frowns. "I'd forgotten about him. The quiet boy is the one who sticks in my memory."

    A shiver passes down your spine. "Yeah. Mine, too."

    "Are they still in Konoha?" she asks.

    [X] Lie. Lie and misdirect and turn the conversation to another topic. If you tell her about the Massacre it's just going to freak her out.

    [X] Well it's not like the Massacre isn't common knowledge even in the civilian sphere, right? All you have to do is say they were Uchiha and she'll draw the appropriate (read: slightly-less-horrific) conclusions from there.
     
  26. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] A Bump in the Road

    "... they were Uchiha," you say quietly.

    Nabiki's eyes widen. "... I'm so terribly sorry! I had no idea."

    "Heh. Don't be. Sorrow doesn't suit a bride." You crack your right shoulder-joint and sit up. "Though I will say, it's nice to see you display a whole emotion instead of half of one."

    She frowns slightly. "What on earth do you mean by that?"

    "This ladylike reserve doesn't suit you," you say, indicating her posture and attitude with a vertical hand movement. "When I met you, you weren't afraid to say whatever was on your mind."

    "I grew out of that," Nabiki says coolly.

    :( "Really?"

    Because to me it looks like you got smaller.

    Before you can continue a flicker of something catches your attention. There are fifteen neutral-to-hostile people at the turn up ahead. You

    [X] discreetly let Menka out to give Asuma and the rest of Team 5 a heads-up

    [X] dismount along with your kitty to provide backup

    [X] trust Asuma to handle it with Kiba and Ami. I mean, dude's a jounin, right? And your friends are no slouches, either.

    [X] Hey, isn't Nabiki supposed to handle her own protection? Though the 'how' of such a scenario is a little beyond you...
     
  27. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Devil in Disguise

    "Your parents can't always want you to be a total delicate flower," you say, as Menka hops down from Nabiki's lap to pat the door. You stand to lift the latch for him. "You're the heiress to Green Tea-style whatever, right?"

    You feel a warm tingle in your heart upon receiving proof that Rouga Nabiki can still scowl with the best of them. "That's the Dim Sum School of Turtle-style." She pulls out her fan, and a hint of its perfume tickles your nose as she cools herself with it. "And my parents had nothing to do with my decision to make myself less obnoxious."

    "Ohhh, I get it," you tease. "You were worried Hisui-san would reject you if you were too much of a harpy, so you put yourself through bridal bootcamp!'

    The fan snaps shut with a snap, and pointing it at you with a warning glare, she snarls, "That is a complete falsehood!"

    It's Tsuruhiko who saves you from responding.

    "My lady!" his voice calls from without. "We're under attack!"

    "FINALLY!" :mad:

    In a burst of speed you could not have anticipated, Nabiki's juunihitoe is tossed aside to reveal a rough linen kimono that would be the envy of any ronin. She leaps out the door before you can stop her.

    "Stand aside, shinobi, this is my fight."

    [X] Go after her! Shit, does she really intend to take on all fifteen of these guys at once? They'll kill her!

    [X] You were ordered to look after the loot and that's what you're gonna do.
     
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  28. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] AAA Aardvark Hotel

    The scream is unquestionably one of pain, and you've almost opened the door before it trails off and you realize it didn't come from Nabiki.

    "My fucking arm!" the suddenly-much-deeper voice continues. "You fucking- AAAUGH-!"

    The follow-up scream is abruptly cut off, and you reel backward.

    Where the sweet flying fuck is all that chakra coming from?!

    "-you know what- boys-!"

    "-girl with spirit-"

    "WOLF FANG FIST!"

    Five heavy whumps.

    "What?! Get up, you lazy bums!"

    D: "I-I CAN'T MOVE! THAT LITTLE BITCH, WHAT DID SHE-?"

    "RED RIDING HOOD'S DOWRY!"

    You wince. A large tree just died breaking someone's fall.

    "-the fuck did that club come from-?"

    "WHAT ARE YOU STANDING AROUND FOR? RUN, STUPID!"

    "WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?!" Nabiki roars. "GET OVER HERE!"

    "AAAAAAAAAAIDON'TWANNADIEHYHY~HY~!" :'(

    "WHERE IS YOUR SENSEI?"

    "O-o-o-o-o-over there!"

    "YOU LITTLE SNITCH-!"

    "SPIRIT BALL!"

    Nine down, three fleeing, three to go.

    "'Master' Onihige, is it? As you have no doubt guessed, I am Nabiki, heiress of the Rouga. I am here for the Doll's Eye Valley-style teaching scroll, at the request of the Maebara. You have tarnished their school's reputation nearly beyond repair and as such have forfeited your claim to its headship."

    "H-have mercy, Rouga-sama! You wouldn't deprive an old man of his livelihood, would you?!"

    In other news, one of the bandits, clearly possessed of more balls than brains, is attempting to oh-so-stealthily sneak in through the carriage window.

    You decide to:

    [X] play hostage. Nabiki's had her chance to show off, now it's your turn.

    [X] play Lethal Joke Maid.

    [X] casually shut the window on his fingers and keep listening; you don't want to miss a word of this conversation.
     
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  29. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] What's Goin' On

    "... owowowowowow..." The young man stumbles off, blowing on his fingers and shaking them.

    "Indeed not, Onihige-san, which is why I shall permit you to keep your tongue. From what I've seen here, teaching is not your true profession; confidence trickery is."

    You frown indignantly. Hey, don't lump me in with some big-mouth bandit!

    "Consider it a wedding present to your old friend's daughter," Nabiki goes on.

    "Oh, is milady getting married? They grow up so fast! I'm sure you'll bring much happiness to your husband and honour to his household!"

    "And I am sure you would not do anything so inauspicious as to deny a bride her request," she says sweetly. "You know what dreadful bad luck that is."

    "... I do...?" :(

    "Good. I'm glad we could come to an agreement."

    And with that, Onihige wobbles off, supported by two of his students, the other young men Nabiki beat up stumbling after him.

    "Very nicely done, Nabiki-san," Asuma remarks.

    "Thank you, Asuma-san," she says breezily.

    She climbs back into the carriage, a very old scroll tucked under one arm.

    "Would you be so kind as to hold this?" she asks, leaning it in your direction as she cups her free hand under the blood dripping from her baseball bat. "I need to get tidied up."

    "All right, now I really don't understand," you say, obligingly taking the scroll. "How exactly is what you just did not shinobi-like behaviour?"

    "Those men were criminals, Yamanaka-chan," she says, wiping down the weapon with a rag.

    You flinch. "Don't call me Yamanaka-chan."

    "Would you prefer I do the same as you and label you an idiot without knowing anything about you?" she asks.

    "Ninja get hired to take out bandits all the time," you point out.

    Nabiki grants you a sidelong glance. "And how often do they leave them alive?"

    "I would call that a point in our favour, actually," you reply. "Kind of hard for them to assault innocent civilians when they're dead."

    "Yes," she says coolly, pouring a jug of scented water over her hands into a basin, "you wouldn't want them to put you out of work, now, would you?"

    [X] Write-in (Like A Thief)
     
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  30. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Putting out fire with gasoline (aka Guile's write-in)

    "You don't think much of me, do you, Nabiki-chan? Calling me a bandit. And my dad a bandit, I guess. And my friends, and half the people I know. I don't lump you in with Lord Moron-o, or those rent-a-ronin that go around selling their swords to guys like Gato."

    "Do shinobi deserve more of my respect because they are better at committing murder?" she asks, unflinching.

    "If a ninja's livelihood is assaulting innocent people, A. they're an asshole, B. they're a crappy ninja, and C. a good ninja is probably going to make a paycheque off of their ass," you say matter-of-factly.

    And that's about when your heart squeezes in on itself.

    The last time you saw that expression, it was on Chouji's face.

    But she doesn't say anything. She dries her hands, puts the bat god knows where, and goes to her luggage. Opening a small trunk, she takes the scroll from you silently and places it inside, pulling out a book as she does so. With that, she resumes her seat, and is soon immersed in something called Brokedown Palace.

    "Hey, there's no reason to pout," you say.

    "I'm not pouting, Yamanaka-chan," Nabiki says calmly. "I'm reading."

    [X] What do?