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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] "We had a plan about five minutes after you left. Still gathering intel and doing some prep though. Pull up a chair teach, get into the All Knowing Sensei pose and judge us humble genin."

    You and the others fill Asuma in on what's gone down and what you've learned. You wonder at first how to broach the subject of your little discovery, but when you mention that you emptied the trunks and cases into your own luggage there's a tiny flicker in his eyes that lets you know he already knew. Now it's just a question of whether or not to tell Kiba and Ami.

    "And what are you doing to look into additional threats, from thieves in the wider community?" your teacher asks.

    You frown. "Hm. I thought Kurioka-san ran a pretty tight ship." Or at least Oshibe-san does.

    "Not in here he doesn't," Asuma says, shaking his head. "Yakuza authority ends at the walls. If the lesser gangs decide to wet their beaks at the Edajima well he'll turn a blind eye as long as he gets a cut."

    "Well, that's unfortunate," you sigh. "Any chance of them being a particular challenge? If civilian taijutsu-enthusiasts can use crazy-no-way anti-chakra I'd like to know if the mobsters around here are all vampires or something."

    "Just the usual mix of 'samurai', ordinary civilians and ninja washouts," he replies. "The teachers on night patrol can handle them if they catch them, but Ami, you should still make a few inquiries in town in case someone more prepared is on the way."

    "Yes, sensei," she says, spine straightening.

    "Well, things are looking pretty good," you say, smiling. "We're right on schedule. Kiba, do we have any specifics on the techniques Sorato's little flunkies might be using if they tag along?"

    Kiba shakes his head. "No, sorry. Jounouchi didn't mention any names."

    "You didn't ask for any?" you ask, surprised. And then your eyes narrow. "... Kiba. What did you do?"

    "Whaddya mean?" he says defensively. "Nothin'!"

    Fuck. "What did you do, Kiba?" you demand.

    Ami sighs.

    "I swear I didn't do anything!" Kiba insists. "That guy started it by-"

    "As thrilling as I'm sure the full story would be," Asuma cuts in. "I'll second the request: what did you do?"

    Kiba wilts under four sets of judging eyes. "... he guessed I was using him as a source and we had an argument," he mumbles.

    "Aw, hell," you mutter. "All right, look, Kiba, if you take my shift I can go find him and smooth things over. If-"

    "What does it matter?" he asks petulantly. "We're leaving tomorrow night, he's just some idiot we're never going to see again-"

    "Do you listen to the words that come out of your mouth?" Ami interrupts, cradling her forehead in the palm of her hand. "No, wait, if you did you couldn't have screwed up this badly."

    "C'mon, Ami, cut him some slack," you wheedle. "It's our first mission out of the village, some things were bound to go wrong."

    She takes a deep breath, and letting it go, she nods. With renewed vigour, she resumes her sword drills.

    "The reason it matters, Kiba," you explain with as much patience as you can muster, "is that, as you've probably noticed, this is a school where people learn how to kick asses. As we ourselves are in the ass-kicking business, it behoves us to give at least half a fuck about our fellow professionals/competition. What if we need their help again one day? What if someone sends them against us?" You wince. "Plus, I just don't wanna leave things like this. I think they seem like pretty nice guys."

    "You think Sasuke is a nice guy," Kiba shoots back.

    "No, Ami thinks he's a nice guy," you say bluntly. "I just happen to like him. Just like I happen to like you, even though you happen to have no goddamn filter between your mouth and your brain."

    He scowls.

    "As I was saying," you go on, "if you're not in the mood to be diplomatic, I can talk to the nurse, too."

    "No," he objects, "that has to be me; you don't have any medical training."

    "But I do," Asuma cuts in. "I'm disappointed in you, Kiba. A shinobi can't afford to let his temper get the better of him over something so minor. Or did you forget your own words to Ami earlier?"

    "... no," Kiba grinds out grudgingly. "But he was talking shit about ninja and-"

    "Ino, go talk to your contact, but make it quick," your sensei orders. "Ami, interview and market."

    "You're the boss, boss," you say meekly, heading out. Shit, Kiba's really gonna get it. :(

    [X] Stick around to listen in on their conversation.

    [X] Asuma said to make it quick and sent you away for a reason; go patch things up with Jou.
     
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  2. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Would you be my, could you be my...?

    "Oh, hey, Ino-chan. Aren't you supposed to be on duty?"

    "Sensei's covering for me." You take a seat beside Jou and watch as he sands down some sort of denuded branch. "Makin' a bow?"

    "Mm. Part of our survival training. Everyone learns how." He blows some shavings off of the spot he's been working on. "What's up?"

    "I heard Kiba shot his mouth off again and I came by to apologize," you admit.

    "Why should you apologize?" Jounouchi asks. "What're you, his sister or something?"

    "Maa, ne..." You shrug. "He's my teammate, y'know?"

    He sighs. "Well, you don't have anything to worry about. I'm not mad."

    "I know," you nod, "but Kiba was. Sorry he yelled at you."

    "Hey, it's fine," he says. "I shouldn't have needled him like that, I forgot he's just a kid."

    "Well in any case, I hope you won't hold what happened against him." You grin. "If my shift hadn't been starting you could've kept talkin' to me instead."

    "Right." Jou sets the bow across his knees, and looks you dead in the eye. "Ino-chan? You seem like a nice girl, and honestly I can't say anyone around here would be sorry to see the back of Shinyuu. But you can't expect me to tell you everything I know just because you asked."

    You smile. "Honour among taijutsu-ka, is it?"

    "Can you swear, on..." He falters for a moment. "What the heck do ninja swear on?"

    "We don't, usually," you admit. "But..."

    [X] The Will of Fire

    [X] Your reputation

    [X] Your mother's good name

    "That, then," Jou says, nodding. "Can you swear that whatever you're going after Shinyuu for won't damage the school's rep?" He's trying to hide it, but he's clearly almost desperate to trust you - and, considering what you've heard of Sorato, you're not surprised; he's probably weighing in his mind which is worse, the school being closed because Sorato finally bit off more than he could chew, or Sorato graduating and proceeding to ruin any chance of the school attracting new students just by name-dropping his alma mater.

    [X] Swear.

    [X] Don't just swear, tell him this whole investigation was a request of Sukaha's.

    [X] Tell him everything.
     
  3. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] My words are a matter of pride

    "We don't, usually," you admit. "But I can promise you," you add dramatically, "Yamanaka Ino the Fifth values her reputation highly enough that if she swears on it, she'll keep her word."

    "That, then," Jou says, nodding. "Can you swear that whatever you're going after Shinyuu for won't damage the school's rep?" He's trying to hide it, but he's clearly almost desperate to trust you - and, considering what you've heard of Sorato, you're not surprised; he's probably weighing in his mind which is worse, the school being closed because Sorato finally bit off more than he could chew, or Sorato graduating and proceeding to ruin any chance of the school attracting new students just by name-dropping his alma mater.

    You almost laugh. "Is that what you're worried about? This whole business got started 'cause of a tip Sukaha-san gave me."

    His eyes widen. "No way."

    "Way," you affirm. "I guess she didn't want to take action against him directly because reasons. Anyway," you move on, sweeping into a dramatic bow, "I, Yamanaka Ino, fifth of her name, heir of the Yamanaka Clan, swear on my reputation as a ninja that my efforts toward the apprehension of Shinyuu Sorato shall not damage the social standing of the Edajima School of Turtle Style Taijutsu." You look up. "Well?"

    He nods. "All I needed to hear. Whaddya wanna know?"

    As it turns out, none of Sorato's favoured kouhai are anything special. To hear Jou tell it they're all middle-of-the-pack or lower.

    When you ask about Sukaha's admonition not to let the boy touch you, Jounouchi winces, and explains that the Shinyuu reputedly have a family technique that lets them infect opponents with a disease they all carry (but rarely manifest themselves) by making skin-to-skin contact. Accounts of the symptoms differ in the details, but all the rumours agree that the main result of infection is partial shapeshifting of one sort or another, deformation of the ears being most commonly reported. Apparently some of the crazier stories claim they can give people tails.

    "Never figured Shinyuu'd know how to do it," Jou remarks, frowning. "His dad died before Shinyuu reached the age where you'd normally pass on special techniques like that. He does have that family library he's always bragging about, though; maybe he taught himself." Finally, he shrugs. "If Sukaha-sensei tells you it's a problem, it's probably a problem."

    You nod. "Thanks for your time, Jou. I appreciate it."

    "One last thing," he says, going back to his bow. "Mirioni feels awful about hitting on you; he didn't know you were only twelve 'til Kiba told us. But he's freakin' out about it right now, and he's probably still at the point where he's just praying you didn't notice and that you don't think he's some gross perv, so he's not gonna be in any state to apologize until after you've left."

    You suppress the urge to angrily protest that you're practically thirteen. "Noted. Tell 'im not to beat himself up about it, yeah?"

    Jou snorts. "Telling Miyamoto Mirioni not to mope about girls is like telling a dog not to bark. But I'll pass it on."

    =

    Where/When to next?

    [X] Later tonight...

    [X] A certain grape-haired sword-slinger's adventures harem anime-land

    [X] An encounter with the bride
     
  4. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Bored.

    Boredboredbored.

    If you'd told yourself eight hours ago that by now you'd miss the arriving guests you'd have laughed.

    Normally you'd try to relax with a game of shogi, but your main partner on the team left around ten, claiming to have a hot date, much to Ami's indignation. "He's out of the village three days and already he's cheating on Kurenai-san!"

    "Don't go ratting him out, now, miss," an old man with a mop of white hair chides her gently, chuckling as he lays down a row of tiles on the makeshift table before him and draws more from the pile. "What happens in Tan-ge' stays in Tan-ge'."

    Back in the initial planning, you did make provisions for the horses that now pack the stables; none of the traps set for potential intruders are nearer the stalls than they have to be.

    What you hadn't taken into account were the footmen and grooms. Most of them are out on the town or sharing hotel rooms offsite, but two of them are 'on-call', so to speak; a couple of the guests in attendance dote on their horses to what seems to you an insane degree, and wouldn't dream of letting them spend the night alone.

    How the hell a horse can be 'alone' in a stable full of other horses, a cat, a puppy, and three ninja is beyond you, but you have your suspicions that it's less about a stallion's sensitive temperament and more about the fact that you and your team are a bunch of shinobi brats who can't be permitted the opportunity to soil a thoroughbred with their dirty fingernails.

    The footmen themselves seem like okay guys. They warm up to Ami pretty quickly when it becomes clear she finds horses fascinating, and one of them is very impressed with how well-behaved and bright Akamaru is; apparently he breeds Lightning Blue wolfhounds for his boss' hunting lodge.

    "He's gonna be a big one when he's older," the old man comments, scritching the puppy behind the ear before turning back to the game. "You Inuzuka folk know your stuff in that department. Shame that more of ya don't become full-time breeders."

    "... I've been thinking about it," Kiba says. You glance at him, surprised; that's certainly news. Kiba's never talked about wanting to be anything but a jounin, doing fieldwork. Last week he was even musing that it might be nice to have one of his sister's kids on his first team of students for the payback potential.

    Did you mention you're really bored? At this point there's really nothing to do; the nurse gave Asuma-sensei the run-down on the 'acid' (turns out it was a home-made attempt at the temporary-blinding eyedrops migraine sufferers and intense martial artists use for short term sensory-deprivation relief), Ami got the fake jewels (didn't manage to talk to Sorato's squeeze, though - girl wasn't taking clients today) and goggles to protect against the acid in the unlikely event he uses the same trick twice, and now you're just... waiting for the guy to show and get his ass kicked.

    Menka is inside the carriage, sleeping on top of your gear. You're contemplating joining him when one of the footmen stands, stretching, and announces, "I'll be back in a bit. Gonna stretch my legs."

    [X] Send Kiba with him.

    [X] Go with him yourself

    [X] Set a password. You'll be able to sense if an imposter tries to pose as him, but it wouldn't do to advertise your skills so blatantly.

    [X] Just let him go.
     
  5. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] You can take a walk with me

    "Kiba?"

    Your friend nods.

    The footman makes a face. "That's all right, miss ninja; I don't need backup for this mission." And he snickers, the other groom joining in.

    "Aw, I gotta piss anyway," Kiba says, getting up. "If someone's goin' after the loot we don't want 'em takin' ya hostage, after all."

    "Sheesh," the guy says, "are you kids always this paranoid? What's in that carriage that's so special, your birthday presents?"

    "Wanna know a secret?" you ask, grinning and leaning forward. "It's not just a carriage. It's a time machine."

    "Ha! Serves me right for askin'." And he and Kiba leave.

    "His loss," you declare, patting the carriage affectionately. "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 36 ri an hour, we're gonna see some serious shit."

    The remaining footman blinks, and looks to Ami, who just sort of lifts a hand in your direction, the expression on her face one of weary resignation.

    =

    Not even ten minutes go by before the tinkler is back, with Kiba and Akamaru nowhere in sight.

    "Hurry," he gasps, skittering to a stop and leaning his hands on his knees. "Bathrooms. Too many. Sent me to get help...!"

    He's not actually out of breath. He's nervous as all hell, but his clothes are mussed, which suggests one of two things; one, someone got past Kiba to attack this guy but didn't manage to knock him out, or two, he mussed himself up to make the situation look more urgent.

    [X] Go to the bathrooms to help out Kiba.

    [X] Ask Mr Clever to lead you to the bathrooms. Hey, you're a girl; why would you know where the men's washroom is? ;)

    [X] Send Ami to help out Kiba.

    [X] Kiba's a big boy who can take care of himself; prepare for enemy arrival.
    -> [X] Living Under Bridge Technique
    -> [X] Acting practice time! Be all official and serious and stuff.
     
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  6. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] S-A-TUR!-DAY!-NIGHT!

    Ami's on her feet and heading out the door before her name is even out of your mouth. "Lead the way, oji-san."

    "Wow," the other footman says nervously awhile later, "we're really clearin' out quick, aren't we?"

    "Hey, don't worry," you say. "Anyone looking to pick a fight with us isn't gonna be interested in hurtin' you. Isn't that right, Shinyuu Sorato?"

    "... you've got good eyes," Sorato says, stepping out of the shadows by the door.

    The poor old timer nearly falls off the bench. Staggering to his feet, he looks back and forth between you and Sorato, the colour rapidly draining from his face.

    "You went for grey instead of black in the end," you note.

    "Black stands out too much in the shadows," Sorato explains.

    Congratulations, you're qualified to be the TA for a second-year Academy class. "Doesn't seem to have done you much good, either way," you comment.

    "True," he says, smiling. "But then, I wasn't expecting to be expected, if you follow me."

    "You'd make a shitty ninja," you snicker.

    "No worse than you," he replies, nodding at the trunk the gameboard rests on. "Hiding the jewels in plain sight? You don't think much of me, do you?"

    "Nope!" you say bluntly, grinning as you slip your goggles down over your eyes.

    [X] Fight!
    -> [X] How?

    [X] Chat!

    [X] Sense!

    [X] Retreat!

    [X] Combo~?
    ->[X] Have it your way at Thief King!
     
  7. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Intoxicate your brain with what I'm sayin'

    "I take it Ami and Kiba won't be joining us?"

    "You don't bring friends on a date," Sorato replies cheerfully, taking the seat the footman just vacated. "Don't worry, my associates have orders not to kill them."

    You sigh. "Well, that's unfortunate. If you came at us with the intent to kill you might actually have a shot at holding them." You lean against the carriage casually, the signal for Menka to standby to engage.

    "Why should I kill you?" Sorato asks, genuinely surprised, if not a little hurt. "I'd like us to be friends, if we can."

    You cock your head to the side. "I have to admit, I'm curious; why do you think that's an option?"

    "If you know who I am, then you know I can pay you and your team much more handsomely than the Rouga can," he says smoothly.

    "Oh?" you ask. "If that's the case, why can't you just buy the jewellery yourself instead of tangling with Konoha and the Rouga?"

    He shrugs, palms up: "Ah, who am I to deny the whims of an angel? Sei-chan wants a shiny from this trunk," he pats the impromptu-table, "and a shiny from this trunk is what she will have."

    Well, that's a relief, anyway; he doesn't know anything about the true nature of the dowry.

    "Nice to see you know how to please a lady," you comment, voice dripping with ironic detachment.

    "I could please you too, if you like," he smirks.

    [X] Laugh your ass off.

    [X] Raise an eyebrow. "K, I realize neither of us are terribly moral people, but you do know most women find two-timing a turn-off, right? Also I'm thirteen." (In a month and a half, but who's counting?)

    [X] "Va te faire enculer chez les Grecs, toi!"
     
  8. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Set my alarm, turn on my charm

    He has no clue what you just said (how could he? You don't even know how you know what you just said!), but he clearly knows it wasn't complimentary, because he waggles his finger reprovingly at you.

    "Now now..." he admonishes, "girls who speak roughly don't get nice treats."

    "Ah~ is that so?" you growl, arms akimbo. "I think we have very different definitions of the word 'treat', Mister Lolikon." Again, what is with that?

    Sorato grins. "Wanna bet?"

    He's quick, and if you were a normal genin he would have been right on you. As it is you're now standing under one of your traps further down the stables, he's looking very surprised, and you're feeling a little-

    - magical, that's what; it's like you've stretched your limbs out into themselves, if that makes any sense. It doesn't, but you don't care.

    As the footman runs out the door, Sorato crosses his arms, pointedly not chasing you. "Really, Ms Yamanaka, how stupid do you think I-?"

    [X] "Exit light, enter night." 8) Magen: Narakumi no Jutsu!

    [X] "Oh, at least this much." Shintenshin no Jutsu!

    [X] "Oh, at least this much." Take him into a memory palace.
    ->[X] The Promise
    ->[X] Illusory Art Gallery
    ->[X] The Glass Masque

    [X] "Menka?"

    [X] *in Mei's voice, with Mei's body-language* "Darling...? Darling, help me! She put me here in her place, I can't move, what's going on?!"

    [X] Shunshin behind him and...
    -> [X] pick his pockets.
    -> [X] tessen-derize him.
    -> [X] stick an exploding tag to the back of his gi without him noticing.
    -> [X] slash the tendons in his ankles

    [X] Write in?
     
  9. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] I recall he started small

    "Ararara~? What's this? A loupe?"

    Sorato whirls around, hand stretched out to grab, eyes wide in surprise, but you hop back over the trunk, the jeweller's eyepiece dangling between your finger and thumb. "My, you certainly came prepared. Don't tell me you don't trust Nabiki-chan?"

    He flushes in embarrassment and irritation, seemingly not knowing what to say.

    "Oh, my, now I see!" Almost simultaneously, the loupe is passed over to your pinkie and ring fingers, your fingers close into a fist around it, and a yellow topaz-and-white-gold bracelet pops out of your sleeve to twirl around your index finger. "You just knew that I didn't trust you. And it looks like I was right not to, you cheapskate! I mean seriously, topaz?"

    "It matches your hair," he says, sounding rather hurt - isn't that cute, he has feelings just like a real boy.

    "Diamonds, you idiot - if you want to prove your intentions with any kind of class, diamonds are the only stone that will do! Geez, how the hell did a chump like you get two girlfriends?"

    His retort is an open-palmed strike that gives you momentary flashbacks of your fights with [that long-haired cranky kid, the one you liked so much] and Hinata. You dodge it, along with a flurry of follow-ups, leaping back along the stalls. The horses snort and stamp nervously. Up your left sleeve go the loupe and the bracelet, and out of your right one comes your tessen.

    "Are you really so shallow that you'd reject a guy because his gift wasn't expensive enough?" Sorato asks, outraged. "You're pathetic!"

    You snicker, smacking his hands aside. "You mad, nii-chan?"

    The kid's style is kind of all over the place. He's got the grounded, heavy stance of an untrained straight-up brawler, but the movements of his hands are practised, polished, professional.

    He might not be learning here, but someone somewhere's been teaching him something.

    So it really should be less of a surprise when, for the briefest of moments, one of his hands manages to caress your bare face...

    [X] Be Ino

    [X] Be Kiba

    [X] Be Ami

    [X] Woof!
     
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  10. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    TRIGGER WARNING: Do not read if sexual assault is really not something you're up for reading about today.





    [X] Sorato's Theme

    Your fan clatters on the paving stones and you drop to the ground with a loud cry. The warm, stretched-out feeling is gone, replaced by a rush of adrenaline and a flutter of something familiar in your bowels. Your breath comes in short pants. Your whole body is shuddering. You hug yourself protectively, one hand clutched to your face in confusion.

    Confusion, because you are in the exact opposite of pain.

    That was good! The thought is unavoidable, and it fills you with unbounded shock and self-loathing. Your heart pounds in your chest as the lingering sensation on your cheek insists to your brain that it should be happy, even as your instincts scream for it to acknowledge the danger you're in. Hyperventilating, tears well up in your eyes.

    "I knew you'd see it my way," Sorato says cheerfully, oblivious to your horror as he crouches beside you. "Mei-chan's family massage techniques are so much nicer than the stuff they teach in martial arts schools, don't you think?"

    You throw a wild haymaker at him, but he just catches it with a laugh, and brushes your hair out of your eyes with his free hand, sending fresh waves of euphoria rolling down your skin. Your back arches even as you violently curse your body's betrayal, and your enemy plants a kiss on your forehead, laying your now unclenched hand back down with a fond pat.

    "It's okay, Yamanaka-san," a girl's voice says.

    Your eyes flick over to the door, where you see Mei, a sympathetic smile on her face.

    "I know it must seem frightening at first, but you just have to relax," she says. "You don't have to worry about anything; you're safe now. You don't have to be a shinobi anymore. Sorato-kun's going to save you." She smiles at her man.

    He's going to fuck you and she's going to watch.

    [X] Kunai.
    -> [X] Nick your skin so you have pain to counter the effects of the technique.
    -> [X] In his eye. Avoid the brain if you can, remember Nabiki's orders.
    -> [X] In his knee. The last thing you want when you stand up is for him to be mobile.
    -> [X] Fuck Nabiki's orders. Fatal, now, right in the pride, massive bloodloss.

    [X] Shintenshin no Jutsu! This is the exact kind of situation this technique was invented for!
    -> [X] Switch with Mei, knock Sorato out from behind.
    -> [X] Switch with Mei, tell Sorato that that's what you did and if he doesn't back the fuck up you will kill his girlfriend.
    -> [X] Switch with Sorato, stab possession victim.
    --> [X] Where?

    [X] <"MENKA!">

    [X] Write-in?
     
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  11. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Fire, to destroy all you've done

    *whooshsnikt!*

    "<MENKA!>"

    Sorato screams in agony, flailing almost comically as he topples over. The horses let out similar sounds of distress; one of the stallions the footmen were watching earlier rears in fright.

    Menka is out of the carriage window and at Mei's side before she can so much as blink. With a simple full nelson and a foot to the back of her knee, he has her on the ground. She shrieks Sorato's name and struggles, cursing you with surprising fluency.

    You pull your kunai back out with a vicious twist, rising to your feet in a single fluid motion.

    "I knew you'd see it my way," you echo dryly.

    Tears are streaming down Sorato's face as he stares up at you, wordless wails issuing from his mouth. He tries to get to his feet, but his knee gives out immediately, leaving him kicking at the ground uselessly.

    "You harpy!" Mei screams. "You heartless monster!"

    "Funny, I was just about to say those exact words to you," Menka hisses, tightening his grip on the still-struggling girl.

    "Ino!" Kiba calls from outside, skidding to a stop in the doorway, Akamaru hot on his heels. The puppy catches a whiff of the room and growls viciously, something you've never seen him do before.

    "You?" Mei asks, confused and wincing. "But... the traps...!"

    Kiba dismisses her with a wave. "Lady, I went to school with Uzumaki Naruto. I'm not about to get tripped up by some civilian's after-school project."

    "Is she all right?!" Ami demands, whirling inside, sword in hand. Her eyes fall on you, and then on Sorato. They narrow instantly, and her blade ignites.

    "What did you do?" she roars, storming down the aisle.

    Fuck. Of all times for her to finally pay attention...

    [X] "Ami, calm down! If he dies before she can question 'im Nabiki'll be pissed! We might not even get paid!"

    [X] "Hey, don't kill him! How's he supposed to writhe in pain for my amusement if he's dead?"

    [X] "Ami, put the sword away, you're scaring the horsies."

    [X] Write-in
     
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  12. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] She ran callin' "Wildfire~!"

    Whether by the power of friendship or the power of pretty beasts of burden, Ami slowly sheaths her sword and alters her course to approach you instead. Her eyes stay on Sorato, however.

    "Kiba, tie him up," she orders, adding to the boy on the ground, "and if you get any ideas about escaping, just remember I can burn your vile little face off with or without my sword."

    "... why?" Sorato asks, again trying to sit up, face red from crying, nose beginning to run. "Why...? I just tried to make you happy!"

    You laugh, and feel a rush of relief that you still can. It has a touch of hysteria to it, but at the moment you'll take what you can get, comedy-wise. "Ya really think sex in a barn is the proper way to make a 13-year-old girl happy?"

    He shakes his head vigorously as Kiba pulls his arms away from the wound they've been clutching at and behind his back to be bound. "What? No! Not sex, I wouldn't! We aren't even married!"

    Kiba glares at the back of his head. "That's the point you take issue with?" he asks, disgusted.

    "It's not like I was going to hurt her!" the boy protests.

    "That's right!" Mei says, yanking on the rope Menka's binding her with, trying to get down to where her boyfriend is. "Sorato-kun would never hurt a lady!"

    "I have heard more men make that claim than you've had warm baths," Ami says, almost under her breath. She gives you the once-over. "Are you sure you're okay?"

    "... I think I will be," you say.

    To your surprise, she hugs you. After a moment you return the embrace, ruffling her hair.

    "Of course she's okay!" Mei shrieks, Menka having finally hauled her over. "Sorato-kun's the one who's bleeding! You've got to take him to a doctor!"

    "What a coincidence," Nabiki says, "I'm a doctor."

    She's in an Edajima School gi, with her hair pulled back in a topknot. Asuma is on her heels.

    She glides up to where Sorato is lying and, crouching, examines the wound. "Asuma-san," she says, "there's a medicine chest in the carriage. Fetch it for me if you would?"

    "Yes, ma'am," your teacher replies.

    Your eyes bug at the state of his shirt. "Wow, that's, uh... that's a lot of blood."

    "Most of it isn't mine," he says mildly, ducking into the carriage.

    "Hello, there," Nabiki says to Sorato in a sympathetic tone. "I'm Rouga Nabiki. What's your name?"

    "Sh.. Shinyuu Sorato, ma'am," he says hesitantly.

    "Nice to meet you, Sorato-kun," she says. Nodding in thanks as Asuma brings her her medical kit, she continues: "I'm going to do what I can to save your knee, but in exchange I need you to tell me how it happened."

    "That little witch stabbed him for no reason!" Mei says, jerking her head in your direction. "She seduced him to get close enough to kill him!"

    You're still reeling at the sheer balls on this girl, lying in the presence of at least two witnesses, when Ami slaps her in the face.

    "Ino is not that kind of girl," she says, a 5'8" tower of fury.

    You feel the urge to point out that being that kind of girl might sorta be your job, but decide to shut up and enjoy the moment.

    "Ami-san, please," Nabiki says softly. She goes to work on Sorato's knee, carefully cleaning the wound and picking out the shards of patella for reassembly. Sorato winces at her every touch, but makes no audible complaint.

    "If Ino-chan's intention was to seduce Sorato-kun," she asks, "why is she here, standing guard over my dowry, and why isn't Sorato-kun in his dormitory with the other second-year boys?" She gives Sorato a dead-eyed look. "Or, if you must be out of bed, in Momotaro Hall, helping the seniors fight off the attackers?"

    Kiba suppresses a younger-brother smile.

    Nabiki doesn't end up using anaesthesia.

    =

    "Why didn't you call me out sooner?" Menka asks fretfully as the pair of you settle down to sleep.

    "Please don't start, man," you groan. "Asuma was bad enough..."

    "You know my sensing range isn't as wide as yours," he says, curling up at your feet. "How am I supposed to keep you safe if all you do is try to go it alone, all the time?"

    "What would you've done, stabbed him for me?" You roll over. "The greatest ninja in the world can't sit back and wait for her yojimbo to finish off one measly rapist."

    "You're not the greatest ninja in the world yet, Ino," Menka says flatly. "You aren't even the greatest ninja in this stable."

    He rubs his face on your ankle. "I love you, sis, and I know one day you're going to be able to run rings around the Sannin. But you're on a team. You don't have to do everything yourself. There're going to be enough situations we face when we're outnumbered or I can't get to you; there's no need reason to make more of them yourself."

    You don't say anything. You just lie there, in the dark, until you fall asleep, to dream of close calls, one in a million shots, and the unerring sword.

    =

    Pick your desired Omake:

    [X] Doin' Time

    [X] Ami and Kiba's Bogus Journey
     
  13. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] And in turn I will teach the bravest of thee

    He knows the cell he's been put in rather well. During his ample free time he's explored areas of the school most of the other boys never go; the giant private pantry Kuroashi-sensei brought with him when he accepted the job of home ec teacher/chef, the spotless and practically abandoned girls' washroom, and, of special interest tonight, the holding cells.

    Built back when the Edajima family first converted their compound into a martial arts' school, the cells hosted any number of notorious bandits during the school's heyday. But that was in the past, when the trials to enter training had been so strict and the standards to which students had been held had been so high that the compound might as well have been the heavens themselves; every teacher a paragon, the headmaster a wise judge, a father to his students and staff alike, and the pupils noble in spirit and strong in arms, such that they were looked upon by the populace as legend made flesh.

    Shinyuu Sorato would give anything to have lived in those days.

    But he'll settle for picking this lock and getting the hell out of here. He reaches into his pocket for...

    ... he checks the other pocket.

    "It's no use," a cool female voice says from the shadows under the window. "She took them."

    Startled, Sorato jumps back in a ready stance, but stumbles to his knees with a low cry.

    The woman rises from the chair she's been sitting in for god knows how long and closes her book. Setting it on the low table beside the chair, she looks at Sorato over the top of her reading glasses with a small smile.

    "Destiny doesn't seem so friendly when it comes to collect instead of to pay, does it?"

    "Sukaha-sensei," the boy pants, struggling back into a standing position. "What happened? You... you said I'm a hero! You said no matter what challenges I faced I could win if there was even a small chance of winning!"

    The woman looks unimpressed. "I said you have the power of a hero," she says, "and that if you weren't a complete idiot it was almost impossible for you to lose to a normal person."

    "And you were wrong!" he shouts, pointing at her dramatically.

    "Oh was I, now?" She laughs under her breath. "Believe me, boy, if you weren't a cut above in raw power and luck, I'd have told poor Hazuki how to deal with you and be done with it."

    Sorato stares at her in shock. "But... you were the only teacher who..." He goes quiet. Her expression doesn't change.

    "... I thought you liked me," he whispers.

    "No you didn't," Sukaha says curtly. "That would imply the possibility that I didn't like you had occurred to you at some point. What you did was assume I liked you."

    Light dawns. "... you hired the ninja," Sorato says in shock.

    "I made the suggestion to Nabiki, yes. The last thing we need in the months ahead is a little shitheel like you running around without supervision."

    The boy sinks back down onto the cot. "You think I would betray the school?" he asks, obviously hurt.

    "You just did not an hour ago," the woman says with neither hesitation nor disapproval.

    "... well, so what if I did?" he demands, turning on a dime. "What reason have I been given to be loyal to these people?"

    "They didn't kick you out when you permanently blinded someone, they let you paw at your woman in class, you're the only student allowed to go off-campus for lunch, and their punishment for your attempted burglary-rape is to hand you over to the proper authorities for a trial in the morning, rather than letting Mirioni teleport your arms off your body tonight," Sukaha lists flatly. "They also took you in when your father died."

    "They were paid to do that!" he says derisively.

    "Believe me," Sukaha says, "there is no amount of money in the world that could induce me to take in a noxious brat like you. Be thankful your father named Hisui your guardian and not someone with a less forgiving heart."

    "Why?" he asks, a year and a half of pent-up frustration pouring out of his mouth. "Why does everyone in this school treat me like a leper? Are you all just jealous of what you know I can achieve? What have I done to deserve this?!"

    "Well, tonight you molested a twelve-year-old girl," Sukaha says dryly, "though I suppose you can't be expected to remember that most people consider that a crime; you are, after all, a very busy young man."

    He leaps to his feet, ignoring the pain. "I DIDN'T MOLEST HER! How could you even think I would do something so vile?!"

    "Because you did, that's how. It's all over her face. You think I don't know trauma when I see it?" The teacher spits. "Shit, I've been in more battles than your father's been in girls."

    A look of doubt crosses the boy's face. "... but that's... that's not what the Kikka family style is for..."

    "Really?" Sukaha casts a sidelong glance at the boy. "Hm. Maybe you shouldn't have used it for that, then."

    Whatever tough façade Sorato might have had shatters. "I... you're lying, you have to be lying!" Anger and humiliation well up from within. "You just want to keep her from me so I can't show her true happiness! If I'd been allowed to finish she wouldn't have been a ninja anymore, she'd have been a woman! She wouldn't have had to kill for money, she could have had a whole new life!"

    "Yes, yes, congratulations," Sukaha says, sounding slightly bored now, "you're one of the 'good' rapists, well done. Now return to reality, boy, and deal with the fact that it's a miracle you're still alive to have this conversation; she could have just sliced off your balls and left you to bleed to death."

    "What?" His expression is one of horror unending. "But... that's insane. She's insane! Who is this girl?"

    "... a girl born with the power of a hero," Sukaha says slowly, "who, if she isn't a complete idiot, it is almost impossible for a normal person to defeat." She shakes her head, and picking up her book, retakes her seat. "Honestly, did you take the Partial Deafness flaw to boost your Luck?"
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  14. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming:

    [X] In which Hymn quietly begins to sob

    "What did you mean before, about Uzumaki Naruto?" you ask Kiba over breakfast. "What does he have to do with traps? He never even came in second place in Trap-Making."

    Kiba shrugs. "It's a guy thing."

    "He means that Uzumaki-kun has been pulling trap-related pranks on the boys in our class for years," Ami says, pouring your tea. "If you ever wondered what the boy was doing instead of his homework, now you know."

    Kiba scowls, and slurps his miso.

    "Wait, years?" How long is years? Is this why Shikamaru wouldn't tell you how he got his napping face glued to his arm in your fourth year? Hold on, that's why Akamaru came to class one time covered in glitter?

    "How did I not know about this?" you ask, somewhat offended. If you'd known there was a worthy rival around you'd have started a prank war ages ago! "Wait, how is it that you do know about this?"

    "Sasuke-kun came to school one day with makeup on without realizing it," Ami replies. "I managed to pull him into the bathroom to take it off before anyone saw. But he said if it was anyone he knew, it was that orange idiot."

    "Please tell me you took pictures," you and Kiba say simultaneously.

    You blink at Kiba, and try unsuccessfully to suppress a grin. "And the award for Least Heterosexual Thing Ever Said At This Table goes to..."

    "Oh, bite me," Kiba says, "don't tell me you wanted them for anything other than blackmail."

    "How little you understand women, Kiba-chan! I don't have to want blackmail material to be curious about how my male friends look in makeup."

    "If you bring a mascara wand within three feet of me I'm shoving it up your ass," he warns, pointing his chopsticks at you.

    =

    You're dressed

    [X] Formally and lightly armed. It's Nabiki-chan's wedding day! No need to spoil it with a group of scary-looking ninja wandering around, you'll just upset the guests. Time to play to the infiltration side of your talents. The pockets of your formal hakamashita are all conventional, so you can't go formal and fully-armed.

    [X] Less formally and fully armed. Less constricting than proper formal wear and safer than going lightly-armed if it turns out your teammates missed any of the invaders last night, but will limit your socialization options.

    [X] Informally and fully armed. You aren't going to the wedding, you weren't even formally invited! You're gonna...
    -> [X] ... do what, exactly? (Write-in)

    There's about an hour before the wedding. To pass the time, you:

    [X] Talk to Asuma. "So... your date was into the rough stuff I take it?"

    [X] Go buy Nabiki a wedding present (Where and what?)

    [X] Find and chat with one of the pleasant acquaintances you made while you were here.
     
  15. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Heroes in a half-shell

    Menka manages to talk you out of heading to the markets to get a pair of living animals ("Aw, c'mon! There's good eating on those things!") and into letting him transform so you don't get mugged and get your best clothes dirty, so after breakfast it's off to the antique district.

    The owner of the shop you enter takes one look at your formal attire and the straight-backed middle-aged bodyguard behind you and smells money. Wringing his hands congenially as he comes out from behind the counter, he bows repeatedly and bids you welcome, before shouting up the stairs for his son to come down and mind the register.

    After twenty minutes of looking around you settle on a painting of a river, with two turtles as tiny figures on the muddy embankment. It cleans out your savings, but you can't very well steal Nabiki's wedding present; she has to live in this town after you leave, after all.

    The shopkeeper wraps it up in white linen, and you and Menka head back to the school.

    Ami having just the dress for the occasion isn't much of a surprise, but Kiba's proper kimono certainly is. He looks uncomfortable as only a man with sharp nails wearing silk clothing can.

    Your teacher, on the other hand, looks downright debonair.

    You whistle. "And me without a camera. Sensei, ya gotta promise me to wear that outfit when you apologize to Kurenai-san; there's no way she won't take you back."

    "She didn't dump me!" he retorts, stung. "We aren't even dating."

    As one, you, Menka, Ami, Kiba, and Akamaru snort.

    "Adults have complicated lives, kids," he says loftily, "and maybe when you're older you'll understand that. In the meantime, mind your own business."

    "I've been older than you in cat years since before we met," Menka remarks.

    "Opposable-thumb problems and cat problems are completely different!"

    =

    Now, then, in this vast sea of overpriced chairs that were very important to the bride but which literally no one else cares about, where shall you sit?

    [X] With your teammates, duh.

    [X] With that cute little red-haired girl!

    [X] With Jou and the guys. Can't let him think you're ditchin' 'em just 'cause the mission's over.

    [X] Hey, the seat next to Sukaha is empty... worth a shot.
     
  16. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] In other words

    "You're that kunoichi who stabbed Sorato, aren't you?" she asks before you can so much as inquire if the seat beside her is reserved. Her eyes are narrowed, and her chakra indicates that she's angry about something.

    Aw, hell, you forgot about his rep with the ladies.

    [X] "A kunoichi? I've never been so insulted in all my life!" *storm off to sit somewhere else*

    [X] "Oh! My reputation precedes me." :3

    [X] "That's right. And I'd do it again."

    [X] Write-in
     
  17. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] All about the girl who came to stay

    "Oh! My reputation precedes me," you say, smiling mischievously. There's no way she's gonna start something at a wedding surrounded by martial artists and dignified rich people, right?

    "Heard you got him in the knee," she says. "Is that true?"

    "That's true."

    "Figures," she says, snorting. "He was always a little slow on his feet."

    "A problem he won't be able to fix, now, I guess," you reply.

    She... isn't quite happy, but she seems to have come to a decision about something.

    "Naoru Asuka," she says, and then she does something you rarely see outside your dreams.

    She sticks out her hand to be shaken.

    [X] Dashing Rogue Mode: Take her hand and kiss the air above it. "Yamanaka Ino the Fifth. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

    [X] Behaving Yourself Mode: Shake her hand. "Yamanaka Ino the Fifth."

    [X] Incognito Mode: Bow slightly and give your name.
     
  18. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Gentle to the ladies all the time

    Her cheeks go pink (cute~!), but she stifles the blush almost immediately. Still, she looks genuinely surprised. "So Sukaha-sensei was telling the truth," she murmurs.

    She gestures to the chair beside her. "Have a seat," she says, suddenly in a much better mood.

    "Thanks!" you chirp. Aaaand, damn it, taking a seat just emphasizes how short you are compared to her; it takes a lot of self-control not to swing your legs like a little kid.

    "I didn't know they let kids your age be ninja," Asuka says, pulling out a compact and adjusting her lipstick (while also scanning the rows of guests behind you, you notice).

    "Not on missions of any seriousness, usually," you reply. "But simple stuff like guarding Nabiki-chan's dowry from bandits, we can handle that."

    She goes stock still for a bare moment (so, she's in on it too), then relaxes again. "I guess so, given how you handled Sorato." She smirks deviously. "Frankly I don't know how you managed to restrain yourself; I'd have gone right for his vitals."

    You shrug. "Nabiki-chan wanted us to keep any burglars we caught alive for questioning." You flourish a small half-bow from the waist. "The client's wish is our command."

    "Ne... how do you know Nabiki-sama, exactly?" the girl asks. "Are you the daughter of Asuma-san over there?"

    "You know Asuma-sensei?" you ask, surprised.

    She looks rather embarrassed. "Everyone who pays attention to politics knows the Twelve Guardian Ninja!" she says hotly. "Now answer my question."

    [X] "I met her in Konoha when we were kids. Her dad was on some sort of diplomatic trip there, or something."

    [X] "I saved her from an ass-kicking when I was three."

    [X] "She was in Konoha for some reason when I was a little kid. She tried to talk me out of being a ninja when I grew up."
     
  19. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] All the truth I know

    "... oh, this is a story you need to tell me," Asuka says with an evil grin.

    You launch into the tale, leaving out any specific mention of the Uchiha clan, and soon have the redhead in stitches.

    "You thought the Diamond Fang was a helpless civilian girl?" More than a few disgruntled grown-ups turn in your direction as Asuka laughs uproariously. "She wasn't competing yet then, but sheesh... don't they teach you kids anything about martial artists?" she asks.

    "Until this mission I had no idea that this," you indicate the entire school complex, "was even going on. It's like magic."

    She smiles. "You should see the Fort; if the students here are like magicians, Sukaha-sensei's apprentices are like sorcerers."

    "You're one of Sukaha-san's pupils?" A memory jumps to your attention. "So you're Meiyaku-san's daughter, then!"

    "Oh?" she says, looking very satisfied. "Good of the mosquitoes around here not to forget me."

    "Can you clear up a rumour for me?" you ask, and for a second there she gets a deer-in-headlights look, before you continue: "Is Sukaha-san's school on an island or a mountain? No one seems to know."

    "Can you keep a secret?" she asks, lowering her voice.

    You nod eagerly.

    She flicks you in the forehead. "So can I, Schnüfflerin."

    "Ouch!"

    The quartet over in the corner begin to play a piece of music you recognize. Though it's seriously weird to hear it played on a koto, a shakuhachi, two kokyuu and a shime-daiko.

    Nabiki looks a little tired, but she's still a radiant bride in her red uchikake. Her slow procession down the aisle turns heads, and when she reaches Hisui's side, Momiji's there to discreetly snap a photo.

    The ceremony proceeds at a sedate, solemn pace, with only the lightest musical accompaniment. The officiant is in the middle of pouring the sacred wine when Hisui picks him up by his collar and yanks him over the altar.

    The kunai strike the platform he was standing on, exploding tags at the ready.

    "EVERYONE OUT!" Nabiki roars.

    You're already on your feet and out of the tent with a confused seven-year-old under your arm when the civilians get the message and scatter. Passing the kid off to the first non-martial artist you see, you scan the rooftops and see a horde of ninja and bandits descending upon the crowd.

    "FACE ME, ROUGA NABIKI!" one of them demands. "OR-"

    He really should have timed his explosives so they wouldn't drown out his monologue, you think, right ear ringing.

    =

    You are:

    [X] Yamanaka Ino the Fifth! Who else?

    [X] The single most pissed-off bride in all of Fire Country

    [X] The Dark Lady's Young Apprentice

    [X] The Shadowy One
     
  20. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [img width=600 height=337]http://www.wallmay.net/thumbnails/detail/20120319/cgi%20fantasy%20art%20drawings%201920x1080%20wallpaper_www.wallmay.com_66.jpg[/img]
    (Source: www.wallmay.net)

    [X] This war is formed in vengeance

    You are Scáthach n Uanaind, She Who Strikes Fear, the Victorious Shadow, Teacher of Cu Chulainn, Battle Mistress of the Isle of Skye.

    And apparently you can't even take a weekend off and visit the story down the road to see your two godchildren get married without a sorry pack of medium-talent villains crashing the party.

    This is the sloppiest climax I have ever participated in, you comment to the GM, kicking an assailant in the chest so hard that every one of his ribs stabs out of his back. He goes flying, a bloody sack of shattered bones and ruptured organs, to slam into the press of invaders behind him with the force of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler; a hundred men now lie on the ground in various states of injury. Amused, you note the little Yamanaka girl throwing them under her illusions one by one as they try to get to their feet.

    I promise I'll do better next time. Please don't kill me.

    You make a noise of disgust, pulling a vicious-looking spear out of thin air and casually stabbing the two men behind you before shaking them off into the presently-broken arms of five more attackers. Don't insult me any more than you have already, girl. You really think I'd kill a bard?

    ._.; You have a very particular glare, ma'am.

    "Asuka," you call, cutting through a dozen attackers as though sweeping a garden path, "leave him to Nabiki. It's her fight."

    "I thought you 'weren't my teacher'," the snotty little thing retorts from the roof, ramming a knife into the leader's bodyguard's carotid.

    "That's exactly right." Oh, for fuck's sake, these two can't even look at you without babbling in tongues and shaking like children; did Midorikawa Yaiba just hire whoever he met pissing behind a strip club? Wherever they came from, they're dead now. "Which is why if you make me repeat myself I won't even feel bad about making you lose that eye all over again."

    In a huff, she hops down. "Fine! I'll go rescue the Three Stooges; see if I can't teach them some gratitude."

    It is only because you aren't her teacher that you don't remark, "And maybe for an encore you can teach loyalty to a dog."

    You can hear Hisui's thoughts, and Nabiki's, as they battle. Despite being among the most skilled practitioners of their art in the country, even as their energy blasts tear through plaster and tiles and human flesh, their thoughts are the same as most of the other children - the eternal prayer: "Please oh please oh please oh please..."

    Vaulting into the air and swinging your spear, the second wave of invaders scaling the wall fall before you like spiders swatted with a newspaper. Poor bastards; you can hear them, too, most of them: "Please oh please oh please oh please...

    It's the godly equivalent of spam mail; wishes without form or direction, so primal even atheists give off the signal from time to time. Ordinarily such 'prayers' go unanswered, out of a combination of their frequency and their usual anonymity, both of the sender and the intended recipient, if any.

    But... heh. This is the day of my (god)daughter's wedding.

    Your skin glows a hellish red as you bare your teeth at the oncoming swarm.

    And I am victory made flesh.

    ~tsuzuku~
     
  21. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    The whole event is a blur in your mind; shouted orders blending together; smokebombs; Kiba and Akamaru running off with Jou and Mirioni; slapping a Hell Viewing on anyone who looked too tired to shake it off; meeting Ami once before she cut down a woman behind you, and then again when she almost took a swing at Menka before she got a good look at him; taking a full minute to gawk at Asuma, a tornado of steel death sending heads and limbs flying; the periodic near-blinding flashes of from above, like lightning without the thunder...

    It’s only once you’re collecting the bodies in the streets for disposal that it fully strikes you that this fight should have taken a lot longer than it did, even with the stellar assistance. When you scanned the neighbourhood from the rooftop in the aftermath and did some quick calculations, you realized the enemy must have outnumbered you about fifteen to one. Yet the fight was over in minutes, with only a few casualties on your side.

    The light show Sukaha and the teachers put on probably had something to do with it.

    "Ki attacks," Momiji says.

    "Yeah, what the hell are those, by the way?" you ask, pulling your rickshaw loaded with corpses alongside his and trying to suppress your sense of smell. "You guys say you don't use chakra, and some of you don't even know what it is, but those attacks are definitely coming from somewhere, so what are they made of?"

    "What's chakra made of?" Momiji asks mildly.

    "... we don't know for sure," you admit sheepishly, seeing the point he's trying to make. "It's 'a mixture of physical and spiritual energy', but if you want a real answer you'd have to ask a researcher or a medic-nin. Most ninja get told that it works and that's all we need to know."

    "Hm." The tall boy stops to take a pair of bodies off the hands of a yakuza enforcer, and thanks the man for his assistance.

    Tanzaku Gai's thriving organized crime community reacted to an unannounced invasion of Kurioka's territory (on the way to Hisui's territory) about as well as you might expect; most of the gangsters didn't even need to be ordered to join the fray. They just ran out of their back gardens and places of business en masse and threw down, whether out of loyalty to the oyabun or to help the rising star of their preferred leader, along with their own. There are still roving bands of yakuza patrolling the streets, helping with the cleanup and hunting down stragglers door-to-door.

    By the time you get your rickshaw back up the street to the mansion your hands, arms, back and legs are killing you. Handing the cart off to another student, you take a seat on the edge of one of the walkways and rest for a moment or two. Momiji follows suit. Menka, back in his usual form, is about to join you when you give him a Look.

    He may not be much of a sensor, but even he can figure that one out, and he trots off to look for mice or whateverthehell.

    "He's a fine bodyguard," Momiji comments.

    "He likes to think so," you say. In the wake of Sukaha beating down half the army and Nabiki taking out the guy who organized it with a massive wave of blue energy, there are rumours floating around about all sorts of supposedly supernatural helpers popping up during the fight - including a 'ghost' shaped like a white-haired swordsman in a cloak and a mask. You think it's probably a good thing you'll be on the road by the end of the day; no matter what suspicions Momiji may have, no one around here knows for sure about Menka yet and that's the way you intend to keep it.

    You stretch. "Manage to get any good shots of the battle? I think the historical postcard business around here is in need of some revitalization."

    "No such luck. The first explosion took out the plates in my camera."

    "Aw, what a shame."

    Nabiki glides by, deep in conversation with her new husband and Kurioka. Her uchikake seems to have been left completely untouched by the day's events.

    I guess red really is a lucky colour for weddings.

    "You aren't what I would have expected of a shinobi student," Momiji says suddenly.

    Surprised, you cock your head to the side, and smile. "Is that a fact? How do you mean?"

    "You asked Sukaha-sensei about Shinyuu instead of about our taijutsu," he says. "Older shinobi have tortured graduates of this school to get that information."

    "... I guess I'm just not really a taijutsu kind of girl," you say neutrally.

    "You didn't observe Shinyuu from a distance, either," he continues. "You sized him up right there in class. And you apologized to Jou for your teammate's rudeness."

    "Yes I did," you say, eyeing him with a small smile on your face.

    Momiji leans forward, his expression mirroring yours. "You are really a very dangerous woman, aren't you?"

    You grin delightedly.

    "You jump around pretty nice for someone who can't fight," Asuka calls, limping out of the nearby infirmary.

    "Thanks," you reply, stifling your disappointment. "You fight pretty nice for someone who can't dodge. You've never met a fist you didn't like, have you?"

    "What, this?" She waves away her slashed arm and black eye with her 'undamaged' (read: bruised but still operational) right hand. "I've had worse."

    "I never have," you cheerfully gloat. "Major injuries are reserved for my enemies, that's my motto."

    Momiji's eyes flick over to a wheelbarrow full of disembowelled bodies going by. "... I noticed."

    "Hey, don't try to pin them on me, those're Ami's!" You nod at a group of sullen-looking hostages being led to the holding cells. "Those are the ones I got."

    "You didn't kill anyone?" Asuka asks scornfully. "So much for the ruthlessness of shinobi."

    "Asuka-chan..." Momiji says quietly.

    "I killed a couple guys," you say defensively.

    Menka was too far away to get them. Two shinobi. Dad'll be proud, even if they were just scrubs from unaffiliated clans.

    It was harder than you thought it'd be. Afterward, not during. Last night with Sorato it would have been the easiest thing in the world, but today was different. Being surrounded by other people who had your back, who were swift and experienced, made you feel as though adding to the carnage was unnecessary, somehow. Like you could walk through the whole battle as purely support, throwing Demonic Illusions at bandits and deflecting or dodging shuriken and arrows like they were nothing; like bringing people to their deaths was something you had people to do for you.

    Up until the second it wasn't, and you killed two men before you even thought about it.

    One of them looked confused when you got him in the heart. He actually blurted out, "What was that for?" before he fell, like you'd pinched him or something. The question shocked you almost as much as the actual killing, so much that you let out a startled laugh at its ridiculousness.

    He wasn't much older than you.

    "But those are the rich kids," you continue. "You can tell by their boots. It's in everyone's interest to keep them alive."

    "Devious," Asuka says, equal parts impressed and disappointed - probably that she didn't think of it first.

    You shrug. "Someone has to pay for the damages. Might as well be them."

    And now, I have officially given Nabiki the best wedding gift. Everyone else can go home, I win.

    "Ino!" Ami calls, running over. "Kiba found that boy he was looking for!"

    You're on your feet in an instant. "Lead the way."

    =

    Mirioni's already there when you, Ami, Asuka and Momiji get to Jou's bedside. With the guests taking up the infirmary he's been allowed to return to his dorm room to rest. Asuka grumbles about being dragged along, but you see right through it and so does Jou.

    "Missed you too, vinegar-chan," he says, smirking past a broken nose. You feel a twinge of envy; sometimes you wish you had someone like an older brother.

    "That arm gonna be all right?" you ask. You've seen worse today, but not on living people. At the very least it doesn't smell bad.

    "They don't know yet," he says. "I'm not supposed to move it until they tell me. I guess I'll just have to wait and see." He sounds remarkably optimistic.

    Kiba doesn't say anything.

    "What the hell stupid stunt did you pull to end up like that, anyway?" Asuka scolds.

    "Something that needed doing," he says simply.

    She snorts. "The Boy Wonder, ladies and gentlemen."

    Kiba doesn't say anything.

    "We're leaving in fifteen minutes," Asuma says from the doorway. "Say your goodbyes and meet me at the gate in ten."



    [X] Say goodbye to everyone here and then head to the gate.

    [X] Say goodbye to everyone here, and Sukaha.

    [X] Say goodbye to everyone here, and Nabiki.

    [X] Say goodbye to everyone here, along with the other two ladies if you can find them (which of them takes priority?)

    -----

    If Robb Stark had been less stupid, he would have invited the Lady Paramount Beyond-the-Wall and her students to his uncle's wedding. But he didn't, 'cause he's a Stark and aside from Bran and Sansa they've all got rocks in their heads.
     
  22. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Tabibito-tachi ga utau

    You are Inuzuka Kiba, and your departure cannot come soon enough for your tastes.

    "Guess we're heading out," Ino says, and slaps the hulking prettyboy next to her on the back. "When you get your camera fixed, send me a postcard."

    "Will do," he replies with a nod.

    "Will-" Mirioni blurts out, hesitating for a moment before plowing through: "Will you come back?"

    Ino laughs in surprise. "Sure, if you'll have me. I wouldn't think you'd want to have a friend who trails invasions and attempted-robbery in her wake."

    "You don't know these insects very well," the redhead says, snorting, and for just a moment she looks an awful lot like Ami. She nods at your teammate. "You take care of yourself, kid. Try not to die before we meet again; I think I'd like to fight you sometime."

    "It'd be an honour to face such a fine specimen of the genus tsundere." ;)

    "TSUNDERE?!"

    The tall boy sighs and catches hold of the back of the redhead's kimono before she can lunge at Ino.

    "You!" the tiny blonde says in a mock stern tone, pointing at Jou. "You get that arm healed up as quick as you can so you can write to tell me all the filthy gossip that gets passed around about Nabiki-chan's insatiable appetites, you hear me?"

    Jounouchi turns beet red. "Y-you shouldn't talk about stuff like that to an invalid!"

    "Here's my address. Don't be a stranger~!" And she's out the door.

    "... I swear," Ami says in disbelief, "you could tie her to an anvil and throw her in the ocean, and she'd make friends with an octopus in time for it to untie her and help her swim to safety."

    The wind picks up the smoke and stench and smacks you dead in the nose with it, so hard that you stumble and retch. You have time to think No, not now, before you're flat on your ass, vomiting and cursing.

    You're getting to your feet when it happens. You don't see it go down, but your ears tell the story just fine; your arm moves in a wild arc to intercept the blow, and it's only at the moment of impact that you realize you were too slow.

    For a fraction of a second, you're relieved that you only heard the impact; that it happened to someone else, some poor jackass who got in the-

    "You okay kid?!" Jounouchi demands, headbutting the assailant. Oh, god, his arm, his arm, it's like it's falling out of his skin-!

    "... yeah," is all you can think of to say, but by the time you say it, another group of bandits is on you. When you and Akamaru finally cut through them, Jounouchi and the guy who went after you are both gone.

    Team Asuma rendez-vous at the appointed spot when the battle has begun winding down, but as relieved as you are that your teammates are all right...

    "Permission to attempt a retrieval operation, sir?"

    You find him under two bodies, and for a heart-stopping moment you think he's dead. Then he coughs when you lift the first guy off of him, and blinks his eyes open.

    "Why?"

    He coughs. "... have to start somewhere."

    That hand is not looking good. Veterinary training isn't the same as human medical training, but you know what a wound that severe means even if Ino doesn't. Jounouchi isn't looking at a month and a half in a cast and some stiffness afterward, he's looking at amputation.

    You want to say something, anything, to him. But really, you should have said it before. Everyone's here now, it's just stupid. You're stupid. This whole thing is completely stupid.

    With a grunt, you get up and walk to the door. You expect to hear Ami sigh and 'apologize' while wasting no time putting you down, but all she does is bow to everyone and say it was lovely to meet them. She gives you a look you don't recognize as she passes you on the way out of the room. After a moment, you identify it, to your surprise, as one of concern.

    You stop in the hall. You don't turn around, but you know you can't leave without saying it.

    "... thank you."

    "You're welcome," Jou says, like it's the most natural thing in the world.

    There's still something wrong, but you'll be damned if you know what. You clench your fists at your sides. Akamaru licks your hair comfortingly.

    Eventually you just stomp down the stairs, face burning in shame.

    "Asuma-sensei," you say when you reach the gate, not caring that Ami's right there, "I've thought about your proposal, and I've decided you can respectfully shove it up your respectful ass. With respect."

    Your teacher raises an eyebrow. "Can I, now?"

    You nod sharply. "I'm not backing out. You can reassign me to the auxiliaries or whatever crappy field office you want, but what you won't get me to do is quit." Your nails dig into the palms of your hands. "Just because there are things I don't understand, or people I don't understand... if I don't understand them, then I'll keep talking and asking and fighting until I do understand!" You glare defiantly up at him. "I'll give trust until I gain trust. That's the kind of shinobi I'll become."

    Asuma smiles.

    =

    "So we're getting paid for a B rank?" Ami beams excitedly, and Kiba looks impressed.

    "What a rip!" you grumble. "This was an A-rank easy."

    Ami stares at you in disbelief. "And how, exactly, do you figure that?"

    You glance at Asuma, but he shakes his head.

    You sigh.

    Well. Suppose it isn't really covert ops if you go around telling people about it.

    At first, when you opened the chest and saw all those scrolls, you thought it was something simple. You thought Holy crap, Nabiki-chan has way more jewellery than I thought! And she has a sealmaster on the payroll!

    But when you looked at them, saw their contents, you realized this was much bigger. The 'treasure' was nothing but technique scrolls and history texts, every one of them affixed with a label.

    'For the Maebara', said the one you'd seen her put in the box after that run-in with the bandits.

    'For the Urameshi' read another.

    They weren't her dowry. They were wedding favours.

    A hundred or more antique scrolls, rescued from god knows where (one of them had a huge soy sauce stain down its right side), brought together for a gathering of martial artists and clans to witness the union of the two most prominent masters of their style.

    And the Hokage's son along for the ride.

    After dinner that night, you set up the game board as usual, but you almost drop your pieces when Asuma holds out a cigarette for you.

    "Now you have something to smoke about," he says dryly. "It isn't every day a genin helps one of our allies become the most powerful civilian force in the country, after all."

    "It can't be that simple," you say, snatching the coffin nail from between his fingers. "They've only won one battle."

    "In the middle of a tourist hotspot with no civilian casualties," Asuma says. "Do you know how rare that is? That you captured most of the Main House Midorikawa kids alive is just icing on the cake."

    "Did they just... not know what they were getting into?" you ask. "I mean, I get that they thought they could overwhelm them with numbers - there was no way to know that Sukaha-san could do what she did," you shiver at the memory, "but most of the students I met were at least of high-genin level, and any decent intelligence network would have been able to pick up on that. Why would these Midorikawa guys hire bandits and and independents instead of Suna, or gone the other way and invested in one or two high-level nuke-nin?"

    "Powerful nuke-nin don't stay powerful by taking two-bit jobs that call attention to themselves," Asuma says. "And you'd be surprised what the most infamous of them can charge. As for why they didn't hire Suna, none of the Five Kages will deal with the Midorikawa clan; they're on the blacklist."

    You blink. "What for?"

    Asuma lights up. "About ten years ago they hired a Konoha career genin stationed in the capital for a B-rank assassination mission, in exchange for forgiving his gambling debts. This was all done under the table, and the target was a child, so that got him and the Midorikawa in hot water with the Hokage as soon as he heard."

    Ice pours down your back.

    "The mission itself turned out to be a complete failure; the wrong child was killed, and the real target saw the Konoha hitai-ate the genin was wearing. To cover their own asses, the Midorikawa bribed the investigators to say it was an Iwa nin in disguise, which pissed off Iwa for obvious reasons. This coincided with the signing of a Suna-Iwa nonaggression treaty, so in a show of good faith, Suna also put them on their own blacklist. Kumo and presumably Kiri followed suit out of pure self-interest."

    "... may I have a light?" you ask, as calmly as you can.

    Cigarettes, it turns out, are simultaneously everything you wanted and absolutely terrible.

    "It's a different kind of breathing," Asuma says as you sputter. "I'll show you how, if you want. But if you have any sense you'll quit right now."

    "What exactly about the past week has led you to believe I have sense?" you ask, taking a slightly less ambitious drag.

    [img width=600 height=400]http://ritchan.dasaku.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/cagliostro3.png[/img]

    =

    Cosmos Quest the Movie: The Bridal War

    The End

    Featuring

    Dr Bra Briefs (D.Des., D.F.A. [Theatre]) as Rouga Nabiki

    Fujibayashi Ryou as Kikka Mei

    Jonouchi Katsuya as himself

    Lisa Lisa Joestar as Naoru Meiyaku

    Asuka Sohryu-Langley as Naoru Asuka

    Nijimura Okuyasu as Miyamoto Mirioni

    Tsurugi Momotaro as Tsurugi Momiji

    And introducing Hiiragi Tsukasa as Sei Not-Appearing-In-This-Film

    Special Thanks to Scáthach of the Shadowfort and the Edajima Clan

    The City of Fumizawa and the Borough of Tanzaku

    The Tanzaku Gai Historical Society, and

    Dr Briefs’ father, for not disembowelling the writer, producer, director, or any of the cast and crew

    The makers and distributors of this motion picture shall neither confirm nor deny that the character of Shinyuu Sorato may be inspired by any particular Naruto fanfiction character, OC or ‘canon’, recently-updated or deadfic.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  23. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Hail the Conquering Hero

    When the six of you get back to Konoha, you are all very tired and very hungry. Asuma offers to treat you all to dinner at the Yakiniku Q, and you gratefully accept; it's after nine, there's no way Mom hasn't already made dinner for her and Dad and washed up.

    To your surprise, Sasuke's seated at the bar, with the remains of a mozzarella-tomato salad and a glass of water in front of him. When he sees you come in he almost falls off his stool in his haste to greet you.

    "Ino! Menka! Ami!"

    Ami turns bright red at his smile. He almost looks like wants to hug both of you, but he settles for jamming his hands in his pockets and nodding at your other teammates. "Kiba. Asuma."

    Akamaru barks in annoyance at being left out, but Sasuke obliviously directs his attention back to you.

    "Listen, can I talk to you alone for a minute?"

    ... wait a second. Has he been drinking?

    [X] "Can it wait until tomorrow? I'm beat and hungry enough to eat a horse."

    [X] "Can it wait until you sober up, my fellow clan-heir?" XD

    [X] "Sure. *to Asuma* Just tell 'em I'll have lemonade to start." Who're you to be judging people for their vices? You're a 13-year-old smoker.
     
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  24. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] To have been born in the same country

    "How'd you get them to sell you booze?" you ask as the pair of you step out back into the cool night air.

    "How'd you get Asuma to give you cigarettes?" Sasuke replies, and the pair of you smirk at each other.

    "So what did you wanna talk about?" You cross your arms into your sleeves against the chill.

    Sasuke nods, like you just said something profound, and looks away. "I've been thinking a lot about my life lately."

    "Oh, yeah? What parts?"

    "All of 'em." He runs a hand through his hair, and scratches his scalp. "I've been thinking about when we were kids. Do you remember how you and I used to go home from school together and we could just walk right into your house? You didn't even have to ask your Mom if you could have me over, she'd just have two snacks ready for both of us."

    "'Course I remember that!" you say, wondering where he's going with this. "You used to eat my veggies for me, ya freak."

    "You can't complain about never getting any taller if you aren't gonna eat right," he teases.

    "Yeah, yeah, you got a point somewhere in here, rummy?" : P

    "The best part of my day," he says, smiling wistfully, "every day, for years, was hearing you say, 'C'mon, Sakkun, let's go...'" he shrugs, "do anything. Just, anything, anything you wanted to do was probably going to be more interesting than anything else that was happening."

    "... thanks, man," you say, legitimately touched. And incredibly curious to know what this is about.

    "I've been thinking about my life," he repeats, "and what I want it to be, and what I have to do- what we have to do," he corrects himself, "before it can really start."

    "I haven't forgotten," you say.

    "So..." he says after a while. "We train. We study genjutsu, and get you fixed, and fix me if I need fixing. We get strong, stronger than anyone else in the village, and then... we go find him."

    Sasuke nods at the ground. "Yeah. That too, one day. But first... there's something else." He glances back at you, and now he's looking really nervous. "Ino... will you marry me?"

    [X] ?

    -----

    The high-pitched shriek of righteous indignation is the far-distant scream of canon-Ino.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2020
  25. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Wasted away again in Margaritaville

    ... hoooooooly shit he's plastered. You're standing in an alley with a thirteen-year-old clan heir and he is completely looped. For a fleeting moment you regret not having a camera with which to immortalize this moment, and consider making a drunk-Sasuke construct to go with your angry-Sasuke construct.

    Then the good-friend instincts kick in, and it's time to think about what you're actually going to do.

    "How about I answer that question when you've sobered up?" you suggest. "If you still want to ask it."

    His shoulders droop. "... don't you like me?" he asks.

    Oh, joy, a maudlin drunk. "I didn't say I don't," you say hastily. "I'm just sayin', hammered people sometimes say things they regret when they-"

    "How could I regret this?" he demands. "I want to be with you forever, Ino!"

    [X] Well, he said he's been thinking about this. "And why is that?"

    [X] "Sakkun, we're thirteen! I'm not remotely ready to be married yet."

    [X] "... what happened?" This is Sasuke all over; roundabout talk and questions with surprise answers. Something has to be up.
     
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  26. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little boy like you

    "What do you mean, what happened?" he asks sullenly.

    "I mean what happened that you're out drinking by yourself at age 13, thinking about marriage and where your life is going?"

    "... you could have just said no," he says bitterly, turning to go back into the restaurant.

    You catch him by the shoulder. "Sasuke. What happened?"

    "Nothing!" he says, shrugging you off roughly.

    "Would this 'nothing' involve a certain C-rank mission to River Country with your team you took a week before I left Konoha?" you ask.

    "What does that have to do with anything?" he asks in a dismissive tone of voice that indicates you are closer to the truth than he wants to admit.

    You cross your arms. "You tell me."

    Sasuke's sigh comes out more like a growl. "The mission went perfectly. You're mistaken if you th-"

    "Oh, don't give me that, you know what I meant. What did Kakashi say to you? Or was it Naruto?" Hey, you never know; sometimes idiots say surprisingly profound things without realizing it.

    "Now who's drunk?" Sasuke says scornfully. "You think I give a fuck what Naruto thinks?"

    "What happened?" you repeat.

    "YOU LEFT!" he blurts out, at top volume.

    You blink.

    Sasuke stares at the ground, flushed. "... I was stuck with those idiots for a week and a half," he mumbles sourly, "with no one to talk to. The one thing that kept me from going crazy was knowing that when I got back I could see you again." He frowns. "And then when we got back to Konoha, I found out you took a C-rank, too, and you weren't expected home for days."

    "... and you think if we got married, I'd magically stop being sent on missions?" you ask, unable to keep the amusement out of your voice completely. "D'you want me to list all of the active-duty kunoichi in this village who're married? 'Cause I'd really like to get a chance to eat sometime tonight."

    "You wouldn't understand," he says, shaking his head, teeth gritted as insurance against tears. "You don't know what it's like."

    Aw, hell. "Oi, Sakkun..."

    "Do you want to know what the worst part of my day is?" he asks, and you already know, and he already knows that you know, what he's going to say.

    "It's when I go back to my apartment after training, and I turn the key in the lock, and I go inside, and all of the lights are off. Do you know why?"

    You don't say anything.

    "Please, Ino," he says, eyes scrunched shut. "Please, be my wife."

    [X] ?
     
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  27. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be

    You sigh, and smile in embarrassment.

    "Sasuke. Do you have the hots for me?"

    Ouch. Well, it's nothing you didn't know already, but there's no reason for him to actually flinch. It's not like you're some hideous cow-ogre or something.

    "You're a beautiful girl, Ino," he says. You nod.

    "I know. But that isn't what I asked you."

    He looks slightly confused. "What does it matter?" Then his eyes widen. "No, Ino, I promise, I promise you never have to do anything like that if you don't want to. I'm not asking for that reason."

    "Yeah..." you say, laughing quietly, your decision made. "That's what I thought. And that is why I can't say yes."

    There are other reasons, sure; your still-untapped Ranton bloodline clashing with the Sharingan in any kids you may have, both of you being first in line to be clan-heads, the fact that Ami's your best friend, and just how little you want to get married to anyone, frankly, especially not before you even make chuunin.

    Sasuke looks like he's just had an electric shock.

    "A marriage isn't just a business deal or a way to solidify a friendship for me, Sasuke," you explain. "I'm a Yamanaka. We marry for love, or not at all."

    "Love is more than just sex!" he snarls.

    "Yeah, it's a lot of other things, mixed in with sex," you retort. "I'm too young to be thinking about marriage anyway, but marriage to someone who's never going to touch me beyond a goodbye kiss, for the rest of my life? I can't do it, Sakkun. I'm sorry."

    He stands stock still, staring at you, as tears slowly well up in his eyes.

    "Hey..." You hold out a handkerchief. "You know what they call a person who lives in your house and leaves the light on for you?" you ask.

    He ignores the tissue, furiously wiping his eyes with his sleeve. "What?" he spits.

    "A roommate," you say, grinning. "So when's a good day for us to move in?"

    He blinks, and stares at you. "... you mean...?"

    "I say 'us' because Ami and I have been talking about getting a place," you go on, "and it wouldn't be very fair of us to ditch her. Besides, the state you're in? The more people you have around you the better." You think for a moment, and are forced to conceal your surprise when you realize that Sasuke doesn't really have all that many friends. Hm. "Bet we could talk Shika-chan into moving in, too, if we offer to carry his stuff for him; be harder for his mom to get on his case if he isn't always home."

    Sasuke is officially emotionally-adrift; he looks like you just socked him in the stomach and then handed him a chocolate bar. "You'll... you'll stay...?" He trails off, dazed, and the tears resume their flow. He turns away from you and sits down on the ground, sobbing.

    "Arararara! That's no good!" You lift his arm over your shoulders, pulling him to his feet, and hold out the hankie again. Wordlessly, he takes it, and blows his nose. When he's done he squeezes you into a headlock/one-armed hug.

    "I'm. sorry," he tells the side of your head, hyperventilating between the words before descending into another bout of crying. "I'm sorry..." he sniffles, trying to get himself back under control. "I was so stupid."

    You pat him on the back. "C'mon. I'll drop you off at my place, you can sleep it off on the couch. I don't want you to be alone in this kind of mood."

    He shakes his head vigorously, still trying to stem the tears. "I can't let your Dad see me cry."

    "Pfft! Have you ever noticed that the running theme in your life is 'picking the wrong stuff to worry about'?" you ask as the pair of you walk out of the alley. "It didn't occur to you that Dad might not give a shit about you crying but would have some pointed questions about why his daughter brought home a drunken teenage boy who says he wants to marry her?"

    As if to underscore your point, Sasuke pulls away from you to vomit violently against a nearby wall.

    =

    Yamanaka Takae is surprised to see you return from Tanzaku Gai with a bleary-eyed Sasuke in tow, but she's quick to pull out the sofabed and get him tucked in with a bucket at his side. Fortunately for all concerned, Inoichi is already in bed.

    When you get back to the restaurant, everyone is already digging into their meals.

    "We didn't know whether you were coming back, so we just got you some fries," Kiba says, munching on one of them.

    "What on earth took you?" Ami asks. "And where's Sasuke?"

    [X] ?
     
  28. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X]So what's the use in going home until the break of day?

    Hm. Yeah, you don't really wanna go blabbing about this in front of Kiba and Akamaru.

    "Tell ya later," you tell Ami. "Promise."

    Her eyes narrow, but she nods and goes back to her meal.

    "What, did he need secret Yamanaka hair-care tips or something?" Kiba asks, snickering.

    "If anyone needs them, it's him," you joke. "Nah, he just had a little too much to drink, that's all."

    Ami looks up, frown deepening. "You didn't send him home alone, did you?"

    "No, no!" you say hastily, "I dumped him on the couch at my place. My mom's keeping an eye on him."

    She breathes a sigh of relief. "Good. That's good. I don't like the thought of him walking back to his apartment by himself this late at night."

    You, Kiba and Asuma share a raised eyebrow, then look back at Ami. She blushes and glares.

    "I know it doesn't make any sense, I just feel better knowing he isn't on his own!"

    "Sasuke has an apartment?" Kiba asks. He jerks his head in your direction. "Didn't he move in with Ino after his parents died?"

    "Don't be ridiculous," Ami says archly. "The future Head of the Uchiha clan can't be adopted by the Yamanaka; how would it look?" Something occurs to her and she shoots you a slightly panicked look. "Nobody saw you, did they?"

    "Aside from one or two cats and another guy who was just as drunk as he was, no," you say, a bit flustered, wondering how 'tell you later' suddenly became 'tell you now'.

    Ami slumps in relief again. "Thank heavens. The last thing he needs is a reputation as a drunkard." Her eyes flick sharply in Kiba's direction.

    He raises his barbecue sauce-covered hands defensively. "Not a word, I promise. Chill out."

    "Depending on where he intends to go in his career path, you could be very much mistaken, Ami," Asuma puts in, slurping his soba. "ANBU is always on the lookout for boozehounds. They give special precedence to those with multiple deceased loved ones and friends."

    Mercifully, the desserts arrive, sparing you another one of Ami's disapproving rants.

    =

    "He asked you to marry him, didn't he?" Menka asks when the two of you part ways with the others.

    You boggle at Menka. "Can you speak into the microphone, talking cat? I'm not sure the spies and the rabid fangirls at the back can hear you." True, at this point the fact that Menka isn't a normal cat is an open secret among your friends, but it'd be nice to think that at least your enemies don't know yet.

    He sighs, and twitches his whiskers. "Did you give him an answer?"

    "I... kind of said no," you admit awkwardly, "but after I got a very meandering explanation out of him it didn't even sound like what he's looking for is a wife at all. So I suggested we become roomies, him and Ami and Shika-chan and me. And you," you add, sensing another philosophical debate brewing about what constitutes a 'pet' and what constitutes a 'roommate'.

    "In an apartment that size?" Menka looks skeptical as only a cat can.

    "No, 'course not, I figured we could all find a new place."

    A nice yellow house with a walled garden and a big tree, or a farmhouse on a hill...

    "Anyway, let's not get carried away," you say, shaking your head to clear it. "He may feel differently about the whole thing when he wakes up."

    =

    The next morning (10:30? What the hell?!), you come downstairs to find Sasuke gone.

    "He said to tell you he thanks you for what you did," Mom says as you make yourself some toast, "and he'd like to apologize again for what he said last night."

    "Which part?" you ask, with some trepidation.

    Mom smiles. "I'm not sure he knows himself. I'm sure he'll tell you in person when next you see him; he was quite adamant that he'd made a mistake of some kind."

    You swing by his apartment before training, but it appears he went straight to meet up with his team when he left your house.

    "Good~ morning, everybody," you trill as you arrive among your own team.

    "It's noon," Kiba grumbles.

    "It's 11:45. Still technically the morning."

    "Every generation has one," Asuma mutters, before clearing his throat. "Now that you're all here, there's something I'd like to discuss with you. In a month, the chuunin exams will take place here in Konoha, and if all of you show significant improvement in the next thirty days, I'll nominate you for participation."

    Your mouth drops open, and Kiba's follows close behind.

    "Really?" Ami asks excitedly. "Oh, sensei, you think we're ready?"

    "I'm not ready," you protest weakly, fully cognizant of the fact that you had to get in a lucky shot to defeat a taijutsu school dropout one-on-one. "Ami, people die in those exams, you know that, right?"

    "Honestly, Ino, you're such a worrywart," she says, waving away your concerns, oblivious to your stunned expression. "If Asuma-sensei says we can handle it, we can!"

    "Sensei," Kiba says, "are you really sure about this? I mean, not that I don't want to, but we haven't even been a team for six months yet; isn't it a bit soon to be trying to get promoted?"

    Asuma's grin is a trifle vicious. "We'll see in thirty days, won't we?"

    Ami nods, beaming. "What do we have to do, sensei?"

    "We aren't going to get any say in this, are we?" you ask Kiba.

    "Welcome to my life," he says, resigned.

    =

    After training (and hearing about the wonderful new bruises you're going to get over the next thirty days, give or take), you decide to check in on Sasuke:

    [X] Alone

    [X] With someone else (who?)
     
  29. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Sunday Morning Comin' Down

    Sasuke practically yanks the door off its hinges when he sees it's you knocking.

    "Ino, I am so sorry, I don't know why the hell I said that, it was weird and wrong and-"

    "- not a bad idea at all," Menka says mildly, "from a political standpoint."

    The pair of you stare at him, aghast.

    "I think we should continue this conversation inside," you say.

    When the door is safely shut, you pick your feline friend up by the scruff of his neck and demand, "What the hell are you on about?"

    "Ow! Use your head, Ino," Menka protests, struggling in your grip, "and put me down!"

    "That can be arranged," you declare through gritted teeth, setting him down on the couch. "Spill."

    "You have cousins who can inherit the headship in your stead," he explains, "and it'd demonstrate the Uchiha haven't lost any prestige, even-"

    "Look, I don't care about politics!" Sasuke interrupts. "Ino's my friend." He crosses his arms, and frowns at you. "You told him?"

    "He guessed," you say, shrugging. "And don't worry, no one who wasn't blitzed out of their skull saw us walking home. You aren't going to hear any lame cracks floating around town about Sharingan beer goggles." From anyone but me, you add silently.

    He sighs. "Well, that's something."

    "... have you thought about my proposal?" you ask gingerly.

    Sasuke hesitates, then nods, his mouth a thin, determined line that reminds you of someone. With a jolt, you realize it's the same look you used to see on his father from time to time. He looks so little like the man otherwise it's kind of an eerie point of commonality.

    "If you're still interested..." he says.

    "What, you think I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't mean it?" You grin. "You really do worry about the wrong things, Sakkun. I was about to ask if it was really fine to have everyone with you."

    His nod is more assured now. "It is. I think I have just the place for us."

    "What?!" You do an involuntary double-take. "You found a place in one day? I was going to suggest starting our house-hunt tonight. How'd you get a four-bedroom house on no notice?"

    "The same way I got this apartment," he says calmly. "I own it."

    Light dawns.

    "... oi, Sakkun..." You aren't sure what to say. "... are you sure? You haven't been back there in years..."

    "So I'm probably going to need your help to get it fixed up," he says, a small smirk turning up the corners of his mouth. After a moment your own follows suit.

    "People are going to talk," Menka points out. "And I mean a lot. Not now, but once you're older, if you're all still living together, there's no way the rest of the village isn't going to assume the Last Uchiha has built himself a harem."

    "Let them talk," Sasuke says scornfully. "They already gossip about me and Ino, that's half the reason I asked her to marry me."

    "... your solution to rumours about us being involved was to propose?" you ask in disbelief. "I gotta ask, man, were your ancestors aliens? 'Cause Uchiha logic makes no sense on Earth."

    "Want to help me inspect the mothership?" he asks, pulling out a set of old keys.

    =

    Sasuke's childhood home is in remarkably good condition for having been abandoned six years; as far as major problems go, the power and water just need to be turned back on and a few pipes need cleaning or replacing.

    The bad news is, there are plenty of minor but expensive problems that need fixing. Civilian kids have been using the Uchiha District as a courage-testing ground for years now, and god knows how many teenagers have shacked up in the Clan Head's house. The whole place needs scrubbing from top to bottom, half the appliances don't work any more, the woodwork needs re-sanding, all the shoji and tatami need to be replaced, the garden needs heavy-duty weeding, and the walls need repainting. All of the walls; you've learned more about your fellow villagers' sexual hangups in the past ten minutes than you ever wanted to know.

    How do you want to get this place cleaned up? You're going to be too busy training to handle it, and Sasuke gets that competitive gleam in his eye when you mention the exams, so he's probably a lost cause too.

    [X] Hire a bunch of genin out of your B-rank pay.

    [X] Get Sasuke to hire a bunch of genin; it's his house, after all.

    [X] Put the moving-in plan on the back burner until after the exams are over. It can wait.
     
  30. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Make it rain (aw, crap, someone stick a pot under that hole in the roof)!

    Dad is initially alarmed at his princess' desire to move in with her male friend, but relaxes a bit when he hears Ami and Shika are invited as well.

    You feel a little insulted, to be honest. "You trust Ami around Sasuke but not me?"

    "I trust Ami not to let anything or anyone get between her and her property," Dad says sardonically.

    "... and you aren't worried about what Shika-chan and I might get up to?" you ask wickedly.

    "I've let you play with him with your door closed for years," he answers, shrugging. "I don't see any point in worrying about it now."

    You fall out of your chair.

    o_O ... well. That's certainly one way to preserve an alliance...

    =

    "YES OF COURSE ARE YOU CRAZY?!"

    "Air...!" you squeak, smacking Ami on the back weakly. "Need air...!"

    =

    :( "I'm sorry, Ino-chan, but I have so much training to do with Father I couldn't possibly move out. Thank you for thinking of me, though."

    =

    "Are you nuts?" Kiba asks, laughing uproariously as the pair of you enjoy a lunch break in the middle of your training. "What would make you think I'd ever want to live with Sasuke of all people?"

    "The fact that you can bring chicks back to your room without your mom and sister immediately killing the mood," you reply promptly.

    "... wh-what're you talking about?" Kiba asks, looking slightly shifty. "Why would I wanna bring girls over? They're, uhhh," he casts around desperately for a moment, before seizing on the first thing that comes to mind: "... they have cooties, yuck! No offence," he adds quickly.

    You snicker, and pat him on the back. "You aren't talkin' to Ami, Kiba, c'mon. Besides, you haven't seen this place." You gesture expansively. "It's huge. It's not as big as Hinata's house, but there's no reason you'd have to get within ten feet of Sasuke if you didn't want to. And there're all these old parks in the District for you and Akamaru to scrap in whenever you want, without anyone around to tell you to knock it off."

    Kiba looks tempted, but finally shakes his head. "It sounds great to visit, but there's no reason to live there. I still don't get why you're even moving in - wouldn't it be more convenient just to toss Ami at the guy and run like hell?"

    "I've been talking about moving out ever since I made genin, and Sasuke owns most of the District, so we won't even have to pay rent," you say, wondering how long and how well you can explain your reasoning without flat-out saying 'he's lonely'.

    "... well, if you have a housewarming party or something, I'll help ya cook for it," he says grudgingly, "but Sasuke and I have a good thing goin' here; he avoids me, and I avoid him, and everybody's happy."

    =

    "Are you inviting Chouji?"

    You hesitate. "D'ya really think he'd want to be stuck with me all the time?" You laugh, and if it sounds a bit nervous, well...

    "I think the two of you have been a pain in my neck long enough and you need to sort things out properly, once and for all," Shikamaru says flatly.

    You blink. You can't remember the last time Shika straight up told you to do something.

    "If Chouji says yes, consider that me saying yes."

    The half-wave he throws over his shoulder as he walks away softens the blow. But not by much.

    Your talk with Shikamaru gets you thinking. Should you approach Chouji and finally put the awkwardness behind the pair of you? Has it been too long?

    [X] Invite Chouji

    [X] No sense in opening old wounds

    But that makes you wonder if you should offer Sasuke's teammates the chance to get in on this. The whole point of this experiment is to get Sasuke more connected, so why should the people he has to work with be excluded?

    You groan at the thought of having Naruto around all the time; potential ally in practical joking aside, he's so awkward and obnoxious. Shino wouldn't be so bad, but the Aburame are a much more formal clan than yours (though less so than the Hyuuga) and he's the heir - he might not be allowed to move out.

    [X] Invite Naruto and Shino

    [X] Invite Naruto

    [X] Invite Shino

    [X] Ask Sasuke's jounin-sensei for advice