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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] This family just keeps growing

    "... Jigen-san?!"

    You almost hug him right then and there.

    Buuuuuut then you remember that odds are someone saw Kankuro leave the bar after you did, and Neji can see through walls. And oh, yep, there's a jounin on the roof of the next building over, probably keeping an eye on Kankuro and the chick he's supposed to fight in a month. Shit. The touchy-feely crap'll have to wait until you two are actually alone wow that sounds dirtier than you wanted it to.

    Kan- Ji- Jigen-kuro's chakra gives an embarrassed jolt. "Um, well, yeah."

    ;D Jigen! Buddy! Ino, lemme out! Lemmeoutlemmeoutlemmeoutlemmeout! Lupin sprouts himself a set of dog ears and a tail and wags excitedly inside your mind.

    [X] Who can say no to the puppy?

    [X] Yeah, you aren't thrilled about the possibility of ANBU even suspecting you believe yourself to be a reincarnated thief. Whatever Asuma says, you've pretty sure that'd cost you the promotion to chuunin. And even if they don't get the full picture, who's to say they won't just think you're a sleeper?
    -> [X] Pretend to put the moves on Kankuro while you actually tell him where you guys can meet privately without being watched.
    -> [X] Write in?
     
  2. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah Means Meet Me Tonight

    Okay. You don't know how much the ANBU guy overheard. You didn't hear his chakra until right after you said Jigen's name, so best case scenario (which you're not prepared to assume) he didn't arrive until then. More likely he's been here the whole time and he's letting you hear him as an early-warning not to throw the first punch in what probably does look like a fight waiting to happen to someone not in on the joke. Best to keep this discreet.

    "BWAHAHA~!" You guffaw, doubling over and slapping Jigen companionably on the shoulder, twice: we're being watched. "Y-your nickname is based on the fact that you're three-dimensional*? I guess your puppets really are your girlfriends, huh?"

    "Y-you...!" he growls, clenching his fists twice: where and how many?

    Oh, holy crap, what the hell kind of shitpit is Suna that he thinks that means I want him to ice the eavesdropper? ._.;

    "Ah, ah, ah! Save it for the ring, buster!" You flick your cigarette down the alley. "Don't wanna get the ANBU all hot and bothered, do ya? Or maybe you're conductin' a scientific experiment and you wanna see what happens when you get hit by a jyuuken vacuum-attack coming from one direction and a Nikudan Sensha from the other?" You open the door back into the resto-bar.

    "If we're just gonna talk, let's talk inside, friendly-like." No sense letting them know you know they've got a guy in there.

    After a moment, Jigen nods.

    As he passes you, you slip another note into his pocket. It reads,

    [X] Empty booth, in the front window. If they can see you clearly, they're less likely to care what you're actually saying to each other. The peeping tom only made himself known when you guys were in a secluded area, after all.

    [X] Shikamaru's booth. This calls for a Throning, which calls for having someone on hand to watch your bodies and make excuses for both of you.

    [X] Tomorrow (location write-in). Go to Shikamaru's booth and have a conversation with Kankuro to further throw them off the scent. And also to get to know the guy; I mean, just 'cause he's Jigen that doesn't mean he isn't also himself, does it?


    -----

    *"sanjigen" literally means 3D.
     
  3. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Because Yuji Ohno goes with everything, but especially this.

    "Hey, Shika-chan," you say brightly, sliding into the booth beside him, "I need you to watch our bodies while I have a chat with Kankuro inside my head."

    "Okay," he says simply.

    And that is why Sasuke and Ami are your friends, and Shikamaru is your brother.

    Your dream complex is Paris in '69 and Roppongi in '86 and Vegas in '78 and Monaco in '71 as only someone who lived them would remember them.

    Jigen - Jigen! Really actually Jigen! - whistles under his breath and shakes his head. Kankuro stares up at the glitz and lights, genuinely awestruck. At least as far as you can tell; your sensing doesn't really work when you're inside your own head.

    The first thing you do is

    [X] Hugs! Hugs now, yes? Jigen's back, fuck yeah! Hell, get Kankuro in on the action too, hugs and champagne for everyone!

    [X] ... okay, real time, I genuinely can't think of anything else that would be in-character at this point. If any of you have a genius write-in, show me what you've got.
     
  4. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] But in a totally manly way (let's go~! :3)

    Unfortunately, you have but two arms to devote to the cause. No matter; one for Kankuro, one for Jigen, problem solved. And oh, look, Lupin was nice enough to get Jigen's other side so he can't run away.

    Your grin is so wide you feel like your face is going to split in half.

    "Jigen!"

    "It's been way too long!"

    Jigen shoves off Lupin with a typical "Let go, you yutz," but neither he nor Kankuro seem to know quite what to do about you. After a moment, two hands get placed on your head to affectionately ruffle your hair, only to retract as their owners stare at each other in surprise, and then look away in embarrassment.

    "Damn it," Jigen mutters in English.

    Beaming, you decide they've suffered enough of that particular torture and let them loose. "I take it that means you guys are in the same boat as us?"

    "Maa, y-you've got a scary face, Jigen-chan..."

    "A laser? A friggin' laser?"

    "OwowowmissedyoutoopalOW!"

    Kankuro still looks slightly uncertain. "... am I asleep?"

    You waggle a hand. "Kind of. You're in my mind. It's a Yamanaka thing."

    "What the hell were you thinking?! Fujiko was a fucking wreck for a year! Pops threw himself into that messed up energy field looking for you!"

    "We made Fujiko cry?!" you interrupt in horror.

    Jigen freezes mid-lecture, and Lupin wriggles out of his grip. "No, Ino, look, you can't blame yourself for stuff that I did-"

    "Oh, don't bother, knowing you she won't be able to stop herself, ya damn drama queen." Jigen pinches the bridge of his nose. "Look, ojou-san..." he says awkwardly. "I might have exaggerated. It was more like six months. The rest of her life was fine, she finally got the right billionaire eating out of her hand and settled down, happily ever after, the end."

    :'( "She married someone else?!" :'(

    "I give up." -_-

    Kankuro laughs under his breath.

    "Oi, this is a deathly serious personal matter, kid! You wouldn't be laughing if it were your girlfriend!"

    The laugh becomes a snort of derision. "I'm a fourteen-year-old kugutsu-tsukai. What girlfriend?"

    You wince. "Yeah, sorry about that earlier, I-"

    "Ino," Kankuro says flatly, with a hint of a laugh at the edges of his mouth, "I'm standing on concrete, smelling exhaust-dogs and looking up at neon lights and skyscrapers. You could call my mother a whore right now and I think I'd forgive you."

    "... I didn't even think of that," you say. "I guess..." You look to Jigen. "Yeah. You grew up in New York, right? Suna must be a fucking nightmare for you."

    He shrugs. "It's not so bad. At least not since we taught them how to make pizza."

    You and Lupin groan as one. "Oh, god, please don't talk about pizza, I haven't figured out how to simulate food yet."

    "I haven't had pizza in thirteen years!"

    "Or onion rings!" Aw, hell; once you two get going you can play off each other for hours, and at the end of it you still both end up hungry.

    "Why do they have chocolate chip cookies and burgers here but not pain au chocolat or steak? This place makes no sense!"

    "I miss Coke and Pepsi and I've never tasted either of them!"

    "Konoha cigarettes suck! I want my Gitanes and I wanna go home!"

    "Sounds good," Kankuro says, nodding. "When do we leave?"

    You blink.

    There's a moment of awkward silence.

    Jigen sighs. "Nice, kid. Real subtle."

    "What? We're all thinking it."

    "Actually, I'm thinkin' that this is probably why you don't have a girlfriend, not the puppets," you say, incredulous.

    Kankuro looks neither offended nor chastened.

    "O-kay, kids, time out!" Lupin claps his hands loudly once. "First thing's first, let's get reacquainted. We don't wanna get ahead of ourselves, here - I mean, we still don't know where Goemon and Fujiko are."

    Jigen raises an eyebrow. "Y'mean the cranky kid isn't Goemon?"

    "Do you think he might be?" you exclaim excitedly. "I haven't wanted to get my hopes up, but if you guys are here-"

    "I'd say that clinches it," Kankuro says to Jigen, biting his lip to stifle a smirk. "You owe me ten ryo."

    Jigen grumbles.

    Your face goes hot.

    "Y-you had a bet over whether I...?" you splutter.

    "Not you," Kankuro says cheerfully, jerking a thumb in Lupin's direction, "him."

    "WHAT?"

    "How'd you get him to take that bet?" you ask curiously, still blushing as the adults begin to argue. "Has he seen how they act around each other?"

    "INO!"

    Kankuro shrugs. "All he ever says is he doesn't want to think about it." He gives you a once-over. "So? What's your story? What've you been doing the last thirteen years?"

    [X] Keep it light and flippant for now. You guys have a month at least to get to know each other again, and there are other things you wanna talk about tonight than just Where Are They Now.

    [X] ... hm. Something about the way he says 'thirteen years' makes you think he wants to hear the story in more depth. Well, let it never be said you deny an audience what they crave...

    [X] Write in (Like A Thief!)
     
  5. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Manhattan Joke

    You are Kankuro. You don't have a clan, you don't have a bijuu sealed inside you like your little brother, you don't have a natural talent for Wind jutsu like your older sister, and a lot of the time, it's debatable whether you could even be said to have a dad.

    What you do have are your dreams.

    "Who're we helping?"

    "The girl!"

    "Figures." 8)

    Suna is brown and yellow and orange and red and grey.

    Your dreams are whatever colour they want to be.

    =

    The Suna Ninja Academy is a breeding ground for bullies. Upperclassmen are actively encouraged to 'teach the small fry their place'.

    -WHACK!-

    "AUGH! By dose! He broke by dose!"

    "Who do you think you're fucking with, you little shit!"

    For someone who was allowed to start early on the basis of being a genius, you're a remarkably slow learner.

    "If you're going to pick a fight, pick one you can win!" Temari scolds as she cleans up your wounds. "You're embarrassing the family carrying on like this!"

    You know she's only saying these things because you're at school. If you were at home she'd admit she's worried about you - and she'd probably hug you if you couldn't get away quick enough.

    It still hurts.

    "I'm not afraid of them."

    Goemon wouldn't be afraid. Lupin wouldn't be afraid (even though he fuckin' should be, as often as he gets his silly ass shot). So you won't be afraid either.

    You aren't the strongest kid in your class, but by the end of your first year you earn a rep as the scariest. The one who doesn't stay down when he should.

    Your only friends are in your head.

    =

    You don't think of it as 'switching places' before you get interested in puppetry; up until then, as far as you were concerned, there was no you-and-Jigen, there was just you when you remembered and you when you didn't. Sometimes the you who remembers is the one who gets to talk and run and jump, and sometimes it's the you who still has to learn.

    You aren't talking to a long dead gunslinger, you're talking to yourself. Only crazy people hear voices, after all.

    The puppets were Gaara's idea.

    "Well, your hands move a lot quicker than the rest of ya. And I need someone to practice with that I don't have to worry about hurting; the advisers are freaking out waaaay too much for the geezer to let me fight the other kids. C'mon, you just have to prop them up with your chakra, it's not like it's a big undertaking."

    It really is a big undertaking, as it turns out. Battle puppets are intricate pieces of machinery that require constant upkeep, and Gaara blows through them like Kleenex. You quickly learn to send only the cheapest and simplest of them against him, relying on your own reaction times and chakra control to keep pace with the jinchuuriki.

    The others you hoard to yourself.

    What began as a favour to your little brother quickly becomes a way to claim to be 'training' while spending time on something other than ninja bullshit for five fucking minutes.

    Temari tells you you're never going to make any friends if you keep this up, but it's not like that's a big loss. You like the quiet.

    You enjoy the deceptive delicacy of the mechanisms, and making little improvements of your own now and then to keep them running smoothly. Soon, you reach the point where you can strip the largest of your puppets in under sixty seconds and put it back together in another sixty, just like you used to do with a sniper rifle.

    But it's not enough.

    You're proud of how well you can take care of your 'partners' and how well you can make them dance, but it doesn't feel right, always sending them out to handle the danger while you hang back.

    It makes you feel tied down, ironically enough - trapped.

    You used to fly the same way they do.

    So one day, you switch things up. You jump out yourself, and send your chakra threads back to one of the puppets behind you.

    It doesn't work. You get tangled almost from the first step, and the puppet falls over face first trying to follow your instructions.

    Undaunted, you try again. Again, the puppet falls over.

    You know it isn't a control issue - your chakra control is the envy of every aspiring medic in your class - which means it must be a lack of power.

    So a final time, you gather everything you've got and practically hurl your chakra into the puppet.

    When you come to, your body is kneeling over you with a panicky expression on its face.

    "Kid, I swear to god..."

    "Hello, me," you say, dreamily amused. You try to blink, but to your great confusion you have no eyelids. Sitting up slightly, you look down at your wooden limbs in amazement.

    "Oh."

    "'Zat all you have to say? 'Oh'?" Other-you shakes your head. "Christ almighty. Even in dreams Lupin's a terrible influence."

    =

    "This failure is unacceptable, Kankuro. I expect better from you."

    Your father is not a kind man.

    He would probably call himself 'tough but fair'. Your sister certainly does. But Temari is a good girl who loves her father and doesn't know any better than to think all this is normal. You have over fifty years of memories of various employers and clients to draw upon for reference, and the Yondaime Kazekage is neither fair nor especially tough. He's just an asshole.

    "Murdering children is unacceptable, sir," you say bluntly. "That grade is ink on a piece of paper."

    The slap hurts, but you know if you'd tried to block it the follow up would have been worse.

    "You aren't in the nursery anymore, you brat," he says coldly. "This is the real world. If you can't even 'kill' a target made of wood, you might as well be dead already."

    It had a face.

    It was an old doll (everything in Suna is old) standing at about three-quarters your height. The body was scored deeply with cuts from a hundred students before you. The arms were missing.

    It was one of a set of equally-battered dummies, distributed amongst your classmates from the storeroom. Yours was actually in better shape than most - the boy beside you had one with a bucket taped to its knee in place of a lower leg, and one of the girls in the row behind you had to lay hers on the desk because it couldn't stand up at all with its caved-in chest.

    Which made the realization that every single doll in that room had a freshly-painted, smiling face strike home with sickening force.

    Some sick bastard - no, not even a sick bastard. Some normal person went out of their way to make sure each copy of My First Victim had a realistic face with child proportions.

    This is the world you live in. Children have to be taught the best way to stab other children, so that they don't get stabbed first.

    The lecture goes on for a while, and you keep your mouth shut through all of it even though you want nothing more than to show him exactly how willing you are to kill a target with a pulse who deserves it.

    Because a voice inside your heart is telling you that assholes like this come and go, but your career can last forever if you get good enough. You just have to hang on, and endure, until you're old enough. And strong enough. And when you get there, you can go anywhere.

    Because somewhere out there, there's a thief in a yellow car who needs a trigger-man.

    =

    "I heard you wouldn't stab the doll."

    You're never sure exactly how to be an older brother to Gaara. He's already pretty savvy, so he doesn't need looking out for, he's stronger than several adults you know, so you don't have to protect him, and he has more friends than you have kids in your class whose names you remember. When he wants affection he goes to Temari; when he wants to ask advice he's got Uncle Yashamaru; and when he wants to butt heads with authority, he's more than happy to take the fight directly to your old man.

    Really, the only time the two of you talk is when he wants to speak with you, specifically.

    "You heard right."

    He throws a leg over the bench you're on and takes a seat, hunched over with his elbows on his knees. "And I'm guessing there's a reason you didn't. Care to share?"

    You wonder if you should tell him the attempted badass effect of that posture is cancelled out completely by his swinging, kicking feet on either side of the bench.

    "I'm not going to kill women or kids," you say. There's a note of pride in your voice when you say it, and that makes you a little ashamed of yourself. You aren't supposed to be proud that you show mercy to children; it's just what you do, if you aren't a psychopath.

    "I see." His next question isn't 'and how the hell do you expect to arrange that', but it might as well be. "Is that your 'nindo'?"

    "Fuck nindo," you say with as much venom as you can inject into your voice. "I'm not spending the rest of my life as a thug in some freaky deathcult who murders on the grand high poo-bah's say-so, and neither should you or 'Mari. You're better than that."

    Suna is not Whispering Mist, where such a comment would immediately be put through forty different forms of analysis by the surveillance teams following the kage's children and then reported upon to the public at large. Suna is not Heartless Rock, where Gaara would have been obligated to hamstring you on the spot and only then call in the possibility that you might be thinking about defecting. Suna shinobi are not the Voyeurs Hidden In The Leaves, who would sic some 'kind', 'sympathetic' jounin on you to make sure you don't learn any jutsu higher than C-rank until they're certain you aren't going to stray from their precious happy-sunshine Will of Fire.

    Suna is brown and yellow and orange and red and grey. And when it comes to privacy, grey outweighs the other colours. No one gives a shit what you say and no one wants you to give a shit about what they say. It's all talk until you actually do something.

    Gaara smirks.

    "So. What's the thing you miss most about home?"

    "My friends," you snap. "Got a problem with that?"

    Then you realize what he just said.

    Your brother obviously doesn't know what to do with your reply. Hilariously, he almost looks like he expects to get punched if he says anything else. As if anyone's ever landed a punch on Gaara.

    'What do you miss about home'. I'm guessing somebody could, back in the day.

    Finally, he sighs.

    "... shit. Now I feel shallow for missing the way girls dressed."

    "Or the way they'd sometimes just smile for no reason on the street," you say, remembering.

    "Or that stuff they used on their hair, whatever the hell it was, that made it smell like that."

    "Conditioner," you tell him. "She would add it to the shopping list without actually telling me what brand she used and then complain when I got it wrong. Used to drive me nuts." You frown, or maybe Jigen does. Frédéric Fekkai... something something. Hell, she'll probably expect me to remember when I get out of here, too.

    "Pizza," Gaara says. "Please tell me you remember pizza."

    "Deep dish or the real thing?"

    "YES!"

    Holy... he wasn't this excited on his last birthday. Kid must seriously love his pie.

    "Do you know how to make it?" he asks breathlessly.

    "Well, yeah," you say, taken aback, "it's not really that hard."

    And just like that, Gaara is grabbing you by the wrist and dragging you off to some bakery across town, laughing and babbling something about ancient wisdom from beyond the world's end.

    Why am I always the one who gets dragged into things?

    Relax, kid. Enjoy the ride.

    So you do.

    =

    Temari sighs. "Well, it makes about as much sense as anything else about you two."

    You can't help but smile. Good ol' sensible-as-salt Temari.

    "So you won't tell the old man?" Gaara asks.

    In retrospect, it does seem a little strange that Gaara has never once referred to the Kazekage as his father; not even when he was first learning to talk.

    "At this point, I don't think it's really any of his concern," she replies. "Dad's job is to protect the village. My job is to protect you two."

    And that's when you know, if you ever get out of here, you're taking Temari with you. You always kind of knew you would have to - she's your sister, after all - but this clinches it. You're not leaving her behind to take the fall for letting you escape.

    "There isn't anything else, is there?" she asks.

    "Oh," Gaara says, "forgot to mention, I'm half Devil. That's why I always win at hide-and-seek."

    Temari stares.

    "Huh," you say. "That's a hell of a thing. Not gonna try to conquer humanity and kidnap beautiful women, are ya?"

    "Nah, no money in it."

    You shrug. "Fine by me, then."

    "'Look after your brothers, Temari'," your sister mutters under her breath. "'They're so much younger than you; they need you to watch over them...' Goddamnit, Mom..."

    =

    You get the impression that either Gaara didn't live long enough to grow up the last time around, or no amount of living is going to cure him of his inability to save his money. Damn near everything he makes that he doesn't spend on rent, repairs for shit he's broken or pizza goes to you guys, sooner or later. Temari gets all the clothes and girl stuff from the capital she never admits to wanting, Uncle Yashamaru's medical team gets that special imported salve from Bear Country that got cut from their budget, and the girls who're at every show the band plays order drinks on his tab.

    You, apparently, get a gun.

    "Is it close enough?" Gaara asks, sounding unusually nervous by his standards - which is to say, nervous at all. "I had to give the guy the specs myself and I've never really been a revolver kind of guy."

    You pick up a handful of nibuban coins in your free hand, throw them into the air, and fire.

    All are perforated when they hit the floor.

    "It's perfect," you say.

    And if your smile has more than a little to do with the dumbfounded look on your brother's face, well... you're just celebrating while you can. You give it maybe two, three seconds tops before he starts grinning like a wolf.

    Ah, yep, there is it. No way is he going to be holding back on you anymore.

    =

    "Are you absolutely sure?" Temari stresses.

    "There's no reason anyone would try to pretend to be someone only I remember," you insist. "This is my best friend's handwriting, I'm telling you. And that unmasking? That was pure Lupin."

    "Let me guess: Ms Conditioner?" Gaara smirks. "Just bear in mind, big brother, past-life girlfriend or not, I saw her first this time around."

    You are unable to keep the grin off your face. "By all means, have at it, kiddo."

    Seems like a long way to go to teach him fiscal responsibility.

    No it doesn't. 8)

    =

    "You know her from somewhere. Where?"

    You stare. "You really don't beat around the bush, do you, kid?"

    "Where?"

    "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

    Nara Shikamaru's 'don't give me that bullshit' look is remarkably advanced for his age. "So you're from her last time around."

    You raise an eyebrow. "She told you?"

    "She was breaking seals at six months old and running heists by the time we were five. I'd be a complete moron if she had to tell me what she is."

    "You'd be surprised what people can rationalize in a ninja village," you say, sighing. "Yeah. We were friends."

    He takes a sip of his drink. "Are you going to ask her to defect?"

    "Fuck no." If you ever invite Lupin III to Suna, it'll be to bleed your father's savings dry and dye his robes of office pink.

    "'s all I needed to hear." He sits back.

    You blink. "That's it? How do you know I'm not lying to get a leg up on her in our match?"

    He smirks. "If you're really her friend, then you know why. No one gets a permanent leg up on Yamanaka Ino."

    "Except a cute brunette with great jugs," you mutter.

    Shikamaru flinches. "... well. That explains something I didn't really want explained."

    =

    You are Kankuro.

    You don't have much, but you have a family, and now you might have a friend.

    You think. Does it count if past-life circumstances throw you together? You really hope so, because Ino seems nice.

    She's the heir to the Yamanaka clan, and the longer you spend around her the more apparent it is that she has no idea what that name means to people who aren't from Konoha.

    Lupin (Lupin! Right there in living breathing pouting-because-you-implied-he-slipped-Goemon-the-meat technicolor!) sees your expression as she chatters on about her dad, and silently pleads with you not to say a word.

    Prince fuckin' Charming.

    You try to give him a reassuring look, but you think you might've fucked it up - you don't have a lot of practice at this sort of thing.

    You hope he knows you understand. Hell, how could you not? Look at her; she's like a little slice of home somehow got preserved in the transition to this world. She hugged you to say hello. No ninja does that to someone they just met. Not to mention she's the first sensor you've ever met who's been able to have a real conversation with Gaara.

    But she isn't all Pollyanna.

    "You mean at some point you might have to give your life for that sulking pretty-boy?" you ask, livid.

    She waves away your anger like an unpleasant odor. "I know, I know, we're working on it. And for the record, he was nice enough to share the revenge pie with me; when we take Itachi out we're going tag-team."

    You desperately want to say something like, "Yes you are, and you'd better make room for a third team member." Just something to show you've got her back. This isn't just a nice girl, after all; this is Lupin. He's just as much your brother as Gaara is. That he also currently happens to be petite blonde girl who really does not look like she's ready to take on an S-rank missing nin is just icing on the cake. You want to tell her that even though things are different now, this much hasn't changed; that you're still her triggerman, if she needs one.

    But you know how this kind of thing goes. It's personal. You'd just get in the way.

    "What about you?" she asks eventually, grinning. "Am I gonna have to stage a daring daylight robbery of the Kazekage’s kids and kick off an international incident, or what?"

    [X] Write-in.
     
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  6. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] I feel exactly those feelings, too, and that's why I keep them inside

    "I'll take a rain check," he says. "The situation's a little complicated."

    "Yeah," you say with a frown, taking a moment to reflect, "I guess it would be, wouldn't it?"

    You've never held the Throne open to visitors this long; maybe you should think about wrapping things up before anyone starts to get seriously worried. But not before your information exchange is over.

    Pick up to two.

    [X] "What flavour of complicated are we talking about, here?"

    [X] "So whacha wanna do about our match? Y'wanna go all out, or just have some fun?"

    [X] "Speaking of complicated, I hope this isn't a personal question or anything, but what the fuck is up with your brother's chakra? The last time I heard chakra like that a gigantic fuck-off fox-shaped A-bomb was Godzilla'ing Konoha."

    [X] "So how do you wanna play this? In a minute we're gonna hafta go back outside, and people are gonna have some questions."
     
  7. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] "What flavour of complicated are we talking abo- wait, what?"

    Kankuro hesitates. "How much do you remember about home?"

    You shrug. "A lot, but it's like someone else's memories. Why?"

    The boy sighs. "I don't wanna sound like a whiner or anything, but... Suna is a third-world hellhole. There's no way to be polite about it. By ninja standards it's probably pretty sane and normal, but that still makes it a dog-eat-dog pressure-cooker where the strong take whatever they want and the weak get stomped on. And I can't just leave because no matter how big a prick the old man is, 'Mari loves him and Suna both. If Gaara and I split, we'll have to kidnap her and bring her along with us - she'll never agree to go with us and if we leave her behind they'll use her as a hostage to make us come back. And that's not even getting into the whole jinchuuriki thing."

    "What's a jinchuuriki?" you ask.

    Kankuro blinks. "Oh. Right. I forgot, you guys have that stupid law that doesn't make any sense. A jinchuuriki is someone who's had a bijuu sealed inside them. They're like human nukes, they help keep the balance of power between the villages. Gaara is one."

    ...

    .....

    [X] "... okay, setting aside for a moment the heavy shit you just dropped on me, what exactly is this law you're talking about?"

    [X] "That... how...? The bijuu are like hurricanes! Or earthquakes! Or alien invasions! How the hell do you seal something like that?! Why would you want to seal something like that?!"

    [X] "Wait, human nuke?! Are you saying if you and Gaara try to run they'll detonate him?"

    [X] Write-in
     
  8. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] You turned me loose, then you turned me wrong

    Kankuro looks surprised. "Oh. No, he's not like a literal A-bomb; he just has enough chakra to level a hidden village and move on to conquering a country from there."

    You let out a sigh of relief. "Good, that's one less thing to worry about at least."

    "... Konoha must be weirder than I thought," he says, shaking his head.

    "Well, whaddya want? I've met your brother, he seems like a nice guy. Is this where you tell me Suna's backing out of the alliance and you guys are invading?"

    "Are you joking?" Kankuro snorts. "Konoha's thrice our size and we're on the verge of bankruptcy."

    "For reasons which are partially our fault," you prod.

    "For reasons which are entirely the Wind daimyo's fault," Jigen interjects, rolling his eyes. "Don't worry, kid, we're not going to pour pig's blood on you just as you get crowned prom queen."

    "Well, glad to hear it," you say, nodding appreciatively. "We should probably head back out before your sister grabs a shotgun and starts prodding me to the altar to salvage your honour."

    His eye twitches.

    "But Ino~!" Lupin whines. "They just got here! Five more minutes!"

    =

    You awake to the sound of a fight not happening.

    Sitting up, you spy two ANBU across the room, looming over a now-standing Sasuke, while Gaara smirks up at him.

    "Oh, balls," you mumble.

    "Oh, good, you're awake," Temari says, looking at you over her shoulder. She and Chouji have apparently been standing guard over you and Kankuro; the Parrot-masked ANBU in front of them is greatly amused about something. "Would you please do something about your friend?"

    [X] "Yeesh, you first; I'm not walkin' into that."

    [X] Shout across the room: "Oi, Sakkun, they're having a midnight showing of the Washi the Listener trilogy down at the movie theatre. If we hurry we can still make it."

    [X] Reach out with your sensing, and then shout across the room: "Twenty ryo on the ANBU! Do I have any takers for either of the two scrawny genin against the eight jounin and two chuunin, most of whom are currently invisible?"
     
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  9. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Maybe you'd shoot straighter than you do

    "Twenty ryo on the ANBU! Do I have any takers for either of the two scrawny genin against the eight jounin and two chuunin, most of whom are currently invisible?"

    "Oh god, here we go..." Kankuro says under his breath as Temari stares at you with a look of betrayal on her face.

    "Fifty on me and duck-hair," Gaara says, promptly backhanding both of the ANBU restraining Sasuke with his sand and leaping to his feet. "I'll take the jounin if you handle the chuunin."

    [X] Oh, hell, this is getting heavy. Time to take a stroll around the block...
    -> [X] Snag someone to bring with you (Write in?)

    [X] "I hear fifty! Fifty on Gaara of the Sand Waterfall and Sasuke the Landlord! Do I hear sixty? Double or nothing, people!"

    [X] Hell, a hundred and twenty bucks on the line? Time to do something you swore you would never do and help out local law enforcement.
    -> [X] Write in?

    [X] Grin at Kankuro and Shikamaru. "So! Which one of you will be bailing us out and which one of you will be helping us kick some ass?" When the answer to this question is established, leap into the fray. A little friendly sparring with the assassination corps never hurt anybody.
     
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  10. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Well, what're ya waitin' for? Let's get to work! >:D

    You hop up to stand on the banquette.

    [X] "All right, I got fifty from Gaara on himself. Three gets you two odds on ANBU! Taking all bets! That's a bet of 3 ryo on Konoha's finest will get you 2 on a win! It's the guy who shrugs off bullets and the Best Uchiha against the Konoha dectet! Lot of good talent in our ANBU squads, I sure wouldn't bet against them myself! What'll it be, gents? If the fight is inconclusive, house keeps all bets!"

    "Ten on the ANBU!" a clearly-hammered civilian man hollers from down the bar. His slightly-more-sober friend grabs him by the arm and drags him out the door just as a flying table knocks over the stools they were sitting in.

    "A hundred on us," Parrot says mildly, before jumping into the fray.

    "Ten from the fella in the green jacket, a hundred from Parrot, both on the ANBU!" You flick some stray bits of sand off your face. "C'mon, where's your sporting blood, people? I know the kids are a little looped, but they're both on the fast track to jounin status!"

    Neji continues to sit calmly in his booth. The only sudden move he makes is to tilt his head slightly to the left to avoid a kunai that embeds itself in the wall next to him. Idly, he pets a facepawing Menka, and smiles quietly at the convivial chaos.

    "Ami-san, please, she listens to you-"

    "THREE HUNDRED ON SASUKE-KUN!"

    You can't quite hear Tenten's reply, but you doubt it's complimentary.

    "Fine!" Temari scowls, and pulls out her wallet. "Forty on Gaara. You are the weirdest Yamanaka on the face of the earth, you know that?"

    "Yes I am!" you say, wondering what she means by that.

    "Twenty on Chouza-san," Shikamaru says, slouching into a more comfortable position and resting his head on the cushioned back of the banquette.

    "Make it forty," Chouji says with a sigh.

    "Oh, I'm on a timer, am I?" you ask, grinning. They're not wrong; the Sultan of Supper is almost certain to show up sometime. And if the fight's still in full swing when he gets here...

    "A hundred on you," Kankuro says flatly.

    Temari and Shikamaru stare at him.

    You pout. "Spoil my fun, why doncha?"

    "They're playing your song, princess; why don't you dance?" he replies innocently.

    [X] How do you want to bring the fight to a draw?
     
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  11. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Three plans are much more fun... workin' together as one! (Anyone else remember the Blue's Clues movie? :3)

    The bunshin smirks with self-satisfaction as you leap into the fray, henge'd into a Monkey ANBU. You snatch Parrot's wallet, empty it (twenty, and you bet a hundred? C'mon, man, don't be that guy; nobody likes that guy. I know, I've been that guy.), and return it to his pocket. Then you run out the door, throwing out handsigns related to getting backup.

    =

    If a record had been playing, the needle would have scratched across it the moment you walked back in.

    "Good evening," you say pleasantly to the bartender - one of Chouji's young aunts, you think. "Warm shochu, please."

    "At once, Hokage-sama," she replies immediately, stressing the title ever-so-slightly.

    Abruptly, Gaara drops two of the guys he's been wailing on.

    "Well," he says brightly to Sasuke, "looks like we're having a little sleepover downtown."

    "I'd like to request that we be tried separately," Sasuke mutters to one of the recently-dumped jounin.

    A captain bows to you. "Sir-"

    "Hello, Crocodile. I see your team and young Sasuke-kun have been showing our guests the best in Konoha hospitality. Thank you," you add to the bartender as she places your order before you. You take a sip, and smile serenely at the masked man. "Perhaps next you can show the young man the hotsprings. It is Thursday, is it not? I'm sure the matrons of the Allied Mothers' Force's discount night would be greatly interested in the outcome of this free spar."

    No one says anything.

    You spend a pleasant few minutes finishing your drink while the people around you try to clean up without attracting your attention. Finally, you smile, pay for the drink with Parrot's money, tell the bartender to keep the change, stand, and walk out.

    Just as Chouza is walking in.

    "Hokage-sama-!" he says, the bottom dropping out of his voluminous insides. "What a pleasant surprise," he follows up, not missing a beat. "I trust everything was to your liking?"

    "Delightful as always, Chouza." You pray that the Hokage refers to all the clan heads by name. He calls your Dad Inoichi, but...

    When you've gone a few blocks, you finally dispel the henge and turn back-

    Jesus H. Jumped-Up Christ!

    "Seriously?" you say, trying to get your heart rate back down, glaring at the fuckin' ghost that followed you. "What the hell is wrong with my sensing lately?"

    "Oh?" Hatake Kakashi says mildly. "You're sure it was your sensing?"

    "So what are you doing following me instead of your student, sensei?" you ask cheerfully, still buzzed from the successful caper. You remove the fake hat and mask, and shrug off the robe. "Don't tell me I'm gonna have to bail out Sakkun and Gaara."

    "Not just yet. I believe Sasuke would benefit from the valuable life experiences a broadened social circle can provide," Kakashi says.

    Your eyebrows rise.

    This guy is wasted on Sasuke.

    "Can I take that to mean I'm not ending up in there beside them?" you ask, giggling.

    "That depends."

    "On what?"

    He pulls out a mission scroll. "On whether you accept."

    You frown. "A C-rank?" Now? Of all times?

    "B. Infiltration, in the capital, two weeks with the potential for a long term extension. If you complete it successfully you'll be promoted to chuunin automatically when you return."

    Holy crap.

    You know what this means. Assignments like this are never given to genin. If they're offering this kind of deal to you, they've got their eye on you for jouninhood in the near future. Maybe there's a position opening up with Jiraiya's spy network! Or they want you to be Konoha's Woman in Suna or Oto!

    [X] Accept.

    [X] Decline.

    [X] Write-in (Like a thief!)
     
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  12. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] If for some reason, I'm not present, blame it on my adolescence

    ... you sigh, and, pouting, hold out your hands.

    "Fine. Take me in."

    "What?" Kakashi asks, looking slightly surprised (goddamn it, this is worse than the Edajima School boys. At least most of them didn't even know what chakra was. Does the Sharingan just have a passive sensing-blocking ability or what?) "Yamanaka-kun, are you saying you'd rather be imprisoned for impersonating the Hokage than serve the village?"

    "I'm saying that someone needs to face Gaara and give him a decent fight or Suna will be pissed at us," you say, frowning at him. What's he tryin' to get a rise out of you for? "Considering all I did while disguised was stop a bar brawl from escalating to the point of causing an international incident-"

    "- after provoking said bar brawl -" the grey-haired man comments.

    "- and not even the ANBU on-site made me, is there really any reason to lock me up? Especially since I'm a clan heir - that'd be really embarrassing for everyone." You shrug, and try giving him a charming smile. "I think I'm more likely to get a slap on the wrist officially and a lot of humiliating KP duties unofficially. Along with some nasty stuff Mom and Dad will come up with," you add, wincing. You hadn't really thought about what they'd have to say about everything you've been up to lately. "And I won't get kicked out of the chuunin exams, because I'm the only strong candidate who hasn't been ordered not to fight Gaara."

    "You have a greatly inflated sense of your own importance," Kakashi says bluntly. "What makes you think Gai will refuse a direct order from the Hokage to make his students fight the Kazekage's son?"

    "Sandaime-sama wouldn't do that," you retort, offended on the old fella's behalf.

    "He's the God of Shinobi," the jounin fires back. "If you don't think he'd sacrifice one or two genin for the good of the village, you don't understand what the title Hokage means."

    But that's...!

    You glare at him.

    "Look, I'm not a little kid, okay?" You fold the robes neatly and stuff them in the largest seal-pocket at the back of your haori, then collapse the fake Hat and shove it in on top of them. “I know being Hokage means you have to do some cold shit from time to time, but you aren’t going to tell me he’d put Neji and Lee’s lives in jeopardy just to make sure I get mine. That’s an awful long way to go just to teach me a lesson."

    “Shorter than you think,” Kakashi says.

    "Well, we'll see," you say diplomatically. "In the meantime, my friend is in jail and I'm not. One way or another, I need to do something about that."

    The grey-haired man's mask shifts, and his lone visible eye crinkles shut. It takes you a moment to realize he's smiling.

    "Let's go bail him out, then. If he isn't free by tomorrow he'll throw off my whole training regimen for you."

    You blink. You can't quite think of what to say; you're not sure if you're reading him right.

    "... uh... was... this a job interview?" you finally manage.

    "A test," Kakashi says, looking very pleased with himself. "Gai told me you intend to, ah, 'nobly clash with Gaara of the Sand Waterfall'."

    You can barely believe your ears. "And you want to train me for the fight?"

    He shrugs. "I do now."

    You grin.

    "In that case sensei, I have a condition." You hold out a hand. "Lemme see your porn."

    YES! Finally! You don't need sensing for this one, he's completely poleaxed.

    "what."

    "Hey, don't get the wrong idea, I'm not gonna hurt it," you say soothingly. "I just wanna see it." Your other hand emerges from behind his back clutching a light novel with an orange cover. Your eyes gleam.

    "Perfect! Oh, I'm so glad you have actual taste." You flip through it, tilting it to the side to check out a full-page spread. "I asked Sasuke, but you know how repressed he is, he's no help at all with stuff like that; everything sex related is 'creepy fetish stuff' to him. There's no way my Dad would let me train under you if it was scat or something you were haulin' around town." You hand Icha Icha back to him, and pat it affectionately. "But ya can't go wrong with tottsan. Big fuckin' softie. They're practically romance novels."

    "... mm," Kakashi mms, and saunters casually down the street. "Sasuke's waiting."

    Aw. He didn't stay flustered.

    ... a challenge! >:D

    Ino, no. You can do better than a prematurely-greying assassin in sweatpants who's twice your age and reads porn in public.

    I don't wanna do better, I want to tease Kakashi!

    ... oh, god, is this how Jigen feels? ._.;

    -----
    Merry Christmas, everyone. I got you a sensei. ^_^ I know you already have one, but this one's bigger - you'll grow into him.
     
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  13. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] What a beautiful day to be free...

    Sasuke is incredibly nervous to see the two of you in the same room. That you are feigning tears only deepens his dread.

    "I don't know where I went wrong, sensei," you sniffle. "I didn't raise him to break the law in front of witnesses!"

    "Maa, maa," Kakashi says, patting you on the shoulder, "you mustn't blame yourself, Ino-chan; he simply fell in with a bad crowd."

    Poor kid. He doesn't know whether to get embarrassed or pissed. "Please stop."

    "How could you, Gaara?" you demand, clutching dramatically at the bars. "After I trusted you to look out for him!"

    "Here's your fifty," the redhead says, a tendril of sand holding it out to you.

    "I thought you looked like a dependable kid," you reply cheerfully, tucking it up your sleeve. After having to pay out the ANBU's hundred to Kankuro, it feels good.

    Gaara holds up his hands with a cocky grin. "Hey, my looks are nice, but I got more to offer than a pretty face."

    "No you don't," Sasuke and Temari say as one. The blonde girl blinks at your childhood friend from the doorway.

    "Jealous, both of you," Gaara declares. "Where's that brother of mine? Sometimes I feel like he's the only one who appreciates me."

    "Kankuro and Baki are smoothing things over with the ANBU upstairs," Temari says, discreetly slipping you the forty she owes you. "Get your shit and let's get back to the hotel room before our chaperon dies of shame."

    "You too," you nod to Sasuke.

    Ninja jail cells have bars as a formality, but really it's the seals in the walls that keep prisoners in; concussive ones that foil escape attempts, and subtler ones that foil good escape attempts. When your bail is paid you don't leave through the door, because there is no door. You just shunshin out.

    "Is Ami handling the bail?" Sasuke asks as he does so.

    "Ami's at home in bed, as far as I know. She isn't too happy with you."

    "What? What for?"

    Oooooof course he's surprised. It's Sasuke, what did you expect.

    "You picked a fight with Gaara over nothing, then joined a fight Gaara started with the ANBU, lost her three hundred ryo by losing the fight, and got arrested for drunken and disorderly conduct," you explain.

    He frowns. "It wasn't over nothing! This idiot kept flirting with her and sayin' stuff about you-"

    "Y'mean the same stuff I say about boys all the time?" you ask frankly. "And if ya don't want cute foreigners making Ami blush, maybe you should give her a better compliment on her exam performance than 'Well done'."

    "'Cute'?" Gaara asks of no one in particular, raising an eyebrow and apparently thinking for a moment, before shrugging. "I can work with that."

    "Not tonight you can't," Temari says doggedly, dragging him out of the room by his arm. Laughing, he gives Sasuke a two-finger salute.

    "See ya 'round, Sauce. Ino, I'll see you in my dreams."

    "Not if I see you first," Sasuke grumbles.

    "Speaking of dreams," Kakashi puts in, and you almost twitch; you half forgot he was there, "the two of you should head off to bed."

    "Maa, sensei, Sasuke and I don't have that kind of relationship!" you protest, wide-eyed.

    "Nor should you," he replies, "you'd devastate Ami."

    Sasuke 'urks' quietly.

    =

    The next day, your father is at your breakfast table when you come downstairs. No one else is up yet; it's just the two of you.

    "Ino," he says before you can so much as wish him a good morning, "as the head of your clan, I am ordering you: if you come up against Gaara in the finals, you-"

    "- will show everyone why even the battle-monsters think twice before fucking with us," you transition smoothly, opening the fridge door. "Would you like some orange juice or something?"

    "No thank you," he answers, "and don't change the subject. I don't give you many orders, Ino, and I will not let you brush this one off."

    Oh, you are not going to like this conversation. He hasn't congratulated you on your truly noteworthy success in the first two stages, which can only mean bad things.

    You pour your own juice, and take the seat across from him.

    "I've been very lenient with you," Inoichi says. "Much more lenient than any of your friends' parents have been with them, because you have always shown the best judgement I can expect of someone as young as you are, and because I don't believe in stifling your spark. But you cannot fight Sabaku no Gaara. The risks are too great and the rewards too meagre."

    "Even with Sharingan Kakashi helping me prepare?" you ask, raising an eyebrow.

    "Even with," he confirms, not even looking surprised to hear. "Though I expect you to apply yourself assiduously to the training he has prepared for you regardless. It may be a secondary concern to the training you'll be doing with me, but-"

    Your dad says some other things, but that's the point you stick on. Training. Clan training. Intensive, the way the other clans do it.

    What's changed?

    You think back to last night - what exactly did Kakashi say...?

    "A test," Kakashi says, looking very pleased with himself. "Gai told me you intend to, ah, 'nobly clash with Gaara of the Sand Waterfall'."

    You can barely believe your ears. "And you want to train me for the fight?"

    He shrugs. "I do now."


    He never said he was there to train you for the exam. Originally it was just a test. A test to see if you should receive training? Or...? And for what reason?

    What's changed?

    [X] Ask.

    [X] Make a guess. (Write-in)

    [X] Hear him out, then agree to not fight, then go behind his back to figure out what the hell is up. He's practically inviting you to.
     
  14. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Talk to me, so you can see

    "What's going on, Dad?" you interrupt.

    Without so much as changing the tone of his voice, your father says, "What I am about to say to you is classified in the extreme."

    "And you're gonna tell me in the middle of Sasuke's kitchen?" you ask, nonplussed.

    "I've laid a seal array upon the doors into this room that acts as a trigger for a genjutsu," he replies, "one you'll be learning this month. Anyone who walks into this room besides you and I will find it empty and silent."

    You're genuinely surprised at that. Since when does Dad know anything about fuuinjutsu?

    I'm betting there's a lot he knows that we don't.

    Yeah, I was about to ask, what do you make of this?

    Can't say for certain, but I think he thinks he's run out of time.

    Before you can ask what he means, your father asks you if you are certain you're ready to hear things you can never repeat to anyone.

    You say yes, and without being fully sure why, a sudden wave of guilt steals over you.

    "We have reason to believe that a group of missing nin originating from Sound have been active in Fire Country recently," Inoichi says. "It appears they're looking to gain influence, both domestic and foreign, so as to take control of their village from the current administration."

    You blink. "What? Is that why that Oto chuunin was in the exams?"

    He nods. "Ira-san is the one who confirmed the report. He's here to hammer out the details of our alliance."

    "But why?" you demand, perplexed. "Why are we agreeing to pick sides in a civil war over a backwater village we don't even have a preexisting relationship with?"

    "Because the Otokage and Sandaime-sama believe they will descend on Konoha shortly after the chuunin exams," he explains.

    ... damn it, I hate it when you're right.

    I have mixed feelings about it myself.

    "So I guess we do have a preexisting relationship with them?"

    "We do," he says shortly, "and you and I will have to leave it there, for now. I've told you more than anyone outside the intelligence branches knows already."

    You are touched. This is almost better than him congratulating you on your performance in the exams. "... thank you, Dad."

    "There's one more thing," Inoichi says, frowning, and you can tell from the way his bass notes rumble around themselves that he'd really rather not tell you this next part, but he'd feel guilty if he didn't. "It came up in the discussion of terms. The Otokage is an expert in long-term genjutsu and he's confident he can remove the compulsion Itachi placed on you."

    "Are you serious?" you blurt out.

    "Deathly."

    "How does he even know-?"

    "That, I can't tell you. But I can tell you that it's virtually certain he can do as he says."

    "You're that confident?" you ask.

    Dad sighs. "In his skills, yes. He did not become Kage because Otogakure lacked for options."

    "But you don't trust him," you surmise, echoing his sigh. "Is he a former nuke-nin, then?"

    "Almost every active-duty shinobi in Otogakure of chuunin rank or above is a former nuke-nin," Inoichi says.

    "Is he from Konoha?" you ask, bracing yourself.

    "Ino," he says, "I've told you everything I can."

    You huff. "Well how am I supposed to make a decision if I don't know the full story?"

    "Welcome to the officer class," he tells you dryly.

    [X] (Write-in) Ask more questions.
    -> [X] of Dad.
    -> [X] of Lupin

    [X] Decline the offer.

    [X] Accept the offer.

    [X] Set the question aside for now. The Otokage has to turn up in person at some point to confirm the alliance, and likely it'll be soon. You'll have time to learn more about him before you decide either way.
     
    Cattongue, EVA-Saiyajin and assana73 like this.
  15. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Can you take me down off the hook that you've been hangin' me on?

    "Is Sasuke getting this offer too?" you ask.

    "No," Dad says, frowning.

    ... that makes no sense. Anyone who believes the rumours that Itachi messed with you before he skipped town will also believe the rumours that he messed with his brother - the stories go hand in hand. It's conceivable someone might have heard that Sasuke got the mojo, but not you; the other way around strains credulity.

    Unless.

    Unless they didn't just hear. They know for certain what did or didn't happen. Because they were there.

    ...ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-


    Ino? Kiddo? I know you're not really in the mood to talk, but your dad is asking if you're okay.

    -uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!

    So. How do you wanna play this?

    [X] Continue on with the conversation like you didn't just figure out something huge. It doesn't even make any damn sense, you need time to do some background research before you say anything stupid out loud.

    [X] Play on the parental guilt and see what you can overhear from Dad's chakra. "Dad? ... if the Otokage were Uchiha Itachi... you'd tell me, right?"

    [X] Oh-ho, screw subtle. You are pissed. Time to take full advantage of that little genjutsu Dad mentioned. "UCHIHA FUCKING ITACHI? THAT'S OUR NEW ALLY TO THE EAST?!"
     
  16. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    You glare.

    [X] "So, is this one of those 'two wrongs make a right' things? Like, Itachi gets to dive back into my head, and that somehow makes everything okay?"

    Inoichi's chakra shuts down.

    Oh, that is infinitely creepier than just meeting someone I can't read! Ew, ew, ew, my dad just turned into a zombie right in front of me!

    Focus, kiddo.

    "That information does not leave this room, do you hear me?" your father demands, his calm evaporating. "If Ibiki even suspects you might know there will be nothing I can do to prevent him from taking you in."

    With a jolt, you see a hung-over Sasuke wander into the kitchen in a pair of blue pajamas with fans on them. The pants end about an inch above his ankles, and you realize he must have been through a growth spurt in the last year; between his odd predilection for shorts and you growing too, you never really noticed. Just as he completely fails to notice either of you as he lets out a phlegmy grumble and spits into the sink. Gross.

    You turn back to your dad. "The Otokage's a public figure. Wouldn't I have found out eventually anyway?"

    "Oh, Ino, you're too smart for your own good..." Inoichi laments under his breath, massaging his furrowed brow. "Yes, eventually everyone will know. But you can't know before everyone else knows. You're in a blood pact with Sasuke to kill the man!"

    "Well of course I'm not going to tell Sakkun until I know the whole story!" you hiss. "If you think I'm pissed...!"

    "You're not getting the whole story, Ino," Dad says coldly, getting to his feet. "You weren't even supposed to get half of it."

    "Well I'm sorry you're such a crappy intelligence agent, then!" you say incredulously. Is he seriously blaming you for his inability to keep his mouth shut? He was the one who started this secret-telling thing in the first damn place!

    Hey, you wanna lay off your old man? He just wants you to be safe.

    Yeesh, would it kill you to side with me? I'm you, for god's sake!

    No, Ino, you used to be. And when you were, you didn't have a Dad who'd take the time to give you a heads up on impending invasions or keep you out of torture chambers, so how about being a little more appreciative of what you've got, here?

    'Torture and Interrogation' isn't meant to be taken literally, dumbass!

    "Don't you dare take that tone with me, young lady," Inoichi says warningly.

    You sigh. "Yeah... yeah, shit, I'm sorry." Leaning forward on your elbows, you rest your chin in your hand and think.

    [X] "I mean, obviously if you trust Itachi to fix it it's not an issue-"

    "Trust him?" Your father snorts. "Sweetheart, I told you about his offer because I didn't want to keep the choice from you if you thought the risk was worth it. You're legally an adult now; as much as I don't like it, you're allowed to make your own decisions. There might be no other way to remove the compulsion, after all."

    "... how long has he been planning this return?" you ask in disbelief.

    Dad sighs. "My guess is, a good while before he actually left." He glances over at the fridge, where Sasuke stands leaning on the door in bleary-eyed contemplation of the milk and/or orange juice. "And that is truly that. The genjutsu should wear off in half an hour and I need to be long gone by then. I need you to intercept Kakashi on the Heron St footbridge in fifty minutes and bring Sasuke with you. Tell that masked dingbat he can drill teamwork all he damn well pleases as long as he stops dragging his feet on bringing his students up to their full potential." Inoichi opens the window. "And you're not fighting Sabaku no Gaara."

    "Wait!" you say, getting to your feet. "That's all I'm allowed to kn-?"

    "The seals can be deactivated with a dash, a dot, two dashes, and then two dots," he says over his shoulder, swinging out the window. "They shouldn't leave any trace."

    And he's gone.

    Mentally, you curse the lack of decent coffee to be had in this town. If any situation calls for a caffeine and nicotine breakfast, this is it. You're currently keeping a lid on your worry over what kind of probably-S-rank loons think they have a shot at invading Konoha without village backing, your anger at still being kept in the dark about Itachi (what, was your dad just going to let you walk into that trap without telling you about him? Christ, were you right back then about Shisui being on a long-term undercover mission, and Itachi's involved in that somehow? Are there any other survivors of the massacre floating around? Hell, was there a massacre?), and your sheer panic at what the hell you're supposed to tell Sasuke and when.

    Is that a joke? There's no telling what crazy thing he'll try to do if you tell him now.

    He'll be even more pissed if I keep him out of my investigation.

    You take the half hour to think it over. You deactivate the seals, you have a shower, and you come back downstairs.

    "G'm'rn'n," Sasuke murmurs into his cornflakes.

    "And what did we learn about lowered inhibitions this time?" you ask with false cheer.

    There is a long pause. "... did I get arrested for something?"

    "I'd definitely say 'picking a fight with the odds-on favourite for victor of the whole exam, and then taking on half an ANBU division' counts as something, so yeah."

    "Oh, god, I thought I dreamt that," Sasuke groans miserably.

    "There's something else," you say, having come to a decision.

    [X] "The Otokage is apparently really bad news, but we're making an alliance with him anyway. Keep on your guard around Team Deidara, all right?" There. That's all he currently needs to know, and you can always tell him it's Itachi later, when you actually have something to report.

    [X] "My dad wants us to meet Kakashi before he shows up to the training grounds and tell him he's unofficially ordered to become a hands-on teacher posthaste." You were right before. Giving Sasuke hints about things not being quite right could make him start looking into stuff on his own, and then you have no control over when he finds out and what happens when he does.

    [X] Sasuke has a right to know, damn it. "Don't tell anyone and don't go off on a crazy rampage, but I just found out the Otokage is Itachi."
     
  17. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] "My dad wants us to meet Kakashi before he shows up to the training grounds and tell him he's unofficially ordered to become a hands-on teacher posthaste."

    You can't tell him. Not now.

    You like to think he wouldn't back out of your promise to take revenge together, but honestly, there's no telling what he's liable to do if he finds out Itachi is coming back to Konoha right this minute. For gods' sake, the last time Weasel talked to him, he promised he'd return and kill Sasuke's friends if the boy didn't get strong enough fast enough.

    And even if he doesn't run off to die or to train or whatever, Sasuke's not the wait-and-see type. He's going to start asking questions - he's going to want to know how this even happened, and because he is as subtle as a brick to the face, he will undoubtedly land both of you and your dad in front of Ibiki inside a week, if not a day.

    No, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You have a plan, and you're going to make sure Sasuke sticks to it; the two of you will become S-rank badasses, and then go weasel-hunting.

    Training with Sharingan Kakashi is a good start.

    =

    "YOU'RE-" Naruto starts to yell, spraying food everywhere, but then stops, swallows, and looks confused. "... not late. What gives, sensei?" Setting aside his breakfast, he gets to his feet.

    "This is Yamanaka Ino," Kakashi introduces you, ignoring the question. "As a favour, she'll be joining us for training for the next month." Jounin being jounin, you aren't surprised to notice he didn't say exactly who was doing who a favour, or mention the additional training you and he will be doing privately in the evenings.

    Aburame Shino nods at you in quiet welcome, and downs the last of his tea.

    "Why?" Naruto asks curiously. "Isn't she in the exams?" He perks up. "Does that mean we get super-cool chuunin exam training now?"

    This kid is a ninja?

    Technically.

    "That's exactly what this means," Kakashi says cheerfully. "So settle down, my adorable student, and listen well." Abruptly, the happy façade drops. "I'm going to teach you how to kill a jounin."

    Naruto flinches. The lines of Shino's face harden. Sasuke turns to stare at his teacher so fast you're surprised he doesn't get whiplash. For your part, you feel like someone's padlocked your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

    "Well!" Kakashi says, all smiles again. "That's what I'd like to say, but the simple fact of the matter is that you suck too much to have any real chance of reaching that level within a month."

    Lupin doesn't say anything, but you get the distinct impression he's angry about something.

    "WHAT?!" Naruto roars indignantly, and despite the fact that he does so right in your ear, you grudgingly grant him some points for being the fastest to snap out of it, of the four of you. "If we suck, that's your fault as our teacher, isn't it?!"

    "Naruto," Shino says quietly.

    In a move unprecedented in your experience, the biggest attention whore you've ever met shuts up.

    Red and Blue, is it? No wonder our little Sasuke feels left out.

    "Why will we be learning to kill jounin specifically, sensei?" the bespectacled bug boy asks.

    Kakashi explains about your situation with Gaara. Shino's ever-present frown deepens.

    "Who does he think he is, startin' trouble in our village?" Naruto grumbles.

    "The chuunin exams wouldn't be worth much if they weren't any trouble," you say, stretching.

    "Mm! I guess you're right, there," he says, smiling cheekily. "I've decided! I'm gonna help you out with your training, Ino-chan! Just promise me you'll whup this guy good."

    "You got it!" you reply with a grin.

    ... uh, Ino...?

    You blink. Wait...

    "Awright! Sensei, let's get to it!" Naruto has already moved on.

    ... so... if he's not a ninja, maybe he's some kind of voodoo priest?

    =

    You'll get the setup for the choice and the options themselves when I'm not so goddamn tired. I wanted to get this up, at least, to show I'm not dead. And neither is this quest.

    =

    "Now then..." Kakashi says casually. "Ino. I'll be using you as part of an important demonstration."

    He punches you in the face.

    [X] Take it and the broken nose that comes with it.

    [X] Dodge!
    -> [X] To your left, the side the fist is coming from
    -> [X] To your right
    -> [X] Backward

    [X] Duck!

    [X] Try to redirect his fist!

    [X] Get inside his reach and kick him in the face!

    [X] Jump!
    -> [X] ... and be ready to counter or dodge the next blow when you come down
    -> [X] ... and try to get in a good kick

    [X] Write-in
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  18. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] Oops! up! side-ya-head, I said oops upside ya head

    Right. No point in being a moron who thinks fighting an elite jounin head-on is a good idea.

    Better to stick to your talents, and go for sneakiness.

    The punch arrives, and with a cry and the slightest twitch of your ankles, you jump backward and fall into a roll in the dirt, kicking up dust.

    Granted, you aren't likely to fool Kakashi...

    "Ino!"

    ... but you can fool a couple of genin into dividing his attention momentarily.

    "Oi, what was that for, sensei?!" Naruto demands. "She didn't even do anything!"

    "Well, neither did I, really..." Kakashi says, sounding somewhat taken aback.

    The opening isn't huge and isn't going to last. You're about two metres away. What do you do?

    [X] Boot to the head!

    [X] Gaze into the fist of Dredd!

    [X] Quickly, henge up an injury! Milk the misunderstanding for all it's worth! Cry!

    [X] Shunshin into the forest before the dust fully clears. Remember, direct engagement is a bad idea. Be stealthy and make him come to you.

    [X] Well, he did kind of imply you were here to help out. Sit up and say, "Lesson one, guys; just because something looks plausible, that doesn't mean it's actually what's happening."

    [X] Write in
     
  19. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Man, I'd feel bad if I didn't give you at least a summary or something before moving on.

    Kakashi was going for the To Learn To Win, First You Have To Be Able To Tell Which Situations Will Actually Give You The Opportunity To Win angle. So at first, his idea of getting these poor kids to the point where they can survive an invasion consists of a week-long tide of You Guys Just Aren't Good Enough, Here's What You Need To Work On.

    There. I think I can build off of that. Everyone get the idea?

    =

    [X] Backstreet's Back, All Right!

    "Ino, are you sure you won't marry me?"

    "Why are you trying to get Ami to murder me?" you shriek-whisper, clapping a hand over Sasuke's mouth instinctively and checking for your friend in both directions.

    He bats your hand aside. "You made Kakashi teach," he says, awestruck.

    "Sasuke's right!" Naruto chimes in, nodding vigorously, before realizing what he just said and adding, "... for once. We weren't doing any real lessons until you showed up!"

    "In the past six and a half months," Shino says mildly, "we have taken exactly twenty missions, one of which was a two-week C-rank to River Country and nineteen of which were D-ranks completed in a single day. The remaining 130 work days were spent on a combination of team-building exercises, sparring, chakra control, and intermediate tactics."

    Sasuke scowls, but doesn't say anything.

    "... aw, y'know what I mean, Shino," Naruto says sheepishly, "I mean, like, jutsu and stuff! We didn't even do tree-walking until we went camping."

    This conversation is tilting ever-so-slightly in the direction where someone eventually asks, "So why is Kakashi suddenly so keen on teaching us actual killing techniques?", and you would really rather no one actually asked that question. Naruto probably won't, he doesn't seem the type to look a gift horse in the mouth, but Sasuke can be really paranoid when he puts his mind to it.

    "Are you guys gonna do any supplemental training?" you ask to change the subject.

    "With my family and a tutor Kakashi-sensei recommended," Shino says with a nod.

    "I still don't see why we can't just learn that stuff from Kakashi," Naruto grumbles. "He's supposed to be our teacher, not some other guy."

    "If we can round out our knowledge of the basics with someone else," Shino explains calmly, "Kakashi-sensei will be free to use his time on teaching us more advanced jutsu."

    Naruto perks up a bit at this. "Hm. I guess that makes sense. And it's not like Sasuke gets to do anything cool with the extra time he gets - he's just tryin' to make his eyes work."

    "The Sharingan is cool, dumbass," Sasuke says sourly.

    The blond waves him off in a manner he probably thinks makes him look mature and jaded. "I'll believe it when I see it."

    =

    Training with Dad isn't quite what you expected.

    Granted, what you expected was to improve the Shintenshin, work on the Tobideru Shiryoku, maybe get as far as the totally awesome Shinranshin, and round the whole thing out with yet more sensing training.

    What you didn't expect was to do all of that, and learn a slew of clan-specific privacy seals, the practical details of several agreements the clan has with its non-Akimichi or Nara allies in the village, and the access codes to a dozen safehouses scattered across the continent.

    "Dad, what exactly do you expect me to be doing during the invasion?" you ask one evening as you gingerly shift through a veritable mountain of paperwork - how does a clan with the ultimate eidetic-memory jutsu end up with so many print records?!

    "Luck favours the prepared," is all Inoichi says before handing you your dinner on a tray and heading back downstairs.

    Any ideas what this is about? you ask.

    Mm? Ah, maybe he wants you to help him coordinate an evacuation for all the civilians with the help of some of these other families?

    ... do you really think that, you ask suspiciously, or is that just what you're going to say to make me feel better?

    ... yes?

    You sigh, and go back to sorting documents.

    =

    With all this training, you have limited time to train for the finals. Hell, you had to move back into your parents' house for all the Yamanaka stuff.

    [X] Focus your efforts on winning your first round fight with Jigen and Kankuro and your second round fight with either Kuyo or Ami. Your Dad is right; anyone planning an invasion has to have spies trying to get the 411 on the new blood, so it's better if you don't fight Gaara and call attention to yourself
    -> [X] Plan?

    [X] Screw that! If you don't fight Gaara you're basically putting Neji or Lee in the line of fire!
    -> [X] Plan?

    Your few opportunities for socialization, you spent with:

    [X] Sasuke and your old friends.

    [X] Kankuro and his siblings. You can keep the gossip mill turning, freak out the bookies preparing for the finals, and spend time with one of your oldest friends all at the same time - it's win-win-win.

    [X] Kibi! After all, who else are you in a position to pump for information about Oto?