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Seven Colours (Naruto)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Planeshunter, May 29, 2020.

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  1. Bolo276

    Bolo276 Making the rounds.

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    It isn't so much that her classmates are boring, as that Ran hasn't given enough of a damn to learn anything about them. She wrote them off as nose picking morons at day one, and has yet to reevaluate her decision. Being stuck in a team with them might force Ran to realize some of the NPCs do have some character to them, if she's willing to look.

    I'm halfway expecting her to be too busy fretting over Karin to do so, though, but one can hope for character development.
     
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  2. Sceptic

    Sceptic Critical Irrationalist

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    I give good odds on her not actually bothering to remember their names for at least a couple of updates.
     
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  3. Ayashi

    Ayashi Experienced.

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    Yeah i can see little Shimoda trying to make friends... by inviting them to her training sessions sending them all (jounin-sensei included) to the hospital...

    pfff, that unhealthy relationship is the best thing about the fic!
     
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  4. Amazon Climber

    Amazon Climber I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I’ll take that bet. I’ll put my imaginary internet money on them being the two named characters we met in the Academy sequence. Conservation of detail and all that.
     
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  5. Akritedes

    Akritedes The Flesh Is Weak.

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    That would, arguably, be even less likely to produce the result the village head is looking for. Forcing her into pairing with someone who pursued a one-sided grudge campaign for nearly the entirety of their academy time and the other prodigy who's ass she beat bloody is...uh, not a combination for making friends and deep bonds of loyalty.
     
  6. Amazon Climber

    Amazon Climber I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    It worked for Team 7.
     
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  7. Akritedes

    Akritedes The Flesh Is Weak.

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    Given how hilariously completely and totally dysfunctional Team Seven was, before it violently imploded into grand betrayal and obsession, I don't think it actually did. The only reason it came to anything even resembling a good end is because Naruto is so badly brain-damaged that he's willing to ignore literal betrayal and murder in the name of "but muh friendship!".
     
  8. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Depends on how much Muku holds a grudge. If he doesn't care about losing their official match, I could see those two working together, he seems a lot more laid back than the heiress and hasn't been active in any of the attempted bullying.

    Honestly, the Heiress might work, given that she's now lamenting that she didn't try to make friends with Ran right away however there's no way the leader of the village would know that and, if I were him I wouldn't bet on it.
     
    Grimmouse197 likes this.
  9. Threadmarks: 025 - Team Six
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    025 - Team Six (or ‘What do you mean there are no D Ranks?’)


    My first meeting with ‘my team’ doesn’t actually happen until the following day. We’ve all been called to one of the training grounds for our first face to face. I mean, sure, they mentioned the names of my teammates back in the classroom, yesterday, but I was a bit busy hearing ‘not Karin’ to pay attention to anything else.

    Not like I can actually match a name with a face. I mean, I’ve been a bit busy with more important things than paying attention to a bunch of brats, these last years. Anyway, first meeting in the morning, we’ll be introduced to our sensei. We’ll probably not have a ‘real genin test’ though, because Kusa’s cheap copy of the Academy methods are cheap.

    For a brief, marvellous moment, I entertain the idea of pulling a Kakashi and getting there four hours late. But I really don’t have the temperament to waste time like that.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    So here I am, arriving exactly in time, to somewhere I don’t want to be, with some people I don’t want to be with, because of reasons I don’t agree with. Shinobi life in a nutshell. Then I notice who my team exactly is.

    “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Seriously, why? Couldn’t it at least be Muku and Ryūzetsu? I can at least be civil with Muku and Ryūzetsu! “Is it too late to confess I cheated in the exam and should be retaking the last year in the Academy?”

    “No can do, little monster. You’re stuck with us.”

    “Well, crap.” I let out a sigh, gathering my patience. The next year or three promise to be trying. “Cyclops-sensei, Cyclops-chan, Whatsyourface… please treat me well or whatever.”

    “... Adorable.” Cyclops-sensei mutters, trying to go for a nonchalant image. Kinda failing at it, too. “Well, we’re together from today until you inevitably mess up and die a horrible death, so I want to hear your introductions to the rest of Team Six and—”

    I can help it, I snort at that. Because, really. Boss Dude might be an utter cunt, but he at least has a wicked sense of humour.

    “Care to share with the rest what you feel is so amusing?”

    “Well, we’re team six...” I might have to swallow my complaints and play along… “And that’s the number of eyes we have, all put together.” But it doesn’t mean I have to be nice about it.

    “Why you little—!” Cyclops-sensei makes to admonish me, but Cyclops-chan acts faster, jumping at my neck with an inarticulate scream.

    So of course I get under her arms, tap her chin with a light jab and then use her own foce to throw her to the other side of the field. Nothing that could cause permanent damage, of course, we’re all friends here.

    … For a certain definition of ‘friends’. I still remember how Karin was abandoned in the Forest of Death by her teammates, a lifetime ago.

    For some reason, my demonstration of skill with taunts, situational awareness, quick reaction and sheer physical prowess only earns me a death glare. Well, more like a half of one.

    Because Cyclops, get it? Eh? Eh?

    … Tough crowd.

    “Whatever. As you have no doubt worked out already, my name is Shimada Ran. I like omurice, the dynamics of an asteroid and sleeping with a cute girl in my arms. I dislike manipulative old cunts who twist the bonds of vulnerable preteen girls for their own sick purposes and lunar deities hell bent on mind-whamming humanity into some sort of matrix ripoff. My dream for the future used to be a long happy life with my loved ones, but collapsing the world in a quantum singularity is gaining appeal by the minute. Your turn, just don’t expect me to quote you on it.”

    Am I laying it too thick? … maaaaybe. Do I give a shit? Sorry fresh out of those.

    Grass is not Leaf. Here, being the meanest cast iron bitch in the block actually earns you respect. Maybe not from your team, sure, but as long as I don’t go around getting caught in the act of actually endangering their lives mid-mission, I should be golden.

    At least, I assume so from hearsay and my metaknowledge. It’s not like I’ve been paying much attention to actual team dynamics before. It never looked like a priority.

    … Meh, one needs a hobby to pass the long Karin-less hours.

    Oh, they’re done talking. “So, are we doing some missions or what?”


    Turns out, Cyclops-sensei wanted to test our mettle in a spar first.

    And with that, I mean he wanted Cyclops-chan and Whatshisface spar with each other when he tested my own taijutsu. I would love to say this was an interesting chance to check my nominal allies’ specialties, so we at least had the most basic of groundworks for our future teamwork.

    Instead, we had a couple of utterly boring hours of fucking playing ninja. My fellow genin were so distrustful of each other they refused to reveal anything beyond basic taijutsu and the academy three, making their spar into a mockery. Sweet Homura, Demon of Love, they weren’t even good at pretending those were their real skills. The awkward and stilted movements making more than obvious the truth.

    Those weren’t their real moves and they had to constantly rein in their ingrained muscle reflexes.

    Sensei wasn’t much better. I assumed he would at least force me to fight at my peak, in taijutsu if nothing else. And indeed he pushed me further than the two stooges managed to push each other, but reaching a certain point he simply stopped upping the ante.

    I guess there was some standard he wanted to make sure I was up to? But then it made no sense to drag me to a higher level than the other two. Maybe he was just being a jerk? Yeah, that sounds about right for this team.

    When we finally stop, I have to hold back a sigh of frustration. Two Cyclops with good reasons to resent me, and some other random kid, neither of whom seem inclined in the least to show the rest what they can truly do. And we’re supposed to take on bandit camps by ourselves. And hopefully survive whatever misranked mission we encounter in our first year. This is a mess.

    What? Of course there’ll be a misranked mission. If my past life taught me something about this one -besides encyclopedic knowledge of Konoha and it’s enemies, I mean- is that there’s always a misranked mission in the first year.

    I’d blame the Boss Dude for trying to kill us, either by design or negligence, but neither makes any frickin’ sense. So… what am I missing?

    Must be some social thing or another. By Madoka, I still suck at socialising.

    “Okay, laze around all you want. But I got better things to do. See you at the mission office whenever you’re ready.” With a last gaze at my team, who are shamelessly using the fake training as an excuse to take a nap, I leave the place.

    Maybe I can finally nail down that reentry friction formula for rare metals before our first D-rank.


    “Our first mission is to exterminate bandits.” I deadpanned.

    “Yes?”

    “Not carrying groceries, or fixing rooftops, or painting fences, but brutally and ruthlessly murderizing fellow humans, albeit some rather poor examples of humanity” I made sure we were on the same page.

    “What? Afraid of actually sealing the deal?” Cyclops-chan butted in. “You didn’t have much trouble with anything else.”

    I stopped for a moment to consider the question seriously. On the one hand, it would be my first time actually taking a life, both of my lives included. It was an important step and I didn’t rightly know how to feel about it. On the other, no wasting months as glorified gophers.

    “Actually, I think this’ll fit me just fine.” I shrugged in the end. “Just wasn’t expecting it.”

    “Did some senior prank you about that?”

    “Nah, but I assumed the prank was not telling us. Like, setting up the newbies for a disappointment sort of prank.”

    “Huh, that’s exactly what they do in Konoha.” Cyclops-sensei added. “Where did you even get that idea from in the first place?”

    “Grandfather is a travelling merchant, he knows a lot.” I offered, because admitting you’d got the wrong idea by watching subtitled foreign cartoons in your past life really wasn’t an option here.

    As I discovered after the most basic of research, for the most part of the Elemental Nations shinobi are just killers for hire, it’s only in the Hidden Leaf that you can find them mingling with the civilian population while dealing with menial tasks while everyone else mocks them for it.

    You ever wonder why the Konoha are considered the ‘good guys’ at a continental level? It’s for little PR stunts like these that apparently not even the sharpest minds of outside Konoha are able to understand. There, shinobi are part of daily life for every civilian and somewhat heroic figures to admire. Here and pretty much everyone else we are… killers for hire. Necessary, but not necessarily liked.

    We leave the Academy to be thrown into low-risk escort or courier missions, and we work our way upwards from there. And Grass is big on intelligence gathering, which means low chance of missions being miss-ranked. After a month, the most interesting thing that happened to us was that first extermination mission. And I’m pretty sure Cyclops-sensei only took it to blood us in a controlled environment.

    By the way, that was the only actual conversation Team Six-eyes had in the whole month. I can already taste the unbreakable bonds of trust and teamwork.

    … That was sarcasm.
     
  10. Sceptic

    Sceptic Critical Irrationalist

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    Oh cool, she got one of the named characters from her academy days.

     
  11. RyubosJ

    RyubosJ Vote Tie's little bitch - 2018/????

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    Wow, I feel all my respect for boss dude identifying the upcoming shit storm and developing a way to mitigate it flowing away. Who thought putting Ran with the two eye duo was a good idea and why are they trying to one up danzo in stupidest ninja of the decade
     
  12. Inbetweenaction

    Inbetweenaction Making the rounds.

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    to be fair, she has actually interacted with cyclops-chan. Sure, it was to maim her, but it's something to build on, right? Right?

    oh, who am i kidding, it was someone who thought that her barb about being team six eyes would be hilarious.

    Edit:

    With their academy established as being essentially a joke... is she overestimating the prowess of her teammates? They could actually be this bad, and are not trying to hide anything. Cyklops-sensei should be jonin, but is he? wasn't he just a chunin when mom gave him a name we could remember? So he is chunin, or low jonin, and we are trained by Mother. unless he goes all out, this could be what he can do without intent to kill. or as a Shimada would put it, pussyfoting around.

    Edit edit:

    Went back, and cyclops-sense is indeed assumed to be a chunin when he was turned into someone we could barely remember. But then, he might be an Undercover kusa anbu and fake being lover ranked than he is...
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  13. Ayashi

    Ayashi Experienced.

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    Oh god, this one really got to me :V
     
  14. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    Yeah, preeeetty sure she just beat her entire team uncondcious, sensei included, without realising it.

    I'm thinking Ran is around Kabuto's skill level (as he was in the chuunin exam arc).
     
  15. Ayashi

    Ayashi Experienced.

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    "I failed the chunin exams seven times in a row" Kabuto is pretty scary, yes.:V
     
  16. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    You know what I meant :sneaky:.

    And for anyone who doesn't, I mean "able to get into a fight with Kakashi and get away unscathed and untraced," not "summoning and controlling an undead army of S-rank ninja."
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  17. Bolo276

    Bolo276 Making the rounds.

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    You just know Bossman sits in his office late at night when they're making these teams, and puts them together solely based on how funny he thinks it would be.

    "Ok, this one will be Team... Depth Perception. Boom, nailed it. And this one... Team Ninjabait. Or, how about..?" Etc.
     
  18. ChaoticSky

    ChaoticSky Not too sore, are you?

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    God I have the weirdest desire for a month long timeskip to end with Ran on her third team, who are super nervous because all her other teams suffered unfortunate accidents.
     
  19. Inbetweenaction

    Inbetweenaction Making the rounds.

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    naah..... just all of them broken down from the light morning training.

    slackers, had to drag them all to the mission, do the mission, then drag their bodies back. so she had to toss her teammates to make them punch people, what about it? Using your teammates to improve your reach in kicks is basic teamwork, not our fault they broke their legs when we swung them...

    you would think a jonin could take some mild to moderate Shimada training without breaking down, wouldn't you.
     
  20. Amazon Climber

    Amazon Climber I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    For some reason I’m reminded of Sir Pratchett’s joke about people getting along like a house on fire.
     
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  21. Jacobs lash

    Jacobs lash Getting out there.

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    Didn't the boss want her to bond with her team and lower risk of needing to kill her later on? Did he change his mind and set her up to fail? Because there are 2 people likely to sabotage or let her die on the team one leading the team.
    Does he think they'll make amends ? because they both have justifiable reasons to hate and kill her then pluck her eyes and see if they can use it for a transplant because "after reconciling they became friends and she would want them to have them to help them later on "
    The 3rd has no attachment or reason to become friends with her meaning they might just help the sensei kill her for a better chance of survival
     
  22. Inbetweenaction

    Inbetweenaction Making the rounds.

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    the SI, ofcourse, being the one to sett the fire. After all, her teammates where doing it wrong and it would have taken forever to burn down the house their way.
     
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  23. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    There's actually a certain logic behind it. Doubt I'll have a chance to directly explain it in-story, but give it a couple of chapters so you can see how the situation develops.

    I won't lie, that was in the cards while I planned this part of the story... :rolleyes:
     
  24. Inbetweenaction

    Inbetweenaction Making the rounds.

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    eh, they are memorable, and will want to punch her face in. facepunching is ninja making friends 101.

    not to mention them wanting to punch her face in meaning that they will do the harass interaction thing with her so they can get strong enough to punch her in the face.

    whatshisface could also be a person she is supposed to turn to when the Cyclopes are mean. And their mutilation and weakening being something that she did that comes back to hurt her could be a way of trying to make her see that "mutilation of your alies is bad, mkay"

    not that mother agrees with the last one, if they are stupid enough to need crippling then they are to stupid for depth perception
     
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  25. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    I doubt it. I'm honestly thinking her mom is around Kakashi's level at the point of late Naruto/early Shippuden (high-A with the potential to become S, not S yet, but getting there) based on things like her Kage not thinking Ran's mom could protect him from Orochimaru, even with backup, and the fact Grass isn't a major village, so having someone that could match Sharingan Kakashi is probably as good as they can do. Since I don't see Ran doing as well against her mom as Kabuto did against Kakashi, I doubt she's as strong as he was during the Chuunin Exam, yet.

    That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Ran was really high Chuunin, almost Jounin, level, whereas her teacher is low to mid Chuunin and that's why he was working at the school instead of out on missions when she met him. If he'd been an actual Jounin he probably could have kept up with her, maybe even taught her something, but Ran's not that lucky. Of course, that's Ran's level now, when we're just before or just starting canon. By the time of the Chuunin Exams, she might be stronger than Kabuto.

    By the way, I called that Muku would have worked
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  26. Akritedes

    Akritedes The Flesh Is Weak.

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    "Civil" and "worked" are two non-overlapping descriptions.
     
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  27. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    He also got fucked up by naruto at about that time. He was underestimating naruto, and didn't know he had the rasengan, and his fight with kakashi had him exclusively trying to escape instead of going head to head with kakashi, which in my mind put kabuto at low-jounin at that time.

    Tl;dr: we agree on Ran's level of ability.
     
  28. Grinningmadhatter1

    Grinningmadhatter1 #OrcPrivilege

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    The more you see em interact with characters, the more monstrously prickish Ran acts. Maybe it was a clever move not playing into Rans hands and putting her on the bestest speshul team, and give her an opportunity to reflect on how much of an antisocial dipshit she is.

    Was there really any need to take the piss out of the missing eyes? Fuck i legit want Ran to get smacked the fuck down.
     
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  29. Akritedes

    Akritedes The Flesh Is Weak.

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    It's almost like high-functioning sociopaths aren't good at socializing and have different priorities, or something.

    Meanwhile, I'm over here in the "not having any sympathy for cyclops" camp. Suicide-baiting and gloating over familial deaths really doesn't deserve any better.
     
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  30. Threadmarks: 026 - On addiction withdrawal and falling low
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    026 - On addiction withdrawal and falling low (I want my cuddle bug back!)


    It’s been another four months, and I’ve had time to know my team better. I have to admit, I was kind of wrong about them. They are even worse than I feared. It’s not the veiled hostility I couldn’t care less about. It’s not the constant attempts at verbally putting me down, which have petered out as they finally internalize that no, I wasn’t going to be the one getting burned. It’s not even the blatant attempts at holding me down, even if that’s annoying as all hell.

    It’s their Ganon-damned laziness!!

    No matter the plan for the day, we never gather before seven, and when we do, we waste a full hour in warm-up exercises. What the hell do they do at home? After that, during training days they either avoid including me (blatant attempts at holding me down) or come up with ridiculously unfavorable conditions for me, that they later squander. Because, as I’ve already mentioned, they’re Ganon-damned lazy.

    During mission days things are a bit different. During those we actually work together. Or our best approximation, because they’re still refusing to show their true strength, so I have to dance around the slowpokes to get things actually done. For some reason the jerk of Cyclops-sensei doesn’t seem very happy at that, going as far as accusing me of hogging the merit of the mission. The nerve of some…

    Not that it matters too much, because missions only happen once a week, at best.

    Fortunately, not everything is against me. I’ve found out a legal way to skip team training. This would’ve never flown in Konoha, but I won’t complain too much since it works in my favor. It’s not like I would’ve needed to do this if I was in Konoha, anyway.

    The magic solution has a name: ‘Solo missions’.

    Yup! Any fresh-eyed, half-baked, lemming-brained genin can take on solo missions, provided they pass a ridiculously lenient aptitude test. They even excuse you from team training and a lot of other shit, these are the real money-makers of the village, after all. There are some limits, of course, I need to be available for team missions and all that but, as I’ve already mentioned, those only happen once in a blue moon.

    Have I mentioned my team is lazy as fuck? Because they are.

    I wonder what they do in the evenings? It’s when we’re supposed to develop our secret techniques in the privacy of our own homes, and frankly I don’t know what to think of them. Will they squander their evenings as they do their days? Will their ridiculous paranoia come from their super-strict secret training they don’t want to show off?

    It would be cool if it was the last, but I’m not holding my breath. Because… I was wrong about my team. We aren’t Team Six-eyes, this is Team Half-ass.

    “Shimada.”

    I turn towards the voice. It’s Ryūzetsu, sitting on a terrace with Muku and… Whatshisface.

    “Yo.” I join them, grabbing an empty chair and plopping on it. “How’s it going?”

    If you'd told me three years ago that I’d be rubbing shoulders with them like this, I would’ve nodded and slowly stepped back without sudden movements. But here we are! Honestly, they aren’t that bad. And if I pay for the drinks, they listen to me rant about the unfairness of life.Sometimes they even have joint missions or training with Karin’s team, and they tell me about it.

    “If you’re asking about Uzumaki, we haven’t met in a while.” She answers, crushing my hopes. “I think her team left for a long-term mission or something.”

    “Ugh…!” I cross my arms on the table, sinking my head between them with a groan.“One would think in five months I would’ve found a chance to spend an evening with her at some point, right? When she’s free I’m training, when I take a day off she’s on a mission outside the village. When we try to set a date, something comes up… It’s a conspiracy, I tell you!”

    “It can’t be that bad, you still sleep in the same home.”

    “And she’s always out like a light when I’m done for the day! You’ve told me how hard she tries everyday, I’m not going to wake her up just get my fix!”

    “You’re a damn addict, Shimada.”

    “And damn proud of it.” I slam the table with my hand, minding my own strength. My reputation really doesn’t need me to have to foot the bill for even more private property. Then I slump back into my chair. “... Man I miss my cuddle bug.”

    “Such is life, things should calm down a bit when we make chunin, or after a couple of years.” That’s Muku, the boy always has something reasonable-sounding to say. Even if just because he remains silent otherwise. “There’ll be much less expectations pressing on us by then.”

    “But that doesn’t help me now!” I don’t whine, I’m far too dignified for that. “To heck with it, I’m getting drunk! You guys up for something a bit stronger than coloured water?”

    “But Shimada-san!” Whatshisface protests. “We’re still twelve, we can’t drink yet!”

    “Old enough to kill, old enough to get plastered. The bill’s still on me and I’m drinking anyway, so you guys with me or not?”

    They look at each other as if drawing resolve from the team, before turning to nod at me. Formalities out of the way, I order some sake and drop a bag of ryo in the waiter’s hand to keep it coming. Solo missions bitch, I’m swimming in money!!

    I look around after a while, spying blushing faces and dopey smiles. They haven’t drank half of what I’ve done, between the three of them. And yet I’m barely feeling the buzz and they’re already in their happy place, it’s not fair.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    Deciding enough is enough, I move to claim my cuddles.

    “Shimada!” I hear Ryūzetsu screech. “What are you doing in Muku’s lap?”

    “I want m’fix of cuddles, Muku’s th’ cutestest here.”

    “You harpy! Get your paws away from my b— from my friend!”

    Oooooh, she’s gettin’ all jelus now!!. That’s actually kinda cute, comin’ from Ryūzetsu.

    “Get bent Shimada! You’re drunk!” Oops, did I say that out loud?

    “You’re drunk too, and jelus.” Because I’m not above petty namecalling right now.

    She tries to retort, but only spluttering denials come out. I can’t help a fit of giggles, this is just too fun!

    “Okay, youre cute enuf!!” I announce, taking advantage of her lowered guard to pounce at her and snake my arms around her waist, before pulling back into Muku’s lap. “You get cuddles too!”

    The situation devolves from there, and we somehow end up sprawled on the grass beside the terrace, Muku and me making a Ryūzetsu sandwich while whatshisface looks from his seat, making a face like he’s been caught inside an undispellable genjutsu. As we try to get our breath back, the lack of redhead cuties by my side sinks in once more.

    “I miss Karin.” I whimper. Ryūzetsu pats me in the back, it’s strangely reassuring.


    That evening, I was in my super secret lab doing super secret things (and mixing some highly volatile acidic gases for one of my modified containment tags) when I felt Karin’s chakra getting home. I push back the urge to get out to meet her, reminding myself for the umptenth time that I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favour with that, and how angry at me Karin got the last time I neglected my training to try and spend time with her.

    So far, business like usual. Well, except for the mildly sick feeling I’ve come to associate with the consequences of heavy drinking. I try to focus back on what I was doing, this is actually a delicate step and I still haven’t got the hang of it. I don’t miss how her steps are a bit heavier than usual though, seems like I’m not the only one having a difficult day.

    A couple of hours later I’m finally done, putting my chemistry set back into the highly secure containment seal I keep hidden within the room, and the stuff I’m not supposed to have into the really secure containment seal that’s not hidden within the room. With a sigh, go straight to the bathroom. Turns out acidic gas is killer for the hair, who could’ve known?

    The water in the tub has gotten cold, but judicious application of fire transformation solves that. Once the room is nice and steamy, I sit on the stool and grab the shampoo, groaning in pleasure as I start massaging my scalp.

    I think about it less and less every year, but judging those not-quite-memories from my last life, I wasn’t a bath kind of person back then. Having grown up in a traditional japanese home this time around though, I can’t really see the appeal of a shower over the real thing. Sure, it’s expeditive, but I don’t bathe to get clean.

    … I mean, not just to be clean. The relaxation it induces is at least as important as personal higiene. And trust me, after today, I really need a bit of relaxation.

    So focused am I on this, I don’t notice the other presence until they open the sliding door and get into the bath with me.

    “Karin?” I try to turn to face her, but she prevents it with a hand on my shoulder.

    Instead of giving an explanation, she kneels behind me and starts scrubbing my back with a soapy sponge. Okay…

    This is, most likely, not what it seems. Twelve years of social incompetence haven’t managed to make me think like a proper japanese person, or whatever close approximation Grass culture is, but has at least given me the awareness.

    Sharing a bath is a sign of closeness and intimacy, sure, but not necessarily that sort of intimacy. She’s probably gathering her courage to tell me something hard to say. So instead of letting my lower parts do the thinking and jump her, I put my hands on my knees and let her wash me up, doing my best not to think about how my body is reacting to her attentions.

    She goes all the way through it, only after rinsing me clean does she lean closer, hugging me and puting her chin on my shoulder.

    “All my team died.” She manages to get out, before she breaks down crying.

    … Sometimes I hate being right.
     
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