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Katsuro Uchiha

"...go away."

0 · 572 views · located in Naruto Universe

a character in “Naruto: End of Attrition”, as played by Dynamite

Description




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The True Defender of the Uchiha
My name was a wish my parents made. I have no intention of granting that wish, and I don’t want this name. Nevertheless, it is mine to bear until I am dead.




|Theme|

Chevelle || The Red
Apocalypta || I Don't Care
Five Finger Death Punch || Remember Everything
Fall Out Boy || The Phoenix
Fall Out Boy || Light 'Em Up
Gemini Syndrome || Babylon
Shinedown || My Name
Device || Hunted
Adelitas Way || Invincible
Blue Stahli || Takedown




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It’s not exactly classified information, and you’re far from the first person to seek it.




Nickname
[ Katsu | Uchiha ]

Age
[ 25 ]

Gender
[ Male ]

Village:
[ Konohagakure ]

Clan:
[ Uchiha | Senju ]

Kekkei Genkai:
[ Sharingan (Mangekyo) ]

Sharingan Techniques


Chakra Nature:
[ Curiously, Katsu seems to be capable of ninjutsu of all chakra affinities, much like the Senju of old. Though the ones that came to him first and most naturally were Fire and Lightning. ]

Ninja Rank:
[ Jōnin—ANBU ]

Role:
[ The Second Sage of Six Paths ]

Face Claim:
[ Kurō Yatogami | K Project ]



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Come to mock the dragon in its cage? See where the stumps are—those used to be wings. But nobody with a family like mine gets to fly anymore. We’re all in cages, now.




Hair Color
[ Black ]

Eye Color
[ Grey-Blue ]

Skin Tone
[ Fair ]

Height
[ 6’ ]

Weight
[ 167 ]

Physical Description

Katsuro’s face is assuredly an Uchiha’s face—fair-skinned, with angular, well-formed features, and exotically-shaped almond eyes set under a brow with a seemingly-permanent furrow to it. It is a face that, like those belonging to many an ancestor, has earned him a small legion of fangirls, even with his horrible attitude and complete disdain for apparently everyone. He’s usually to be seen wearing a scowl or at the very least a frown, and does not smile, at least not that anyone he knows has seen. He doesn’t even smirk, honestly, and really, that’s because there’s no reason to, as far as he’s concerned.

His hair, worn long enough to hit his mid-back when unbound, is most often kept in a high tail that sits between his shoulder blades. A few shorter pieces frame the sides of his face, coming to slightly beneath his chin in length. His hair appears somewhat thin, but this is actually due to the fact that each of the hairs is very fine rather than coarse. There are a lot of them though, and so the overall mass is quite thickly-dense, and as soft as it looks, which is to say quite. There’s a light sheen to it, though it does not seem to reflect any color in particular.

His eyes may be his one piece of maternal inheritance: they are, rather than the traditional Uchiha black, a light, metallic silver-blue, prone to reflecting light and flashing when moved. It was initially feared that he would not be able to achieve Sharingan, because his eyes were not “Uchiha eyes,” but it turned out that he was perfectly capable of this, and indeed manifested the ability at the tender age of four. It’s actually speculated by some members of his family that they manifested as soon as he was born, due to the stress of his mother’s death in the same room, but his father will neither confirm nor deny it to anyone who asks. They are set under somewhat thin, but drawn brows, giving him an impression of being somewhat irritated all the time. It’s not far from wrong.

Katsu is tall, but not so tall that it inhibits his movement or concealability as a shinobi. He is rather slender for his height, though basically all of the bulk he does have is muscle. Given his ability to enhance his strength with various chakra techniques, it hardly matters anyway. His is overall a rather svelte, trim build, that of a runner rather than a weightlifter. He is usually wearing all black, occasionally with the standard ANBU flak jacket. His ANBU mask resembles a falcon or an eagle of some kind. When out of uniform, most of his clothing bears the Uchiha crest on the back or sleeves somewhere.




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Our legacy is tainted, stained so deep a black that there is no longer any room for forgiveness. We earn suspicion simply for being. I can’t even say it’s wrong, considering what we are.




Potential Interest
Fuck Off: Katsuro hasn’t been able to trust anyone enough to form even the most basic of friendships since he was twelve years old—he certainly isn’t the kind of person who believes that a romantic relationship is possible. Perhaps if he were not stigmatized by his curse and the names of his ancestors, but he is, and therefore it’s useless to even consider forming bonds of any kind with anyone. He is solitary and will always be solitary. That’s why he’s in ANBU, and why almost every mission he’s sent on is a solo one. He just can’t open himself up enough to others to even let them touch him, and people have lost fingers for trying.

Skills

    Weaponry || Katsuro is especially focused on techniques which take advantage of his abilities with a sword, or his chakra-based taijutsu, Panther Style, which creates chakra-formed “claws” that extend from his knuckles.
    Copycat || Given the Sharingan, it’s possible for Katsu to copy and use any technique he comes across, with the exception of kekkei-genkai, of course. This means that the list of techniques he can use is theoretically infinite, considering the fact that he has an affinity for all types of elemental release.
    Stealth || As an ANBU should be, Katsuro is very good at remaining hidden and unnoticed when he wants to be, up to and including concealing his chakra levels, something which he’s doing at basically all times.

Ninjutsu

Genjutsu


Taijutsu




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Why could you possibly want to know this much about me? If you’re looking for a weakness to exploit… I promise you, there aren’t any. I’ve had to make quite sure of that much.




Other:
  • Katsu’s father was the son of Sasuke Uchiha, but his mother was from outside the village, a mysterious traveller who, though she herself was unaware of such, was a distant relation of the Senju Clan. Somehow, the current Hokage found out about this, and was therefore both pleased and afraid when the union produced a child, knowing that this gave the boy the potential (though far from a guarantee) to manifest the Rinnegan, the most powerful of all dōjutsu. Unfortunately, she died in childbirth, and with her, any further chance of producing such a child. Katsu is unaware of this part of his heritage.
  • He is generally watched very closely by his village, because of the danger he could potentially present if he went missing-nin as his grandfather had once done. It also does not help that the Uchiha are very few now, and the clan is still very far from the numbers it had before the massacre. Most of them accept their second-class status in the village with equanimity, knowing that it would be worse in the outside world. Katsu is well-known for refusing to do this, and rarely associates with anyone, least of all his own family.
  • Katsu is the subject of a one-sided “rivalry” with Kiyoko Uzumaki, who will frequently will challenge him to contests of strength, speed, or jutsu, as well as sparring matches. Externally, he only barely tolerates these things, but actually… he’d never admit it, but somewhere underneath his cold refusal to acknowledge her as his rival, there is an appreciation for her ridiculous challenges. Of all the people he knows, she alone is herself and nobody else around him, and even if he finds her somewhat annoying, she never lies to him or tries to pretend that they’re friends or that everything is fine in the village. For this reason, he will actually talk to her, though he is most often curt and somewhat rude with her. Still, it’s more than anyone else has ever gotten out of him. Well… anyone alive anyway.
  • Like his ancestors, Katsuro can use his Sharingan to pacify and even control tailed beasts.

Habits

    Training || Katsuro is obsessed with strength and becoming stronger, because in the end, he believes that power is the only thing that will be to his good without the possibility of betrayal. Nobody has done him any favors or helped him, and after his uncle died, he began to seek it with a fervency rarely matched. To this end, he is almost constantly training.
    Stubborn Silence || He sees no reason to engage with most people, and with the occasional rare exception, like Kiyoko, he will flatly refuse to even acknowledge the existence of people who talk to him, going about his day as though they were not there at all.
    Observation || Given the fact that he never speaks, he spends a lot of time listening, however much he may pretend not to. He is also very good at seeing subtle things, like the way the muscles move in a facial expression, giving away emotions that aren’t even fully expressed. His habit of watching people, and the attendant paranoia, have made him very aware of his surroundings at basically all times. It’s next to impossible to sneak up on Katsuro.




Likes
    Solitude || People are a pain, and honestly, he prefers being without them. He spends almost all of his time by himself, and rarely enters the company of others unless a mission requires him to. Even his missions are mostly solo—assassinations and the like. The only partner he’ll accept on a mission is Kiyoko, so occasionally, the two are sent on team assignments for ANBU or the village generally. How he’ll handle his current mission is anyone’s guess.
    Oranges || Katsu enjoys the taste of citrus fruits generally, actually, but oranges are his favorites, a fact that he generally tries to prevent from becoming common knowledge, as he has something of a fangirl problem, and would really rather they not have even a small hint into his mind.
    Tea || He quite frequently drinks the stuff, though he’s never liked the taste, actually. He does it in remembrance of the one person he ever loved, who would frequently force him to sit down and have a cup of the stuff with him. It’s a very private ritual of his, and not one that he has told anyone about. In order to keep it secret, he has learned to brew tea himself, about as well as tea can be brewed.

Dislikes
    People || He’s met precious few who wanted nothing from him, and fewer still who have actually been worth the time it takes to get to know them. Katsuro is deeply cynical about interpersonal relationships of any kind, and once told his father that he intended to make it such that nobody would attend his funeral, let alone cry at it. This was on the day of his uncle’s funeral, many years ago now, but still something he holds to.
    The Hokage || He knows the woman’s hiding something, he just doesn’t know what. Honestly, if Katsu had any real goals in life other than becoming as strong as possible, he might well have left Konoha a long time ago, because the Hokage treats him like a pet dog, always sending him out on important solo missions and rarely acknowledging him otherwise. Still, he knows he’s watched carefully, and simply presumes it’s because of his family. He’s right, but not for the reasons he thinks he is.
    Family/Heritage || The Uchiha are a weak shadow of what they used to be, and he knows that even that wasn’t ideal. Still, they had pride, once. Now they kowtow to the village like loyal hounds, and he hates it. They’re looked at like dirt, often treated like dirt, because of what their ancestors did, and the majority of them just take it. Not him—he refuses. If he has nothing else, he has his pride, and his power, and those things will not be taken from him.




Strengths
    Chakra || For someone not a jinchūriki, he has vast chakra reserves, and, perhaps more importantly, his chakra seems to be completely without elemental alignment, allowing him to use techniques of any affinity with ease.
    Control || Katsu is a precise, analytical shinobi, which allows for the repeated use of very strong techniques for minimal chakra cost. His fine-tuned control rivals that of medical specialists, though he has no training in this area.
    Bloodline || Not only is Katsuro an Uchiha, a direct descendant of Sasuke and before him Madara and before him the older son of the Sage of Six Paths, but he does in fact have Senju blood on his mother’s side, meaning that he has genetic material from both of the Sage’s two sons. He is perhaps the only currently-living individual with this potent combination, especially naturally, as he has no siblings and his mother is now deceased. Technically, this could eventually give him access to the most coveted of all kekkei genkai: the Rinnegan. As it happens, however, Katsuro himself does not know this. His birth was a carefully-orchestrated plan by the current Hokage, and as such, only she and the Council of Elders are aware of Katsuro’s potential for growth.

Weaknesses
    Misanthrope || He despises people, all people, and is generally not afraid of letting them know this. Sarcastic to a fault, one would not be incorrect to call Katsu an asshole, at least on a surface level. There’s a lot of bitterness there, and while it isn’t entirely without justification, he perhaps deals with his circumstances poorly compared to others who have endured adversity. He can be downright hostile to others, and will not tolerate being touched, for any reason other than absolutely necessary medical attention.
    Distrustful/Distrusted || Misanthropy is a double-edged sword. To begin with, he was never going to be trusted, considering the fact that he’s an Uchiha. He’s a konoha shinobi, wielder of the Sharingan, and a direct descendant of Sasuke, and that means that nine out of every ten people he meets are suspicious of him on the spot. His academy year was a living nightmare, obviously. This attitude has given him one to match—he doesn’t believe that other people are interested in his well-being. Ever. This causes behavior of exactly the kind that people have always expected of him, and the circle is vicious.
    The Uchiha Curse || It’s a two-parter, really: the Uchiha gain greater power from hatred and negative emotion—it’s the very foundation of the Sharingan’s manifestations. That Katsuro has unlocked and refined every known Sharingan technique perhaps says something about him and the environment he was raised in. The other part of the curse is that when Uchiha do love, it is deep and passionate, and when it (inevitably) ends badly, it only feeds into the cycle of their hatred and betrayal. Katsu has simply decided to give himself over to the hate and never love at all.




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What do you want from me? There’s nothing else to take—just go away.




Personality
Withdrawn | Sarcastic | Suspicious | Bitter


Upon meeting Katsuro Uchiha, the primary impression that most people get is that of a deep, simmering well of rage. It is not a loud or a boisterous or an exploding rage, but there is the sense that, if tipped just a little further, it could become highly destructive, in the precise, utterly merciless kind of way. There’s something seething behind the light silver of his eyes, and it would seem to be on a hair-trigger. It’s in everything he does—his body language is standoffish and predatory, his stares are sharp and cutting, and his words, when he cares to use them, drop into empty spaces with acidic precision.

He carries himself with a certain kind of distant pride, like one would expect of a noble or someone well-accustomed to power. Not much could be further from the truth in that respect. While he has power in the warriors’ sense, he and those who share his blood are often reviled in the village of his birth. Sometimes spat on in the streets even. Perhaps on some level, it is understandable: the war was hard on everyone, and his grandfather played a large role in many of Konohagakure’s troubles, but that does not, to Katsu’s mind, validate what has been done to his clan, and he has grown to hate Konoha as much as Konoha hates him.

The sole thing that drives him is the pursuit of strength, the mastery of new jutsu, the honing of his body and mind to the pinnacles of perfection. What he will do with that power, he does not know, but he knows that he cares little for the likes of restoring his family’s honor. They have not fought for that, and they do not deserve it. Perhaps he simply seeks to be strong enough to at last surpass the need in his heart to be connected to something, to anything, to sever the parasitic tie of his own memories and attain a more perfect state, one where the pain of existing will at last go away. Where he does not have to remember what it is like to lose the only person you ever loved.




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What kind of screwed up world do we live in when a family’s power comes from nothing but pain and suffering? If you understood even the smallest piece of it, I—no. It is better that you do not.




History

Katsuro was the only child of his parents, and his birth killed his mother. It was an inauspicious beginning to a life that has in fact proven to be rather wretched. Though he was a very talented shinobi from a very young age—a genius and a prodigy, even—that was about all that ever went right for him. He graduated from the academy at age 8, at the very top of his class in everything, including, surprisingly, teamwork and cooperative skills. He’d made Jōnin and ANBU by the age of fourteen, and honestly, everything only started to go downhill after that.

He’d never been well-respected in the village despite his obvious talent, but he was encouraged and supported by his closest relative—an uncle by the name of Hayato. Toto, as Katsu called him at the time, was a very gentle person, and though a highly skilled ninja in his own right and also a member of ANBU, not particularly inclined to violence when other options were possible.

The incident is not one he has spoken of to anyone, but it is generally agreed that Hayato initiated the fight that shattered Katsuro’s life and his naïveté alike. His relative attacked him with the intent to kill, and Katsu almost didn’t fight back. In the end, he had to, just to survive, and he subdued his uncle, rendering him unconscious and relaying to his father what had happened. Hayato was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. His last request was that Katsuro be there to witness his execution, and so as per tradition, he was. Witnessing the death of his beloved uncle, his shield against the ugly truth of the world, awakened Katsu’s Mangekyō Sharingan, and over the next few years, he unlocked all the techniques of which it is capable, though of course he does not use the two that would render him blind in the eye that utilized them.

Since the loss of his uncle, Katsuro has become deeply jaded about everything relating to interpersonal interactions. He does not believe in friendship, nor in love, and has distanced himself even from his family. There are few people he will even so much as talk to, and, unfortunate as others may find it, his “closest” relationship is the one he has with a woman who presumes herself his rival with no real consent from him. Other than the occasional “contest” with Kiyoko or the speech necessary to convey mission results and assignments to the Hokage, Katsu speaks to nobody, and had been this way for many, many years. He does not plan on changing.

Like every Konohagakure shinobi, he served in the fifth war against Kumogakure, though he views it more as a professional matter than a personal grudge for the life of Naruto Uzumaki. As such, he hates Kumo shinobi no more than he hates everyone else, which is still quite a bit but less obviously than someone with a more personal outlook on the last war might. Perhaps this is why someone so obviously unsuited was assigned what is simply a diplomatic mission, or maybe the Hokage just likes watching him squirm. He neither knows nor cares, but he’s definitely not pleased to be there.




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All else is eventually abandoned in the pursuit of power. Who am I to try and change the nature of the world and the people in it? I seek power, too, and I find it. It’s an addiction, and nothing can tear me away from it now. It’s all that lasts in the end, so why would I go looking for anything else?



So begins...

Katsuro Uchiha's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiyoko Uzumaki Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Akira Aburame Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Nariko Kaneshiro Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō

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Mizuki Kawagure, Eighth Hokage, surveyed the young shinobi before her with a critical eye. They were Konohagakure’s best and brightest, in one way or another, though to call any of them ideal for this mission was a stretch. She’d had to balance her need to pick the people most likely to be able to handle the Raikage’s party with the competing need to encourage diplomacy rather than violence. The Council was insistent that these peace talks go well, and she knew the newly-minted Raikage had scored himself serious points in the eyes of the rest of the world by being the first to extend his hand in this fashion… and by agreeing to a negotiation scenario that would be against he and his people from the very start. It was on her turf, surrounded by her people, and almost entirely on her terms.

She fully planned on taking advantage of that.

But in order to make sure things went as they needed to, his people would have to be watched without being caged, and for that, she needed these personnel. Kiyoko Uzumaki was the youngest, but also the most likely to succeed at being diplomatic and controlling herself, so she was nominally in charge of the team. The rest were there because they were either exceptionally talented or else because they had some ability that would be advantageous in such a scenario as this one. The Aburame’s bugs, the Tsukino’s eyes… and well, to be honest Yuhara was there because he wouldn’t hesitate to kill them if he needed to and the Uchiha present because the Hokage took great pleasure in watching him squirm… and because the Raikage was a Jinchūriki.

Folding her hands behind her back, the Hokage tossed back her rose-colored ponytail and stared them down silently for a moment. “I trust,” she said slowly, her voice on a lower register for a woman, so calm it could only be the kind of thing that masked something else. “That I do not have to remind you that the future of your village rests on this.” And because of how important their village was, the future of much of the world, not just its ninja. There was no overestimating the importance of it. “You are to be as hospitable as you possibly know how,” the sardonic inflection, ever so slight, gave away that she knew some of them weren’t capable of much in that department. “And as polite as you can pretend. Until such time as any of them act untowardly, they are honored guests. If they make trouble, you are authorized to use exactly as much force as is necessary to stop that trouble. You will meet them outside the gates, escort them to the guest facility, and see that they eat. Then, you will bring them here. Other than that, do as Uzumaki tells you. Am I understood?”

She wouldn’t usually be so stern about it, but she had a reputation for not suffering fools lightly, and she certainly would not tolerate any foolishness here. These shinobi were ANBU, medics, members of village nobility, and sometimes even teachers. Now, they would have to be diplomats. Difficult as it may be for some of them, it was imperative. Obtaining what she deemed to be the required amount of assent, the Hokage nodded. “Then you are dismissed.”

Kiyoko stood before the eight Hokage, her lips pursed deeply together as the older woman surveyed the team. Being the youngest of the group, would have normally caused her to be a little more temperamental, however; this mission required her to be at her utmost behavoir. She was to lead one of the best teams at the moment, to ensure that everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go. She wasn't sure she was exactly the best person to handle the situation, but then again, it might as well be her. Naruto was, after all, her grandfather, and that alone should have stripped her from even leading this team. But a part of her was glad that she was being given that chance to do something good, something he would have wanted.

She remained quiet as Mizuki spoke, her eyes focused on the Hokage. She absorbed the information, sorting it out into the proper order before she nodded her head. They were going to escort the Kumogakure shinobi to their facilities, feed them, and then bring them here to her. Seemed simple enough, however; she glanced over the group that was under her guidance. Akira, Ryuu, Naomichi, and Katsuro. She almost snorted at the last face she landed on. Katsuro didn't seem too pleased to be here, but she was glad he was, in a weird sort of way. She focused her attention back to Mizuki and saluted the Hokage, a grin settling on her lips.

"Leave it to us, Mizu," she replied, standing out in front of her team before folding her arms against her chest. "You heard the woman. Everything and anything I say, goes, and if any of you have anything to say about that, well," she spoke, her head tilting to the side as a bright smile crossed her face. "You are free to express it, but I don't guarantee I'll take it into consideration," she stated, the smile never fading from her face. If they had anything to say about her and her leadership, they were free to state as such, however; it didn't mean she had to listen to it. For all she cared, they could take it and shove it, even if they were all on good terms. Or at least somewhat on good terms as far as she could tell.

"Unless Mizu here has anything else to say, shall we go meet our new friends?" she questioned, taking a glance over her shoulder towards Mizuki before turning her attention back to her comrades, her eyes lingering just a moment longer on Katsuro with evident amusement.

The Hokage rolled her eyes, but waved a hand anyway. Uzumaki was like that—and probably the only person who could get away with calling her Mizu. Probably because her grandfather had been Mizuki’s teacher and so she’d been around a lot when Kiyoko was growing up. The nickname was an old one. “I already told you to leave, Uzumaki. Don’t be late—we could hardly make a bad first impression on our guests. That she was not especially happy that the Raikage and four of his best would be in the middle of her village for an unknown period of time should have surprised no one.




In sharp contrast to his counterpart on Konohagakure, the Raikage wore a big smile on his face. In all fairness, pretty much everything about him was big, and so his smiles should probably be no exception. The journey here from Kumo had taken the better part of a week, even moving at the pace of very highly-trained, very fast shinobi. It was, after all, quite a distance from one country to the other. He didn’t mind the inconvenience, though—the people he was travelling with were among his closest friends and strongest allies, and that made the distance seem shorter, at least to his mind. Perhaps some would say that mind was just simple, and in truth, perhaps Takehiko would even agree. He didn’t really see a problem with simple, after all.

“What do you think, Rei?” he asked the kunoichi immediately behind him, tilting his head back over his shoulder to glance at her from the corner of his uncovered eye. The smile didn’t disappear, even if it might have been a shade unnerving, given the fact that his eyeteeth were slightly larger than normal, and pointed. It was all Mata’s fault anyhow.

“We’re close,” the medic-nin replied, flexing one of her hands. The thin white scars on the back of her hand pulled taut, then eased when she relaxed her fingers. She was the one who had most recently been to the place, and the only one who would remember its exact location. None of the fighting had ever quite reached either village. “I don’t expect they’ll just let us walk in through the front gate, though… not by ourselves.”

“Mm… probably not,” Takko consented easily enough. “But you never know… we might just make ourselves some friends out of the deal, hm?” His grin widened, and that was how she knew there was more to what he said than a simple, naively-optimistic sentiment. Simple he might be, but Rei knew very well that he was a far cry short of stupid.

"Yeah, well you guys have your work cut out for you then. I don't need to make friends, I already have friends," Nariko replied, shoving her hands behind her head as she stared up at the sky. Her mother was related to the Nara of the Konohagakure village, however; give that she was his grandchild, she might not be as welcomed as she thought she might be. She, after all, did fight in the war too. She killed her fair share of shinobi from Konoha, and she wouldn't be able to wash that away. "Oh look, here's the welcome party now," she stated, lowering her gaze to spot the gates of Konoha in the distance. She could see the outline of five people, and one in particular caused her to grin.

Kiyoko stared at the group coming into view, standing with her arms crossed against her chest. She narrowed her eyes slightly to get a better look, and sighed. She could make the faint outline of something large, and human. If she had to guess, he was either a body guard, or he was the actual Raikage of Kumo. She was going to go with body guard. That left one of the others to be the Raikage, though it ruled out the three kunoichi. If she remembered correctly, the brief said he, not she. That left the shorter, less large male of the group. Sighing, she waited for the group to approach, glancing back towards Nariko and frowned. It had been a while since she'd seen the Kaneshiro, but now was not the time fore reminiscing.

"Alright guys, you know the drill. Be nice, introduce yourselves, and be nice," Kiyoko stated. She shifted so that her arms were at her sides now, and waited for the shinobi from Kumogakure to approach. Once they did, she remained silent for a moment, tilting her head as she regarded the large one, almost tempted to ask about the eye, however; it would be unprofessional and she couldn't exactly just ask. Instead, she cleared her throat and placed a hand on her hip. "Welcome to Konoha. I trust that your trip was pleasant," she started, putting an emphasis on the last word before glancing over her shoulder.

"Kiyoko Uzumaki, at your service. This is my team," she stated, jabbing her thumb in the direction of the others. "We are here to accompany you into the village," and in some way, babysit them, though she wasn't going to say that. She glanced back at her team, waiting for them to introduce themselves. It would be good to know everyones names first, rather than just saying hey you all the time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiyoko Uzumaki Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Akira Aburame Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Ayaka Satomi Character Portrait: Nariko Kaneshiro Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō

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A blonde figure towered over most of the current shinobi present. Only two were taller than her, one significantly and one just barely. Of course, the only person in the entire world she would expect to tower over her was in fact that man, the Raikage himself. Contrary to many others around her, she was not dressed like a ninja. She wore a black suit adorned with white pin-stripes. The white shirt underneath was untouched in color, save for the red tie right down the center. Across her forehead was a string that tied down her otherwise messy blonde hair. That string tied to a mask in the shape of a fox, clearly identifiable as an ANBU Black Ops mask. Eyes of red looked over everyone arriving from Kumogakure. Her look was not one of malice, but not one of trust either. Even if she was not under orders, she would not have outright attacked them. They were here to create peace, end the killing of each other's comrades. For that reason alone, she would be civil.

Anyone standing near the blonde giant would faintly smell strawberry. It was from the strawberry brandy she had sampled from the night before that helped her keep a smile plastered on her face. A fake smile, and one certainly not caused by her visitors... but a smile nonetheless. A couple of introductions went over Akira's head as she wasn't quite paying perfect attention until someone from Kumogakure had spoken up and told the Uzumaki girl to address the proper guy. Her eyes focused around those talking as she would finally begin paying attention. First to Takehiko Yamamoto, the Raikage. It seemed like she chose the right time to pay attention. Then came the introduction of Nariko Kaneshiro, who in turn introduced Kosan. She wasn't quite sure how she felt about any of them thus far, but at least the Raikage seemed charismatic.

At this point, nobody but Kiyoko from Konoha had introduced themselves. It would seem that this would be up to her. Stepping forward, she puffed out her (regretfully small) chest and adjust her tie. With a clear of her throat, she spoke up. "My name is Akira Aburame, next in line for head of the noble Aburame Clan. I am..." She could not think of a polite and honest adjective to describe it, so she would lie. "I am absolutely happy to have you in our village. In my home." She seemed to assert that point. "Me casa es su casa. If you need anything, do not hesitate to ask. It is my job after all to make sure that you are all well-taken care of." She also seemed to assert that it was her job, and that she took little pleasure in it. Looking to the sky, a purple-winged butterfly fluttered by and down. She held out her finger for a perch for the beautiful insect. Smiling at it, she let the genuine smile from the bug carry over to the Raikage specifically. "Welcome to Konohagakure."

As Naomichi approached the designated meeting place for the meeting of the peace treaty, his mind began to wander as the cool breeze blew past the relatively plain looking shinobi. How was he selected to go on such an important mission when he himself was only good at slaughter? Could it be for protection if things turned sour? It couldn't be since he clearly expressed his distaste for anymore violence than is necessary. And he wasn't the brightest or the most socially adept of anyone in the village - in fact he was one of the worst. I guess they only wanted me for killing then... Naomichi quietly thought to himself as he heaved a light sigh and lowered his head in a sorrowful manor.

By the time he reached the Kumogakure shinobi he regained a professional look about him. Despite being a top assassin for ANBU, he didn't really look the part. His black, tattered trench coat sat open on his defined muscles, and his eye-patch didn't serve him any better to look more normal. He looked more like a street thug than anything, and the only thing that defined him from being one was the white wolf mask resting on his belt loop, the eye slits giving an intimidating glare towards the others. He felt gross compared to how nice his companions looked around him.

As he scanned the the Kumo shinobi, he found relief that there was another man with an eye-patch like him. Phew, I don't look like a crazy freak now! Thank you Mr. Patchy! Despite his relatively innocent thoughts, Naomichi looked serious and threatening like he would be ready to take on anyone that even stepped out of place. All he was doing was staring down the man with the eye-patch, giving off a vibe that he really wasn't comfortable with the guy. Unfortunately for Naomichi, all he was doing was trying to have a staring contest with him - which he wasn't noticing.

When the man stepped forward though, Naomichi snapped from his trance and listened to what he had to say. Takehiko the Raikage huh? The man definitely matched his predecessors before him in every sense of appearance. He couldn't see anything wrong with him. In fact, there seemed to be nothing wrong with any of them. They all seemed perfectly nice, despite some obvious hostile looks. They probably were not as bad as Naomichi, and if he wanted to be forgiven of his past actions, he must treat them with the kindness and respect he feels they deserve. He even chuckled quietly at their jabs at one another. He felt that they all were just a happy family... something he always wanted.

When Akira introduced himself, Naomichi felt comfort that the only person who he had any relations with was first; Plus he wasn't first to begin with anyway - that would have just been weird with him. He knew that because of their solid teamwork he would be able to springboard off his introduction with enough grace to earn him a perfect score from the Kumo shinobi. After his sincere greeting to Kohana, Naomichi felt it was time for him to step in. He was proud, strong, and ready for anything. He raised his right hand to give a polite wave to the Kumo shinobi as he stepped forward. "Yo..." And then he choked for a moment. He hadn't planned beyond that. He was sweating bullets and he knew it. "I'm... Naomichi Yuhara?" His lip began to twitch at this moment. He wanted to be strong but he didn't even know what to do. "Welcome to our humble village where we plan to have peace one way or another..." And after saying that he just clammed up and slowly slid back into the line to drift back into obscurity.

Akira noticed the partner of many of her missions step forward and introduce himself. In this moment he said more than she had probably heard him speak in her entire time with him. Countless missions he generally remained silent and distant, listening to her plans and generally only confirming them with a nod. Smirking, she gave him a firm pat on his left shoulder as a way to commend him. Naomichi let a soft sigh come out as Akira patted him on his shoulder, slumping his shoulders down and letting his head hang for his failure.

A stretch to the right. A stretch to the left. A shake to the legs. A big yawn to finish it all up. Yes, that is what the infamous Jōnin known to many as Ryuu Tsukino was doing as Mizuki (never the kind to do with titles and honorifics) was explaining why he and the quadro-muppets (likes giving nicknames) were there right before her or even why they were gathered as a team. Really, he could care less about the details or the pleasantries which are needed to be abide. Furthermore, this was a repetitive scene to him. It was like a broken skit which played over and over again until the audience could not bear it anymore. So, do expect some tomatoes to be thrown. That was probably the only reason he had come at all to catch the tomatoes and make some nice ketchup for his omurice. Ah... this was making him hungry.

"I have something to say teacher!" Ryuu eagerly raised his hand with the accompaniment of a broad smile. It only made his handsome face be a bit more than ever. Kiyoko did after all say they can speak freely, so he will take the opportunity to do so. He even waved his hand in the air vigorously akin to a child and he was far from that. Whether he was fully aware or ignoring the the mission they were being entrusted with, no one can tell for certain. "Can I be excused? I'm hungry..." There it is... His fickle sickness known as laziness. This was one of the primary reasons he had not been designated to be an ANBU despite his skill sets being viable for such an occupation. He was also too unpredictable and has a clear disregard for authority even towards their own Hokage which causes her no ends of grief.

"You can handle those Kumo guys by yourselves... So, too--" He was immediately cut off as someone grabbed his ear and literally dragged him away. There were even a few reprimands along the way. Technically, that is how he had come to be in front of the one called Raikage and his entourage. Well, he could also say groupies. They were also told to be nice. Come now, nice was overrated in his personal opinion. However, he did not voice that out and instead held the ear which was still red. As he stood there, he released yet another yawn, clearly uncaring about the significance of this endeavor. In truth, he was already aware what this would entail. So, why not play along in his own way.

Kiyoko stepped up to the plate by introducing herself first. He shrugged his shoulders at this. This is why he called her Teacher. It reminded him of classroom introductions. More than that, he has no need for such things really. He already knew who the Raikage and Kumogakure ninjas are which was not shared by their esteemed redhead leader. As a result, there were a few chuckles on both sides, on their part? It came from him with a smirk on his face. Anyway, their visitors introduced themselves matched with a comedy routine. Well if the peace treaty does not work, they could always find work in entertainment. That's an upside, less death, more money too.

Anyways, it was their turn as Akira started it off with a lie. Then, it was followed by the socially-awkward Naomichi. For now, he still needed those training wheels in conversing. Still, not bad at all. Ryuu then noticed the eyes of his teammates on him. His turn, huh? Among them, he was the tallest and was not hard to spot with his mismatched colored eyes of blue and gold. He wore the standard Jōnin uniform but even then, it fitted him in a way a model would. After all, he is one of the pretty boys. Taking a step forward, he gave a smile. This one rather than a lie or an empty one. It held a blurry meaning. "Tsukino Ryuu. We're here to babysit you guys. Because let's face it, scars will always be scars."

Unlike Kiyoko who would withhold her tongue under the pressure of professionalism, Ryuu was not that kind. He had always pushed the borders and that would not change anytime soon. But then again, things had already been decided as far as he is concerned.

“Tch,”the scoff at Ryuu’s words came from the Konoha ninja furthest away from him, also in the ANBU uniform, a hawklike mask attached to his belt. Katsuro didn’t like standing anywhere near that guy, because he creeped him out, mostly. There was something off about him, like all that careless laziness was some kind of sickly saccharine illusion over something else. Personally, Katsu thought the Tsukino was just as much of an asshole as he was, but covered it up with that act of his. It was stupid. At least Uzumaki was really like that, annoying as it may be. Crossing his arms over his chest, he flicked a grey-eyed glance over the assembled nin. The eyes narrowed and he tilted his head slightly to the side.

Eventually, he shrugged. It was pointless trying to form opinions on someone from just an introduction, anyway. What kind of idiot would only rely on the first impression of someone to reach a conclusion? People were certainly more complicated than that. Of course, he’d seldom met one that he didn’t hate, but he supposed even that didn’t mean he never would. “Uchiha,” was all he gave by way of introduction, and then he threw an aside glance to Uzumaki. Standing out here making awkward small talk wasn’t going to help them any.

As all of the members of her team introduced themselves, Kiyoko could feel a light twitch on her eyebrow. She turned, slowly, to stare at Ryuu, her eyes narrowing just slightly. One of these days... just one of these days she was going to break something. Shaking her head, she sighed softly and turned back to the group, and raised a brow at the kunoichi who had spoken before the actual Raikage spoke. She made to shrug her shoulders, but caught herself, and instead, rolled them back. Couldn't be too disrespectful, not yet at least. She did, however, roll her eyes at the nickname, Nariko produced. She would not fall for that, she had to keep telling herself. Once everyone was finished with their introductions, Kiyoko cleared her throat once more and glanced, properly this time, at the Raikage.

"Now that everyone is formally introduced, I think it's time we show you to where you will all be staying. After that, you, I assume, may be hungry. We will show you to the cafeteria where you and your team may get something to eat, and for the record, Kiriko," she stated, turning her attention towards the dark-haired kunoichi. "I am not the one discussing the peace treaty. That would be your Raikage, and the Hokage, so no, I do not think I should have to do either of that," she replied, a bright smile lingering on her face. Not exactly the most ideal thing to say to the Kumogakure shinobi, but it was true. She wasn't the one going to discuss anything; that was the Raikage and Hokage.

"If there is nothing else to be said," she paused and glared at Ryuu, "then if you follow us, we shall show you the way."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiyoko Uzumaki Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Akira Aburame Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Nariko Kaneshiro Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō

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For the most part, Takehiko absorbed what was said without much discernible reaction. He was not a man who prided himself on being unreadable, as there honestly wasn’t much of a point to subtlety and dissembling when you were made like a sledgehammer anyway. But just because he didn’t make a point of showing off how clever he was didn’t mean he couldn’t see the implications behind some of the words, read a little into the way people stood or talked. He wasn’t the best at it, but his position would soon demand that he became very good. It was something he liked to think the others might help him with a little, or at least the ones any better off than he was. He couldn’t say he was especially pleased with their reception, but it was better than he was expecting. He knew he should be grateful it hadn’t already ended in bloodshed, though that was not to say it wouldn’t.

Choosing to ignore the varying implications, including the one that they needed babysitters, of all things, Takko smiled affably and nodded. “Well, now that we’re all introduced, some food sounds excellent. Lead on, Uzumaki-san, and we shall follow.” The kunoichi did just that, though the route took them through a good portion of the village itself. He had to admit, it was a very beautiful place. The homes were built almost exclusively from wood, which he supposed must be in abundance, given the natural forest surrounding them with all its resources and greenery. Kumogakure was by contrast very austere, the facades carved mainly into the stone of the mountain that kept them so high up in the air. What forest they had was much sparser and more hardscrabble, and the colors of his youth were more grey and bleached-out red than all this green and rich mahogany.

He had the thought that this village would burn much more easily than his own, but he was not sure how it made him feel. It was a fact, he’d been taught, that the things that were nicest to look at were often the most fragile. Not always, but often. Austerity, by the philosophy of the first Raikage, was a form of strength. Have no more than you need to survive, and all living will eventually become living well. Or something like that. But… the people here wore softer faces than those he had seen around his own village. Many of them, he suspected, had never needed to worry where their next meal was going to come from. He doubted the Hokage ever had to send her people on resource retrieval missions when trade became too slow. Takko’s jaw tightened, but he shook himself out of it. Envy didn’t become him, and he didn’t like it, besides. He was here for peace, because more than anything, that was what his people needed now, and as their Raikage, it was his duty to put them first, to provide for that need.

“It’s as nice as I’d heard,” he remarked to the kunoichi leading the procession. He found himself strangely glad it had not been destroyed in the course of the war, despite his jealousy of its abundance. After all… the people here would not wear such content expressions if the war had reached their doorsteps.

Kiyoko nodded her head and led the Kumogakure team through the village. It had been a relatively silent leading, something she was a little grateful for. She knew Katsuro would remain silent, and Naomichi wasn't exactly talkative. Akira could be a little talkative when she needed to be, but Ryuu... Ryuu was a different story, and she had to keep checking over her shoulder to ensure the Shinobi wasn't causing any trouble. Satisfied, she blinked slowly when Takehiko's voice brought her out of her stupor. She raised an eyebrow, her lips pursing into a fine line, and tried to decide how to respond to it. As nice as he'd heard? How was anything as nice as he'd heard? Instead of asking that, though, she sighed softly and slowed her steps so that she was walking beside him. It was a little odd, really, standing next to someone who was almost twice her size.

"It's Konoha, I don't see what's so nice about it," she replied with a shrug of her shoulders. She didn't see it as he did, perhaps because she'd never actually seen other villages. The only village she could recall ever seeing, was Sunagakure when her grandfather used to take her to visit his old friend. Even on missions, it hardly required going to another village. It was more of going to towns to do their business than the actual village itself. "Once everyone is fed, we will be escorting you and your team to the Hokage's office," she stated, instead, resisting the urge to stare at the eye patch. One, it was rude, and two, it would not go over well with the Hokage if she knew that Kiyoko poked at it.

"Before that, though, you will be shown your living quarters for the remainder of your stay," she stated, stopping momentarily to gaze down the streets, before taking a left. "Once everyone is shown, the eating area will be next. It's not quite that large, so I'd advise telling your team of seating arrangements. Sounds odd, but," she stated, shrugging her shoulders in the process. They weren't children, they could sit wherever they wanted, however; they wouldn't all be able to sit together. Konohagakure wasn't built for large people, after all.

The quarters they were staying in turned out to be in what was apparently formerly the Uchiha compound, or so Takko assumed based on the fact that the crest on the gates matched the one the self-proclaimed Uchiha wore on the sleeve of his uniform. The buildings were quite well-crafted, as far as he knew of such architectural details, but he guessed it had been chosen mostly for the fact that it was relatively apart from the main part of the village, presumably to contain their damage if they caused any. He wondered how the man whose home they were invading felt about that, but decided not to ask. Everyone in his party received a room in the same hallway, though none of them were forced to stay in the same one. It was a small courtesy, but one he appreciated all the same.

Once they’d had a chance to stow their unnecessary belongings, they were led to a mess hall, whereupon food was laid out on a long table, still hot enough to consume. There was, despite Uzumaki-san’s worries, plenty of room for everyone, and Takko did not bother to legislate where his people chose to sit—he was not a micromanager in that sense. They were all smart enough to decide what to do for themselves. He personally bypassed the head of the table and sat to the right of it. The extraneous trappings of his authority had never sat well with him, after all.

When everyone was situated, he took note of the fact that the Konohagakure shinobi still stood, loosely arranged around the room in a way that could only be described as “awkward.” Frowning to himself, the Raikage tipped his head slightly to one side, declining for the moment to pick up his chopsticks. “I’m, uh… not really sure what rumors you heard about us,” he started, looking at the truly massive quantity of food before them, “but we certainly won’t be eating this much. Now, if I have my guess here, your mission is to make sure we don’t do anything… rash, and I’m guessing you can do that just as easily if you’re sitting here eating with us instead of standing there making things feel awkward as all get-out.” He shrugged, half smiling. “So… eat. Drink. Try not to kill each other for a few more minutes. I figure we can manage it if you can.”

"Depends exactly on what you mean heard. I, for one, have head a lot, but that doesn't play into this, now does it?" Kiyoko started, allowing a small tilt of her lips to grace her face. It wasn't a smirk, and yet it wasn't a complete smile. She glanced at her team, noticing what Takehiko seemed to have, and sighed. This was supposed to be as smooth as possible. If tensions were already rising, then she would have failed her mission. And if there was one thing Kiyoko Uzumaki didn't like, it was failing. It was a trait, perhaps, inherited by all Uzumaki, or from what she heard of her grandfather's clan. Stubborn? Not so much. Resilient? Maybe. "Well, you heard the Takko," she replied, staring at her group with her head lightly tilted to the side. She wasn't going to say no, she loved food. She could eat almost as much as the Raikage looked like he ate, if she were to be honest. Food now would be, perhaps, a good thing. Wouldn't want to take on shinobi on an empty stomach, now would she?

"Go eat."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiyoko Uzumaki Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Akira Aburame Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Nariko Kaneshiro Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō

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Former enemies or not, Akira was not one to turn down an offer when the word "drink" was used. Without hesitation, she shrugged and sat right down in a rather sloppy motion that looked more like falling straight to her bottom. Sitting across from her was the woman named Rei. Dark skin was not something she had seen too often, save for her spy missions near Kumogakure. She thought to herself that it was honestly rather pleasant to look at as she poured herself some of whatever alcohol was in front of her, she cared not what it was. "There's a goddamn elephant in this room. Maybe some of this will help clear it out..." She said this loud enough for those around her to hear as she finished pouring. To anyone who would hold out their cup to her, she also poured it for them, Kumo or Konoha alike. It was only after that she quickly downed the contents of her own cup and begin pouring another. It wasn't sweet, and burned a little bit going down. But at this point, if it helped her loosen up a bit, she didn't care if she was drinking acid. "Thank you for complimenting my village, by the way. It's the same as complimenting my home. I work hard to preserve it how it is..." That was a decent enough attempt at initiating some small talk, right?

Naomichi's only orders from the Hokage were to fight back if they were to strike, not to go and interact with the Kumo shinobi. So when he was told to go and join them for dinner, he was really unsure how to handle himself in such a situation. He had never really had dinner with anyone else before, so he followed Akira like a frightened child clings their parent on the first day of school. While he may not have shown it in the way he walked to the table, strong and unashamed, he was terrified inside. With a comfortable thump onto the cushion, Naomichi crossed his legs and immediately grabbed his cup and took whatever Akira was offering to the group. Alcohol would calm his nerves and at least make him a bit more manageable if anything. He immediately downed his first cup, grabbing the bottle and quickly refilling it again. With his second cup, he was willing to take his time with it as he listened to the Kumo kunoichi's analysis of who they were.

Heard the Takko. He wasn't sure why, but Kosan found that remark oddly amusing. It wasn't incredibly clever nor did it hold a large amount of wit, but he couldn't help the small tug at the corner of his lip, at least the red headed Uzumaki seemed to have a sense of humor. Of course, the entire situation was almost laughable. As far as he was concerned, they were wasting their time; he had never desired to see their village in any shape save for in flames. The people had looked so.. content, as if the war was some far distant thought to them that it had been a harsh blow. Kosan wasn't sure what he had expected during the walk. Stifling silence, perhaps, but the odd looks he was given from the villagers was not what he expected. Having things thrown at him, being called a monster, those were things he expected and could handle, but indifference was something else entirely. Almost as if the people were doing their best to not stare at him. It was disconcerting if nothing else.

The building, itself, was large, if he had to guess, it seemed nearly six times as large as his own small, modest home that he shared with Seiko. If it weren't for the Raikage's bulk, it would, indeed, be very roomy, but one couldn't demand so much when sitting next to a mountain of muscle except to not be crushed when they feel the urge to move. Kosan didn't consider himself a small man, but the Raikage had a way of making everyone small and this did include the two Konoha Shinobi who had more then a few inches on him as well.

Still, all his pondering could not stop him from his current problem, where in the world was he to sit? His blue eyes ran over the forming groups until they landed on Rei. Although he was not close enough to truly see, his mind instantly placed the small scars on her body that she had gotten during the war marring her once flawless skin, but the scars suited her. His kimono moved around his legs as he made his way over to Rei's table, barely taking note of the tall blond man and other man with the eye-patch, his reasoning for coming over purely selfish. If he was forced to 'indulge' himself with these Konoha shinobi then he would do so with Rei nearby. He trusted himself more in her presence.

‘Elephant’ might well have been the correct word, but Rei at least was not comfortable enough to imbibe, though she appreciated the gesture, insofar as she could. It was easy to forget that it was not these people who had wronged her—or insofar as it was, they had been acting in a time of war. Just as she and her comrades had been. So she told herself—but nevertheless, the instinct to distrust was a difficult one to tamp down on. Even so, she managed something polite by way of declination, and did not glower at the Konoha shinobi as they settled themselves across the table from herself and Kosan, who was on her left.

The girl - possibly named Rei - looked... cute to Naomichi? She definitely was an attractive woman and her forwardness was definitely a good quality too. He had no idea why she was with the Raikage on this mission though. He never heard a single thing about her during the war - like she never existed.

As for the man, Kosan, Naomichi recognized him instantly. The Blood Lotus was someone he observed when sent out on recon and he would need to be someone that was watched. He wanted to put faith into everyone around him, but this man was just... unstable. Naomichi was more than intimidated by his presence since he knew the man wouldn't hold back on him even if he tried to talk him back down.

The topic of the village itself did seem to be innocuous enough, and Rei supposed that going with it would be better than eating in oppressive silence, so she raised an eyebrow slightly. “You said your name was Aburame, right? I suppose that would make you kind of a custodian of the place.” She referred, of course, to the fact that the Aburame were one of the four noble lineages in Konoha, a fact that any half-educated Kumo shinobi would know by this point. “Come to think of it, I’ve heard the name Yuhara somewhere, too…” Not in the same context though. Perhaps it was a battlefield reputation rather than a family one.

Akira seemed to be in thought a moment when asked the question, but eventually nodded. "I suppose that is one way to call it. Not the term I would use, but it's not entirely inaccurate."

Naomichi was snapped back into the dinner when Rei brought up his name. "My name is fairly common lady, It could be someone else that was a demon or somethin" The thought of someone knowing how cruel he could be made him down another glass. He didn't want to be known as a monster or anything.

Kosan waved off the offered drink, he was not one for alcohol. While he would drink under special circumstances, he did not consider this a special circumstance. Any one of them could be the ones he was looking for and, more so, he did not have a desire to drink in the midst of his enemies' seat of power. Reaching out he brought a small cup to himself and poured some of the heated water conventionally placed at the center of the table, in an unassuming little pot, into it before lowing a bag of tea leaves into it. He gently tugged on the small string, lifting it out of the darkening water just to slowly lower it back in.

He looked up from his work, his blue eyes watching the eye-patched shinobi, Yuhara as Rei so helpfully supplied, just finish watching him. Kosan had a few ideas as to why, although Yuhara did not look like someone he knew or heard about, given his job in the ANBU it fit that he would not be aware of the man's history as it would defeat the purpose of being in ANBU if everyone knew of their exploits, or at least, it would render the mask pointless. Kosan, on the other hand, as the 'Blood Lotus' wasn't someone who could be so unassuming.

On reflex, his eyes followed Yuhara's one to Rei, running over her body as he did. Rei was attractive, to deny they was to be blind, and at this distance, he could see the scars, both large and small, that marked her skin, each holding a story of their own, each adding just another interesting piece of the puzzle that made Rei who she was.

The clan name of Aburame caught his attention, and Kosan snapped his blue eyes to the tall, thin blond man that was seated and away from Rei's figure, "Aburame? I have heard of your clan's abilities, and they have always sounded impressive. I do not believe I ever met with an Aburame during the war, but I must admit I have always been rather curious as to how their abilities truly look," Leaning forward over the table, Kosan pushed his tea out of the way, forgotten for the moment in the pursuit for an interesting subject for his next tale, not even his distaste for the village in the leafs could stand in the way of a good story. "Would you be willing to give a small demonstration?"

When Naomichi heard Kosan's request, he set his drink down and repositioned himself to watch his partner at work. If it was one thing he was good at, it was working with bugs. He was proud to be his partner and wasn't ashamed to hide it.

Rei sighed softly, having a feeling she knew where this was going, and judiciously set down her bowl and chopsticks, covering the first with an upside-down plate and the second with a cloth napkin. She really didn’t want any stray insects in her food.

Akira looked up at Kosan as he addressed her, only to meet his conversation with a smirk. "Of course you didn't meet any Aburame, doll. Like our insectoid friends, we try not to make ourselves known too much... In fact, many of my clansmen complain that they never get noticed. Even by their own teammates. My great-uncle Shino Aburame especially..." She said the name and immediately realized right after that doing so had absolutely no point to it. But she shrugged, leaned back and cracked her fingers all at once after weaving them together and pushing out her wrists. "Of course, I do this for the sake of improving relations. And not showing off or anything."

"Of course," Kosan said almost on reflex as his blue eyes watched her movements, his attention hers to command.

She sat up on her knees and unbutton the pin-striped suit jacket, then unbuttoned the lower buttons on the white dressy shirt beneath it. Lifting up the left side revealed several holes on flat, smooth skin. Four bugs crawled out of four different holes and climbed onto her finger. "Meet the Bikochu, Kidaichu, Kikaichu, and the Nano-sized Venomous Insect. Not proper names, but the names of the kinds of bugs. They all feed off of my chakra and obey my whims in return. Pretty sweet, huh?" The bugs returned through the holes, though Akira kept the shirt lifted up. Looking to her partner, Naomichi, she gave a playful wink before making one more command to the bugs. From the revealed holes, and many hidden holes all over her body, masses of insects began flying out, coagulating into a purple-colored cloud along the ceiling. Buzzing of all sorts of kinds would fill the room, replacing any lingering silence before they would fly behind Akira.

"Incredibly so," he replied unsure of how to respond to something said being 'sweet', but it was fascinating. He was a little disappointed that the holes were not on her arm or some other less personal area as he would have liked to feel them.

The purple cloud of insects began taking a shape behind her, at first a purple silhouette. Quickly, details would be added as the Insect Clone took the appearance of Kosan himself. Nodding, she would speak. "Check this out, though." She stood up with a soft grunt and turned to face the clone. Clenching her right hand into a fist, she shot it straight through the clone's head. She pulled her hand away and watched the detailed head turn into a purple coagulation again before reforming to mimic Kosan again. Turning around once more, she smirked and held up her hand to the clone, which slapped hers back. Akira sat back down as sloppy as she had the first time and let her insects return to a cloud and begin filing back into her body. She also decided to leave her pin-striped jacket off as well. Her tie became looser as well as she tugged on it and poured another drink. "Enjoy your demonstration?"

Both of Rei’s eyebrows ascended her forehead as she watched the Kosan-shaped mass of insects reform itself after being damaged. “Interesting. But… wouldn’t they be very susceptible to ninjutsu? Fire and water and all that?” It was asked with a tone of genuine curiosity, academic and pragmatic more than anything. There was, indeed, no hint of a threat in it at all.

"It's a clone, you know? They're not exactly built to be sturdy. Losing them is not a big deal... Bugs don't live long and they reproduce more than rabbits." She let out a laugh with this explanation. "They don't like water at all, and they do like fire. Not that it's particularly good for them..."

Rei actually managed a small smile at that, then shrugged. “Fair enough."

"And that's what makes Akira such a good partner. Kickass bugs with a brain to boot. What's not to like?" Naomichi sat smugly with one arm propping him up. With a few drinks in him at this point he was allowing himself to become looser and more talkative with the group. He was slightly worried with the person who the bugs took the form of, but he knew Akira had reasons for doing it so he wouldn't object.

"I did, I truly enjoyed the way you hit me in the face, very good form," Kosan said leaning back once more to lift his once forgotten tea to his lips, pausing only for a moment to check the contents to ensure no stray bug had 'accidentally' been left in his cup. He wasn't quite sure what to make of the clone having been made to his likeness. A statement or was he the choice because he was the one who asked the question? Well, it didn't truly matter, his curiosity was somewhat sated for the moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiyoko Uzumaki Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Nariko Kaneshiro

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Not bad at all. It would be his description of the food which was presented for their treasured guests. However, he was also going to eat it as well as stated by Kiyoko who had been eyeing him ever since the beginning of these introductions. It would have been wonderful if her stares were wrapped with complete adoration. He would have a wonderful time dissecting each of her feelings into something more substantial. It was already assured. Too bad, it wasn't but there was also another form of fun in that. Anyway, he has a bone to pick with the current spread before them. As a result, his opinion changed direction as quick as that of a hurricane. Yes, he is truly whimsical. Ryuu could care less about the others appearing to have a good time with the bug entertainment, because clearly he was not due to the indiscretion done to him. His eyes of gold and blue narrowed with disgust. "Teacher!" Yes, he is implying Kiyoko. He raised his hand with vindication. "I don't like the food. May I be excused?"

It might be seen as another one of his schemes to ditch everyone and go on about his own way. This was not a farfetched idea. He was rather known for such instances. Furthermore, the notion of making the Hokage mad or creating a bad impression towards the Kumogakure ninjas did not weigh into his priority at all. Actually, they do not even register in his spectrum of interest. He has other better things to place his attention on than such trivial matters. Technically, he sees this treaty as another inevitable situation where their connections are more of a catalyst to ensure the gears are to move in linear direction. Well, they assume it will. Regardless, he was getting ahead of himself. Right now, his main reason of wanting to leave was the very fact he does not like anything sweet near his prepared meal. An odd thing and a bit excessive, but this is how he is, the kind who never relents or hold himself back no matter what kind of environment he may be. If not, can I have Katsu-chan's oranges instead?

Ah yes, how could he forget? There was an alternative. He could always have the taciturn Uchiha be a balm to his displeasure. His eyes shone ever so brightly as he smiled at Katsuro. It was so out of place yet, it appeared to be the most natural thing for him. Unfortunately, it depends on who is assessing the situation. The two were seatmates as he made a move to take the Uchiha's oranges.

Katsuro’s generalized frown of displeasure deepened into a scowl. Of all the annoying people to end up sitting next to, it just had to be this one, didn’t it? Damn stupid smiley bastard. It was all so fake it made him a little sick, and now the smarmy idiot was attempting to make a move on that most precious of all sustenance, his oranges. Katsu wasn’t the type to really care about a lot of things, or people even, but hell if he was gonna let the flighty fairy have his citrus fruits. The hand that made for the nearest one was swiftly allayed by a kunai, slammed into the wood of the table millimeters from the tender spot between Ryuu’s thumb and first finger. Assorted china and eating implements rattled from the force of the blow, the knife buried several inches into the wood, a sturdy midpoint between the encroaching hand and the orange.

“Back. The. Fuck. Off.” Katsuro’s tone scarcely deviated from the flat, dull one he used typically, only slight emphasis giving truth to just how serious he was. Perhaps, if it were someone else, he wouldn’t have been so direct about it, but the unctuous little weasel was the kind of person who could and probably would pretend to miss one’s implications if one were in the least bit subtle about anything. Using the beat of silence that followed to snatch up the orange himself, he peeled it as though he hadn’t just nearly impaled a man’s hand in defense of a piece of fruit (he wasn’t aiming to hit anyway) and popped the first wedge into his mouth, glaring at the Tsukino from the corner of one silver eye.

Honestly, Katsuro didn’t even care if the little shit did leave the mission. Hell, he could leave the entire damn village, and the Uchiha wouldn’t count them as having lost much. Might even be for the better, in all honesty. He didn’t like him, he didn’t trust him, and if anyone else had half a brain, they wouldn’t either. The fact that he was an annoyance and a would-be orange thief just made matters worse.

Nariko, having the most fortunate seating arrangement, stared at the two Konoha shinobi. She glanced over her shoulder towards Kiyoko's table, watching as the redhead twitched at Ryuu's statement, however; it did not stop the large grin that spread across her face. Instead of focusing on her food, like everyone else was, she leaned against the palm of her hand, tilting her head sideways and cocked an eyebrow at the Uchiha. He must really love his oranges if he was willing to nearly maim a fellow shinobi. That, or he was just easily agitated. A slow smile crept over her lips as she continued watching the interlude between the two before snorting softly.

"Either you really love your oranges, or you just don't like people touching your stuff. I'd say a little of both," she stated with a light shrug of her shoulders. Not that she cared, really. She was here with her Raikage to ensure that everything went well, and no one attemtped to take his life. She knew Kiyoko's team was here to do the same, and in a sense, they all shared a common purpose. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, and turned towards the other one whose hand was almost impaled to the table. "And I take it you just like touching things that don't belong to you. Perhaps you should be more considerate if you wish to keep your limbs. Unless you can regrow those limbs, then by all means keep pissing him off. It's amusing," she continued as she smirked.

"If you wanted an orange so badly, you could have just asked. I would have given you mine instead, otherwise I'd be tempted to just throw it at Koko over there. She needs a good orange to the head," she stated, a mischievous glint tinting her eyes. She shrugged her shoulders though, and resumed poking at her food. It looked edible, but she wasn't all that hungry, and if she forced herself to eat it... she'd just make herself sick. No sense in doing that.

Someone with common sense and self-preservation would have took the kunai as a firm warning to not intrude into one's own space. Normally, people would have no need to do so without the faintest trace of permission. However, this is Ryuu we are talking about. So, a further implication was made by Uchiha through the use of such well-arranged words. To anyone, this might be considered as an achievement. After all, the so-called stigma of Konoha had only shown responses to Kiyoko or even remotely to the Hokage. As for the recipient of the knife, he was undeterred. The intended effect was rather more of a passing breeze than anything. "Selfish as always, Katsu-chan. It wouldn't kill you to share." Taking hold of the kunai, he began to twirl it with his fingers. His eyes of azure and topaz held a certain shimmer of unknown origins. "Look right here, Kaneshiro Nariko-chan is telling us off." He said with a deflated tone and a matching pout. It is a well-known fact to him that the scion of the Uchiha did not only have trust issues but it was heavily laid upon him as well. That was good and he had no intentions of changing it.

His eyes were now directed towards the only female among their table. This was one is a person very familiar to him. Of course, she wouldn't know that. None of them will yet. "I'm a very considerate person, you know." He stated as he stopped twirling the kunai and tapped its blade across his cheek. "And if you are offering, I wouldn't mind it one bit. After all, it is from a pretty girl." His other hand already stretched out waiting for the citrus delight to be placed upon it while those eyes of him held a specific interpretation, something akin to that of a looming mystery. "As for Teacher..." He threw the kunai in a specific path which was actually towards the Raikage's head. "Takko-bell needed to do some slicing." Yes, his words appeared to be of innocence. Yet, it did not reflect the gravity of his actions. And really, he could care less about it as he began doing small talk with the Kumogakure kunoichi. "Anyway, Nariko-chan not eating your food would not be an issue at all." There it was again his care free smile which hid everything that he is.

It would appear that this meal which would have been a means to raise rapport was walking on a thin line especially when the two-toned Dragon is involved. "So, how about you Nariko-chan, I am very curious about you and Koko over there. Care to share?" He added with great interest. "Since sour-puss Katsu-chan is sooo... selfish."

Katsu watched the trajectory of the knife with something almost disbelieving passing over his face. He didn’t give a single damn about the Hokage’s orders, or really even the village in general, but he knew for a fact that if the war had continued, they would have found themselves at a major disadvantage. On average, Kumogakure ninja were just better than their Konoha counterparts. Of course, exceptions existed, but when individuals were taken out of the mix and it was left to the general force, it was an undeniable, objective truth. So, in other words, starting the war back up, especially when it was the Raikage, and not Konoha, who had made the overture of peace, was basically asking for the village to get destroyed. Either Ryuu was an idiot, or he didn’t care either.

The Uchiha was betting on both.

Perhaps fortunately, what could have been a disaster for the mission was averted by the Raikage himself. When the knife whistled through the air towards him, he leaned forward slightly, blocking any chance it might have had to hit anyone else, and caught it… between his teeth. Katsuro blinked. That… was not something he was expecting to see. As though the whole thing had been intended from the very beginning, the big man took the knife into one of his hands, shrugged, threw the group a bright grin, and used it to slice into one of the plums on his own table, casually as though there was no possible offense at all.

Well, if Yamamoto wasn’t going to make a production of it, Katsuro certainly didn’t see the need to either. Muttering something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like lackwit, he resumed eating his orange, choosing to ignore the fact that either Nariko or Ryuu existed at all.

Nariko blinked, raised both eyebrows as she stared at the man. One brow ascended higher than the other, though, and she tilted her head to the side. "Well aren't you the cutest little thing," she stated, tossing the orange in her hand as she turned her attention towards Ryuu, however; she immediately stopped and glared at Ryuu. She may have been of this village, once, but her loyalties lie with her Raikage now. And that kunai had passed dangerously close to him. She was about to say something, however; it seemed that the Raikage managed to play it off, and it only caused her to frown. Kiyoko, however, had started laughing, perhaps a little too loudly. Nariko only shook her head, however; his question caught her off guard and she smirked a bit.

"Oh? Didn't you know? She and I used to be lovers. She was so in love with me that I had to let her go, and she was devastated because of it," she replied casually, taking a drink of water from her cup. She chanced a glance at the other tables, and almost smiled when she spotted Zetsubo's table. It seemed like things were going smoothly, despite the minor incident, and she returned her attention back to Ryuu. "She is, or rather was, a good friend of mine. I kind of grew up with her, but then we moved to Kumo. And Uchiha-san isn't being selfish, he's being grumpy and moody. I wonder how Koko manages that," she stated, a sly smirk crossing her features. Kiyoko had always challenged the Uchiha boy, that was a given since their childhood. She wondered if she still challenged him. She tossed her friend a glance.

"What's the ratio now? Ten to one?" she asked. The last challenge she remembered Kiyoko issuing was a game of paper-rock-scissors. She lost, naturally. "Oh, I almost forgot about the orange," she stated, leaning to place it in Ryuu's hand, however; she changed the position and placed it on Katsuro's plate instead. "I think Katsu-chan needs it more than you do. It makes him smile," she grinned.

A sliver of nonchalance echoed within those heterochromatic eyes of his. It would appear that his little stunt had received accolades on both sides of the equation. He did notice that frown marring that face of Nariko. Well, he was simply giving a hand and all. Now, weren't they supposed to be wonderful hosts? He was doing his part if the rather exaggerated laughter of his team leader was anything to go by. It will not be a far-fetched thing for him to be praised about that feat of his. At the same time, he did not need to hear accurately the muttered word care of Katsuro. It was a common term associated to his personage which he had never once denied or even approved. After all, people are derived by the necessity of identities or reputation. As such, he also spoke of it as another means of entertainment. Anyway, he closed his eyes with a smile which sparked such mischievous play.

"Childhood friends... How quaint." Ryuu mused over to himself. It is a relationship which he has no one to attach with. Of course, he does not see it as something as regretful. After all, he has no room for such matters. "As for love... Gender does not factor in such things." He stated with a singe of sing-song tune as the thoughts of romance and feverish passion had always been a curious topic. "I don't judge." Those eyes of his were revealed once more holding a twinge of serious intent as he looked at Nariko but then again, his smile seemed to deliver another message. Then, the subject was directed towards the sullen Uchiha. Ah yes, the infamous challenges issued by Kiyoko had reminded those old souls of a certain rivalry which seemed to allude with their grandfathers. "Katsu-chan isn't tired from winning yet."

His eyes glancing over to where the dainty redhead is. (almost everyone is dainty to him) Ryuu's attention did not linger as he was taken aback by the mention of orange. The one he was being given of but as fickle as a woman's mind is, it was gifted to Katsuro instead. A noticeable pout was present on his lips which made his expression rather adorable in a sense. "Not fair..." He noted with clear dejection as he stared at his fellow Konoha shinobi. But as quick as the wind he is compared to, he took the cup of water which Nariko was drinking from earlier. Taking a delicate sip, he had a rather satisfied smile on his face. "Well, I'll be satisfied with this." The cup's rim touching his lips ever so faintly as his eyes fluttered like a butterfly's wing before having a rather calm expression as his preferred mask for the day. "For now."

In the end, this is just another episode in his life... Rather, their lives.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Rei Hinode

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And as that evening ended, so would the next several days pass. Perhaps it was the Raikage’s initial invitation that had made the difference, perhaps not, but either way, mealtimes consisted of all ten of them eating together in the large dining room in the compound, unbothered by the few other Uchiha who nominally inhabited the location. Outside of that, the ninja from Kumogakure were allowed to move about the village as they wished—so long as they were accompanied by an equal number of their guards. Takehiko was kept from morning to evening with meetings, and despite his complaints—something he usually only voiced to Kiri or perhaps Rei—he felt like he was getting somewhere, if not especially quickly.

Regardless of the relative uneventfulness of the peace talks so far, ninja were not the kind of people who tended to appreciate standing idle, those with grudges least of all…


The days that had passed would have been pleasant if not for his inaction weighing on his mind. Every hour that passed with him in the compound was another hour that he was not out looking for clues and for the person who murdered his wife. Every day that passed, a reminder that he was sitting idle as they continued to draw breath, but the shinobi of Konoha were not fools and wouldn't let them leave without guard, and Kosan did not trust any of them enough to reveal anything. Yes, they ate together, but that did not absolve them of suspicion. So far, only Akira Aburame was someone he doubted heavily was the murderer as his skills did not match up, but he did not trust the tall blond man enough to tell him anything. The man was still a shinobi of Konohagakure.

His patience, he hoped, would pay off. By waiting a few days, Kosan was betting that their fellow Konoha shinobi were becoming lax as he had not given them any reasons to be suspicious of him besides his status and reputation which was a hurdle all on its own. It was at breakfast, when his Raikage was going to yet another meeting that he decided today was the day. Well, if he were to be honest with himself, he wasn't sure he could bear waiting yet another day. He had almost spoken to Rei about his plans, to give her a warning, but he decided against it. Rei could try to stop him in order to protect their village and himself, but this was something he had to do. He doubted her or anyone could ever understand, not unless they held someone they loved in their arms... what was left of their loved ones and watched the tortured light fade from their eyes.

Kosan looked up at the dark night sky, the moonlight, oblivious to the whims of mortals, casting its soft light over the peaceful village and the Uchiha compound, more importantly, its tall walls that created the sensation of imprisonment and segregation rather then protection. Taking a breath, he closed his eyes and stretched out his awareness trying to pick up any fellow shinobi nearby, but he couldn't sense any, but sensory was never his strong suit, if the alarm was raised, it would become apparent that he was discovered. If it did not then he had a short amount of time to find the information he needed. Set on his decision, he bent his legs and shot off into the night sky, moving from rooftop to rooftop until he came to crouch upon a small water tower as he overlooked the village. The obvious place to look was the Hokage's compound as he was betting they kept a record there, but how he was supposed to sneak in was something he would need to plan out and observe the compound and what guards were there, he would have to wait and time the guard shifts which could take.. time, but he had no other choice. Much like everything in his life, it was do or die.

It wasn’t too long afterwards that another presence did appear behind Kosan, but it was a familiar rather than foreign one. A heavy sigh accompanied the near-soundless impact of a second pair of feet on the top of the water tower. Rei kept herself low, not desirous of casting a perceptible shadow over someone on accident, and moved up in a crouch so that she was directly beside her friend, looking out at the same view of the village he saw.

She wondered, for just a moment, what it looked like to him. Was it simply an enemy fortress, to be infiltrated? Did he see the people moving around as though they were automata, incapable of their own thoughts and feelings, as one must sometimes make one’s enemies so as to be capable of killing them? She was willing to bet that whatever he saw, it did not elicit in him the same reaction it did in her—an old thing, an insidious and cold thing, creeping under her marred skin and threatening to lock her muscles in place. It was dark and foreboding and alive, somehow, palpable and tangible, but untouchable all the same. No jutsu would banish it, no trick of mental discipline. It could not be destroyed, only managed.

She was ashamed to realize that when she looked at this place, she was still afraid. The fear was easier to ignore, in the light of day and surrounded by people she could really see as people, who gave odd demonstrations of insect jutsu and praised their partners and fought each other over food and bantered back and forth with real expressions on their faces. It was harder now, when night was at hand, and the scant illumination in the sky could not suppress the reminder of utter oblivion, of sitting on a cold, damp stone floor for days she lost count of, trying not to wonder when next the pain would come. When next she would see the ones with no faces, with no words, only lashes and knives and chemicals she was thankfully not nearly so susceptible to as they had hoped.

“You could have told me,” she said, her voice scarcely more than a murmur. It carried less than whispering, that way. “You know I won’t stop you.” It was true that she did not approve of his quest to utterly destroy the person who had taken Shizu from the world. Partly, that was her own instinct, not out of mercy for the killer but out of the desire to keep her friend from succumbing to the darkness that would surely consume him if he continued on his path. But part of it was also for the memory of her friend: Shizu would not have wanted this, either. Even despite her reasons for wanting to stop him, though, she never would. That was not her right. She was not him, she was not Shizu, and she was not that murderer. This was a matter between only those three people, and her right to interfere was nonexistent.

“I’ll help you, though. With this part. You know that, right?” She glanced to the side, golden eyes flashing slightly under the irregular lighting conditions. She’d help him figure things out, and then if he went through with it when he knew the answer, well… she’d be there to patch him up afterwards. That was what friends were for. Even when they disagreed. Besides… she knew a little girl who’d be stricken by grief if she lost her father, too. And it was a feeling Rei knew all too well.

Kosan did not turn around when he heard that all too familiar sigh, when her presence washed over him. Rei. He almost felt a tug on the corner of his lips, how foolish he was to think he could have done anything without her notice. Rei had always been too clever for her own good, or perhaps, he had always been too easy to read for his. Either way, it seemed he had failed in sneaking out undetected, but a part of him was glad for her presence; it was soothing to be near something familiar when he was looking at the unknown that awaited before him, but that unknown held the answers he had been longing for.

He kept his blue eyes on the compound, his eyes scanning each floor, every window, for any sign of the guards as well as the shift change that had to happen at sometime or another. If he missed it he would have to start all over again, and Kosan highly doubted he would get more then one chance at this for the night, and he had no desire to try it again in the coming nights as it increased the chance of further detection.

Kosan turned his head slowly turned his head to face her, yes, a part of him knew she would not try to stop him. He had been trying to justify why he did not tell her, but it would not have been fair. To force her to pick between himself and the village, even if the decision would be an easy one for her. It was his burden to bear, and she did not deserve to have him lean on her anymore then he already had.

Her golden eyes seemed to shine with her declaration, and he knew he could not dissuade her once she set her mind on something, turning his head back to the front, all he could think to do was whisper back one simple phrase, "Thank you." He saw a few shinobi enter and leave and looked up to the moon once more, "They seem to change every three hours for five minutes, at most, that is not a large window."

“No,” Rei agreed. “It’s not.” She chewed her lip thoughtfully for a moment, casting her senses out over a wider range. She wasn’t a sensor either, but she was fairly decent at reading the fine details of chakra networks. Like the one that had just revealed itself—suppressed, but now detectable—a short distance behind them. “Damn.” She whirled around, her stance low and guarded, and found herself looking into a pair of eerily red eyes. These weren’t like Akira’s, something the color or rose petals. They were rubies and blood, some kind of black shape identifiable in them.

For a moment, she recalled what little she knew of the Sharingan, and wondered if she might not already be caught in some exceedingly subtle genjutsu. Was that why she’d not sensed him until now? It was hard to say. But the eyes faded back to their light grey color thereafter, and the Uchiha shoved his hands into his pockets. “Don’t stop on my account. I’m only here to make sure you don’t kill anyone… tonight. She didn’t say anything about stopping you from doing recon.” His indifference was obvious, and indeed, he seemed to dismiss them from his immediate attention thereafter, glancing down and away at something on the other side of the tower.

Rei raised a brow, and looked skeptically at Zetsu, as if to ask him what he wanted to do now.

Five minutes to infiltrate a place neither of them have ever seen, slip through whatever security measures they have in place, locate their mission reports, pray they did not black them out, and get out before the shift change is completed. It was near impossible, but it was something he had to do. If he had to pick, the room they wanted was going to be on the top floor or underneath the building for security purposes, even with their paltry five minutes, they would only have time to search one of those, if they looked at the wrong one, or worse, he was incorrect about its location then all of it would have been for nothing, and he would have to try again and try to keep his Raikage here if needed. They could split up, but he wasn't going to leave Rei alone in there.

Lost in his observation, he did not feel the Konoha shinobi sneaking up on them, his instincts instantly trusting Rei, who was superior at him in that field, to keep a watch out, but her muttered curse was enough to make him spring into action, turning on his heel remaining low to the ground, he placed his hand on the hilt of his rapier prepared to draw it, but he stopped when he noticed who it was, Katsu Uchiha. If it had been another shinobi, a chunin or a lesser jonin, Kosan would have taken the chance and tried to kill them before they could raise the alarm, but while he had never seen the Uchiha in action, the fact they chose him as one of those to keep watch over them meant he was far from a normal shinobi, and he very much doubted Katsu would go down before he raised an alarm, or at the very least, caused a ruckus which would prompt someone to investigate. It was a no win situation.

Kosan raised a dark eyebrow as his blue eyes scanned the Uchiha's face, his eyes having reverted back to normal from the fabled Sharingan and his odd... comment. Kosan turned his head to Rei who seemed to be waiting for his decision on the matter, "It seems we do not have a choice in this matter," He said turning back around to face the compound. He did not trust the Uchiha, but he had little choice in the matter, "Katsuro Uchiha," He said keeping his voice low as his blue eyes scanned the compound, "You are an odd man Uchiha, but you wouldn't happen to know where they keep mission reports would you? There is someone I must find."

It was a gamble as the Uchiha could betray them, but he could do that anyways, and he could lie to throw them off, but the chances of this succeeding was very low as it was and if there was even a tiny chance he could increase those odds; he would take it.

Mission reports? Well, Katsuro really hadn’t gone into this with any particular expectations about what they might be looking for, but he was still a bit surprised to hear that was all they wanted. Not that he thought they’d been planning to assassinate the Hokage or anything so stupid as that—one thing he could say for a majority of these Kumogakure ninja that he could unfortunately not say for many of his own comrades was that they rather lacked a certain element of stupidity. Thought the intelligence of attempting even this much was debatable. Blinking owlishly, he thought for a moment, then shrugged. “Depends on what kind of mission you’re talking about. Most of the lower-level stuff is filed in the archives below the Hokage’s office, the war stuff is kept underground. Most of the top-secret documents are kept in her office itself, when they’re kept at all. What kind of report are you looking for?”

Rei was almost incredulous. Was this guy for real? A Konohagakure shinobi, just telling people—with the stated intention to go through things they shouldn’t be able to see—where to find mission reports? He hadn’t seemed especially dedicated to his Hokage or his village, but he’d certainly been doing his actual job thus far without complaining, unlike that Tsukino guy. “Not to look a gift horse in the mouth here,” she said, pronouncing her words deliberately, almost as though she were still trying to get used to the idea that she even needed to use these particular ones, “but why the hell would you tell us that? You have no idea what we’re looking for.” He could, of course, simply be lying, but it didn’t really feel that way to her. Her intuition didn’t have a very logical basis most of the time, but that didn’t stop her from being right, and she had the feeling tha he was being perfectly truthful right now.

Katsu removed one of his hands from his pocket, but did nothing more aggressive with it than scratch an itch on the bridge of his nose. “Does it matter?”

Rei’s jaw tightened for a moment, but in the end, she sighed through her nose. Technically… no, it didn’t. She supposed she could respect his desire not to spill his motives… for now. “It’s probably going to be with the stuff about the war.” She couldn’t imagine that Shizu’s death had been a mission on its own. Rei’s best friend had been a skilled medic-nin, but she would not have been a high-priority target, not when the battlefield was filled with people like Takehiko, Kiriko, Kosan and other damage-dealers on a similar scale. Therefore it probably wouldn’t be the subject of a file so important the Hokage needed to keep it in her actual office. Which was a good thing, because a simple shift change wouldn’t help them much if that was where they wanted to go.

The Uchiha considered this fact for a moment, tipping his head a bit to the side, then nodded slightly. “In that case, you’ll want to follow me.” With no more than that, he leaped off the water tower and onto a nearby rooftop, already gathering his legs underneath him for the next jump before Rei made the decision to follow. For better or worse, this was probably their best chance.

Kosan looked back and forth between the two. While he was also interested in the Uchiha's motivations; it truly made little difference. His motivation could have been something as simple as he felt like he wished to and that would have been more then enough for him. He was committed to his current course of action, and the situation and odds were never in his favor, this was no different. The only other purpose he could have would be to lead them into a trap so they could be caught red-handed, but that would not stop him. They could not reject his companionship even if they wished, and even if they were to return, the Uchiha would keep a closer eye on them from now on.

While trust had nothing to do with it, Kosan did not trust the Uchiha, in fact, his seemingly non-existent loyalty to his village only made Kosan distrust him further. How could someone trust a man who was not loyal to his own people? But when walking into hell, did it matter whose hand one held?

Kosan nodded his head forward slightly acknowledging that he too believed the information would be with the rest of the war reports. Shizu was not a critical target or someone that would have been a assassination target or someone whom had valuable intel would be worth keeping. It was a harsh reality, but in their files, he expected nothing more then a brief description of a dead medical-nin on the date and location where she was, the most he could hope for was that he would find a name that wasn't blacked out, and he could continue his search from there.

Casting his blue eyes once more at the large hokage building, he followed Rei and Katsuro onto the next building. If the Uchiha knew another way in that worked for him as waiting three hours for the guard change would have been taxing as they would have had to move to avoid detection. Kosan could not stop the feeling of anticipation that was filling his heart, he was getting closer. Finally, after all these years, he was finally getting closer to his goal.

It turned out that the Uchiha’s plan wasn’t especially complicated; all he did was lead them to a concealed entrance. Considering the point of something like this was rather defeated if it was guarded, there was nobody near. “This doesn’t connect to the Hokage’s building, if you were wondering,” he explained, gesturing for Kosan to hop down first. He went in the middle, and Rei followed behind, closing the entrance behind her. He wasn’t especially fond of this place, but he wasn’t stupid, either, and he wasn’t going to give potential assassins a route into the most important building in town. If only because it would be inconvenient to himself.

“This is the underground portion of the archives.” It was naturally cool and dry down here, which helped preserve the documentation not important enough to get its own sealing jutsu. “The war reports are the whole room to your left.” Three years only it might have been, but it was a busy three years for Konohagakure ninja. “It’d take you a long time to go though all of that, though. What are you looking for?” He could at least point them to the right section. It wasn’t like he wanted to spend the whole damn night under here, after all.

Kosan did not hesitate, entering the dark portal and down in the dimly lit archives. The cool, dry air was a shade colder then the night air above, but besides that, there was not much of a notable difference. He knew that if there were traps, he would be the one running into them, but it was a small price to pay and so far this was working far better then his original plan as looking for secret entrances like this would not have been possible as it would have taken too much time, and he doubted he could convince the other Konoha Shinobi that he just enjoyed pressing his ear to every odd shaped stone and wall he came across.

His blue eyes traced the surroundings, the flickering candle lights offering very little illumination to the rest of the dark hallway that stretched out before him. Kosan glanced over his shoulder and nodded before moving to the left door and pushing it open slowly, listening for the slightest tick or jerk as he had no desire to have gotten so close only to be foiled by a single trap. Satisfied, he pushed open the door which gave off a small creak echoing in the large expansive of the archives and ominous greeting to the small group.

"So it would seem," Kosan said his eyes scanning the shelves stacked high with scrolls, while he could not say he often visited the archives in Kumo, there was certainly a large assortment of scrolls gathered. If he spent all night, he would barely get through a quarter of them. For the first time since deciding to accept the Uchiha's help, Kosan hesitated, he had no desire to talk of it to an outsider, but he had brought them this far, "In the beginning of the war, barely months in, a medical-nin was killed, she had small holes in her neck and her body," He kept his back turned to them, but his blue eyes were glazing over as his mind called up the memory perfectly as he saw it nearly every night, "Her body was shriveled up. Almost as if the moisture had been drained from her body," She was so fragile, his mind continued recalling how he could barely grasp her for fear of her falling apart in his arms, yet he still could not stop her from dying, slowly and painfully.

"These scrolls are ordered by dates, yes?" Kosan asked half turning to face them, it would speed up the process greatly if the Uchiha happened to know where the scrolls began as picking a shelf at random did not seem to be a very quick route.

Katsuro had heard such a thing mentioned once or twice, but he’d never seen it in person, so it stood to reason that the jutsu was one only one or a few people knew. He didn’t know it himself, nor did he know what might. “My guess would be some kind of water release, but I couldn’t say for sure. The dates you want are right around here.” He led them slightly inwards, to a few shelves of scrolls, though he let them do the searching themselves. It had the flavor of something personal to it, and he wasn’t the sort to get involved in anyone’s grudges but his own. Too exhausting.

It was Rei who found the document most likely to correspond to Shizu, and she tapped Zetsu on the shoulder after reading over it. “Hey. I think I found her.” The mission report was brief, and there were multiple names indicated for the Leaf shinobi that had been involved, though a few were redacted with black bars as well. Some, however, were not. “Who’s Heisuke Takarada?” she asked, giving the first name listed on the document to the Uchiha on the off-chance that he would answer.

His brows furrowed together. “Let me see that.” She handed over the scroll willingly enough, and he scanned it quickly, his frown growing more pronounced. “I have no idea who the redacted parties are, but the rest of these people are missing-nin now. They were thrown out of the village by the Hokage for their actions during the war. Officially, they were allowed to leave because nobody could amass enough evidence of their guilt for war crimes, but if they had, we probably would have executed them. The rumors were heinous.” He didn’t sound especially disgusted, but then, most shinobi were trained not to express their emotions overmuch, so who could say how he felt? Whatever the case, she took it to be true that he was unfond of Takarada at least.

“None of these ninja reside in this village anymore, unless one of these two redacted names does.”

It took everything he had to not rip the scroll from Rei's hands; he had to be content with reading over her shoulder, he committed each to memory as each name could be the one to put to the phantom face that haunted him, but all of the names on paper had become the most important men in his world. It was a grim satisfaction, but it wasn't enough. It was a drop of water for a dying man.

Kosan lifted his head up to watch the Uchiha as he looked over the scroll, Missing-nins. It had to be missing-nins. While it did help ensure he did not put the peace talks into jeopardy, it made finding them nearly impossible as they could be in any nation using any name and that was assuming they stuck together which was doubtful. The last two names were blacked out which did not help him in the least. There was the off-chance that he could look through other scrolls for the same names and try and see if the squads matched up to find the missing names, but he doubted it would be so easy, and he doubted he had the time to pour over them and find a pattern.

It would take time, but Kosan would send out some feelers for now, and see what he could find about the names. Heisuke Takarada was the first on the list, so he would be the one he would concentrate the most on finding. In the morning, he may try to wander the village with one of the Konoha Shinobi and investigate more about the names at various locations, but for now he wanted to know something,"Rumors? What exactly did these rumors imply?" The medical shinobi had been vague with him when he asked them what, if anything, had been done to Shizu prior to her death.

Katsu locked eyes with Kosan for a moment, silver meeting blue, then shook his head slowly. “Postmortem mutilation, mostly. Experimentation with corpse reanimation. Vivisection. Illegal medical ninjustsu. Whomever you’re doing this for… there are worse things than just being dead, that’s all I can say.” He didn’t say it out loud, but frankly, if the worst this man had seen was the dead or dying body of someone he cared about, then he was fairly lucky, as far as Takarada’s bereaved victims were concerned. It could have been much worse than that.

They were out of time though. “There will be a patrol through here in a few minutes. If you have what you came for, let’s go. I really don’t want the Hokage chewing me out over this, thanks.”

Kosan met his gaze until he was finished, only then did he allow his shoulders to fall and his eyes to close. She had been tortured. He had thought.. hoped that they had gone for the kill, and it was only her knowledge in medical-ninjutsu that kept her alive that long, but they had wanted to keep her alive, and it was Heisuke Takarada who had done it to her. Kosan wasn't sure if he was the one who killed her or took her down, but Heisuke Takarada tortured her and the others had let it happen or even watched. He would find them and get what he wanted to know from them, and he would kill them. Every single one of them, and he would drag out the information of the blacked out names from their dying breaths.

"Very well," Kosan said, his blue eyes snapping open, "Thank you for your assistance," Kosan stepped around him and towards the door. While he wished to stay longer even if the chances of him finding anything were nonexistent, he had gained enough for now. It was time to go.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiyoko Uzumaki Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō

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Kiyoko sighed softly, running a hand through her crimson locks to get the tangles out. Once the tangles were gone, she pulled the long strands over her shoulder, pulling them up so that she didn't trip while she walked. She pulled her hair into three sections, threading them together so that they were braided. She then threw it back over her shoulder, nodding in satisfaction that it was no longer touching the ground. She released another sigh, glancing up towards the sky to watch the clouds roll by. She didn't have an assignment today, and had been wandering the village a majority of the day. Most of the Kumo ninja seemed to be blending in rather well in the compound, even getting acquainted with the Konoha ninja. It was something that had caused her to smile, when she had learned of some of the excursions that had happened.

To know that they were even attempting that, meant that at least something was going good, right? She didn't how the meetings were going, and only hoped they were going as good as the socializations. Shaking her head softly, she allowed her feet to carry her with no particular destination in mind. She stopped occasionally to say hello to a few of the people she knew, but nonetheless, continued forward. She blinked owlishly when she found where her feet led her to, and pursed her lips together. She was at the Uchiha compound where the Kumogakure ninja were currently housed. Well, it wouldn't hurt to check up on them, would it? With her mind made up, Kiyoko trekked forward, a bright smile on her face as she walked, not paying much attention to where she was going.

Kiriko had recovered from her night out with Akira a while ago, having returned to the Uchiha residence not that long after the fact to 'fix' herself. She had only had one drink, but it felt like the world around her was slowly crumbling into a disorganized, chaotic mess of unhappiness and bubbly attitudes. It had been horrifying, hence the reason she had stayed within her room for so long to make sure she was presentable. Nevertheless, Kiriko watched the world from the edge of the residence, in which she sat on a branch not far from the wall surrounding the compound. It was still restrictive, being stuck within these walls, but she would be able to manage for now.

However, this had seriously begun to bore her after a while: it was intriguing to watch other people as they continued their business, and yet she found it too mundane to be doing so. What was the point of being here if all she did was steal information and watch out for her Kumo-nin? It didn't bode well that the others were gleefully joining in with the crowds, leaving her as an odd duck of sorts that didn't overly care to make friends. So you could guess her confusion at the large chakra signature as it bounded towards the compound, one that seemed to be the redhead Yoko from earlier. She seemed to be the one in charge, and yet the group had always done their own thing and disobeyed her. Was it because she was a bogus leader, or perhaps another reason?

Needless to say, Kiriko was silent as she watched the redhead intently. Just what exactly was she doing at this time of day anyway? There was no reason for her to be there, as most of the Kumo-nin seemed to be behaving themselves for the most part, and she seemed to disappear quite often. Kiri's curiousity got the better of her as she swung down from the tree and landed softly, only to ruin the peaceful silence with sound. "So what does the Jinchūriki of the Nine Tails owe this visit to?" Kiriko had landed quite a bit behind Yoko, but spoke loud enough for her to hear. To be honest, she had no real reason to aggravate or tempt Yoko, but her curiousty got the better of her - even though it made her sound suspicious of her movements.

Kiyoko, happily content to stare at the sky, craned her neck back to regard the new presence, and grinned. "Well, I don't really need a reason to visit do I? I am, afer all, in charge of keeping an eye on all of you," she replied, the grin disappearing and replaced by an owlish stare. She blinked slowly, then tapped a finger to her chin in a thoughtful manner. She shrugged her shoulders in response before slumping them. "Honestly, I was bored. All of you seem to be getting along well, so there really isn't much for me to do. Taking a walk is the only way, I suppose, that I could feel useful," she continued, placing a hand on her hip and releasing a deep sigh in the process. She really didn't have anything better to do, and with everyone getting along, she felt like she was shirking her responsibilities.

"What about you, Kiri-chan? How are you finding everything? I hope everyone is treating you well. You could tell me if they weren't... though I can't be too sure why anyone would want to bother you. You just reek of Back-off," she continued, speaking a little too forwardly. She folded her hands behind her back, and rocked on her feet. "Not that it's a bad thing," she quickly added, rubbing the back of her neck in a sheepish manner. She released a nervous chuckle as well, before sighing dejectedly.

Kiriko narrowed her eyes at the nickname, finding it not only unamusing but also slightly irritating. Was she trying to mock her name by adding the adorable suffix, or was she just trying to be cute? Kiri wasn't sure, but one thing was certain: Yoko did get the metaphor of her apparent smell correct; back off, while effective, was a little weak in explaining the vibe she usually gave people. However, Kiri would have rather she didn't speak the way that she had, as if having a harsher exterior was a bad thing; with the ninja world that they lived in, how was being upright and strict a bad thing? Being a 'hard ass' got missions done and saved lives. Being soft killed people.

Nevertheless, Yoko attempted to take back her statement, even though Kiriko knew that she really was just trying to cover for herself. There was no need though: Kiri noticed it, and planned on calling her out. "To be quite clear with you, I would rather have an attitude that causes dislike than one that creates a false sense of security. Nothing worse than creating a false sense of hope or peace for the people if they all have to lie to themselves in order for it to happen." Kiriko was quite bland in her words, which probably would either throw off Yoko or possibly infuriate; she wasn't sure. Kiri rarely cared for how others reacted, which was solidified in the next sentence. "To be fair, however, my mannerisms are not meant to be used nor liked by everyone; I could care less if they were enjoyed. They are there because they need to, or else many things might have not been accomplished." In hindsight, Kiriko could have left out the last statement, for it felt a little open ended as to what she meant; it could either mean that she was the one that executed missions, or executed her people. Regardless of which way, Kiriko stood silently afterwards, pondering the different responses that one might give to such a statement.

Kiyoko's smile dimmed, something sad pulling behind her eyes. It must have been quite a life for Kiriko to believe the words she spoke, and Kiyoko could only disagree with them. One didn't have to be like that, if the world they lived in had not been the way it was. Her grandfather had wanted nothing more than for the world to grow together, to be as one, however; all of it was shattered when they killed him. Perhaps, in a way, she should hate these Kumo nin, for taking away the one precious life she had cherished above all others. But she didn't, and she knew she couldn't, even if she should. She took a slow breath in, and shook her head.

"You know, I know someone like you. Just like that person, I bet you used to have a beautiful smile," because as a child, he did. It was very rare, and very little could make him smile, but when he did... Kiyoko shook the thought from her head. That was a long time ago now, and to have changed so drastically, a part of her wondered if the world would ever turn out the way her grandfather wanted it to be. Instead, she turned to fully face the Kumogakure kunoichi, her face pulled away from the light demeanor it had held. It was replaced by something serious. This wasn't her best idea, however; there were more than a few ways to bond with someone.

"A wager then," she spoke, her voice strong with conviction. "I propose a spar of sorts. If you win, you may ask anything of me, however," she paused, glancing into Kiriko's eyes to search for something, anything really, a flicker of her former self. She found none. "If I win, you have to smile. Just once," she stated, the corners of her lips tugging up just lightly.

Needless to say, Kiriko was taken aback by almost everything that was spoken by the redheaded girl in front of her. For starters, she seemed to become visibly saddened by her response, something that Kiriko hadn't expected; after all, how was she to know that the other girl would suddenly feel sad after hearing one answer? It was, however, made clear soon afterwards when she stated that she knew someone similar to herself, which caused Kiriko to pause. Was that the source of the sadness, or did she naturally get depressed when she remembered those that she cared for?

It was the comment about her smile that caused her to fumble through her own thoughts until they grinded to a halt. Never before had people thought of her smile as beautiful; in fact, the last time she did, Kiriko was deemed a monster and a psychopath by those around her. While it was most likely because it was on the battlefield, that was besides the point. What was the point was that Kiriko could not think of any rebuttal to that statement. How could she? To Kiriko, her face was nothing of importance: in fact, it was less than beautiful, for no monster could ever be considered beautiful. Kiri's thoughts were interrupted by a stance change that accompanied a tone change. Her body language shifted to something Kiriko was more familiar with; seriousness.

It goes without saying that Kiriko was more than a little confused by the wager offer, and her eyes narrowed profusely at what she would have to do if she lost. Why was it that she got a free question from this red head, and yet she demanded that she give up something as precious as a smile? Smiles were rare from her for a reason: she never found anything was worth smiling about in public, unless she wasn't within a large group. But Yoko knew what she was doing, and Kiriko nearly bit her lip in frustration. On one hand, she could decline and leave, but that would not help her pride nor her image whatsoever - besides, she was itching to fight something. Then again, if she lost to this woman, she would be entitled to give away a smile in front of possibly more than just Takko. The thought alone nearly caused her cheeks to begin to burn, but she was lucky enough to avoid the embarrassment.

A sigh escaped her lips before the one side began to tug into a deadly smirk. Her stance changed as well, as the kimono drifted across her body as she shifted. She instantly returned her face to normal and her tone to flat to speak. "Very well. I accept the terms of this agreement, and shall uphold them if I am deemed the loser. Her stance continued to shift until it was in a comfortable position for fighting in a kimono before finishing. "I would like to add, however, that I am not one for friendly spars. Your overall health at the end of this is not my responsibility." While it sounded weird, Kiriko was essentially warning Yoko that she had the possibility of dying because of a friendly spar, simply because she rarely saw sparring as friendly.

“Uzumaki’s pretty used to that, actually,” came a new voice. Katsuro hadn’t made any special effort to conceal himself as he approached—doubtless, both of them were aware that he was headed in their direction, but that was not the same thing as being expected to contribute to the conversation, if it could be called that. Kiyoko was pushy and annoying, but those traits made it possible for her to speak with others that generally preferred to hold silence. “Because her sparring partner is usually me. That wager’s one of her favorites.” He did not appear to be joking—in fact, his face was every bit as grim as Kiriko’s. Needless to say, he had a collection of weird and irrelevant facts about Uzumaki—since he never really asked her anything important—and as far as anyone knew, he was completely incapable of the muscle movements required for a smile.

“Don’t mind me; I’m just here so that if she dies, everyone will know she asked for it, and there won’t be a lot of…” he made a generally dismissive gesture, probably to indicate the absolute insanity that would result from one of the Kumo ninja killing or severely injuring Naruto’s very own granddaughter. Well, there was another one, but the younger Uzumaki was only a Chūnin at the moment, and thus nowhere near here.

As good as his word, Katsuro hopped into a nearby tree, crouching on a low branch and draping his arms over his knees. He’d give an official signal to start, if they needed one, but he somehow doubted they would, really. He wasn’t exactly as indifferent to Kiyoko’s fate as he seemed, but he was nobody’s knight, nobody’s protector. What Uzumaki got herself into, she got out of—or not—by her own strength, and nobody else’s. It was one of the reasons he could stand her at all in the first place.

Kiyoko opened her mouth to accept the terms, however; Katsuro's voice cut in, and she turned and frowned at him. He was right, though, she was used to terms such as those. He, like he said, was her sparring partner, and he certainly didn't go easy on her. She wouldn't have it any other way, though. Why should someone hold back just because they are sparring? Pushing the thought aside, the frown turned to a grin as she cocked her head to the side, sparing Katsuro a glance before turning her attention back to Kiriko. She took a slow breath, clearing the rest of her thoughts as she too, took a stance. It was evident she was going to use the Jūken, or otherwise known as the Gentle Fist.

"Katsu-teme is right about that, I am used to it. I would not expect anything less from a Kumogakure shinobi. I want only the best, and if this friendly spar turns out more than just that, well..," she paused, shifting in her spot before continuing. "Then that'll be on me and no one else," she stated, the smirk on her face never leaving. "Katsu-teme can tell them, if you kill me, that it wasn't out of ill intent," though it probably wouldn't look that way. Plus, she had no intent on dying today, nor any day after this. She had a dream, after all, to achieve that required her to be alive. She would see her family again, but not today, and not any time soon.

"Shall we?" she stated, the smirk widening. Instead of waiting for Kiriko to make the first move, as she should have, Kiyoko moved first, relying on her taijutsu for now.

Kiri had noticed the Uchiha from quite a distance away, but had originally thought nothing of the man: after all, she had assumed that he would simply continue on his own path. Instead, however, he decided to join in on the festivities and create his own input. At least he was blunt on his stance for the fight, and went to the nearest tree to watch instead. In all honesty, Kiriko would rather interact with said man that decided to opt out of the fight than fight the brat in front of him. His mannerisms just seemed so familiar and blunt, as if Kiriko could actually connect with such a man or something. However, it didn't seem to be likely considering she accepted the challenge, and the redhead was beginning to talk again about how she would take full responsibility for everything that happened. Kiriko especially enjoyed the touching 'if' that she added, as if she felt that Kiriko wouldn't be able to hit her.

Nevertheless, Kiriko could sense the movements in the young lady as she moved towards her, against most normal fashions that he who started a spar would attack second. It seemed that even basic class was lost on the woman, but Kiriko would forgive her for now. Instead, she simply sidestepped Yoko's first move gracefully before speaking. "I never said anything about killing you." Kiriko mumbled loudly, referencing to her usual problem with incapacitating her opponents in a spar, rather than killing them as some psychos did. To hopefully avoid such problems, Kiriko refused to activate her Lightning Armor, as well as relied solely on her sight rather than her sensory abilities. Hopefully she could avoid drawing blood from her opponent, so that she wouldn't get into a bit of a crazed frenzy. Too bad she couldn't make any promises, as the spar was already getting her blood pumping as she counter-attacked through taijutsu as well. Best not to use anything violent.

Kiyoko merely smiled when Kiriko side-stepped, twisting her body so that she could bring her arm back around. "But it was implied when you said my overall health wasn't your concern, meaning you might kill me even if it's done unintentionally," she retorted back. She managed to block a few of Kiriko's attacks, however; there were some that landed, causing her to drop her guard a bit, and cringe. The smile, however, never left her face. She hadn't had much time with the Kumogakure ninja as the others seemed to have, and if this was the only way she'd be able to spend something with at least one of them, Kiyoko would take the beating. It's not like she couldn't, given who her usual partner was. Even if she lost, she would do so with a smile. Though, there was only one person she ever lost to, and she didn't plan on losing to anyone else. If she did...

"You just might be my new rival if I lose to you," she stated, sparing a glance towards the tree Katsuro was in, a smirk crossing her features before she brought her arms up to block another attack. She pondered, for a moment, whether or not she should implement some of her ninjutsu to these attacks, however; it was just a friendly spar. It wouldn't be too wise to start blowing places up with their ninjutsu. She didn't even know what Kiriko's chakra natures were to be able to provide a decent defense against it.

Kiriko narrowed her eyes, the persistence in this woman's need to always correct something that wasn't needed was beginning to annoy her. Implications were for people that had to beat around the bush: Kiriko thought she had made it obvious that such things were not needed with her. However, it seemed that Yoko was one to imply too much, and apparently miss the obvious. What made it odd was the freaky smile that was planted on her face: it wasn't like hers, one that was full of violence and a sadistic pleasure, but instead of true happiness. That bugged her extensively - what in the world could this woman be so happy about to feel the need to smile throughout a spar? Was she trying to prove a point or something? Even when hits were landed, she kept the smile on.

Kiriko nearly lost focus of restraining herself when Yoko spoke of becoming her rival. She had no need for a rival, so who did this woman think she was to simply superimpose herself as her rival? Kiriko's next attacks were easily blocked as she tried to refocus, allowing for Yoko to land on on her, effectively throwing off her chakra control as the Gentle Fist did. If this kept up, she would start using ninjutsu, or even her Lightening Armor, and that wouldn't end well for anybody. She either needed to end this soon, or find a stalemate. "I have no intentions of taking a rival, regardless of the outcome of this petty contest.". This was going to get out of hand soon, and Kiriko would rather not have that.

"Intent or not, you would still have one depending on the outcome of this battle," and she meant it. She had only ever lost to one person in particular, and he could attest to how serious she was about taking on a rival. If she wasn't strong enough to defeat someone at least once, she would train and spar until she could. This would be no different. Kumo shinobi or not, responsible for her grandfather's death or not, she would still take the Kumo kunoichi as her rival. They continued to exchange blows, the hits landing a bit harder with each passing one, and Kiyoko was finding herself a little drained. She sighed softly, turning to block another in coming attack. It wasn't a petty contest.

"It is not a contest, Kiriko. A contest entails that the we are competing. Is that what we are doing here? Because I could have sworn it was just a sparring session?" she retorted, really not mindful of the way she said it. To her, that was all this was. Perhaps, it might seem like a competition, because Kiyoko was certainly competitive, however; she didn't see the spar that way. What this was, was two people merely training, and honing themselves against each other. Whatever the outcome, it would only make them that much stronger against each other. She could feel some of her muscles becoming sore from the length of the spar, but she wasn't going to relent, not quite yet. But that didn't mean it shouldn't end soon.

"How about we finish this then?" she stated, the smile vanishing from her face as she took one last defensive stance. Inhaling a deep breath, she held it until Kiriko made one of the last moves.

Katsu could only wonder if Kiyoko's persistent need to have the last word (sometimes by saying things that made very little sense) was half as annoying to Kiriko as it was to him. Well, he'd probably be finding out in the next few seconds, anyway.

Kiriko was starting to realize why the man known as Katsuro talked as little as he did: with a girl such as Kiyoko in his presence all day, how could one even get a word in? Her constant need to comment on everything was pushing Kiriko over the edge, and her need to maim or break something was starting to really push through her mind. She needed a release, and she needed it soon: else somebody was losing a limb. It certainly didn't help that Yoko was starting to talk about contests, which made Kiriko desperate for some form of competition - at least then she would be able to blow off some steam. With a 'friendly' spar, Kiriko had to focus on not maiming her partners, which was so much more difficult than just letting her go wild.

Nevertheless, Yoko sounded as if she was beginning to wind down, even though her chakra levels seemed to be fine. Either she was doing this on purpose, or her muscular system was starting to get slightly fatigued. Either way, Kiriko wasn't finished yet. Leaping out of her sandals, she flew through the air towards the Konoha-nin, kimono gracefully remaining on her body as she spun into a kick towards the woman's head. The woman blocked the attack easily, but that wasn't what Kiriko wanted, and it wasn't until she heard a snap within the arm bones of her opponent that she truly felt the stress leave her body. Call it sadistic, but Kiriko could feel satisfaction and a peace of mind wash over her as she confirmed that she had broken the other woman's arm. Pushing off and landing a few paces away, Kiriko began to regain her breath from a ragged pattern. One would mistaken it for fatigue, but in reality it was from her amount of concentration in just trying not to take this fight to a level of dangerous proportions. After all, control wasn't usually within her best interests.

Looking slightly shaken - though not for reasons one might think - Kiriko regained her composure to speak. "I agree; ending this now would be wise." Kiriko let the guilt and shame wash over her as her face steeled itself as it always did, as she knew that Hiko would be most disappointed in her once he found out. Hopefully he would at least understand that she tried to restrain herself.

The crack was all she needed to know that her arm was broken, and Kiyoko bit hard on her lip. She'd broken worse parts on her body thanks to the war, but that didn't mean it didn't stop hurting. She was lucky enough she didn't scream out in the pain, but instead, merely grimmaced through it. Kiriko pushed back, and agreed to ending the spar. Kiyoko lost, in a way, but she merely shook her head and smiled. Her arm was pulsing, and it hurt, but she could take care of it in a minute. She was, after all, a medic-nin, and it wouldn't be too much to heal herself. Though, she might actually need another set of arms to completely heal her arm. She glanced down at said arm, then back up at Kiriko, a bright smile still plaguing her lips. She smiled too much, if anything, and she knew that. Still, it was something she felt the need to do. That was why she had named her terms. Even if she gave them often to Katsuro, she just wanted to see people smile more. It was almost sad that people were forgetting how to do that with everything that has happened.

"Thank you, Kiriko, for the spar," she stated, bowing in respect towards the victor. "It seems I have lost this wager," she stated, shaking her head softly. "Don't worry, though. I am not going to pursue you as a rival, but... thank you for at least this much," she continued, waving her good hand in front of her.

Kiriko was more than confused when Yoko gave her another one of her smiles, and then proceeded to bow and thank her. There was no honor in her win; there was no real victory there. It was more or less finished before it even started, and yet here Yoko was, calling it a victory for her. Kiriko stood somewhat flabbergasted as she continued to speak, not sure really what to say until Yoko finally stopped talking. Kiriko let the silence sink in for a second, before looking at her opponent with somewhat softer eyes than she had originally intended. "While I personally disagree that there even was a victor, I shall take what I have been given." Kiriko paused, still not bowing to her opponent even though she had earned a small dose of respect from the girl. She turned to leave, but turned back around when she remembered the other part of her statement. "However, I shall remain ahold of the question that I am allowed to pose to you for now. You never know when something like that might come in handy. A small smile threatened to creep onto her face, but it was dashed away a few moments later as she spun around to leave.

"Good day, Kiyoko Uzumaki. May we never attempt another spar."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Nariko Kaneshiro

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About a week and three days had passed, the meetings were still not done. Progress was being made, but on some days, it was much slower than others. Today it had been especially glacial, and Takko’s frustration was testing the limits of his courtesy. All this putting on of polite manners wasn’t in his nature anyway—he was a nice enough guy, maybe, but he preferred to be direct rather than coy and political, and the days where he felt like he was just chasing his own tail were increasing in frequency as the Hokage’s Council dithered about this or that. Without any real way to get past that besides stretching his patience and digging his heels in when he could, he decided that it was high time sake was brought into the equation. And some of that fancy imported liquor, too.

Which was how he found himself headed back to the compound, loaded down with a sack full of alcohol jugs. Beside him, the Uchiha, who had picked him up from the meeting this time, grudgingly carried another sack, slightly smaller, with various bottles clinking around inside. Still, it was all paid for with the Raikage’s money, so it wasn’t like it was a drain on his family’s resources, something he supposed he could appreciate. Whatever the case, it was full dark by the time they made it back to the compound, and it happened that most of the others of both village groups were there anyway.

“Well,” Takehiko said, at just enough volume to get the attention of anyone who hadn’t focused on the new person entering the room. “Seems I have a lot of sake here, and not a lot of time. Who wants to help me drink it?” He grinned, toothy and feral, and set his sack down in the middle of the room, near a low table, urging the Uchiha to do the same with the slightly more exotic brews.

Naomichi couldn't help but want to be outside at night. As he walked along the courtyard of the Uchiha compound, whistling a gleeful tune as he enjoyed the commonly warm air that Kohana had to offer. It was a beautiful day and he couldn't help but find nothing wrong with it. His mind was at peace, he was still on a high from his night with Nari, and the place just looked beautiful. He couldn't help but look at the gorgeous design of the buildings around him - elegant but strong - and the finely trimmed greenery that showed the love and care that was put back into the clan's home.

As he was rounding a corner though, he saw Takko come into the compound with a sack full of... something. Naomichi was unsure what could be in the bag, so he figured he'd do a little recon work just to make sure it wasn't filled with something suspicious. He threw himself against the back wall and peaked around the corner at the Raikage - his ANBU skills coming out at the moment of suspicion. What is he doing? Why does he have that bag? What is in it? So many questions and so little time. As he analyzed the movements of his prey, he came to the conclusion that he was not suspicious - or was being very good at hiding it. Nevertheless Naomichi wanted to continue to follow him.

As the Raikage traversed the compound, Naomichi attempted to remain less stealthy just in case he was caught. He probably wouldn't be happy if he had a Kohana shinobi stalking him down like prey, so Naomichi attempted to do the more natural look. Leaning against walls, pushups, rearranging flower pots, holding cats (in all the wrong ways), and anything else he felt would seem normal if he was ever approached on the subject.

Eventually when the Raikage went into a meeting hall and made his exclamation, Naomichi lost the cool stealthy attitude and immediately charged into the room and snatched a bottle up from the bag. With a huge grin across his face he popped open the top of it and looked towards Takko. "So this is what you've been hidin' in your bag huh? You coulda said something sooner!" Naomichi immediately started to drink the bottle down to its halfway point, but still maintaining a semi-sober state of mind. He wanted to feel the alcohol but not become a bumbling idiot.

Katsuro sighed, but Takko only laughed, hitting Naomichi on the back with one large hand. It wasn’t a violent gesture at all, more one of camaraderie than anything else, but the Raikage was not always especially good at remembering how strong he was, so there was that. “The stalker over here has the right of it,” he said with a grin, plucking out a few of the bottles for his own use. “Anyone interested in trying to drink me under the table?”

A window sill was far more comfortable then most people believed, a fact Kosan had learned from a very young age especially at night when the thin plank of wood was the perfect mixture of heat from within the house and cool to the touch from the night air. Kosan leaned back against the side of the window, as he looked up at the star filled night sky. It was comforting, in its own way, as the stars were always the stars no matter where one was in the world.

His mind had been occupied since that night. Since Rei, the Uchiha, and him found the list of names. Even now, he could call up the scroll and every name on it with perfect clarity, if he desired to, he could even count the strands of Rei's hair that rested on her shoulder as he had looked over it. The image had been seared into his mind, but unlike the past hours... or was it days? Kosan mind was his own, and he chose to pass his time to watch the night sky. While not as interesting as spars and other odd habits he was sure the others have, it held a certain charm all on its own.

Kosan's blue eyes watched the large moon, and he almost wished Seiko was looking at it too. Almost as if she was watching it then she wasn't tucked in and sleeping which she should be doing as she had to go to the Academy for instruction in the morning.

His sensitive hearing picked up a familiar voice, that of his Raikage and something about Sake. Kosan leaned his head against the side of the window. A part of him just wanted to stay and continue in his self-imposed exile, running over the same things in his head, driving himself insane with the fact that everything was still so far away from him. One step forward in a travel of a lifetime, but, on the other hand, it could be amusing to watch his Raikage drink himself in a stupor after the all the talks with those elders had to build up a stress. Kosan had never been bothered to accompany the Raikage, but he trusted him enough to not hand over the key to their gates.

On that note, he had not had a chance to sit down with Nari for awhile, and if she was in a ten mile radius, the sake would summon her. Decision made, Kosan pushed himself off the ledge and back onto the wooden floor, his socks providing a nice barrier between him and the cold floor. Moving to the kitchen, Kosan filled a small pot and set it on the burner to boil for his tea. He had never been much of a drinker, and he was intent more on watching them drink then partaking himself.

With his preparations done, Kosan entered the room they had first sat together and ate in, the 'dinning' room, was it? Or perhaps a sitting room? His eyes ran over the three occupants, Naomichi, Kosan had not spoken to him much, his Raikage, and the Uchiha. Kosan offered a small nod to the Uchiha in the form of a personal greeting, or as much as Kosan was willing to give the other shinobi. He did not know what the Uchiha thought about their little trip or if he even cared, but Kosan was still grateful none the less.

"I will be sure to get my glorious Raikage a pillow when he has fallen under the table," Kosan said offering a small smile before sitting down on the floor and sliding his legs under the table, "Can you imagine what our Konoha brethern would say if a Raikage was sleeping, stone drunk and without a pillow? I fear we would never hear the end of it."

“Assuming I’ll lose already? Woe is me, who has lost the confidence of my closest supporters!” Takko bemoaned dramatically, placing a hand over his heart and pretending something had hit him there. The goofy grin still firmly in place gave away his actual thoughts, however, though it was but a moment before the glint in his eye turned a bit more sly. “You know, Kosan, a drinking contest with only two people is a pretty poor showing. You should participate too, and then we’ll see which one of us ends up under the table, hm?”

Kosan raised an eyebrow at the thinly veiled challenge. While he was never much of a drinker, he did not like letting challenges go unanswered. An odd desire to prove himself that was born many years ago that had never left his system. Still there was the chance he would make an utter fool of himself. He was glad it seemed there was no women there which would lessen his chance to make a fool of himself, or worse, wake up in the wrong bed.

"I suppose," Kosan said slowly, rolling the words around in his mouth, "that I don't have much of a choice, although I bemoan what they will do back in the village when they find out that lowly Zetsubō out drank the Raikage."

Kosan glanced at Nao who seemed quite taken with the entire bottle, "But I think I may have to use a glass." With an ungraceful snort, Takko handed him one, taking another for himself.

Nariko walked with a large grin on her face, the cool breeze of the air washing against her face; a welcomed antidote to the harsh warmth of the weather. She tilted her head side to side, humming a light tune before something in the air caught her attention. She might not have been an Inuzuka, with their sense of smell, nor their hearing abilities, however; when it came to the scent of that, she could smell it a good distance away. And Nariko had never been one to turn down a good drink. With large grin on her face, Nariko made a bee line for the source, coming upon it within a few seconds. She wasn't too far from the compound to begin with. She arrived just in time to catch the last sentence of Kosan's, and shook her head. Rolling her eyes, she came upon Kosan and drapped an arm over his shoulder.

"Ah, but what would the village think when the lowly Zetsubō is out drank by a kunoichi? Surely it would be a blow to not only Takko-chan, but Ko-chan too, no?" she almost cooed, leaning in so that her lips were close to the shell of his ear. She pulled back suddenly, laughing as she patted his back in the process. "But you know me, I'm never one to turn down a challenge," she stated, grinning almost from ear to ear. "So, shall we see who is the better drinker?" she stated, flashing a predatory smile around the group. She couldn't hold her liquor, she knew that, and almost everyone else from Kumogakure knew that, however; she didn't care. A good drink and having a good time were all that mattered to her.

Naomichi silently drank as he watched almost all of the Kumo shinobi come into the dining hall, drowning the awkwardness away in himself with the bottle of sake. He decided it'd be best to push himself to the brink of tipsiness and only humor them with drinking after that. Gotta keep it a fair game and all. "Well now it's a party! Come Nari-kun, Katsu-san, Takko-senpai, Ko-san!" Naomichi let out a little snicker at the play on words he made there. "I bet none of you are gonna beat someone with the stature of the Raikage. He's so much larger than the rest of us I'm sure he can take his liquor by the barrel load and still be able to balance on his toe!" Naomichi was able to keep his abilities secret to the entire group throughout the week-long period that they were together, and he wasn't going to let them in on what he was like just in case Kohana needed the upper hand at all.

"I like this idea for a game though. Tell ya guys what," Naomichi stood up and placed his arm around Kosan with Nariko as well, bottle residing in his other hand. "How 'bout last man standin' gets bragging rights and a weeks worth of free meals out of everyone else? Eh, whadaya say guys? Kumo shinobi can't back down from such an easy challenge or rumors will start to spread." Naomichi grew a devilish grin across his face as he took another swig from the bottle and then heaving a heavy sigh. If everyone was gonna have fun tonight might as well make it interesting.

"Ko-san, I bet you can't even outlast poor Nari-kun right here. You gotta prove your manhood to the rest of us here." If anything, Naomichi wanted to see what such a calm and collected person was like under the influence. He never had the chance to see anyone like him be so far gone, so egging him on was his best strategy for the situation.

Kosan couldn't stop the shiver that ran down his spine when her hot breath caressed his ear. He closed his eyes as his mind was thrown into a world of confusion. Such personal contact wasn't something he was used to anymore, and it had caught him off guard and left him feeling momentarily vulnerable. So lost in his own inner confusion and raging thoughts over what just happened, he did not have time to really answer Nari's challenge like he normally would have done. Maybe he would have something akin to 'She was never one to turn down, or win, a challenge' but his wits had abandoned him. Fleeing in terror at the gentle warm air that had brushed by him, an action that was probably nothing more then Nari seeking to tease him and the others.

His back went stiff as an arm wrapped around him and pulled him closer to Nari, the devious heavy breather that had put him in this precarious position in the first place. Feeling his body crushed against hers did not help his wits return to him. It was hard to hear Naomichi over the sound of Nari's heartbeat that was filling his ear as it was crushed against her chest.

"...Of course," Kosan said almost on reflex, but his mouth moving did seem to restart his mind, as he slowly came back to himself, doing his best to ignore the woman being held against him. Nari was like a puppy, he had to remind himself, a fluffy, hyperactive puppy that was still in the middle of learning to not use the carpet as a restroom.

"I can outlast Nari-chan in anything, but I fear she could not handle it," Kosan said with a soft sigh. He was dead set on turning this around. He did not enjoy being caught so off guard and out of his comfort zone. It was time to turn the situation around.

“Uhh…” Takko put in, not really understanding the implications of what Kosan had just said but sensing that there might be some. Katsuro had clearly caught them, if the fact that he was rolling his eyes was anything to go by, but then again, he seemed like the sort who did that with regularity, so it could have been nothing. “Anyway! Let’s go. Mikkun, put down the bottle. We’ve gotta do this all official-like! One cup at a time, everyone drinks together!”

As it turned out, Nariko, for all her big talk, was looking awful by the fourth cup, which Takehiko polished off with relish and no seeming change to his physiology at all. Kosan looked all right, and it was hard to say with Mikkun—the man was an odd duck normally, so who knew what he was like when drunk?

One thing Nariko could do well, was talk. She could talk, but she could never really live up to it. Even as she downed her fourth cup, her face was already contorting into something uncomfortable. She really shouldn't have taken the challenge, but she couldn't really resist the call of it. She glanced around the room, watching it spin as she grinned with a lopsided smile. She turned to Kosan, blinked slowly at him, and allowed the grin to spread further across her lips. "You stay right there, Ko-chans. One of you will be enough," she slurred, out patting his cheeks before her eyes closed. Her head fell onto his lap as she passed out.

Four drinks in, and his mood was dimming. Everyone else was having fun, so he supposed that was something. He constantly moved his blue eyes from one to the other, smiling when appropriate, a reflexive response more then anything, but he was only half there. The other half was swimming through memories, of drinking with friends who died in the war, of his Shizu falling into his lap when she had drank a little too much...

Kosan snapped his eyes to his right watching Nariko weaving back and forth and giving him a very, very odd look. He was a little surprised she had lasted this long. He instinctively leaned into the soft pat of his cheeks, his eyes closing... before he felt a sudden weight on his crossed legs. Opening his eyes, he looked down to see her head on his thigh. Well, at least he had not spilled his drink, but looking down at her, he couldn't help the small smile that tugged on his lips as he reached down to lay his hand on the top of her head, "It seems our puppy is out."

“Her bark was always a bit worse than her bite,” Takko replied definitively, smiling with amusement at his own extension of the metaphor into an appropriate idiom. He was definitely smarter than people thought he was, right? Right. His thoughts were only the slightest bit fuzzy, and there was a pleasant warmth in his stomach, but that was really it. Other than that, he was only a slightly-more-boisterous than usual, and that was it.

The next three drinks went down nice and smooth, and though his grin was wide enough to split his face now, nothing about his state of mind had become especially different, as far as he could tell. “Hey—hey Kossan,” The ‘s’ slurred slightly, but he was comprehensible. “Don’t look sso down, my friend. Thiss iss a celebrashun!” Of what, he wasn’t sure. Fixing his eye with utmost seriousness on the other man, he asked in a grave tone of voice:

“D'you need a hug?”

After the next three drinks, Kosan could not, for the life of him, remember what he had been just thinking about. In fact, nearly all his attention was being consumed by the little puppy sleeping in his lap. His head was down, causing his long black hair to hide his face, and most of hers, in a black curtain.

Reaching down, his long fingers turned her sleeping face to his. Her mouth was hanging open letting out short even breaths, and he could not help but stare... before reaching down with both his hands, putting them on the side of her face as he moved her mouth open and closed. 'Ah....' 'Um' 'Ahhhhh' 'Um' his mind filled in the sounds that her mouth was making through the hard work of his hands.

Lightly, he started to bob her mouth with his palm making soft popping sounds fill the air. Nariko must have been really out of it to not have felt his touch, and he was a little annoyed by that prospect. She should be awake and enjoying it! But she just looked so adorable! Even if her passed out face wasn't her most attractive one, she just looked so cute! He just wanted to wrap her up and steal her away.

Takko's voice made him snap his head up... and cause his head to swim a little from the sudden movement that caused his inebriated brain to slosh around in his head. A hug?

Instead of speaking, all Kosan did was hold his arms up, like a child asking to be picked up. Of course, he didn't want to be picked up as he had such an adorable puppy sleeping on him, but it was an acceptance of the hug from the man who would probably snap his spine in two.

"Isn't she just so adorable!?" He asked a few shades too loudly, "She is so much cuter when she isn't talking."

Takehiko was as good as his (implied) word, and though the hug was slightly awkward, given the need to consider Nari-chan, it did indeed happen, the Raikage offering his friend a pat on the back to go with, though he might have accidentally used a bit too much force. Three glasses later…

Nari's face was almost taunting him in how she slept there looking so adorable and there was nothing he could do about it! Somehow, someway, she had planned this! That deviously cunning Nariko! Oh, ho! She was trying to trick him again!

That half smile was not one of pleasant inebriation! That was one pure evil! Reaching down, he grabbed her nose with his fingers, pulling it left and right, forcing her head to rock in his lap. No.. maybe she was really asleep?

Blinking a few times to try and clear his cloudy vision, he was aware of two facts, his stomach was starting to hurt, and he was really, really tired. Throwing his hand into the air, he proudly, and loudly, announced to the small room, "I am tired and I am going to bed!"

Pushing up on the table, he climbed to his feet, either ignorant or uncaring to how Nariko's head plummeted to the floor with her pillow removed. Turning on wobbly legs, Kosan leaned against the wall and motioned to the sleeping Nariko, "Takko," Kosan said stressing the o for as long as he could, "Take care of my puppy."
With that, he started to stumble towards his room, trying his best to disrobe on the way without falling down at the same time.

The Raikage blinked, glanced down at Nari-chan and shrugged. She looked fine to him, for the moment. “So... Mikkun. Just you and me and the sake now." He nodded sagely, as if this were some kind of significant statement, but even drunk he couldn't maintain solemnity for very long. His face cracked into a broad grin. “Let's do this."

Naomichi took the challenge on like every other person in the room, downing drink after drink and watching his companions fall from their graces like the sun falls for the moon. When Nari was gone just after a few drinks Naomichi knew it would be easy to take down the rest. The way she curled up onto Kosan's legs made him slightly jealous, but it'd be better if he just let the group do what they are used to since they all know each other better than he could ever. As he watched Kosan's slow descent from calm and stoic master into cuddly and adorable child looking after their 'puppy,' Naomichi couldn't help but smirk and chuckle at how completely different he was acting with so much alcohol in his system.

As Kosan stumbled out of the room Naomichi scooted towards Nari so at least he was able to keep an eye on her, softly rolling her to her side just in case of something bad happening. He couldn't help doing this - he knew it was wrong and weird to do so - but he softly pet the back of Nari's head in a caring manner. He just wanted her to be happy and well in this situation, despite probably not remembering anything that happened that night.

"Well Takko-san" Naomichi said, fire in his eye as he looked at the Raikage. "It looks like it's the battle of the eyepatches then. This proves we are the manliest of men and no one can take us down. Now, let's see who the victor is!" Naomichi raised his cup to the ceiling in a cheers motion, clanking it with Takko's. After downing what Naomichi assumed was his eleventh glass (he had no need to count them unlike everyone else) he sobered himself up almost immeditely and decided that it was as good of a time as ever to gloat about how much better he was than the Raikage. "So you realize you'll never win this, right?"

Takko couldn’t seem to be bothered, not even by the gloating. “Yer pretty good at thish,” he slurred, his voice a fraction too loud for the size of the room. He blinked his single visible eye at Naomichi and grinned, shrugging. “Yanno, I really don’t mind loshing in an honorable contest between men. Or women. Women are shome of the toughesht people I know.” He seemed especially delighted by this, and continued to down drinks—he’d lost track of his count by this point, but Katsu hadn’t, and honestly, he was surprised the man wasn’t dead, even considering his size. He must have a serious metabolism to be able to process that much liquor.

“Too bad Naomichi’s cheating, then,” the Uchiha put in. It wasn’t too much of a contest if one of the parties was doing something to remove the negative effects of the alcohol. It was really the only logical conclusion to come to, given how much they had already consumed. He sipped his own sake decidedly more slowly—someone had to stay reasonably sober and responsible during this escapade.

Takko looked aghast. “Now thash not… not… ish mean, Katsu-kun!” The Raikage switched his sentence when he couldn’t find the word he’d originally intended on losing, swaying just slightly back and forth in his seat. “Mikkun wouldn’t cheat at a drinking contesht! Being washted is half the fun! Dun go… impugning hish honor that way.” How he’d remembered a word like impugning when he couldn’t manage nice was one of those mysteries that may never have an answer.

“Is that so?” Katsuro replied, raising an eyebrow in Naomichi’s direction. “Looks like the Raikage’s defending your honor, Yuhara.” He was ever-so-slightly curious as to how the other Shinobi would respond. He didn’t exactly seem like the smooth liar sort, but then, Katsu didn’t know him very well. Which probably explained why he couldn’t think of a reason to hate him, which explained the fact that he was actually using complete sentences to speak to him. Funny how that worked.

Naomichi gave a hearty laugh when Katsuro pointed out his little trick. After taking down another cup - matching the Raikage's pace - he turned towards the silent shinobi with a big smile plastered across his face. "Aww, now Katsu-san... why'd ya go about saying that? I wanted to be the one to make the 'big reveal' to Takko-senpai." He was a little bothered by the fact that there was still someone standing - sober even - that would dampen the fun of the evening.

He turned towards his drinking partner and gave a humble bow, paying his respects to the man he wronged by cheating. "I'm sorry senpai~" Naomichi said in a playful tone. "I can't lie to a man as spectacular and powerful as you, so I feel I must proclaim you as the winner!" He couldn't help but feel guilty for using his kekkei-genkai as a crutch in such a simple game, but he just wanted to see everyone enjoying themselves. Never really witnessing anyone having pure fun without any motives behind it was something he always wished to see; and so he owed it to the Kumo-shinobi for giving him the chance to be more natural without panicking about what he was going to do or say.

Naomichi raised his cup for what he assumed was the Raikage's last time. Every man had his limits and the fact this man could still form words without them crumbling out of his mouth was a miracle in itself. He wanted the Raikage to be out of the room itself either in mind or matter so he could have a private conversation with the man who so kindly interrupted him. "Now, let us drink one final cup to the winner of the evening... Takko-senpai!"

For a moment, Takko looked a bit disappointed that the downer Uchiha had actually been correct, but he perked up again at the praise, nodding agreeably—though it made the room swim—and downing the last cup. He could hold no more, however, and stood with considerable unsteadiness from his spot. Still, he managed to throw Nari over his shoulder okay; he at least had not quite managed to forget that she was present. “Shure, shure, I’ll be winner if you shay sho. Jus’ don’ be too hard on Katshu-kun here. I think being cranky and depreshed ish in hish genes.” Picking up a tuneless hum, he wobbled out of the room, depositing Nari on her futon—on her side, not her back—and briefly contemplating just curling up in there himself, because his own seemed so far away. But, well, there was a reason he shouldn’t do that, he was almost sure. Kiri would know what it was. Kiri knew everything.

“Shoulda made her Raikage,” he mumbled to himself, half asleep already, flinging wide the sliding door to his own room—with unfortunately enough force to take it out of the frame.

“Oopsh.” Well, at least he was here now. Time to sleep.

Katsu, meanwhile, narrowed his eyes suspiciously, but drank for the purposes of the toast anyway. “And did you enjoy watching them all make fools of themselves?” he asked blithely.

With the Raikage's exit Naomichi immeditely sobered himself up, losing the excitement and jest he had with the group to adapt to a more serious tone with Katsu. With a soft chuckle he set down his cup and stared at the finely crafted wooden table, fixated on how simple it looked and yet how it still had a sheen of beauty with it as well. "Ya know something Katsu? I enjoyed having fun with those guys - and you should too. While they may have acted like idiots it was pure fun. You shoulda joined in... I mean we can't be ruthless killers all the time right?" As calm as Naomichi tried to sound, deep down he was breaking out in a cold sweat. Katsuro was someone he just couldn't figure out - more so than others. He just came off more inhuman than anyone else he had ever met due to the fact that Naomichi couldn't figure out his desires in the slightest - assuming he had any in the first place.

Katsuro blinked just once, slowly, as though processing what was being said. “I wasn’t feeling especially like a ruthless killer at the moment,” he replied flatly, his left eyebrow inching just slightly up his forehead. “Now if Tsukino were here, that might be different.” It was very, very difficult to tell just how serious he was being, because neither his voice nor his facial expression modulated in the slightest, but it might just have been a dry joke. Maybe he had had too much to drink.

With the slightest of sighs through his nose, he stood, flicking a glance at Naomichi. “If I resented this, you’d know.” It was perhaps as close as he ever got to admitting that not everything was a complete chore for him to deal with. At least… not today. Nodding tersely at the other shinobi, the Uchiha too took his leave for the night.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō

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Katsuro had been on a morning patrol route around the perimeter of the village with Uzumaki when the explosion happened, so closely that it actually picked the pair of them off their feet and threw them into the air. The Uchiha himself twisted so as to land on his feet rather than his ass, dropping into a crouch. He hadn’t sensed anyone nearby, which either meant they were especially good at hiding or the explosives had been planted at an earlier time and detonated from afar. The strangest part was that there didn’t seem to be a reason to let them off here—they’d destroyed part of a wall and rained shrapnel on a few outer buildings, but there was nothing important here.

He was left to assume that it was some kind of diversion.

“Uzumaki—the Kumo ninja.” Though he was not a man much given to trust, he trusted that Kiyoko would take his meaning. Either the Kumo shinobi were likely to be targeted by this… or they were responsible. Why else attack now, during the treaty negotiations? “I’ll handle this part, just go.” Katsuro’s eyes darkened, the color morphing from a light grey to deep red, the tomoe in his irises taking the characteristic pinwheel shape of his kekkei genkai. He could still spot nobody, at least not until Uzumaki was gone, whereupon five figures seemed to materialize from thin air.

“The Total Concealment jutsu. Useful, wouldn’t you say?” The voice came from the central figure, though they were all dressed the same, covered head to toe in robes, with color variation. One was black, two red, and two gold. The garments had hoods, which made it difficult to discern their facial features. Well, difficult for ordinary eyes. Katsuro wasn’t having quite as much difficulty, not that being able to discern their features was very helpful.

He supposed this was the point where he was supposed to engage the man in conversation, perhaps get a name or a purpose out of him, but in all honesty, he didn’t really care. They were invading the village on his patrol, so they were going to die. The Uchiha’s hand went to the blade sheathed at his waist, and he lowered himself into an iaido-like stance. “Sure,” he muttered. “Right until you stop using it.”

Kiriko had decided that her best duties would most likely to not be hovering over Hiko throughout the day - after all, while she did know her duty, she did know the man was a grown up, and could take care of himself. Yet it still felt weird scouting out the village folk throughout the day, as if she were planning an invasion. Granted, the looks she got from some of the villagers suggested that they thought the same idea: after all, a few of them probably remembered her face from the war, given the dirty faces she received.

Nevertheless, she continued her recon expedition - that is, until an explosion occurred not too far off from her location. She was close to the perimeter, finishing up the rest of the recon when it happened. Instantly, her mind raced towards Hiko, and why she couldn't sense anybody within the area besides Yoko and the Uchiha. Was this a distraction to bring the Kumo away from the Raikage, and then assassinate him? Seemed like too farfetched, honestly, but she couldn't be certain with the Leaf now; in reality, she only wanted to simply race to Hiko to serve and protect-

A rustle of the leaves near her caught her attention, and something moving deadly fast swung towards her head. She managed to block it just in time, but it still connected with her small body, sending her flying towards the explosion. Regaining herself, she landed nimbly around the explosion site to the site of her attacker, who appeared out of thin air. Odd, she couldn't sense the man just a moment ago, which previously had been deemed nigh impossible on many levels due to her sensory abilities. Yet here was a man who could; correction, there were multiples, as many signatures appeared suddenly behind her as a man spoke of the Total Concealment technique, one she had never heard of. Mind racing, she narrowed her eyes as her lips curled into a snarl. "You'll regret this, you lowlife." She knew that this wasn't going to be a simple battle of wits, but a full on brawl, one that she was most accustomed to and always sickeningly enjoyed in the past: it just depended on whether or not she retained her sanity throughout.

What a wonderful way to wake up in the morning, the smell of burnt toast and the sound of thunder. Well, it would have been wonderful if that was really it. With one eye opened, Ryuu looked at the smoke coming not far from his current position. Unfortunately, it was the cause of an explosive planted by someone who was either completely bored of the calm or just wanted some attention. It could even be both. ‘Who cares?’ He released a rather disinterested sigh. Such a sight only meant that there was trouble brewing. Despite the most popular reputation of his to always be in such mischief and to plunge into danger, he was not that enthusiastic about it. Because quite frankly, he is not really a morning person by choice. He wanted to sleep in more than anything. The futon was far more enticing than any object or reason combined. Anyway, he was pretty sure the guys and gals could handle it. That was the best idea ever. He is very satisfied with that decision.

And so, he turned his back from the view from the veranda where his room was located. It seemed he had left it opened as he covered himself in his blanket and allowed the sandman to return him to dreamland. But, he seemed to have been born under the star of adversity. Why is that? The building he was in was suddenly devastated by an invisible force which acted much like a guillotine. As such, it cut through the wooden manse effectively. At the same time, it certainly woke him up in the worst possible manner. Those mismatched eyes glazed in irritation as he stood from his now destroyed futon. Actually, an ominous presence was surrounding his form. Something which is rarely seen by anyone at all. After all, he is the kind who always fluidly places a mask on his face in any given situation. His true intentions and blatant emotions are hidden with ambiguity. Perhaps, the only exception would be the mornings.

“Water Dragon…" He started as a very large water dragon formed behind him. To be noted, there was no water available at such close vicinity which boasted his skill in harnessing such great amount of liquid. He went towards the demolished veranda where the debris was falling to the ground. Those gold and blue eyes held a very sinister look within them. Something akin to that of a demon, no, it is of a demon. His yukata was in a disheveled state as his right shoulder was exposed as the sleeve stuck precariously to his flesh. Well, there was also his chest, but regardless, he was clearly woken up and was in a bad mood. He looked for the likely perpetrator of such an act, because right now he was going to devour that person until not even a bone remains. Uchiha and Gekkō were present along with five hooded individuals below. He was certain the latter group was responsible. The other two would rather die than have anything to do with him. Good call for them. “Bullet Technique.” His voice held great animosity as the water dragon plunged towards the aforementioned group with great power and rage.

Power and rage or no, it was clearly not just any amateurs that the bullets were leveled against, and the ninja being targeted simply moved out of the way of the flashy attack, breaking ranks for the first time. One of the red-robes went to join the gold-robed figure that had stopped Gekkō from leaving, presumably to see to the Raikage. Katsuro would have even believed that wise, but it seemed it was impermissible for now. The other two flanking figures split off and headed for Tsukino, one of them already forming a handsign that Katsuro recognized as belonging to an immobilizing jutsu, one that used earth as the conduit. The other seemed to be trying to pin him into the trap with a barrage of abnormal numbers of weapons.

The ones going for Gekkō, on the other hand, seemed more inclined to press her with taijutsu, probably due to her size disadvantage. He wasn’t really in a position to be offering either of them any assistance, however, because predictably enough, that left the chatty one for him to deal with. His sword rang free of the sheath in a flashing arc, aimed for nothing more sophisticated that to take off the man’s head, but it was stopped, not by another weapon, but by the thumb and first two fingers of the cloaked man’s left hand. His head tilted to the side, and for the first time, their eyes met.

He almost reminded Katsu of Tsukino, the way his eyes were two different colors, one blue and one gold. The golden one, however, also sported a black sclera rather than the usual white one. “Tch,” The Uchiha wrenched at his sword, which the other man seemed willing enough to let go, then used his chakra to surround the blade with lightning. The characteristic chirping sound identified it as the Chidori Kōken technique, and this time when he swung, the man ducked rather than attempting to catch it, as the same maneuver a second time would result in a rather nasty shock.

Blurringly fast, the man’s fist slammed into Katsuro’s chest, sending him flying backward into the wall of the nearest building. The impact was loud and destructive to say the least, and robbed Katsu of his breath for several seconds as he tried to process what had just happened. He’d seen what was coming, if only barely, due to his Sharingan, but… he simply hadn’t had enough time to react. It was rare that he was outmatched to that degree in speed, and if he’d been even a second slower, that hit might well have caved his ribcage in. Hopping down from the crater he’d made in the wall, he shook himself off and stalked back to his foe, who seemed disinclined to press his advantage. “Who the hell are you?”

The man smiled, a close-lipped thing that resembled the rictus of a corpse more than anything alive. “I am Nobuo, and we are Kyūkanchi.” Well, that was direct, if terribly uninformative. Katsuro supposed it wouldn’t matter in the end, because one of them would be dead, and then his name and purpose would not matter anymore.

The amount of research that these hooligans had done on her was more extensive than she had thought, for instead of engaging her one at a time from a distance with ninjutsu, two goons came at her with taijutsu. How absolutely ludicrous that these thugs somehow knew her dossier well enough; either that, or they were assuming that since she was small, they would be able to thrash her. Wrinkling her nose in absolute disgust, she evaded both of their attacks as she tried to weave signs, only to have them block her. It seemed that they refused to let her even use one handed signs, for they made sure that both of her arms were kept busy with constant barrages of attacks. While they were by no means fast enough to land more than a few bruising hits on her, it was evident to anybody watching that she was increasingly aggravated, curses constantly being spoken under her breath at their very existence.

After one scraped her across the head, Kiriko had had enough - their existence no longer mattered, and her ability to care for their lives became null: it was time to go to war. While they went for an odd technique that required both of them rushing her, she muttered a simple phrase: ”Lightning Release Armor.” Instantly, her body was coated in a flash of lightning, and she dodged both of their attacks instantly to the side. They had underestimated her ability to perform taijutsu, and they were going to pay with their lives. Changing direction at a perilously fast speed, she charged both of them while they were caught off guard, and ran right through them, sending both flying. She knew that this wouldn't kill them, but it didn’t matter: her hair was slowly beginning to stand on end as her wicked grin slowly formed on her face. ”Get up! You wanted this!” Her words spat poison as she moved towards the enemy as they were returning to a standing position. Kiriko knew they were no ordinary ninjas, so there was no need to hold anything back: they could be elite forces, so there was no point in trying to reason with either her or them right now. She could sense them, and she planned on changing that for good.

Ryuu clicked his tongue in annoyance. His intended desire did not come to pass. It meant he had to work and really, he does not like doing so, especially when he is in a very very bad mood. He really hated it when his meal jumps around and do unnecessary things. Because in the end, all they had to do was to stay still and to be devoured by him in every delicious manner of such a deed. His eyes did not relent from its deathly gaze as two robed individuals, the hell he could care about their preference for color, went towards him. Well, this would save him a lot of trouble from the get-go. He would not waste his energy chasing them around as if they were worth it from the very beginning. For honestly, they do not.

A rain of weapons hurled towards his position as he did not move without even a hint of fear in his form. He was not going to dodge anything. Due to such decision, all of the weapons hit him without missing a spot. This meant certain death; no one could survive being a human pin cushion. ”Idiots.” That was the only word he muttered with irritation as his body disintegrated into water. It was nothing more, but a dummy. As for the real one, he was now behind the two robed figures. ”Beast Tearing Gale Palm.” Once that was said, a massive demonic-claw infused with his chakra appeared and extended towards his two assailants. He grabbed them as if they were a tube of toothpaste and then dragged them across the ground without much finesse or care. Why would he care anyway? Then, he smashed them on one of the remaining intact walls with great force and sealed with his anger. Although, he did destroy the walls in the process. But, he could care less. Right now, he simply wanted to end the existence of the ones who disturbed his wonderful sleep.

Of course, the enemies Ryuu hit were also clones, these ones composed of lightning, which upon impact lanced up the claw he had been using to drag them. One of them suddenly appeared behind him, delivering a solid roundhouse kick to the side of his head, propelling him to the side and into a wall. Or rather, it would have, had the other not had a water prison jutsu waiting to catch him in the air. Rather than relying upon it to hold him, however, the first ninja just shot more lightning at it.

Kiriko’s opponents, on the other hand, backed off quite quickly when she released her lightning armor. One of them seemed to be nursing a wound from the initial impact, when she’d sent them both flying, but it didn’t look like anything was broken, and indeed with an uncomfortable grinding noise, he popped his shoulder back into the joint. Wisely choosing not to engage at close range when there was so much electricity around, they moved back to mid-range, one of them launching a barrage of fireballs to try and force her left, whilst the other bit her thumb and summoned forth a nest of large, venomous snakes, warping the earth beneath their feet so that it swallowed them up and allowed them to travel without fear of being hit by the release armor.

They did not reappear for some time.

Kiriko stood as she watched her opponents run off from her to recover from the initial attack, and began to study them rapidly. Something about them was off: perhaps it was the fact that she could feel nothing from them. She wasn't talking about their chakra, as she could sense that: but after that? Nothing. Their chakra gave off nothing, besides the fact that they had quite a bit of it. There was no affinity she could sense, no warmth, no feeling; only power. She narrowed her eyes in annoyance at the entire situation. Of course, it had to be ninjas that had some special defect that were attacking; who else would be bold enough to cause an explosion during the day? Granted, their leader's chakra signature was still jarring her senses. Kiriko wasn't sure what was up with him, but even she was a little timid of the enormity of his signature; something about him wasn't right, wasn't normal. Then again, the whole situation wasn't normal.

Nevertheless, her opponents recovered and decided to attack midranged with ninjutsu instead of risk the taijutsu. A smirk came to her face as she watched the fireballs expell from the one's mouth and snakes tunnel into the ground. Perhaps she had overestimated them before, as they couldn't have completely read her dossier if they thought they could beat her with this. Remaining in her lightning armor, she began to quickly weave signs with her hands and spoke. "Water Release: Formation Wall." The fireballs were instantly hit by the massive wave of water created from her mouth, dispelling them and creating a hefty amount of steam as they were dispelled. Using the wave as a distraction as it roared towards the two enemies, Kiriko quickly began to weave more signs for her next jutsu: "Lightning Release: Electromagnetic Murder!" At her words, lightning ripped from her hands in the desired direction: all around her. She deduced that much of her technique would catch the water and race towards her enemies, while the rest would enter the soaked earth and flush out many of the snakes that resided within. The exact number, however, was not something she could determine.

Upon the collision of the lightning which was intensified by water, the expectation of a bloody and a burned corpse was rather high. Even more so when a scream of pain echoed. After all, the attacks connected without hindrance. This should signify effective incapacitation whether permanent or now. However, there was a sound resembling that of a balloon popping and smoke scattering about. It was but a mere clone and another four of him appeared with two on each enemy. ”Imbeciles.” Those eyes of blue and gold held a certain glint of malice and at the same time a predictable reckoning. But then again, it could also just mean that he is simply very angry about being rudely awakened, especially, when he could care less about what is going on around him for today.

The four Ryuus began to tackle their chosen enemies by releasing another set of claws infused with wind chakra. One of each pair grabbed hold of the enemies and the other pairs ensured that there would be no escape in any way. ”Flight of the Obliterating Water.” This technique resonated with all four as the area around them began to solidify and form thousands and thousands of needles. In addition to that, he had infused a certain trait in this chosen technique. It would only target the two enemies before him and would not stop from forming until the targets are dead or Ryuu had been exhausted from his chakra. The latter part was a bit debatable at best when that would be.

Indeed, Kiriko’s technique was a direct hit on both foes, one of whom proved to be nothing more interesting than a log, used for a substitution jutsu, but the other was indeed the real ninja. The one she had not hit, on the other hand, charged her from behind in what must have seemed a suicidal rush, moving in close to interrupt her with a barrage of kicks and punches. Though he did seem to be susceptible to the electricity of the armor, he fought through it for the most part, his motions occasionally erratic but not entirely without threat even so. The kunoichi that had been hit with the combination attack fell to her hands and knees, using the distraction her partner provided to regain her breath at the jutsu’s termination. Her frame was wracked with shudders, but even despite this, she stood, directing the snakes that had not been outright killed by the electricity to drive upwards at Kiriko’s feet, to ensnare and bite.

Neither they nor either of Ryuu’s opponents ever gave the slightest inclination that they were feeling pain. It was true that, when they were injured, their injured body parts would function suboptimally, but never once did any of them cry out or pull a face or in any way indicate that they felt what was happening to them in any significant way. The ones aimed at by Ryuu simply chose to endure the barrage, each cloaking himself in fire to soften the blows, but aside from this, they made no effort to dodge, and even when hit, did not fall. Due to the cloaks, neither took any hits to excessively vial areas, though their arms and legs became quite bloody.

Glancing once at each other, they seemed to mutually shrug, then both moved together, this time one making his hand signs and causing a column of earth to wrap around Ryuu’s feet, once more pinning him, while the other shot a point-blank lightning bolt for the spot. His words and insults fell only on deaf ears, as though they were just as impervious to the discouragement that another might feel at persistently targeting clones as they were to physical pain.

It was a property that Katsuro was currently wishing he had. To call what was happening between himself and the leader of these people a fight was to be quite kind. It was more like a thrashing, and the Uchiha was not used to being on the receiving end of those. From very early in his life, it had been made rather clear to him that he was just better at the ninja arts than most of those around him could ever hope to be, but that hypothesis did not seem to be holding much water in this particular field test at all. On the contrary, he was sporting a broken wrist, several large, bleeding wounds, and at least one cracked rib, but his opponent was thus far entirely unscathed. The accuracy of Katsu’s Sharingan was all that was presently keeping him alive, as it allowed him to generally dodge well enough to blunt the blows so that they were not fatal, but he was not fast enough to attack and succeed.

“I’m disappointed,” the man called Nobuo admitted, lashing his wrist such as to flick some of Katsu’s blood off his fingers. “I’d been told to expect more of you, Katsuro Uchiha. Could it be that you’ve become complacent in your quest for strength, assumed it was enough to be able to match the people here? To be able to overcome obstacles by working with them? How unsavory.”

Kiriko has miscalculated how brash her opponents could get: granted, the numerous tricks that these people seemed to be pulling out of their sleeves was messing with her. Looking towards the two opponents to whom she had hoped to fry, she was more than disappointed that only one really existed, and that the other was a log. However, that quickly lead to another question: where did the real ninja go? She couldn't sense anything yet, and since she couldn't pick up on the warmth of their chakra it made it even more difficult to find them. She didn't wait long, however, as she quickly spun around to see the missing nin appear and charge from behind her. Kiriko had barely enough time to react as she blocked his attack rather than using her superior speed, as she had no idea that they would bother trying to attack through her lightening armour. Then again, nothing about them was ordinary, so they did anyway.

It became obviously clear then that Kiriko was going to get outmatched if she couldn't either get some range: while the man wasn't as large as Takko for instance, he was big enough to easily flatten her into the floor if he so wished, and his attacks were getting stronger as he kept hitting her blocks. It was a miracle how he wasn't in serious pain from the lightening armour, but apparently they seemed to not care for pain at all. If I don't get some range soon- Her thoughts were cut off as she heard an eruption from the ground as snakes poured out. They had no chakra signature, so how was Kiriko supposed to know that so many were still alive? Now the fight was going sour fast, as she knew that she had to jump now, or face being strangled and bitten from below. Only problem was that her other opponent wasn't giving up, and if she tried to jump away now, her best guess was that he would capitalize on her opening and clock her hard.

Kiriko did the only thing that she could do, naturally: hit the guy ahead of her and hope the lightening armour would hold off the snakes long enough to let her escape. Capitalizing on the harsh blow the man landed to her blocked arm - he placed more power since she was startled, which takes longer to recover - Kiriko quickly ducked and spun around so that her dominant arm was now turned into a backhanded chop, and she roared as she crossed him in the ribcage. "Lightning Oppression Horizontal!" Kiriko knew she did some serious damage, as the man instantly was thrown back quite a few feet by the simple backhanded attack. While she wasn't nearly as powerful as the Third or Fourth Raikage and their nintaijutsu, it still hurt like hell. Thing was, Kiriko didn't have time to worry about the amount of damage done, as two fangs pierced her ankle; the armour held off many, but ultimately one snake found its way through and bit her.

Muffling a scream, Kiriko turned her attention to the female and bolted at her with surprising speed, although she was feeling slightly off balanced. She wasn't sure what the snake's venom potency or effects were, but she knew she would have to attempt to finish this off quick, or else the effects of the venom may drag her to the abyss below before she could finish her objective. Kiriko's smile returned to her face, although the venom made it slightly pained as she charged at her enemy with the attempts of performing a Lariat. She wasn't sure how fast her opponent was, but she knew that if she wasn't fast enough, her enemy would be toast.

Kiriko’s opponent tried her best to get out of the way of the Lariat, but the Kumogakure shinobi, while comparatively lacking in physical strength, was in fact faster than she was, and she was forced to take the hit, albeit at a slightly-awkward angle that meant it didn’t do its full damage. Still the technique was a devastating one by its very nature, and the electricity surging through her body from be brutal application of lightning dropped her where she stood, and she lay on the ground thereafter, unmoving. Whether she was dead or just unconscious was hard to discern, and whatever the case, Kiriko did not have time for a coups de grâce, because the woman’s counter part was back, and furthermore, the poison in the snakebite was beginning to take effect. It was a neurotoxin, in fact, and would make it very difficult for Kiriko to move. For some reason, however, the male shinobi did not take advantage of her incapacitation, rather using the opportunity to scoop up his counterpart and throw her over his shoulder.

He looked over Kiriko’s head at something, the angle such that she would be able to make out his features beneath the hood. He was young-looking, somewhere above twenty five but under thirty, perhaps, and his face was as carefully blank as an ANBU mask was meant to be. Whatever he saw when he looked behind him caused him to glance back at Kiriko for just a moment with flat blue eyes, but then he took off, using her hampered state to make a clean getaway, his partner in tow.

Heterochromatic eyes narrowed in observation. It would seem that these opponents of his were either invulnerable to pain or zombies. Yes, he had been reading some comics about an apocalyptic end. It was interesting really. Anyway, there were no signs from his enemies that they were bothered by the damages rendered to their bodies. Normally, he would not be bothered by it. In truth, he would have enjoyed it because that meant the fun would last for a very long time. However, he was in a sullen and terrible mood. So, he found such reactions completely annoying and edges his temper to a higher level.

But of course, as everyone who has a sound mind would know, an emotionally driven psyche is not advisable against enemies, no matter how strong they are. Recklessness was also not prudent. Well, these sagely sentiments were thrown long ago by Ryuu and were only exemplified more at this very moment. He allowed more of his chakra to be taken from him due to the endless barrage. However, there was a certain folly to this choice. His awareness now lack in its refinement. He was caught unaware as a pillar wrapped around his feet implanting him heavily to the spot.

Despite that, he should be able to deflect that lightning bolt directed to him. However, his chosen actions had interfered with an integral balance. His eyes glowed eerily merging into one unified color and the archaic symbol once more present instead of his irises. Instinctively, he covered his eyes from anyone’s observation and his chakra fluctuated very dangerously. A warning and a vision overtook his entire being as the clones disintegrated into smoke and the rain of needles was put to stop. And without interference, the bolt hit its mark as he a surge of electrifying and burning pain flooded his senses.

He fell to his knees but it was not mainly due to the attack. Rather, it was mostly from the exhaustion and complimentary intake of his life. His breathing ragged as his eyes had now returned to its normal visage. There are notable damages inwardly to his body that much he is certain. After all, he could feel blood coming out of his throat. Looking at his opponents, he gritted his teeth and his hands closed into tight fists. The path had already been set. Earthen pillars which held him in place crumbled away as he managed to regain his bearing and stand on his feet once more. Blood dripped from his lips as he wiped it away with a thumb. ”I guess, we know what to do now.” He raised his right hand towards the sky as a screeching sound began to fill the area. Someone was going to be very angry at him. He could already imagine it. Enormous amount of chakra began to form around him along with the howls of wind echoing and a vortex forming around him.

The two ninja facing Ryuu appeared to examine the forming jutsu, though neither had much visible reaction to it. One cocked his head to the side, however, and met the other one’s eyes, motioning with a jerk of an injured hand to the left, closer to where Katsuro was fighting the leader of this little party. Both nodded, and with simultaneous handsigns, sunk deep into the earth, away from their would be killer.

A hand came down on Katsuro’s head, the fingers weaving dispassionately into his hair and hauling him upright by it, depositing him on increasingly-unsteady feet. He swayed dangerously, his vision fading in and out as he struggled to keep his chakra output even enough to maintain the mangekyō. It went out in one eye anyway, and he closed that one against the peculiar double-vision that resulted. With his other hand, Nobuo ran a thumb along the edge of the new cut along his cheekbone, the digit coming away with a smear of blood on it. It would seem that the Uchiha had managed to injure him after all, though not nearly so much as he himself was even now suffering. He was actually somewhat impressed that the boy was still conscious, considering just how much of him was broken, twisted, or ruptured. Still, it was disappointing. He was far from ready to fulfill his purpose. None of them were. Nobuo would have to drive them to it, like a shepherd drove sheep.

“Pathetic.” A hand shot out to wrap around the Uchiha’s neck, the feeble attempt to dodge rendered entirely moot. He squeezed the child’s windpipe until he was wheezing, one Sharingan eye defiantly glaring at him even as the precious oxygen was denied to his body. He’d been told to expect that much, at least. “If I so desired it, I could raze this pathetic village to the ground, and slaughter every last person within it. Including you. Fortunately, there are yet other designs for which its purpose can be greater than as a heap of ashes and bones.” He squeezed tighter, and the second Sharingan eye faded back into that keen, flinty silver instead. “Grow stronger, Katsuro Uchiha, you and the rest, else next we meet, all of you will perish.”

Sending a signal to the rest of his organization within the village, he signaled a withdrawal. The test had proceeded as planned, but the results had been a complete failure on the part of this place to live up to its reputation. Was this really what a ninja village was? How easy, then, it would be, to destroy every last one of them. Their complacency would do them in.

And he would be only too happy to help.

Dropping Katsuro to the ground, Nobuo made a series of signs, and then he and his entire battle party simply disappeared from the senses.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō

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Kiriko revelled in the connection between her fist and the other nin: it was something she was missing, the ability to literally rip apart her opponent, even if her opponent was still in one piece. Panting more heavily than she was used to, Kiriko gave one last smile before taking an attempt to walk forward, only to collapse. Her eyes wide, Kiriko barely got her hands down in time in an attempt to catch herself, but ultimately just fell down. What... What's going on? That was her last thought before the feeling in her legs disappeared completely, only to be replaced by an intense buring sensation. Another muffled scream was emitted as it felt like her legs simply had erupted in flames; or more specifically, the chakra of her legs was replaced with fire. Kiriko could feel the fire slowly creep past her legs and slowly make it to the torso, all the while her body was slowly losing motor function.

Kiriko was finally able to tilt her head enough to see her opponent, who instead of finishing her off like any normal person would, instead grabbed his partner and vanished. His face was still ingrained in her mind as she swore at him profusely; she had dragged her limp body towards where he had taken off before her arms simply refused their master, and she was stopped. All she could do now was muffle her screams with the ground itself while the poison continued its conquest of her body, seemingly setting her insides on fire while disabling her ability to move. She simply laid there now, unable to writhe in pain, unable to see anything as she was only able to stare at the unchanging dirt.

As her vision blurred and her speech began to slur, all she could think of was Takko and her failure. Was there any real point in continuing now that she had failed? Was this an attack on the two Kages to remove the talks of peace? Kiriko didn't really care what their motives were; it didn't matter now anyway. She was no longer fit to be the partner of the Raikage: she was supposed to be his protector and partner, his eyes where he could not see. If she could not beat rogue ninjas that threatened his life, what good was she? As the poison overtook her once again, she couldn't muffle her scream this time as her jaw no longer completely followed her directions. Her mind was cleared, as if the poison burned her thoughts away, and left her with only two words which she struggled to say. "End.... Me...."

“Not today.” The voice, as it turned out, belonged to Rei. Her team had suffered damage, certainly, including impressive cracks to the Raikage’s granite armor and her own broken leg, but a quick application of healing chakra and she was at least functional enough to go check on the other members of her team, leaving Takko and Kosan in care of Kiyoko’s abilities. But she wasn’t taking the chance that some Leaf medics would arrive and not prioritize the treatment of Kiriko or Nari, wherever they were, and let them die for that reason.

As it happened, she’d found Kiriko first, and from the state of her, that was a good thing—she didn’t look to be in good shape, and someone with as much willpower as she had wouldn’t be down like this unless there was just no way she could possibly stand again. Her pride wouldn’t allow for it, or at least that was how Rei saw things. The cause of this state was evident enough when she saw the bite wound on Kiriko’s ankle, and the medic-nin grimaced. A quick scan of the area revealed that Katsuro was unconscious—she’d have to check on him next. He had helped Zetsu out in his information hunt, after all. Ryuu was also there, but considering that he was conscious and not facedown in the dirt, she’d have to wait on asking after him either.

“Takko’s fine,” she said, knowing that Kiri’s first priority would likely be the Raikage. That was as it should be, and Rei understood it perfectly. “So is Zetsubō, but I’m not sure where Nariko is. She may have gotten caught up somewhere in the fighting.” Never one to waste time, Rei worked as she talked, reaching into the pouch tied to her thigh and drawing out a small vial of a dark fluid. Usually, this technique required that someone be restrained, because of the pain of it, but judging from the way Kiri wasn’t moving anyway, thrashing was not going to be an issue.

“Sorry, Gekkō, but this is going to hurt,” Rei informed her calmly, using a chakra scalpel to open the bite wound wider, connecting the two points of entry on her teammate’s ankle. The painful part, though, was when she had to force the fluid into Kiri’s bloodstream, using it to draw and suspend all of the poison in her arteries and veins. It was not a nice process, not in the slightest, but it did draw out the remainder of the toxin, and Rei ushered it back into the vial, which she corked. The whole thing took extreme precision even for a medic, but it worked. “I’ll have a proper antidote in a few hours tops, so take it easy until then.” Most of Kiri’s motor function would be back already, but for full recovery, the antidote was advised, but she’d need time to make it, even after she’d finished checking over everyone else.

Kiriko was genuinely surprised when she heard a voice from overhead, especially one that she recognized. She would have moved her head to acknowledge the voice, but it didn't matter even if she could: Kiriko recognized Rei's voice even if she couldn't see her. Kiriko didn't know how to respond to Rei's counteractive statement to her own -she remained motionless as Rei continued to work, unable to really focus on the words that Rei really spoke besides the fact that Takko was alive and well. While the feeling of relief washed over her, guilt instantly replaced it as she realized that she had been useless to him; her job was as his protector, and if she couldn't manage that task, what good was she? Kiri's whole life had been dedicated to finishing missions flawlessly to protect those she cared for, and yet here she was: basically a dead weight.

Kiriko heard another mumble from Rei - the word 'hurt' was used, if she heard correctly - before a dull pain ripped through her ankle near the cut. What happened next, Kiriko could not aptly describe with words: all she felt was searing pain, as if her insides were being forced out of her body through a narrow tube. The pain instantly caught her off guard, and her screams pierced the previously still air until she was able to muffle them. The next few moments of searing pain were in muffled silence as Kiri's body writhed weakly in distress, until it suddenly stopped. Panting, Kiri heard words in the distance, as each word became more and more clear; something about a proper antidote and taking it easy if she recalled correctly. Slowly, her body began to revitalize itself, and the feeling that she was actually alive began to creep its way back.

Not one for taking advice from others, as soon as Kiri felt she was strong enough to raise herself, she struggled to prop her head up from the ground so that she could see the world, and Rei as she left. Before she was out of earshot, however, Kiriko mumbled out a few coherent words: "I.... Thank you, Rei." It sounded much more bashful than she had anticipated, but it mattered not; she could always use the excuse that she had just been poisoned. Nevertheless, she wanted to get to Hiko as fast as she could - then again, it was hard to do so when your legs felt weaker than the leaves of the trees in autumn. She would have to wait, no matter how hard she pushed herself.

Rei, sensitive to Kiriko’s attitude towards such things, didn’t make a big deal out of her tone, nor of the circumstances under which she’d found her. “Not a problem, Kiriko.” At this point, she figured the other woman was best left to decide how she wanted to handle the situation herself, though Rei was sure that Takko would be glad to see her. Rather than saying this directly, however, she simply moved onto the next patient—the Uchiha.

He was in shit shape, to be completely honest, and she could hardly fault him for the fact that he was barely conscious. Kiriko’s screaming had produced some kind of instinctive reaction in him from the look of things, as he seemed to have been trying to orient himself in that direction, as if to help. Of course, there was nothing to help with, but he was hardly in a position to know that. Still, looking at him now, half-curled in on himself, bleeding from no fewer than two dozen wounds, unfocused eyes still locked in the direction from which he’d heard the pained cries of another human being… she wondered if he was really so cold as he wanted everyone else to think. Well, perhaps it wasn’t any of her business in the first place, but she couldn’t help but feel that it was when people were really trodden down that they showed you their true colors, and his just looked more red than black to her.

She put the thought from her mind, though, as she knelt at his side, talking even though she was uncertain whether he’d even be able to process her words. A voice in the proximity, lacking panic, was sometimes enough to be of assistance. “Hang in there, Uchiha, I’ve got you.” She wondered where his own village’s triage teams were, though honestly they were probably overtaxed, working from the inside out, and wouldn’t be this far to the edge of the village for a while yet.

She didn’t want to risk moving him too much, for fear of aggravating his injuries, but she did need to get a look at them. The uniform shirt he was wearing came off easily enough under the edge of a chakra scalpel, and the fact that she had to peel it off his skin was not a good sign. She heard him make a sound, something like a hiss, when she removed it as efficiently as possible, and she winced at the crosshatched wounds. Whomever he’d been against had not been kind to him—this looked more like ritualized torture than a real fight, and Rei swallowed thickly. She knew the difference better than most people would ever have to. “I’ve got you,” she repeated, the words Shizu had once spoken to her the only ones easy to her lips in this particular moment.

Putting him back together as well as she could wasn’t quite the advanced process that poison extraction was, but she had no doubt that it was taking a lot out of her. She’d used a considerable amount of chakra already today, and while she was always working on increasing her reserves of it, she was only a bit better than the average ninja in that area at the moment. By the time the worst of Katsu’s wounds—the largest slashes and the most shattered of the breakages—were done, she’d had to use her chakra to empty his lungs of blood three times, and that took a bit more than healing the average cut.

He was out cold by then, the strain no doubt more than his body could really take at present, and she was just glad he had so much chakra of his own to work with—almost as much as Takko had, actually, when he claimed Matatabi was being a bit more cooperative than she usually was. That much meant that however brutal the battle, it had not been all used up, and she could put some of it to work helping heal his body.

Rei sat back, exhaling in a sigh and wiping the back of a hand across her head, turning to the last of the shinobi still present. “Anything I can do for you, Tsukino?” she asked, though she was showing signs that her fatigue was catching up with her. Her breaths were steady, but abnormally deep, and she’d forgone the crouch to sit seiza, so as to conserve energy.

Ryuu looked towards the voice who addressed him. His mismatched eyes were glazed with something. However, it quickly dissipated and reflected the visage of someone he knew well about. It was none other than her. He noticed that she was not exhausted by physical effort, but of tending to the wounded shinobi present in the area. She apparently used her chakra intensely and judging by that, it only meant those two suffered heavy injuries. In any case, his answer to the question did not come easily as he prioritized looking at the others who had been treated already. Uchiha was still alive as well as Gekkō. Of course, they should be. It was expected on his part.

"I'm fine."It was a short answer as he turned his back on her and began to walk away. Right now, he would like to be alone and get some sleep which had been unceremoniously disturbed. Yet, he ignored the fact that he has some internal bleeding and more importantly, his hand and arm were now sporting cellular damages from the jutsu he was about to use earlier. It was a backlash he had expected when it was not thrown away or even stabilized. That is why he had concluded before that there would be a furious scolding from that person. Well, he would accept that.

Midway in his walk, he stopped as blood came out of his mouth. He covered with his other hand as the other was now unusable until proper treatment had been done to it. If not, he would probably be maimed but that was not his concern at all. "Tsk." He clicked his tongue as he wiped his mouth with the back of his uninjured arm and continued to walk on. It would seem that he needed some medical assistance, but, he would not be seeking the one who had offered if she can do anything for him. Instead, he would be seeking the help of another. That should not be difficult, however; the question is if he will reach there with enough provisions of his present condition.

He was simply being stubborn at the wrong time. It seemed his bad mood was still a continuing process.

Rei didn’t miss the faint splash that accompanied a few drops of blood hitting the ground, nor could she mistake the sound for anything else. Sighing, she glanced down at Katsuro. “Are all of you Konoha shinobi this stubborn, or did I just get stuck dealing with the proud fools?” Being unconscious, there was of course no way he could answer her, and she sighed again, knowing this was going to be murder on her still-tender foot. But it wasn’t like anyone else was in a fit state to do it. So it was with some difficulty that she lifted the taller—though not much taller, thankfully—Uchiha, slinging him over her back and leaning forward slightly so that gravity would do some of her work for her.

Glancing over at Kiriko, she pressed her lips into a grim line. “I’ve got to get this one to the hospital for more treatment. Do you think you can go check on Takko?” She expected that the Raikage would be fine, in all honesty, but Kiri really needed to see that for herself, if Rei’s intuition about her current mental state was anywhere near correct.

Fortunately, the hospital, located near to the Hokage’s building, seemed to be the general direction in which Ryuu was heading as well. Birds, meet stone. Jogging a bit so as to catch up, she tried not to wince when the pressure on her foot sent little needles of pain up from her ankle. They really hadn’t been kind with that one, had they? “Oh for goodness’ sake,” she groused, shaking her head upon observing the blood streaking across the back of his one arm and how the other hung uselessly at his side. “It’s fine if you trust one of your own village’s medics more than me. I won’t be offended. But at least let me stabilize you so you can make it to one of them.”

Kiriko did not acknowledge Rei's first comment as she went to help out the other fighters that were just as unlucky as Kiriko, but in a completely different manner. Kiriko struggled to keep her head up as she watched Rei walk over to the absolutely battered Uchiha, and studied the reclusive man. He reminded her of herself, really - only with a chakra that was so potent with potential it was sickening. The fact that she was able to sense his chakra once again meant that she was regaining a lot of her cognitive abilities as well, even if the sense was somewhat dull for the amount of chakra she had read off of him earlier. Kiriko used that as a marker that she should be able to move soon, and made the mistake of attempting to prop up to a possible standing position. Instead, her body collapsed on her, and she was instead on her elbows, panting. Seemed as if the poison's effects felt like holding on for the fun of it, and weren't the speediest to give her back the strength to get up yet.

As she struggled to get to a standing position, her mind wandered into some seriously dangerous territory - almost as dangerous as after the war. The faces of her new enemies kept going through her head as she finally made it to a sitting position. Their every feature would be engrained into her mind as she knew she would hunt them to the ends of the earth. She had no other purpose if she didn't; Hiko would find somebody more suitable to guard him, seeing as how she failed miserably at performing a simple task, and she would devote her life to the extermination of those that dared to ruin her reputation. Kiriko's mind continued to dwell as she finall pushed herself up into a shakey standing position as she began to envision how she would find them, what she would do to them: she could even taste the blood that they would gush after she was done-

Rei's comment took Kiriko out of her dark corner, to which she was silently grateful for. That was a place in which she rarely came out of, for it required Hiko to make a comment, her mother scolded her for brooding or some sheer willpower, which she had none currently. Kiriko made a stern nod in Rei's direction - as stern as one coming off of the effects of a neurotoxin could, anyway - and watched as Rei hobbled off with the Uchiha. With her sensory ability limited, Kiriko had to guess that Hiko was still in the Compound, and began the slow walk over. For onlookers, Kiriko probably looked like a frail old woman with little to no ability to walk; her head was only tilted up enough to make sure she didn't run into things, her back hunched over, her pace slow and jagged. Each step was exhausting, but at least her legs were obeying her and moving at a pace, instead of lying limp beside her. Count the small blessings, she guessed. Her train of thought began to wander a bit as the walk painfully continued forward, as she mulled over how horrid her kimono must look from the outside, with its new stains and tears as well as her missing sandals.

When Kiriko thought that she would have been out of the village by now, she looked up a little more to realize she almost ran into the pole to the Uchiha Compound, and gave a ragged sigh of relief. Putting up a hand on the pole to stabalize herself, Kiriko caught her breath before moving towards the building she had been sleeping in for a while now. She couldn't really see the destruction that had been caused, nor did she care. Her thoughts became narrow as she reached the door and nearly collapsed in exhaustion, panting profusely as she thought of only one thing: finding Hiko.

There it was again, the persistence which Ryuu currently does not appreciate at the moment. If it has been any other day or perhaps even time, he would have taken such a trait as an interesting note. Unfortunately, he was not in the mood to say at the very least. His wounds? Injuries? They were inconsequential to him. Really, they were. He was not going to die from them. That fact was pretty much he was certain of. So to effect, there was really no need for her pestering. Yes, he was starting to see her as a pest. "Should you not treat yourself first?" He stated with a tone wrapped in concession without even looking at her direction as he continued with his pace. It would appear that he had noticed her condition even if it had appeared that he did not care about anything around him right now.

His two-colored eyes reflected the visage of the hospital which meant that they were near. All he had to do was to endure a bit more and soon enough, this will be over. However, his body failed him a bit as he made a sudden stop. With his available hand, he covered his mouth as blood spilled forth much like a riveting fountain. As it would appear, the internal damage caused by getting hit directly by that lightning jutsu did more than he had anticipated. Really, he would like nothing more but to crush those attackers until there would be no traces of them even bones. Yes, that would be fun. Yet, there was a different intended course for them to take and he must allow them.

There was another fit of vomiting blood as he ultimately sat on the ground unceremoniously. He was getting tired from such actions and soon enough made himself comfortable by lying down. Closing his eyes, he felt the aches, pain, and the tiredness engulfing his entire body. It was probably due to the adrenaline pumping within him earlier had already dissipated. "Hinode-san." He stated with a voice akin to that of child with a dislike of waking up early. "You shouldn't force yourself too much." There was once again his mask put into place that even beyond those fictitious smile provided a tint of concern. "I just need rest." He decided on that as his breathing seemed to endure a normal pace. However, his wounds would not heal without the needed stimulation by the medics. "So do you."

She wasn’t sure what was the cause of this stubborn insistence on being fine. Sometimes it was a pride thing, usually a male pride thing, though women could have it too. Sometimes, other shinobi considered the skills of medical nin to be somehow inferior, because their skills were not the flashiest or most straightforwardly combative, and apparently some people took that to mean they were less respectable. Still others had a paranoia about others interfering with their own bodies. While this might just be some kind of pride, she was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the other possibilities, leaving the other option to be that he just had some personal issue with her.

Well, fine, but whatever it was, it wasn’t a good reason to refuse help, and she shook her head. They were both heading to the hospital anyway, and she just decided that if something happened on the way, she’d address it, and if not, she’d let him have his way. Shifting the Uchiha slightly on her back, she responded with the sort of calm straightforwardness that characterized her medical training. “I have treated myself. My leg’s a bit tender, but if you’d seen it before, you’d understand.” She left it at that—there was no need to whine or waste too much breath. It would probably only annoy them both at this point.

She drew the line, however, when he collapsed into a seated position on the ground. Lowering herself a little more carefully, mindful of her passenger, she eased Katsuro onto the ground so that she could move a little more freely. “Sure we do,” she agreed readily enough. “And we’ll both get it—when we walk into the hospital under our own steam. I can’t carry two of you.” She raised an eyebrow and half-smiled, but it was pretty clear that she was entertaining exactly no objections about whether or not she was allowed to stem that internal bleeding. Her hands were already encased in the needed chakra, and she splayed her fingers over his back, where his lungs were located, such that her hand was lodged against the ground, and her other hand mirrored the positioning in front.

It wasn’t a full heal by any means, just enough to stem the flow of his internal lacerations. She could not help but notice, however, the extensive cellular damage he’d undergone, and traces of scarring from the same, over an extended period of time, as though he repeatedly did something that caused him serious internal injury. It was similar in principle almost to a technique she knew for rapid cellular regeneration, one that called on the body’s ability to replace all of its cells early. There were a finite number of such things in any person’s lifetime, just like there was a finite number of times he’d be able to do… whatever it was, before he expired.

He had to know. There was no way you could do that to your body and not be aware that something was terribly wrong. She could only assume it was the side effect of some jutsu or another, but it seemed a steep price to pay. Her lips pressed together, but she remained silent on the matter. It wasn’t really any of her business—he owed her no explanations. So once she was sure he’d stopped bleeding and could breathe more easily, she withdrew her hands. “There. Wasn’t so terrible, I hope?”

That was pretty much useless for having his bravado about not receiving any kind of her aid. There are certain reasons in which he did not like her to help him. Of course, he could not say that outright to her. Which would be odd if one is judging of his persona, well, it was just temporary. Eventually, he will be able to say it or she would find out. But, it was not now. In any case, he could not help but sigh in light irritation as he closed his eyes. This time, he did not resist nor say anything against her initiative to stop his internal bleeding. Actually, it truly helped as his body felt a bit better. He could not deny her an answer as she asked about his opinion in regards to her assistance. "You just can't keep your hands off me, can you?" There was a smile filled with mischief upon his face and a tone which insinuated a certain matter.

Regardless, he stood from his position. It is true that she stabilized his condition. So, he was not a person without manners. Actually, he really was as it is more fun. But then again, he is aware of his responsibility. Instead, he looked at the unconscious Uchiha. The prodigy was beaten rather badly. There was no doubt in his mind that Katsuro's pride had been damaged. Anyone will suffer the same outcome as the enemy group left them in a complete bind. It seemed like they were nothing more, but a toy when they are bored. Well, it was fine. The people will rebuild what was lost. So, there should be no problems. For now...

"I will be taking him." With one arm, he heaved Katsuro to his shoulder without even an ounce of delicacy. Well, he was knew that Uchicha was tough. So, that should be no problem. In addition, he would not be taking any complaints from her, this is simply how it is needed to be done. His mismatched eyes glanced at her form. He knew that she had been presented with something odd about his personal health. But, this would remain a secret and he does not owe her anything to explain. Moreover, he has no intentions for anyone to know about his odd condition. So, it will remain the same. Although, there will be something he will do. "Thanks." Without much warning, he placed a kiss on her forehead and then fluidly went on his way to the hospital.

Rei sighed, bringing a hand to her forehead for a moment before she dropped it again. “Weirdo."