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Old 05-20-2017, 09:22 PM   #11
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A multitude of thoughts when through Tenzan's head once he returned home.

After the ceremony, several of the older jounin sent him home instead of letting him sick around, and the thought of not returning home crossed his mind. Just seeing his front door was painful enough, but every scent and sound reminded him of Shin. Still, he managed to make it upstairs and into his room, collapsing on his bed within minutes.

The next morning, he found himself cursing the sunlight as it filtered through his window. He rolled out of bed and proceeded to clean himself up in a damn-near zombie-like fashion. With Shin gone, he didn't necessarily have to wake up early for training purposes, to cook, or any of the other things that had the chuunin rising with the sun most mornings.. but there he was. He almost didn't realize how routine it had become until he was in his grandfather's dojo. For a brief moment, he felt as if Shin was going to walk in any second.

"...I always thought you'd always be here, y'know?"

Tenzan sat down in the middle of the floor. No one was around, so he decided, then and there, to say what he wanted to say the night before. "I can't help but think about what's gonna happen now. To Mom... to me... and I know I'm being selfish. But maybe that's what you always wanted, yeah? You always said I should take better care of myself... Maybe this is what you meant."

"Remember when I first started teaching at the Academy? You were so pissed, and we got into that huge argument... You told me that I had no ambition. That I didn't want anything badly enough to fight for it... You said you were done babying me. I was so pissed off, I left for like three days. I couldn't go to Mom because I thought it would just prove you were right. But you were right. After the Chuunin exams that year, I just fought the battles I knew I could win... I'm sorry."

"I could do that again, y'know. Crawl into my own feelings and just... do nothing. Or I could start burning things down until I find the jackasses who took you from Mom and me. But I'm tired. I'm tired of living my life at just two speeds. I suppose you figured that would happen eventually. I can't really promise I'll avenge you. I mean, I will, but that's not what's important. I get that. All I want now is to be the person you always thought I could be."

Tenzan stood up. Suddenly, he felt a lot better. He really couldn't explain why, but then, he'd probably never have to do so. "I don't know how to grieve. Maybe that makes me weird; who knows? But to hell with saying 'goodbye'. Just stand back and watch."
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Old 06-04-2017, 12:27 PM   #12
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“You’re gonna get fat eating that way.”

Hitomi’s head shot up and in the blink of an eye, the dumpling she’d had in her hand was replaced with a dagger, aimed directly at the origin of the voice.

Nara Hiroshi approached with his hands in his pockets and a smirk on his face. He certainly wasn’t new to this whole Hitomi-threatening-his-life thing. “Figured I’d find you here. Mom wanted me to make sure that you were still alive since you’ve been so weird lately.”

“Well you’ve seen me now. Feel free to shut the fuck up and go away,” Hitomi answered, a bitter edge to her voice.

Hiroshi stopped in his tracks. He didn’t turn to leave, but he didn’t approach any closer, either. One pocketed hand emerged with a pack of cigarettes. The other produced a lighter. It was a bold move, since the kunoichi had, on numerous occasions, attacked him on sight for smoking, but he lit one up anyway. He studied her as the cigarette dangled lazily from his lips. “Hate to say I told you so, but this is what happens when you’re all gung-ho about shit.”

Hitomi rolled her eyes in his general direction, and while the one hand still held the dagger aimed for him, her other brought a small pastry topped with fruit to her lips. “What the hell are you talking about,” she inquired through a mouthful of starchy goodness.

“You’re a mess. You look terrible, you’re sitting outside your boyfriend’s house like a weirdo and stuffing your face. If you’d back off a little, you never would have been there when the old man died. You wouldn’t be here.”

Hitomi’s eyes flashed dangerously. “So I should be a lazy fuck like you? I should let the people around me go to war and die because it’s less hassle? Fuck that.”

“You trying to get yourself killed now?” Hiroshi’s gaze moved from the girl to the house behind her. His eyes widened slightly as though he’d made some sort of mental connection. “Wait… did you two break up or something? Are you waiting out here to kill him?”

Hitomi nearly dropped her dagger. Not the pastry, thankfully. “Fuckin’ what? No! I mean… we’re not… god dammit, get out of here before I kick your ass, Hiroshi.” She was already stuffing the rest of the pastry in her mouth and rising to stand. She rolled her shoulders and wondered if she’d really healed enough to get into another fight. Now was as good a time to test herself as any.

“Heh. That’s more like it,” he commented with satisfaction through a billowing cloud of smoky breath. His fingers were already moving, and he melted away into a dark puddle on the ground and slithered away.

“Dumbass,” Hitomi muttered as she watched him retreat. She wasn’t sure what he’d really been trying to do in coming here and harassing her, other than taking his life into his own hands, but he appeared to have accomplished his goals. Maybe he was right. She glanced over her shoulder at the Aramaki residence and wondered to herself if she should relax a little. Maybe she was too intense. Maybe Tenzan needed more space than she was trying to give him. Maybe, if she hadn’t muscled her way into things, she would have been replaced with a more capable shinobi and Shin wouldn’t have died.

Hitomi sighed. That situation couldn’t be helped now. She rubbed her hands over her face and tried to figure out what to do and what needed to change.
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Old 06-20-2017, 09:00 PM   #13
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Tenzan knew what he WANTED to do. He wanted to march into the Missions Office, shake every pencil-pusher violently until he got answers, and proceed to lay waste to his grandfather's killers. Thinking that was easy. Doing it... not so much. And Tenzan knew it. Slowly but surely, he was forcing himself to come to that sobering realization--the idea that he couldn't just brawl his way through every problem. No, this was going to take something different. He had to become someone else... something else.

He even looked different in the way he dressed. His clothes themselves weren't much different--a black shirt with the kanji for "tiger" printed on the right shoulder and a pair of loose-fitting blue pants. For once, however, none of his clothes had rips in them or torn edges. He'd actually taken the time to fix the problem before he even considered leaving. Either way, he had already decided he wasn't going straight to the Missions Office. He wanted to wait for Hitomi. Never mind that he'd promised to do so; it simply didn't feel right. This wasn't just his vengeance. It was hers too.

Tenzan never quite made it out the front door though. Instead, he found himself accidentally listening in on the latter half of Hitomi's conversation. At first, he was more surprised that she hadn't barged in already. He thought it best not to interrupt... at least at first.

Quote:
“You’re a mess. You look terrible, you’re sitting outside your boyfriend’s house like a weirdo and stuffing your face. If you’d back off a little, you never would have been there when the old man died. You wouldn’t be here.”
Instantly, Tenzan was pissed. The 'boyfriend' part went in one ear and out the other, but the idea of blaming Hitomi for his grandfather's death immediately set him off. He didn't hear much after that, more concerned with concentrating on not marching out the door and telling Hitomi's visitor to go fuck himself.

Luckily, Hitomi did that before he could.

After a minute or two, he stepped outside, intent on pretending he hadn't heard a thing. He even tried to look surprised that Hitomi was out there.

"Oh, hey. I was just about to come get you." He paused, a single eyebrow raised in her direction. "...you okay?"
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Old 06-21-2017, 06:02 PM   #14
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Hitomi stood in stunned silence for a long while, staring off in the direction her brother had gone, wondering what she should be doing right now. It might have looked a little strange that she was lurking outside of Tenzan’s home, but she’d never been one to care what anyone else thought. Suddenly, however, she was quite self-conscious. Was she was going about this the right way? It was possible that she’d be better off waiting for him to seek her out. She didn’t always have to be so aggressive.

The teen swallowed hard when she thought of Tenzan wandering off without her, though. She wanted to be ready when he was ready. Hitomi realized then that it wasn’t so much for Tenzan’s benefit as it was her own. She wanted the people responsible for Aramaki Shin’s death to pay just like he did. Well, almost as much, in any case. It would have been foolish to go it alone, but she wanted to get back out there and prove that she was capable as soon as she could. She’d never felt the need to justify it to herself before.

Hitomi sighed. She trusted him. Tenzan had given his word that he wouldn’t go without her, and she needed to give him the chance to prove it.

Just as the young Nara turned to leave, she heard his voice. She looked a bit shocked for a moment as she wondered how long he’d been there. Surely he hadn’t heard the exchange between siblings.

“Ahh. Yeah. I came to check on you. Err…”

…but I didn’t want to be a creepy asshole.


Hitomi held up a small paper package. “Pastry?”

She dared to step a little closer. Upon closer inspection, Tenzan looked… different. Hitomi wasn’t sure what it was, exactly, but somehow it made her smile. That hadn’t happened in quite some time. Maybe she was just relieved to see that he looked reasonably well and hadn’t punched his house to the moon in a fit of despair or rage. Whatever it was, it was good to see him.

“Whatchya got on the agenda for the day?”
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Old 06-22-2017, 12:08 AM   #15
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"Check on me? Heh... thanks. I'm fine though."

It was the first time in quite a while that Tenzan could say 'I'm fine' and actually mean it. He certainly wasn't 100% okay, but he'd figured out a way to come to terms with a great deal in the 72 hours prior. He didn't feel desperate. Powerless. Alone.

"And thanks for the offer but... I really can't eat that. Gives me a sugar rush just looking at the bag." Tenzan smirked. "In the mean time... we're going to the Missions Office. I want some answers."

As he started in that direction, Tenzan stuffed his hands into his pockets. "I had a lot of time to think about this. And I know for a fact that those pencil-necked screw ups don't tell us everything about a mission. Most of the time, that's fine. Shit happens. I get it. But none of this smells right. You remember what happened to us in Snow Country, right?" For some odd reason, the first thing he thought of was... ... ..and just like that, he pushed it deep into the recesses of his memory. "SOMEBODY knew that was gonna happen. Intelligence in this village isn't THAT crappy. There's no fucking way."

Tenzan cleared his throat. He could feel himself growing more and more tense with every word. That wasn't the goal... not today. "Now, I'm not gonna just start beating info out of people. But I plan on making it VERY clear that I'm not in the mood for this red tape crap. I don't think that's unreasonable... is it?"

The Missions Office was well within sight when he finished; from a distance, it seemed to be just as busy as one might expect mid-morning--all the more reason for Tenzan not to make a scene.
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Old 06-22-2017, 05:22 PM   #16
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“No… it makes sense,” the kunoichi responded. She looked at Tenzan curiously, because in all the time she’d known him, she didn’t think she’d ever heard him talk so much. It was unbelievable. She might have suspected that he’d been an imposter, if not for the content of what he was saying.

She remembered very well what had happened to them in Snow. It had been a crazy assignment for more reasons than one and she felt heat rising in her cheeks in embarrassment at the mere thought. She’d gotten her ass kicked and had made some questionable choices on top of that. She still wasn’t over it, in fact. She just… tried to avoid thinking about it most of the time for fear of dying of humiliation.

“But wait,” Hitomi began, still unsure of how Tenzan intended to get information out of the people working at the Missions Office. Most persuasion seemed to come from his fists, after all, and she didn’t want him getting himself in trouble for rightfully punching someone who had gotten good people killed. “Are you going to start yelling at them? Set their papers on fire? Insult their moms?”

The thought of all that made her chuckle to herself. As much as she would have preferred to spur him on and get him riled up, it was a very serious and dangerous game. She knew just as well as he did that they’d been thrown to the wolves on some previous assignments. “I heard that they’re already dismantling the Missions Office for how much chaos they’ve caused. If it didn’t involve me almost dying on multiple occasions, I would’ve been pretty impressed with how they did it. I think the more important question now, if they’ve found the culprits, is why.”

Hitomi’s shoulders slumped as she sighed. “I thought about it a lot, you know. Yes, there was something going on in the Missions Office, but why? And I think… I think it might be me. Hell, I’ve done enough around here to earn some enemies, even if I didn’t realize it. Maybe you and your family got caught up in the crossfire because I’m around you too much.”

The teen abruptly halted, putting all of her effort into saying two words that she felt like she’d been screaming in her mind for days. “I’m sorry.”
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:04 AM   #17
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"I'm not gonna LEAD with all that." He paused in thought, the brief image of flipping a flaming office desk over onto some unsuspecting office worker playing itself out in his head. "...it's still early though, and I'm not ruling anything out."

Tenzan's brow furrowed; not in anger, but in thought as he tried to work out the information Hitomi had. The dismantling of the Missions Office, given the gross incompetence and obvious compromised nature of its operation, was probably a good thing. He had, however, taken it upon himself to investigate his grandfather's death, and that was a very different thing from vengeance. It required thought and foresight, intuition and composure. All things considered, he'd never really exhibited all of those things at once. This really was foreign territory.

"Konoha has a lot of enemies. Finding a motive in this mess... I mean, with what we know, it could be anyone. But... hm." Tenzan pstopped, a good 200 yards or so from the building that housed the Missions Office. Gears were turning. "It would have to be someone with access, yeah? I can't even imagine who that would be though."

Access was the key. Tenzan had come to this realization before, without really knowing he had. Someone orchestrated things so that he would have to face the corpse of his long dead father. If his file was any indication, it would have been easy to guess that Tenzan would have faced psychological trauma at the idea of fighting Kenai... Clearly, it wasn't someone who knew Tenzan very well. Did they do that sort of research on his grandfather as well?

Tenzan stopped when Hitomi spoke. Turning to face her and give her his undivided attention, he listened, frowning a bit at what she had to say. When she apologized... he couldn't say he didn't expect it.

"...you know, one of the kids at the Academy asked me about what happens if someone dies in the line of duty. He was scared. I think h thought the weight of that on his conscious would crush him. Know what I told him? That as long as you do everything in your power between now and then, you'll have nothing to regret. So... what kind of hypocrite would I be to blame you? I don't know who's behind this... but I'm pretty sure you're not on a list of suspects. Definitely not mine. So... no need for apologies. Besides... I'm really not sure if I could deal if something happened to you too."

He turned back towards the building. "In the meantime... let's find out who's been being all nosy looking at our files."
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Old 06-25-2017, 10:13 AM   #18
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The words, even if he didn’t really mean them, made the ache in Hitomi’s chest ease a little. The guilt and regret that she’d been harboring were eating away at her confidence. She’d always used her remarkable self-esteem, even when overly exaggerated, as a shield. Now that she felt that breaking, her weakness proven, she didn’t know how to handle it.

Regardless, Hitomi had to chuckle. Tenzan sounded like such a teacher for a moment there. The lesson was reasonable enough, in her opinion, but she didn’t often get to see him go into what she considered ‘teacher-mode.’ Sometimes she forgot that he was a good instructor since she was too busy dragging him around from place to place, out of his element and well beyond his comfort zone.

She continued walking after he’d assured her that there were no apologies necessary. She didn’t quite believe him on that one, but his fiery anger hadn’t surfaced there and she was sure it would have if he thought the opposite. “I keep thinking that maybe I didn’t do everything in my power. We had a great plan with backups and escape routes, everyone was on the same page. But it didn’t work. I just don’t understand. I can’t help but feel like I was the weakest point. Maybe it would have been successful if there’d been a Sanada or an Inuzuka or you. Why was I one of the few to make it out alive? I clearly wasn’t pulling my weight.”

The kunoichi was clearly just thinking out loud now, but it was good to actually say some of the things that had been rolling through her head incessantly since she returned from that awful mission. She didn’t really expect Tenzan to respond to any of it. Maybe if he’d asked the same questions, though, he’d feel vindicated knowing that she was asking them, too.

They headed into the Missions Office, which was very noticeably quiet. This was usually a bustling hub of shinobi activity, and at that moment, it felt more like a ghost town. Something about it had Hitomi on edge as she passed by empty desks and didn’t see the usual mountains of paperwork and grumpy clerks.

The sound of footsteps off to her right caught Hitomi’s attention and she turned, ready to respond. An unexpected sight met her eyes however, when Katai Anzu stepped out from around a large set of cabinets and approached them.

“Ahh. Aramaki Tenzan and Nara Hitomi,” she greeted them with a nod and a smile. Her demeanor was friendly, though she always emanated an aura of command. “Pardon the mess. The… housecleaning in here is almost finished. Are you looking for an assignment?”
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:59 PM   #19
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"Hitomi... I've known you long enough to know that you don't half-ass anything. I trust you. So did my grandfather' Not every plan works out..." Especially if someone who shouldn't know about it has a countermeasure...

He stopped cold. He hadn't considered that someone in the field sold them out. Under normal circumstances, his mind wouldn't have even made that leap, but he was trying to put ins investigative training, what little there had been, to use. That meant asking uncomfortable questions. "I know you don't want to relive this but... you remember who all was on this mission with you, right? I'm gonna need that information in a bit... just back me up when it happens."

The graveyard quiet of the Missions Office was a clear indication that Hitomi was right. Not that Tenzan intended on making a scene or needed some sort of audience for it, but he couldn't help but feel a touch of disappointment. As long as the relevant parties were present, however, he didn't much mind.

A vague feeling of familiarity came over him when he saw Anzu. He remembered having met her once, around the time that he'd tracked those faulty weapons dealers to Earth Country. He also remembered that he was annoyed at her psychoanalyzing him at the time... and that she hadn't exactly been wrong.

Tenzan cleared his throat and straightened up a bit.

"Well... yes. And no. I want to know about the mission my grandfather was on. And before you say no... I also want to conduct an investigation concerning that incident. We both do." He glanced briefly at Hitomi and nodded before looking back at Anzu. "I know what this looks like. And we both know that I'll probably do something stupid like go through with an investigation on my own. I'd rather not have to resort to that if I can make it official."

Tenzan had another reason, of course, but both involved him moving forward in a number of ways. Come hell or high water, he was going to keep that promise to Aramaki Shin at the very least.
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Old 06-26-2017, 06:16 PM   #20
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Anzu leaned forward, resting her hands on an empty desk as she studied the two young shinobi before her. Hitomi straightened up, matching her counterpart. She was pretty sure she was being judged.

“So if I understand correctly, you’re merely looking for the okay to go and do what you want,” Anzu began, her gaze never wavering as she evaluated them. It was obvious that she’d spent plenty of time with the Hyuuga clan, because she had that certain forceful stare down perfectly. “That’s not how any of this works, I’m afraid.”

Hitomi glanced Tenzan’s way for a split second. She was suddenly very concerned that he was going to do something rash that would either land him in trouble or that he’d go AWOL and get himself hurt. Neither was the right way to go, but she knew very well that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“I think he’s—we’re entitled to a little closure, right?” Hitomi began, haphazardly preparing the argument of a lifetime in the back of her mind. “I mean, the ceremony and the time off to recover are appreciated, but it’s not the same as actually answering the questions. We need to figure out how it came to this.”

“Curiosity is natural. Revenge is dangerous. Sometimes there’s a fine line between the two. Rest assured that I’ve taken it upon myself to delve into what happened here,” she said with a wave of her hand to the silent office around her. ”We will find the answers you seek.”

Hitomi’s mouth opened to argue again, but Anzu calmly held up a hand as though to signal that she hadn’t yet finished speaking. She produced a packet of papers from her pocket. From the look of them, it appeared that they’d been folded and unfolded a number of times. It was an assignment form, like hundreds that the Nara had seen before. They used to litter this office.

Her credentials and Tenzan’s were already attached to it. Anzu merely filled in the date and signed her name to the document. “You won’t be doing anything you want out there. You’ll be working for me. I’ve already sent a team ahead of you to get started gathering information, but if I hear anything of importance, I’ll let you know.”

Hitomi stared incredulously at the papers she was handed, trying to keep her jaw from hanging open. The rest of the paperwork, the boring stuff that only the Missions Office needed, the elder kunoichi tucked back into her pocket. Anzu smiled. “Honestly, I thought you two would have been by sooner.”
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