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Old 04-16-2017, 06:05 PM   #1
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It was hard to say just how many funerals Tenzan had attended. He'd been to enough to know he didn't like them, and this one was no different. Yet, there he was, in the middle of everything in a suit that felt like it was choking him, staring blankly at his grandfather's funeral pyre.

Of course, Aramaki Tenzan built it himself. He insisted on doing it on his own. Beyond that, he knew it was what his grandfather wanted. The Aramaki famiily didn't do burials--for that matter, most people did not because of just how many corpse manipulation jutsu incidence there had been over the years. From that stance, it was just common sense, but for Tenzan's grandfather, it had a much deeper reasoning.

For two solid days, Tenzan didn't sleep, and when the day of his grandfather's sending-off came, he still hadn't. No one had even so much as heard the chuunin speak more than a few words, even when he picked his mother up from the hospital. Standing at the front, he stood behind his mother's wheelchair, not entirely sure what to say.

Aramaki Shin was dead. And Tenzan had no idea what he was supposed to do next.

There's a lot of people here... It probably shouldn't have surprised him as much as it did, but there were a sea of people, shinobi and non-shinobi alike, offering condolences. Tenzan had never met even half of them, making him wonder just how much about how grandfather he didn't know.
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Old 04-16-2017, 06:34 PM   #2
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Under normal circumstances, one wouldn’t be able to find Nara Hitomi anywhere near a funeral. She was more likely to be handling her grief in an unconventional way. She’d eat cakes in honor of the fallen, shred something with her shadow, or torment her brother. It wasn’t for lack of trying, of course, but her usual methods of coping hadn’t worked this time around.

Thus it was that she crept in among the rather massive crowd, clad in all black. She almost wore a dress for the occasion as a show of honor, but she knew that Aramaki Shin would have mocked her for such formality, the salty old bastard. She looked like any of the other many shinobi who had arrived to pay their final respects to a man that was difficult to like, but admired all the same.

The kunoichi was sporting puffy, bloodshot eyes. It was difficult to tell if it was the lack of sleep or the tears shed in the aftermath of watching the jounin die that affected her more. Hitomi had tried to force herself back into a normal routine again, but the entire ordeal had thrown her for a loop. She found herself staring off into the distance, completely distracted even as she requested another assignment to keep herself busy. She’d been denied.

Without anywhere to go and nothing to do, she made her way to the funeral. It was the least she could do, even if it was literally nothing at all. She never expected to take the death of a teammate so hard, but as she caught a glimpse of Tenzan in the distance, so uncomfortable and distant, she understood why this had been so awful. She’d failed, lost a partner in the middle of a mission, and crushed a friend all in one swoop. She should have been faster. She should have been better. She could have stopped it all somehow and they wouldn’t have been in this mess. This was her fault.

She wanted to try and make it up to him, somehow. The young Nara stepped forward, weaving deftly through a sea of people in dark clothing who didn’t even notice her as she passed. Once she stepped up beside Aramaki Tenzan, however, she was struck silent. He was the type to handle things privately. She didn’t know what to do or what to say to help him through the grief, or if it was even possible.

Her brow furrowed as her tired eyes locked on him, and though her mouth opened, no words ever came. Hitomi’s jaw snapped shut as her gaze swung downward. Perhaps it was best if she left. It wasn’t likely that she was welcome at the funeral of a man she’d practically killed, anyway.
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Old 04-16-2017, 07:20 PM   #3
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He knew his grandfather would have hated the entire thing. Bunch of somber dumbasses making a fuss over nothing. Tenzan could practically hear his grandfather's voice in his head. Tenzan took a heavy breath, letting his mother do all the talking. She, too, was struggling in her own way, doing a significantly better job of it than he would have. Tenzan remembered Kenai's memorial vaguely. His mother said he cried for days.

Something must really be wrong with me.

Of course, he spotted Hitomi. He was a little surprised to see her; among the crowd he'd spotted her parents and caught the briefest glimpse of her sunglasses-obsessed cousin lurking in the crowd, but he really didn't think she'd show up.

You're not gonna do something stupid like blame her, are you?

Truthfully, Tenzan had already worked that out ahead of time. He knew what he wanted to say to Hitomi, but he didn't know how. He wanted to blame everyone. The Missions office allowed him to start taking missions again. Their mismanagement had nearly gotten him killed by the reanimated corpse of his own father, after all. He didn't even know what their mission had been. He'd heard it once or twice, of course, but the haze of grief and frustration made it difficult for him to remember anything anyone else had told him over the past several days. Lack of sleep wasn't exactly conributing positively to the situation either.

But he needed to talk to Hitomi. He needed to know a few things... and normally, he wouldn't do it so openly, but today, he was focused on something beyond his mourning. He couldn't see it just yet but he needed somewhere to start.

Working his way through the crowd, he caught up to her. "Hey. Um... thanks for coming. The old man would've appreciated it..." The line felt rehearsed, especially because, no, he really wouldn't have. The formality was more for the sake of the village and his mother. "Can we talk somewhere? "
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Old 04-16-2017, 07:53 PM   #4
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Hitomi quickly wandered away. She didn’t know why she’d approached him, in all honesty. She was probably the last person that he wanted to see right then. If she really wanted to help him, she needed to leave him alone. The mere thought of it caused her chest to tighten uncomfortably.

Still, she flinched at the sound of Tenzan’s voice. Any hopes she had of going unnoticed were immediately dashed. Hitomi swallowed hard and turned around, forcing a smile across her face.

“No, no he wouldn’t,” the kunoichi answered, an odd mix of amusement and bitterness in her tone. She might not have known Shin very well, but she knew at least that much. He would have physically thrown everyone out right then and there if he had the choice.

Which he didn’t. Because of her.

Hitomi gave a slow, barely perceptible nod at Tenzan’s request. Turning away, she weaved once more through the crowd, trying to steer past the largest groups of well-wishers for his sake. She knew the attention probably made him uncomfortable. All the while, the teen took carefully measured breaths, hoping to calm her nerves and her heartbeat.

She braced herself. This could be the time, now that he’d had some time to think it over and really digest the news, that he unleashed his rage. She deserved no less, really, but it was hard to accept her end at such a young age. She’d had a good run, she supposed. They might even build a monument to commemorate the feat of how many people she’d managed to terrorize and annoy in her short lifespan.

Hitomi didn’t wander far. If Tenzan’s mother needed him, he needed to be nearby, after all. She stopped at a bench along the walkway, out of earshot of most everyone else. This would be a reasonable place to die.

She didn’t sit. Instead, she spun around to face him. Nara Hitomi chose to accept her fate with dignity, but not without saying a few words. They might not help. They might infuriate him. At least she could die of a flaming punch to the face after she’d gotten this off her chest.

“Tenzan, I’m so sorry. I wish I could have done things differently… that I could have saved him. I thought I was ready and… I fucked up. I know you handle shit like this on your own and I want to help, but I get it. If you need me to leave, I will. The best gift I can offer is… that I won’t bother you anymore.”
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Old 04-16-2017, 08:26 PM   #5
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"I want you to stay."

Tenzan didn't have a clue how much weight those five words carried. Even beyond the context of the moment, it was something he would remember well into his future, even before he knew what he was saying. What he would recall most, though, is that he said it without so much as a hint of hesitation.

"I'm sorry I didn't say anything sooner. I just... didn't know what I wanted to say, I guess. None of it seemed real. And yeah, part of me wanted to blame you but... that's dumb. Grandpa was his own person. Blaming anyone here would just be pretending he wasn't. I'm glad you're okay though."

There was a long pause as he considered his decided course of action again. He knew what he wanted, and he was certain that Hitomi--or the village, for that matter, wouldn't approve. He was fine with that, though. Only one thing would make him feel better.

"I just wanna know what happened. Where it happened. Anything you can tell me..." Because I know the brass won't. "I know how it sounds. I'm probably being selfish. That doesn't matter."

Tenzan stared at the sun in the distance. It hadn't quite made it below the tree line beyond the village's borders just yet; there was still plenty of daylight left. His tone changed as he spoke--eerily even and unwavering, and not much different from when Hitomi had seen him use his family's Celestial Gates technique in earnest.

"I'm going to find them, Hitomi. I don't know what I'll do after that or how far I'll take it. I'm not even sure it's a place I can ever come back from. I can't promise anything. I don't know if that's what you wanted to hear or not... and if not, I'm sorry. I just wanted you to know before it happened."
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Old 04-16-2017, 08:57 PM   #6
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Hitomi’s eyes widened in surprise. She was sure that he was going to tell her to leave, in a particularly colorful manner, no doubt. If he didn’t do that, she was sure he was going to punch her into the sun. The way his gaze drifted to that slowly drooping orb, the idea of it wasn’t exactly off the table. The quick, non-lethal response caught her off guard.

It took a long moment for the kunoichi to get over her shock. As the words sunk in, relief washed over her and she let go of a breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding. The slightest hint of a smile even dared to tug at the corners of her mouth. It seemed strange that she hadn’t given a second thought to her own wellbeing through the ordeal, but he had. Or maybe he was just saying that to be courteous. She couldn’t be sure.

“I blame myself enough for the both of us,” she responded. The look in her eye matched the tone of her voice. Distant. “That fucking warehouse nightmare is all I see when I close my eyes.”

Her gaze snapped to his face when he expressed his intent to find vengeance for his grandfather’s death. In all honesty, she expected little else, but the thought of him facing those enemies terrified her. She couldn’t let him meet the same fate. Shin would kick his ass in the afterlife if that happened.

“I can take you there myself, if you want. I doubt they’re going to be there, but if that helps you, then I’ll do it.”

Hitomi stepped up close to him, the being of conflicted rage wrapped up in a suit. She didn’t have concerns about her death at his hands for the moment, but she needed him to understand something. She looked up at him intently, attempting to draw his full attention so that he might truly understand the weight of her words.

“I know you want vengeance. Honestly, I do, too. But these bitches aren’t to be taken lightly. Even with all the preparations we had and the people at our disposal, it wasn’t enough. We can’t fight in a blind rage. We have to fight smart. I’m serious. I… I can’t go through this again.”
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Old 04-20-2017, 07:02 PM   #7
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Here he was saying he didn't care if he was being selfish, and he didn't even truly consider how she felt. She was right there when it happened. That and his grandfather found her hilarious. He still wasn't sure why, but that was beside the point. He felt like an idiot for being so laser-focused. As much as he hated to admit it, she was right--wading into this fists swinging wasn't going to help... He didn't want to put anyone through this again. Not Hitomi, not his mother...

Normally, he'd argue. All things being as they were, he would have gladly gone into the situation and let the chips fall where they may. The sobering reality wasn't that it wouldn't work, but that it was literally all he knew how to do. It had served him well for six years of his life, at least--or had it? He'd been spinning his wheels for half a decade and it had gotten him absolutely nowhere.

"I'm not..."
He paused, gruffly exhaling in frustration before starting again. "I don't even know what that means. 'Fight smart'. I'm not that guy. I was NEVER that guy. maybe i should be."

He glanced back at the crowd; he knew it was only a matter of time before he needed to be back. Tenzan wasn't overly concerned with being late; he and Hitomi were still well within eyesight of other people, and they hadn't gone anywhere. Looking back at Hitomi, he shook his head. "When I first started teaching at the Academy, I'd hear people make off-hand comments about that. Somewhere along the line I think I accepted that as who I was. I get why the old man was so pissed about it all the time... I always figured I'd figure it out eventually. That I had time. How stupid was that?"

Tenzan sighed, covering his face with his right hand. "I really have no idea what I'm doing."
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:37 AM   #8
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Somehow, despite her exhaustion and relatively fragile state of mind, a smirk rose to Hitomi’s lips. He was listening. His heart had to be broken, she knew, but he was still hearing her words and was willing to take needed precautions if he could. A sigh of relief escaped her before she responded.

“See, this is why we work well together! I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m not exactly Punchy McRoundhouse over here. If I waded into a brawl like you do, I’d be annihilated in a matter of seconds. I have to be sneaky and look for weak spots, take advantage of any openings I see. I have to plan ahead. When I fail to plan far enough… well, Bitch Doctor sees a lot of me. I’ve been lucky.”

Hitomi rolled her shoulders, trying to put her mind into fight mode rather than wallowing in remorse and failure. She straightened up and stood tall (well, as tall as a girl of her stature could, anyway). “You’re not alone. I’m ready to go right now if you want.” Her eyes flicked over to the many people who had gathered to pay homage to Aramaki Shin. Perhaps it wasn’t the best time. Still, she was prepared to go if necessary.

“My point is that I don’t want you going alone. We should probably do some investigating first to find out who these people are, where they’re hiding, and why they’re fighting their own. Her brow furrowed as she stared blankly at the ground in the distance, pulling memories and details from the back of her mind, turning her attention to the work ahead. They won last time because they coordinated the location and caught us off guard by attacking one person all at once. That won’t be happening again. I’m going to take that advantage they had and shove it straight up their asses.”

The kunoichi chuckled. “And you do know what you’re doing. All you have to do now is think about the reaction you’re going to get when you act. If it’s probably going to hurt you or something that you care about, change your approach. If the risk isn’t worth the reward, then don’t do it. Find another way. You know your own abilities better than anyone and you probably know how people will respond to it. Use that knowledge to your advantage. Fuck ‘em up.”
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:59 PM   #9
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"Well, right now might be a bad idea..." Tenzan smirked, glancing back at the crowd. It occurred to him that he didn't want to be here. Who was he here for again? His mother? His grandfather? He certainly wasn't there for himself. He knew what he wanted to say now. Tenzan just couldn't do it in front of other people. That would have to come later.

"We should get back for now. I think they're about ready...."

The ceremony that followed wasn't very long. As Tenzan returned to his mother's side, motioning for Hitomi to join him, he could feel the occasional hand at his back. Inwardly, he recoiled, balking at the idea that he needed anyone's sympathy. The men ho killed his grandfather... they needed all the sympathy they could get. He wanted to rage and bellow and immerse himself in that wrath. Without saying a word, his mother reached up to grab his hand. As people began moving forward one by one to place a flower on the pyre, Tenzan closed his eyes.

It wasn't helping.

It felt like an eternity before he pushed his mother's chair up to the pyre. Tenzan waited for a few moments. His was the last. Anyone else would have said something, but Tenzan wasn't about to do that. He couldn't. Instead, he focused his chakra, lighting the funeral pyre ablaze.

Finally, it was over. But it wasn't. Tomorrow would be there sooner than anyone realized, and he had plenty of work that needed doing.
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Old 05-15-2017, 09:24 PM   #10
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Hitomi nodded. She watched as Tenzan walked away and couldn’t help but notice the slight slump of his shoulders. He wasn’t handling any of this well, though she didn’t know anyone that would. Hell, she wasn’t coping very well, either, and she only knew the fallen soldier as a grumpy old asshole. She knew, though, that he loved his family and his village. Behind that crotchety douchebag mask was a seasoned fighter with a big heart. Old as he was, he was gone too soon.

The teen remained quiet and surprisingly solemn for the rest of the event, near enough to let Tenzan know that she was there, but far enough to give him the space he probably needed. If nothing else, she could catch him if he started passing out from this entire uncomfortable ordeal. Or something. Such an endeavor would require her shadow, of course, since he’d fairly easily crush her if she tried it physically. Fortunately, it turned out that she didn’t have to test that theory.

The Nara’s gaze dropped to the ground as the pyre roared with flames. She muttered her final words for Aramaki Shin under her breath. “Fuck off, you old shit. We’ll miss you.”

It was depressing, but it was closure. The ceremony had been enough to even allow Hitomi a bit of sleep. Whether it was the complete exhaustion that got to her or a modicum of peace of mind, she awoke feeling rather well. She took special care packing her things to be sure that she was ready to go at any moment, since there was no telling when Tenzan would head out on the hunt.

Normally, she would have popped into her fellow chuunin’s house unannounced. She knew that her presence was likely unwanted, however, and she wasn’t really a fan of kicking someone when they were down. Kicking someone when they were standing, able, and caught completely off guard, however? That was more her style.

Hitomi had managed to amass a rather impressive array of food for breakfast in her travels through the market in the morning. It was the first time in days that she’d really felt her appetite returning. She had to make up for lost time! And so she sat, at the edge of the path leading to the Aramaki abode, contentedly munching away. She wasn’t going to intrude, but she wasn’t going to let Tenzan leave to find his revenge without her, either.
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