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Light Me Up [Apr. 8th, 2017|07:02 pm]

tousaki_ryouma
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[Takes place June 24, Yondaime Year 5, seven days after The Sharpest Lives]

On Ryouma's third day back in Konoha, the Water Country Intel division finally let him go.

They'd released him at intervals before, to shower and sleep, or to cram down a hasty meal in Intel HQ's cafeteria, which had better food but much more dour company than ANBU's. Everyone seemed short on sleep and on temper, and as soon as he finished a six-hour stint answering one analyst's questions, another with a grey uniform and a clipboard took her place.

He saw Kurenai a few times, across the cafeteria. Satomi slipped into his cramped little briefing room once to hand the debriefing officer a stack of folders three inches tall. The rest of Teams Six and Thirteen were conducting their own debriefings somewhere, or more likely ensconced in their offices or hospital rooms creating those mountains of paperwork, but he never saw them.

There were disadvantages after all, he decided, to only being able to give his mission reports by dictation.

Eventually, though, someone decided that his seventh account of the Water Country landscape and the Kirigakure sewer system filled the holes in the first six. They released him into a clear summer evening, the sun sinking towards the Monument, the dusty streets golden in its light.

He stood outside the doorway, watching people hurrying home: a trio of genin fresh off their first mission-debriefing, with their sensei lounging behind; a pair of tired analysts, deciding on a restaurant; a tall young man in T&I's long black coat. No one he recognized.

The inside of his skin itched. )
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One Of My Kind [Feb. 20th, 2015|10:19 pm]

ueno_katsuko
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[Takes place May 13, Yondaime Year 5, a few hours after Trouble Round My Door]

It took real effort to sleep in when Katsuko had been trained her entire life to rise with the dawn. Because she was an elite shinobi who laughed in the face of impossible challenge, she pulled the pillow over her head and determinedly stayed unconscious for the entire morning. The sun was at its zenith when she finally dragged herself out of her apartment and up to HQ. Sleep still clung to the corners of her vision, making her trek to Team Six's office as wobbly and treacherous as a ship at sea.

Ryouma's chakra was a warm, welcome presence on the other side of the office door. Katsuko rubbed at her eyes and pushed the door open. The first thing she saw was Raidou’s empty desk. Her eyes immediately skittered away. Something sharp curled up underneath her ribcage.

Then the scent of mildew and dried blood hit her in the face. Katsuko made an inarticulate squawk of protest and clapped her hand over her nose and mouth. The door swung shut behind her with an offended bang. "Ryouma," she spluttered. "Why?"

Ryouma blinked and looked up from where he was seated on the floor. He looked recently showered and far too awake for Katsuko’s liking. The tight band t-shirt and jeans he was wearing, however, did incline her a little more towards forgiveness. Team Six's ruined uniforms were piled in front of him like souvenirs of slaughter. )
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Pour Me Something Stronger [Nov. 9th, 2014|07:37 pm]

tousaki_ryouma
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[Takes place the evening of May 12, Yondaime Year 5, immediately following When Your World Starts Crashing Down]

Ryouma left Kakashi's room with a steady stride and hands clenched so hard they hurt. One foot after another, following Katsuko's straight back down the hall. At the nurses' station, Genma's pretty attendant threw them a smile. Ryouma's cheek muscles felt rusty in return.

He overtook Katsuko in the lobby, by the elevator bank. A distressed older man leaned on the receptionist's desk nearby, while a young mother kept a harried eye on three small children clambering over the sofa. Katsuko leaned on the button for the elevator and didn't look at any of them.

When the elevator came down from an upper floor, it was half-full already, too. A woman in a wheelchair, accompanied by a grandmotherly nurse; a man coughing into a paper mask; and, pressed against the back wall, two shinobi Ryouma recognized. Fukui Ayane, pale and shadow-eyed, with her long black hair pulled up in her customary high horsetail. And beside her, Shibata Hakone, lounging lean and moody against the back rail with his shaggy hair falling over his brow. He was saying something to her, as the man with the paper mask got off. She shook her head, looked over the wheelchair-bound woman, and saw Ryouma.

Something cracked behind her dark eyes. "Your team, too?"

Ayane's captain wasn't suspended, but he might be crippled. The rest of her team was dead.

Ryouma swallowed down the knot in his throat and shook his head. )
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