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The End Is Where We Begin [Jul. 12th, 2016|06:57 pm]

shiranui_genma
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[Takes place the morning of May 20, Yondaime Year 5, an hour or so after When the Last Roll Is Called and parallel to Worth the Pain]

Talking with Katsuko took half an hour, but the aftermath involved the head of ANBU herself, followed by paperwork and a meeting with Kuroda. And that took until nearly 1500.

As soon as he was alone in Team Six’s office, Genma took a sealed equipment scroll from his locker and keyed in the simple chakra sequence to release it. A tightly rolled t-shirt and faded pair of jeans appeared in a puff of orangish smoke, and dropped to his desk. The socks and underwear furled inside weren’t really necessary, but spare civvies were spare civvies, and he was eager to be out of his funeral uniform.

After he’d changed, Genma locked the new paperwork away and took out the folder with his copy of Team Six’s personnel files. He’d just opened Raidou’s profile to look for a home address when there was a polite knock on the office door. )
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When the Last Roll Is Called [May. 8th, 2016|08:09 pm]

shiranui_genma
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[Takes place the morning of May 20, Yondaime Year 5, one day after the second part of Down to the Bone=]

The parade grounds were far too large for a funeral for only two. Instead, the assembled mourners — most in funeral blacks or ANBU masks and cloaks, with the few civilian loved ones of the dead in formal kimono — clustered together in knots around the Heroes’ Stone. Two easels, one on either side of the monument, held black-draped photographs of the deceased. Urns of white chrysanthemums flanked the easels.

Genma arrived before the 1100 time appointed for the ceremony, and was surprised to see a shock of familiar white hair, stark against the sea of black fabric. Kakashi was standing near the memorial, his ever-present orange book nowhere in evidence. Genma let his chakra unfurl enough to be sure Kakashi felt him coming, and went to stand with his teammate.

“Did you know them?” Genma asked, nodding at the photographs. Hasabe Goutoku’s square-jawed face stared back, serious and stern. Yamanaka Michiyo’s light eyes sparkled in her portrait, like she’d been laughing at something when the photographer interrupted.

“No.” Kakashi’s voice was flat and featureless. His mask hid his expression, as usual, but even without it, his face was probably devoid of emotion.

Genma hadn’t known either of them well himself, but they were both veterans. Looking around, he counted several he did know, including Team Twelve’s lieutenant, Doumen Saburo, who sat hunch-shouldered in a wheelchair near the front of the assembled mourners. Twelve’s captain, Endou Tatsuya, sat next to him. Tatsuya’s neck was in a brace to support a mending fracture, but his bruises, like Genma’s, were mostly healed.

A familiar chakra pressure, hot as a smith’s forge, pulled Genma’s attention away. )
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Down to the Bone [Mar. 24th, 2016|07:09 pm]

tousaki_ryouma
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[Begins the morning of May 18, Yondaime Year 5, two days after A Loser's Just a Learner on His Way to Better Things and one day after What You Don't Know (Will Kill You)]

Ryouma woke in the last hour before dawn, with the waxing moon painting a thin pale stripe over the foot of the bed and Ayane shuddering in a nightmare's grip beside him. His hand slipped on her bare shoulder when he tried to wake her. She was slick with sweat, and her breath came ragged as if she'd been fighting or running.

He could guess the dream that'd caught her. He shifted his grip to her elbow and shook her harder. "Ayane. Wake up."

She twitched, gasped, and lashed out with a blow that would have collapsed his windpipe if he hadn't shoved her elbow down. She wrenched away. Ryouma grabbed the kunai under his pillow before Ayane's flailing hand found it, and rolled off the bed.

He hit the threadbare rug with a hard thump. Something metallic dug cruelly into his hip—hopefully the belt-buckle on the jeans he'd discarded a few hours ago, and not one of the numerous knives Ayane kept tucked into her clothing. He struggled to his feet and found her sitting up with her back to the wall, sheets kicked free from her legs.

She said hoarsely, "Didn't anyone ever tell you not to wake a nightmare?"

"More dangerous than waking a ninja?" Ryouma dropped his kunai in the corner, where no one was likely to step on it. "You okay?"

Ayane shook her head. )
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What You Don't Know (Will Kill You) [Feb. 26th, 2016|10:41 pm]

ueno_katsuko
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[Begins on May 17, Yondaime Year 5, the day after A Loser's Just a Learner on His Way to Better Things]

Katsuko’s first day as Kuroda’s personal assistant was a lot like being stuck in a bear trap, except that she was already down one arm so she couldn't gnaw off the other to escape. He rejected the first cup of coffee she brought him and made her fetch him two more cups before he was satisfied. His filing system was labyrinthine and coded, and he shed no light on its inner workings before demanding she start organizing it. When she admitted, teeth gritted, that she needed his help to decrypt some of the labels, the look he gave her nearly blistered the skin of her face off.

He settled, more silkily, and said, "Clearly filing asks too much of you. You may clean instead, assuming you're capable."

Her one-armed dusting attempt— predictably— did not meet his stringent standards )
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A Loser's Just a Learner on His Way to Better Things [Feb. 26th, 2016|07:09 pm]

shiranui_genma
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[Takes place on May 16, Yondaime Year 5, immediately after All This And Heaven Too]

By the time the team had finished their ramen Kakashi was head-nodding, and Genma was gulping cold tea in a desperate attempt to get more caffeine into his body. He stretched and rubbed his eyes, then dug out his wallet. “Alright, I’ve got this,” he told them, eying the stack of bowls to estimate how much this was going to set him back. Ryouma had cleared his down to a few spoonfuls of broth; Genma’d made it partway through a second bowl before the ravenous hunger he always had after chakra healing had given way to fatigue; Kakashi might have finished a whole bowl if he’d been able to stay awake for it; and Katsuko was scraping the bottom of her third bowl and eying Genma’s and Kakashi’s unfinished portions.

“Ueno, you can finish mine. And then do you think you could get Hatake back to the Palace? I think he’s still staying there.”

Katsuko lunged across the counter to take Genma’s bowl like a tiger dragging off her prey. “I will carry his royalness home,” she said around a fresh mouthful of soup.

Kakashi blinked awake with the carefully hidden panic of a student caught sleeping in class. "What? I don't need an escort.” As he woke more completely, ruffled irritation crept into his tone. “I thought you wanted help with your thing.”

“I do,” Genma said. “We do, but—” He yawned only partly for effect. “But not today. Tomorrow will be better. I’m wiped out after that healing session.”

Ryouma turned to look at Genma, concern creasing between his brows. “You need to get back home?”

“I should probably grab a nap,” Genma agreed, counting out bills and coins to pay for their lunch. “But if you come with me to my dad’s place first, I’ve got a bunch of study materials I can give you. Anatomy charts and stuff.”

Kakashi eyed them narrowly, clearly dubious about Genma’s excuse.

Katsuko slurped a noisy mouthful of noodles and gave Kakashi a wounded look. “What, you don’t like my company?”

“Consider it the last stage of the bodyguarding mission,” Genma said, pushing to his feet with the help of his cane. “You can guard each other against kidnap and demons and whatever other dangers the road to the Palace may hold. I’ll take Tousaki with me on some civilian recon.” )
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All This And Heaven Too [Dec. 12th, 2015|12:03 pm]

hatake_kakashi
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[Takes place the afternoon of May 16, Yondaime Year 5, immediately after Devil in the Details]

Chakra healing was only a spectator sport for a specific kind of person.

Watching the slow, bloodless process of excising scar tissue, closing knotted voids, and encouraging healthy muscle and tissue to grow back together was not Kakashi’s idea of a good time. It was beneficial for the lieutenant, of course, since a shinobi with a thigh carved out of fascial catastrophe was a shinobi with an expiration date. But Kakashi was never going to be a medic-nin; he couldn’t learn anything of value, and his presence was more of a challenge than a comfort to Genma, who had opinions about things like ‘not judging medical staff’.

Ryouma seemed fascinated, dark eyes darting between soft-voiced medics and their flickering chakra seals. With Genma’s encouragement, he even plucked up the confidence to ask a few questions, and looked thrilled when the head surgeon answered him like a colleague.

Katsuko was more grimly traumatized by the sights and sounds of an active medical procedure. She stuck close to Ryouma’s side on the pretense of playing supportive senpai, but Kakashi didn’t miss the way her mouth tightened and her eyes kept marking the exits. When a nurse adjusted the calibration of Genma’s pain medication — a light dose, just enough to take the edge off having his inner thigh manipulated like a tapestry on a loom — and the IV machine beeped, Katsuko visibly twitched.

Even slightly stoned, Genma was a perceptive man. He glanced at her and Kakashi, and said lightly, “I admire your dedication to the mission, but I think Tousaki has the bodyguarding thing down. Can you two go scout a suitable location for lunch, assuming anyone has an appetite after this?”

“I should stay,” Katsuko said, like every word was being pulled from her with hooks.

Ryouma looked down at her, fledgling medical glee replaced by instant guilt, and Kakashi restrained the urge to thump someone’s head against the wall. His own, maybe. )
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Devil in the Details [Dec. 6th, 2015|07:29 pm]

tousaki_ryouma
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[Takes place the morning of May 16, Yondaime Year 5, the day after Break It Down by the Numbers and Killing Time Between My Sins]

The wonderful thing about team practice at 0500, Ryouma decided, was that you didn't have to wait. You rolled out of bed and into clothes, and maybe you had time to burn your tongue on coffee and gnaw a protein bar on your way down to the training field. By the time you got there, shivering in the dark, Raidou was already warmed up and entirely likely to greet you with a Doton jutsu to the face.

Meeting the interim team captain at 0900, on the other hand, meant a solid three hours of anxiety between waking and showing up at Team Six's office. Katsuko's intervention at the bar last night meant he hadn't drunk nearly enough to either oversleep or wake with a hangover. She wasn't in the ANBU gym to share his morning workout, either.

Ayane, who had no team to train with, was. They exchanged tight smiles, and helped each other with the weights without speaking a word.

0830 came eventually. Ryouma showered, shaved, dressed in uniform, and re-styled his hair twice before he settled on something that looked appropriately serious. He forced himself through most of a rat bar and crammed the rest in his belt-pouch. Genma would be proud.

At 0855 exactly, he opened the office door. )
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Killing Time Between My Sins [Oct. 18th, 2015|07:12 pm]

ueno_katsuko
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[Takes place May 15, Yondaime Year 5, immediately after Break It Down by the Numbers]

The door slid shut behind Ryouma and left silence in his wake. Katsuko flicked her kunai back into its holster, eying the tension in Kakashi’s stance. She knew by now that the shuttered opacity of his gaze meant something was troubling him.

Katsuko hadn’t told Ryouma about the officer prep courses. She wanted to hold the knowledge close for now, to take out and examine later when she was alone. She’d felt guilty, then. Now she was just glad; if she’d told Ryouma, she’d have had to tell Kakashi, too, and even she knew it was tactless to answer someone’s bad news with news of your own personal fortune. But could it really be counted as fortune if she had to do homework?

Leaving Kakashi alone with his cloud of dark thoughts to go back to her apartment felt… wrong. Besides, she’d missed him and Ryouma. She was already used to seeing them several hours a day for training. Two days on her own felt odd.

“Hey,” she said at last. Kakashi’s eye flicked towards her; one grey eyebrow raised in silent inquiry. “I’m going to go do stuff before we meet for food. You should come with.”

That, quite rightly, earned her a look of pure suspicion. “What kind of stuff?”

“Things,” Katsuko temporized, and then hit upon inspiration. “I have to get my kodachi repaired. The ANBU-issue one isn’t cutting it.” She winced at her accidental pun and forged on. “And we need to buy you practice swords for your first lesson.”

That got Kakashi’s attention. Sharpening interest overtook impending brooding; he leaned toward her slightly and said, “My tanto needs a new sheath, too. Do you have a sword-smith?”

“One of the best. She specializes in chakra blades, like you and I have. Come along and I’ll introduce you to her.”

He flicked a last glance at the door and nodded. “I need to get my tanto.”

They spared a minute for a quick side-trip to the Hokage’s quarters. Katsuko stayed respectfully outside the threshold until Kakashi appeared again, holding his wrapped tanto. He was also in a sensible jacket that confused her for a moment, before she remembered that chakra shortage meant it was harder for the body to retain heat on its own. It had been a long time since she’d had to worry about that.

As they left the palace and headed towards her apartment to pick up her kodachi, Kakashi said, “So, the lieutenant suggested I work on chakra drills with you.”

His casual tone wouldn’t have fooled an infant. )
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Ueno Katsuko Performance Review: Month 1 [Sep. 30th, 2015|11:05 pm]

ueno_katsuko
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[Discussed in Break it Down by the Numbers]

ANBU Periodic Performance Review Form


Agent: Ueno Katsuko, 010993
Position: ANBU Team 6, Hunter
Evaluating Officer: Shiranui Genma, 010203, Lieutenant, ANBU Team 6
Review Period: Y05, 19 April – 17 May
Missions: 2: ANB4052704-I-ISEG, ANB4050505-A-TSUT


Her less-than-solid interpersonal boundaries are an area of concern. )
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Break it Down by the Numbers [Sep. 30th, 2015|06:24 pm]

shiranui_genma
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[Takes place in the afternoon on May 15, Yondaime Year 5, immediately after Hold the Line]

Thank all the gods, the wait for answers about Team Six was finally over. Mostly. As Genma crutched his way back from lunch with Raidou to the elevator at the base of the Hokage Monument, he formulated a plan: he’d finish up those performance evals, summon the team, explain the situation with Raidou and their incoming-but-unknown temporary substitute captain, and then he’d have his performance meetings with everyone. Ryouma last, since he’d have to read Ryouma’s to him.

That was probably going to be awkward.

And then he’d find Asuma and see how apartment hunting had gone, and they were going to have drinks. As many drinks as it took to unknot his shoulders. Which, given he was still on painkillers was probably going to be one, maybe one and a half... Daruma himself would have had his patience tried by the week Genma’d had.

That thought detoured Genma into a shop on the hill leading to the monument, where he bought a small paper-maché Daruma to take back to the office. He mentally added, ‘go to the temple and make a gratitude offering for Raidou’s good news’ to his list of things to do before he called the day done.

First thing, when he got to ANBU HQ, was arranging for messengers to each of his team members, calling them to a meeting at 1500. )
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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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When Your World Starts Crashing Down [Oct. 14th, 2014|08:37 pm]

shiranui_genma
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[Takes place the evening of May 12, Yondaime Year 5, following Natural Disaster and Little Lion Man]

Genma’s day had started late even for a hospital stay, at eight that morning. First there were breakfast reassurances to his father that he was really going to be fine. Evidently Katsuko had been by at five that morning and eaten all but two of the bakery treats Genma’s dad had brought, but she’d gone before Genma’d woken. Hopefully to go sleep some more, but Genma had his doubts. Although with her chakra supply it was possible she really was up and functional again. At least her appetite was back in full force.

A fresh Intel debriefer’d arrived after he’d eaten the remaining buns, and shooed his father out. She’d come armed with a briefcase full of papers and scrolls for her own reference, clipboards and pens, the usual stack of post-mission forms for Genma to fill out, and enough detailed questions that by the end of the interview Genma was hoarse and tired.

He’d napped afterward, helped into sleep by a syringe-full of painkillers and something in the IV that was promoting chakra channel recovery in his knit-together leg. And woken again to find the sunlight slanting to warm gold, and a clock that said it was past 17:00.

There was no sign of anyone from Team Six. )
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Natural Disaster [Oct. 3rd, 2014|10:47 pm]

ueno_katsuko
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[Takes place the morning of May 12, Yondaime Year 5, the morning after Sound the Bells and Tell You My Sins (So You Can Sharpen Your Knife) and just prior to the events of Little Lion Man]

Katsuko’s dreams that night were loud and chaotic and full of fire. Tsuto Tomoko screamed at her from the far end of a burning hallway. The flames warped and suddenly it was Raidou standing there, staring at Katsuko in horror as the ceiling caved in above him. Lightning streaked down through the hole in the ceiling and brought howling rain with it. The hallway disappeared, replaced by a blood-soaked field strewn with the dead.

The air stunk of rot. Ryouma lay sprawled out like a rag-doll in the grass before her, eyes staring sightlessly up at the grey sky. Someone had cut his throat as cleanly as Katsuko had slit Tomoko’s. A few feet away, Kakashi pushed himself up with one arm and clutched at his tanto, which was embedded up to the hilt in his chest. His elbow buckled and he crumpled back down to the ground. He didn’t move again.

“Ueno,” Genma said behind her. Katsuko spun around. The lieutenant was pale as bone, hand pressed tightly to the wound in his stomach. Blood welled up between his fingers. “Go. Warn Konoha—”

The blare of Katsuko’s 4:30 alarm cut through the nightmare’s suffocating grasp. )
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Sound the Bells [Sep. 6th, 2014|01:28 am]

yuuhi_kurenai
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[Takes place May 11, Yondaime Year 5, two days after Rest for the Wicked and concurrently with the last hours of One of Those Lives (Get Used to It). Read that one first!]

Yuuhi Kurenai was stealing fifteen minutes' shut-eye at her desk when the folder slapped down on top of three other files. She woke instantly, but it took a few seconds of blinking at the thick manila envelope before the bold red stamp's meaning sank in. She groaned. "Another?"

"Director Oita and Manager Yamanaka are still in briefings." Hiyashi Riei leaned hipshot against Kurenai's desk, shifting her weight in a way that meant she was probably sliding her feet out of her shoes. She looked like she could use a nap, too. Like the rest of the Intel staff, she'd been pulling double- and triple-shifts since Hikouto, and her concealer couldn't entirely mask the dark circles beneath her eyes. She said, "It sounds like Team Twelve's captain is waking up, so Momoe's back at the hospital. Susuki's off to T&I. And I've got a date transcribing for Team Six's cute rookie, so you get the captain and lieutenant."

"I didn't know Team Six was back in," Kurenai said, rubbing her face with one hand and flipping the folder open with the other. Blank paperwork greeted her. "They haven't submitted their reports yet?"

"They just got in," Riei said. "Should still be at the hospital. Team Lead Shirotani says the word from HQ is for immediate debriefings." She grinned, a spark of life flitting back into her soft brown eyes. "Someday I'm going to conduct a full debriefing, in all senses of the word. Maybe Team Six's rookie will be the one."

Kurenai thumbed through the file. "They have two rookies, don't they?"

One of whom was Hatake Kakashi, apparently.

She tried to remember if Rin had mentioned that Kakashi'd made it into ANBU. Had she even seen Rin since the ANBU trials? No, she'd been in Midoriyama for most of April, and then Hikouto had erupted in fire and blood. Kurenai had returned to Konoha only four days ago, and since then she'd spent every waking moment in Intel's windowless offices. Rin was probably pulling triple-shifts at the hospital, too. And Kakashi'd spent the last week out in the field, hunting traitors…

With Ueno Katsuko. )
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One of Those Lives (Get Used to It) [Sep. 6th, 2014|12:37 am]

hatake_kakashi
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[Takes place May 9, Yondaime Year 5, some hours following Rest for the Wicked]

Kakashi woke up again because the world smelled different.

Now it was full of medics.

Groggily, he counted four white hats and five new ANBU masks, and then there was a penlight in his face and he went blind.

Katsuko yanked the medic’s hand away before Kakashi snapped it off.

“Don’t do that,” she told the room, quiet and cold, kneeling at his side like a guardian lion.

Kakashi blinked shadowy after-images away, and registered Ryouma crouching on his other side, watching the room with a mix of wariness and relief. Genma was sitting on the edge of the bed-platform, legs dangling, while a different medic bent over his wounded thigh. Raidou was talking to a tall, light-haired woman in a crane mask.

“Another captain,” Ryouma said, tracking Kakashi’s gaze.

Kakashi tried to put two and two together. “Are we getting rescued?”

“Yep,” Katsuko said.

“Oh good,” Kakashi said, and pulled the blankets back up over his face. He was asleep again in seconds, bracketed between his teammates. )
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Rest for the Wicked [Aug. 22nd, 2014|09:30 pm]

tousaki_ryouma
[Tags|, , , , , , ]

[Takes place in the early hours of May 9, Yondaime Year 5, some hours following The High Road]

The third time Ryouma twitched himself awake from nightmares, there was someone leaning over him.

For a moment it was the nightmare again, reversed: himself on his back in a tangle of blankets, the hand coming down, the iron band crushing his windpipe. Fear gripped him like shackles. He had no air to cry out.

But the hand settled on his shoulder, not his throat. Katsuko's shadow clone shook him once, urgently. "Tousaki," it whispered. "We need you at the cells."

He dragged in a desperate breath. The clone leaned back warily, but Ryouma's body seemed to be as sleep-stifled as his brain. It took him a moment to push onto his elbow, pulling his hand free of Kakashi's sleep-loosened grasp, and claw his mind back together. "The cells. Fukuda?"

The clone nodded, short and unhappy, and stepped away.

None of the others had stirred. Genma was still snoring softly through his swollen nose, Raidou a rougher counterpoint beyond him. Kakashi's shallow breathing hitched when Ryouma eased himself away, and the tousled head turned restlessly from its pillow on Katsuko's shoulder. But he settled his cheek on the pile of blankets Ryouma had left behind, and his breathing evened again.

Ryouma left them all dreaming and followed the clone out into the hall. )
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The High Road [Jul. 9th, 2014|06:39 pm]

hatake_kakashi
[Tags|, , , , , ]

[Takes place May 8, Yondaime Year 5, some hours following Guilty Filthy Souls]

Obito was an angry little bastard.

“You’re screwing up,” he snapped, young and petulant. Summer sunlight made his hair gleam dark and ruffled, and his eyes glitter.

One eye. The other eye was a red crater.

Kakashi lay on his back under an endless blue sky, surrounded by tall grass. It blew gently in the warm breeze, tickling his bare arms. He folded them beneath his head, and said, “Mm?”

“You’re screwing up,” Obito repeated, and kicked Kakashi on the booted foot.

“Ow,” Kakashi said mildly.

Obito kicked him again, with pointy teenage feet. Kakashi flinched and it hurt everywhere, like glass needles. The sky turned dark above them. The sun melted into red arterial streaks that pulsed out, thumping like a heartbeat. It smelled like rank copper.

Kakashi gave it a worried look.

“What’s happen—”

“You always screw it up,” Obito said. “You try, but you do it stupid. You’re being stupid right now—”

Kakashi’s eyes snapped open.

He drew a short, hard breath, and it still smelled like blood. )
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Guilty Filthy Souls [May. 21st, 2014|08:44 pm]

namiashi_raidou
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[Takes place May 8, Yondaime Year 5, following No Quiet Man's Descent and Salt the Earth.]

Arechi Hill Safehouse was dust-choked and hollow, entranceway swept with old leaves. It had been carved right into the base of a hill; a quick wartime job someone had done in the heat of necessity, and smoothed out by more careful hands later. Unoccupied now, but the seals still worked. They came down in a shiver of chakra when Raidou keyed through the correct sequence of hand-signs.

He shouldered the heavy door aside, letting his blunt, tired chakra sense extend.

Empty.

He’d expected that, but worry still tasted like lead. Katsuko slipped in ahead of him, shedding rain off her armor. She cracked a neon green lightstick and set off down the long, dark hallway, chasing shadows around the bend. The walls had subtle curves instead of rigid straight lines, which made it feel a lot like a burrow.

A deep burrow, at that.

Raidou heaved the door closed and followed her. There was an automatic illusion built into the safehouse’s defenses; as soon as the locks tumbled back into place, the outer view of the door vanished, replaced by an anonymous scrubby patch of hillside. You had to know exactly where you were going to find it. Even then, they’d almost missed the tiny marker stone in the dark and rain.

“Found the pantry,” Katsuko called, voice rasping with tiredness. “And the cells.”

“Is there food?”

“Looks fully stocked.”

There was one blessing. Konoha did its best to maintain safehouses, but you never knew until you landed in one. And there was nothing quite as crushing as finding your bolt hole ripped open and laid bare, with the long journey to the next one ahead of you.

A pump creaked, followed by splashing.

“Running water, too,” Katsuko said, from the tiny cubbyhole that served as a kitchen. “Must be hooked into an underground stream.”

“Gives us good odds for a generator,” Raidou said, and cracked his own lightstick.

He found the generator after a little searching. )
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No Quiet Man's Descent [Apr. 30th, 2014|12:50 am]

ueno_katsuko
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[Takes place May 7 and 8, Yondaime Year 5, following Grow Teeth and Pursue. Warnings: contains graphic violence and potentially triggering content. Please read with an awareness of your own comfort level.]

Day faded into night as Katsuko and Raidou closed in on Tsurugahama Port. The red-tinged sunset cast a bloody light over Raidou’s mask and gave his hair a fiery glow; he looked like a revenant from old legends, a battlefield spirit summoned to mete out retribution.

Katsuko folded the image into the back of her mind, fitting it in with all the other things that weren’t the mission, and reached for the quiet clarity of purpose.

The moon crawled up into the sky and rolled out a ceiling of stars for them to navigate by. Katsuko tracked time until they crested a hill and saw Tsurugahama sprawled out along the ocean in a cavalcade of small lights. They stopped long enough to test that their radio collars were working, hydrate, and choke down a ration bar each; then it was back to running, down from the hills into the winding maze of Tsurugahama streets.

Tsuto Masaaki and his family lived in a gated estate close to the water’s edge, near the shipping warehouses. The house itself was separated from the main gate by a carefully cultivated garden and a koi pond; round lanterns lit the yard like miniature stars. Armored guards patrolled the gate and the perimeter of the garden at regular intervals.

This place looked quiet. Peaceful, even.

Katsuko wanted to burn it all down. )
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