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I Don't Want to Remember Falling [Natsumi] [Jun. 2nd, 2009|11:04 pm]
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[[Set 2 days after Fall from Grace.]]

The family was at dinner when Natsumi came home. A low murmur of conversation caught her ears as she stooped to slide her sandals off in the doorway; Takeo's laugh rang like brilliant bells. Natsumi's lips thinned. Well, with any luck he'd have brought his newest conquest home, and she would be easily forgotten in the thrill of the chase.

In a houseful of ninja, it was hard to hide. She'd barely finished setting her shoes perfectly straight in their little alcove when the paper door above her slid back and a slim, straight shadow obscured the light. "Nacchan!" Takeo's honey-rich tenor deepened with delight. He ran down the steps, threw an arm around her shoulders, and kissed her swiftly.

Natsumi's stiffness melted, just a little. If Takeo was in a good mood, she had nothing to worry about; he was only really a problem when he was bored. She hugged him back, careful of her still-bandaged right hand. "It's good to see you again, oniisan. Did you bring company tonight?"

"What, jealous?" He tweaked her nose and stepped back, grinning broadly. The light from the inner house haloed in his black hair, limned the perfectly sculpted edge of high cheekbones and deceptively delicate chin. Their mother had once been the most beautiful woman in three provinces; Takeo had inherited all her celebrated beauty and added a wild insouciance of his own. "I was going to, but she had the gall to get herself assigned an extra shift at the hospital. That's all right, though; you're here instead." He set a hand at the small of her back and propelled her firmly up the steps. Natsumi's heart sank. He *was* bored. )
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Fall From Grace. [Asuma & Natsumi] [Jun. 3rd, 2009|04:23 am]

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[[Immediately follows Shield of Faith.]]

Natsumi's laughter lasted for the first few miles, sparking back up when Asuma managed to hit on the right combination of flirting and teasing and good old dirty jokes. It was a good sound, musical and clear--a decent, distracting thing to focus on every time he had to lean over to pick a scroll up, and his side burned.

He tried to ignore that.

At the final count, they'd found five of his scrolls--all weapons, jutsu, or sealed bits of precious he didn't want to lose--and his very battered but still intact map. He folded the map into a spare pocket, stowed the scrolls into his waistband (which was not comfortable, but at least left his hands free), and called himself satisfied. He'd lost his armour, his med-kit, his cigarettes, and his pack, but he had most of the things that mattered.

And a still-breathing teammate that topped everything. )
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Shield of Faith [Asuma and Natsumi] [May. 31st, 2009|07:45 pm]
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[[Immediately follows Leap of Faith.]]

Air became water with punishing force. Asuma's grip tightened, crushing Natsumi to his chest; she choked off her involuntary cry just in time not to choke on the river.

Asuma didn't. Thrashing legs kicking for the surface slowed; the painful band of muscle around her ribcage loosened. Natsumi broke her hand-seal, grabbed the back of his neck in one hand, and pulled his head down to hers. He didn't resist. In the dark water, his face was deathly pale, and his open eyes stared down at her, terrifying sightless.

She didn't know any words bad enough, and couldn't use them anyway. Her chest was beginning to burn; the single breath she'd caught as her jutsu had flung them free of the waterfall wouldn't be enough for long. He was an impossible weight, limp and boneless, dragging them both down... )
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Leap of Faith. [Asuma & Natsumi] [May. 29th, 2009|12:53 am]

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[Set March 22nd, a week after One Step/Two Step, and five days after Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.]

Getting missions in ANBU turned out to be a lot more work than advertised. The pros got everything juicy--hunts, assassinations, pretty girls to rescue and escort--but rookies got the scutt work, like it or lump it.

Fresh back from two days spent in a nowhere town on the western border, mediating a disagreement between two minor fief lords that might have gotten ugly (but had mostly been boring as hell), Asuma was ready for something better. Anything better.

Which was why Saturday's dawn found him up almost-bright and far too early, wandering freshly showered into ANBU's mission room, ready to beg, bribe, or bargain his way into something with a little fire. The young chuunin behind the desk was pretty, brunette, and exhausted-looking, but brightened up a spark at his ready smile.

"Morning, sweetheart," he said, ignoring the empty chair in favour of leaning against the edge of her desk. "I'm wondering if you can help me..."

A little back and forth later... )
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Playing Doctor [closed to Natsumi & Genma] [May. 1st, 2009|11:53 am]

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[Current Location |Genma's Apartment]

[[Takes place March 20th, a few hours after Girls! Girls! Girls! and a day after Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.]]

After his conversation in the showers with Kaito, Genma had managed to get himself clean, though not shaven, and dressed in a freshly laundered hoodie and loose jeans. He'd been intending to go get some food, but the effort at cleanliness had taken that ambition right out of him; instead he'd gone back to his apartment, taken another dose of the poison antidote the medics had sent him home with, and tried to nap.

Duty nagged at him though. As his clock blinked 14:23, he gave up, got up, opened his blinds, and got out the damn paperwork. The sky outside poured a steady grey torrent that couldn't quite decide whether it wanted to give in to the turning of the seasons or continue to cling to the tattered remnants of winter. Propped up in bed, tucked under a thick green comforter and a soft but ratty-looking blue blanket, he watched the rain slash against his window, and sucked on the end of a pen.

He'd been debriefed in the hospital yesterday; the written report was really just a formality at this point. But it had to be done. The last thing he wanted was some pissed off Intel flunky showing up at his door demanding the thing, and filing another complaint against him for late paperwork. )
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Slow Dancing in a Burning Room [closed to Natsumi and Ibiki] [Jan. 26th, 2009|10:50 am]
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[[Set the day after Hit the Mark ends.]]

Late evening dimmed the room to twilight when Natsumi woke in a tangle of sheets and sweat. Her left shoulder throbbed angrily, and the lingering shreds of a dream teased at her mind. It had not been pleasant.

She sat up, bracing herself on her right hand. The clock on her nightstand blinked 18:35 at her; outside the window, the last color was fading from the sky. When she'd tumbled into bed in the small hours of the morning, too exhausted to do more than shed her clothes and brush her teeth, she'd planned to sleep the clock round. But the nightmare had wakened her, and now she wouldn't be able to fall asleep again for hours.

At home, her parents would just now be settling down to a quiet evening, her mother reading aloud by lamplight while her father trimmed hawk-feathers for arrow fletching. Her brother Takeo might have stopped by for dinner, perhaps with his latest conquest on his arm; he'd be telling stories, illustrating the latest news from the village gossip vine with graceful hands and dancing eyes. If Natsumi showed up now, her old place beside her father would be waiting for her...

No. She kicked back the sheets that trapped her legs and stood up, smoothing the crumpled skirt of her sleeping yukata. Even in the dim light, she could see the bruises that bloomed like dark flowers on her right wrist. Those on her throat and shoulder would undoubtedly be worse. If she went home now, barely five days after her induction to ANBU, with the marks of a strangling still fresh on her throat and the memories of a nightmare still haunting her eyes, her mother and Takeo would know they'd been right.

And Takeo, at least, would never let her forget it. )
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Hit the Mark [Natsumi and Kaito] [Jan. 10th, 2009|10:35 pm]
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[[Takes place March 16, seven days after The Dogs Ate My Homework]]

The messenger hawk found Shiota Natsumi in the third ranged weapons training field, prying her arrows out of a wooden target already badly abused by the team of genin who'd used the range earlier that morning. She glanced up at its sharp cry, narrowing her eyes against the sun, and grinned in sudden delight. "A mission already?" Her father had warned her that in his day, rookie ANBU agents often waited weeks before they got their first assignments--but apparently things had changed in the last twenty years. The tattoo on Natsumi's right biceps had barely stopped stinging, and the abused skin still pulled a bit as she tugged the last arrow free and held up her hand to the hawk.

It swept in, dropped a sealed scroll in her hand, and surged up into the sky again. Natsumi tilted her head back to admire its flight, but her hands kept moving, slitting the seal with a thumbnail and unrolling the message it had brought.

A mission, as she'd guessed. B-ranked, which wasn't surprising; extraction, not assassination, which was. Natsumi skimmed the mission assignment quickly, then reread, with extra attention to detail. A Konoha Intel field operative stationed in southern Fire Country had missed a planned rendezvous with his pick-up, who'd somehow managed to relay the information back to the village. If the agent was still alive, Konoha wanted him back--quietly. And the Mission Desk had assigned a two-man team to do it.

They were supposed to meet at 1350. That left barely enough time for Natsumi to race back to her apartment, collect her newly issued gear, and make it to the meeting point at Konoha's north gates, and certainly not enough time to get any more information about what they were heading into. Her father had said newly minted rookies usually took their first few missions with an experienced veteran. Hopefully, this Morioka Kaito would know exactly what they were doing.
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