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The Birthday Party (Ibiki, Idate, Tsume, Kiba, Hana, Kuromaru) [Mar. 2nd, 2011|03:02 pm]

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Takes place July 7, three months after Ibika’s rescue of Kiba from the Forest of Death in Where the Wild Things Are and Tsume’s failed search for Ryouma in Never and Always, and two months after Ibiki and Asuma’s retrieval mission for Kakashi and Ginta in Tiny Little Fractures (That arc will continue as planned, we’re just time-skipping Tsume and Ibiki)

Ibiki had never been inside the Inuzuka compound before. He’d walked by it plenty of times, but from the road all one could see were the dense thicket of trees that bordered the Inuzuka land and separated it from the rest of Konoha, and the occasional wisp of smoke from cooking fires. Rumor had it, according to his little brother Idate, that setting one uninvited foot onto the path through the trees would result in a vicious mauling by a pack of savage Inuzuka hounds that were too wild to be ninken.

“Jotaro’s brother tried it on a dare,” Idate said solemnly, “and he got his whole face eaten off, and you could see the bones and everything.”

“Really?” Ibiki asked. They were nearing the compound now, strolling under dappled shadows on the road next to the compound. The closer they got, the more Idate slowed down.

“Really, niisan. Really, really.”

“Well it’s a good thing we’re invited then, isn’t it? Do you have the invitation?” )
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Never and Always [Tsume] [Jan. 17th, 2011|11:54 am]

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[[Takes place one and a half weeks after Up in Flames, one week after Ryouma goes missing, and one and a half weeks before Off the Reservation.]]

It was easy to get lost in the push-pull of the saw, to let the buzz of blade against wood drown out everything else. It was hard to wrap her mind around the clan loss; so many homes gone, so many Inuzuka injured. Too many dead. Her pack, her family, and too many she hadn't been able to save.

It was as if the world had been wreathed in fog, and it hadn't cleared away yet. There were moments when she felt bright and aware, but for the most part she worked through the day to rebuild the compound, then went to the ANBU headquarters at night and fell into her bed, trying not to think about what had happened. Trying not to run through the names of those who wouldn't be coming back, or to feel like a coward for fleeing the scent of fire that still lingered a week and a half later. They needed the room for the refugees; it made sense for her to stay in her apartment at HQ.

When someone called her name, Tsume straightened up with a wince, freeing her hand from the handle of saw. A child stood in the middle of the blackened field, framed by the skeletons of houses that had, not so long ago, been homes. All but a few of them, those the farthest out, had been torn down. The cub standing in the midst of them pointed, and Tsume looked up.

A hawk soared above, drifting in circles as it peered down at them. With the trees burned away, it didn't have to swoop through the forest. Instead it dove low, dropping a scroll before beating up into a climb and vanishing over treetops toward the heart of Konoha.

The scroll fell through the air unimpeded, the blood-red seal glinting dully as it spun. It landed with the sharp slap of paper on flesh. Tsume slid a broken nail under the wax and opened it, skimming down the instructions.

There wasn't much. Report to ANBU headquarters immediately for a classified assignment. )
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Up in Flames [Asuma, Tsume] [Jan. 12th, 2011|11:45 am]

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[[Takes place eight days after the Pirates and Ninja arc ends, and six days after the Sandaime delivered an invitation to Asuma and Tsume got roped into going, too, in Feuds and Families. Also takes place three days before Ginta and Kuromaru go drinking in Hair of the Dog.]]

Kuromaru nosed his way into Asuma's room, pausing with just his head inside the door. Asuma was uncommonly polite; all the other ninja kept their doors not only closed, but locked, and how was Kuromaru supposed to check on them then?

Asuma was sprawled in bed, fully clothed, one booted foot hanging off the side of the mattress. Kuromaru trotted in and dropped the squirrel he'd caught on the floor, then sat and looked at Asuma expectantly.

Asuma snored.

Kuromaru cleared his throat, then wagged and hopped up to all four paws when Asuma stirred. But Asuma only mumbled, rubbed his face, and rolled over.

Kuromaru sighed and picked the squirrel back up, dropping it on the bed. Then, aiming carefully and prepared to leap back, he barked. Once.
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The Devil's Got My Secret (Tsume/Ryouma) [Nov. 12th, 2009|11:22 am]

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Backdated. Takes place March 31, the day after All We Know Is Distance, the day before Tsume leaves on her mission with Asuma inFire and Water, and five days before Kakashi wakes up in Welcome to My Morning.

"Ryouma," Kuromaru said, pausing in the apartment doorway, "is still not in his room."

Tsume slid the whetstone along her kunai, glancing over at her familiar. He looked highly disapproving. Her lips twitched. "Well, Kuromaru, if you're going to let him be the alpha, he can go wherever he wants."

"I know." Kuromaru walked inside, stiff-legged and unhappy. "He's probably with Kakashi still."

Tsume felt that golden eye narrow at her, and tried not to react.

"You know they're mounting each other."

Tsume snorted a laugh. "Pup, Kakashi's in a coma." If Ryouma's clone hadn't found them the night before to let them know where Ryouma was and why -- with instructions that they could visit if they brought food -- rumor would have still told her about Kakashi. ANBU were almost as good at fighting as they were at gossip.

"Well." Kuromaru flopped down. "We should go check on him."

She almost said they didn't need to hover -- which was true -- but... it was nice to see a friendly face, even if you were just sitting with a hospitalized friend, rather than hospitalized yourself. It wasn't like Ryouma had other family to visit -- or Kakashi either, though she wasn't sure if Kakashi would even appreciate guests. And Ryouma probably was bored.

Tsume stood, opening the chest she'd planted at the foot of her bed. Her armor was still heaped in a corner, but now her clothes and various bits and pieces were at least dumped into the chest, instead of strewn across the floor. She dug around until she found a deck of cards, then slipped them into the pocket of her cargos. They could stop by and get okonomiyaki, too, which would probably make Ryouma happier than any friendly face. )
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Pirates and Ninja. [Asuma & Tsume] [Jun. 15th, 2009|12:54 am]

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[Follows directly after Darkness and Light]

Awareness came slowly.

Time had passed; the sun had lifted. A thin beam of light hit the back of Asuma's hand, shivering a drop of warmth into the world. Slowly, achingly, his fingers began to clench. Pain rippled up his arm.

Pain rippled everywhere. It was like a living thing, clawing through his body, ripping a chunk out whenever he breathed. His ribcage hitched. Something very like a whimper eased between cracked, bloody lips.

It stopped quickly. Even half dead, Asuma had pride. )
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Fire and Water [Tsume and Asuma] [Jun. 11th, 2009|08:35 pm]

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[Takes place seven days after Words Without Meaning, six days after Fall From Grace, and four days after Kakashi returned to Konoha.]


Tsume cringed, halting finally on the dirt path. The agent had been following her for some time, but she'd been able to ignore him. Hard to ignore the fact that she was the only Inuzuka out here, though.

With a last longing glance toward the hospital--where Kuromaru was undergoing the last few days of chakra-cleansing after his close call training with Katsuko--she stopped and waited. "Help you?" she asked without looking back.

He wheezed to a halt, flailing a scroll around. "Orders," he managed to gasp.

She snatched it. It had to be a mistake. Or an order for something she could put off, at least--it wasn't like she could do missions yet.

Then her brows pulled down and in. )
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Where the Wild Things Are [Ibiki, Kiba, Tsume] [May. 29th, 2009|06:07 pm]

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[Takes place Thursday, March 27, five days after Wild Dog in a Nest of Vipers, two days after Words Without Meaning]

The Forest of Death--there was a name so over-the-top it almost sounded like a joke. It was great for scaring would-be chuunin. Looked great on paper to civilians--"Our shinobi train in the Forest of Death." The real irony though, lay in the fact that it wasn't an ironic name. The number of people who had died in that stretch of dense woods to Konoha's south was far from inconsequential. Genin weren't allowed in. Chuunin and Jounin treated it with respect and caution.

Of course there was always some hotshot who wanted to prove what a bad ass he was by going in to train unprepared. )
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World's Oldest Painkiller [Tsume, Ginta, Kuromaru] [May. 17th, 2009|09:16 pm]

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[Backdated. Takes place March 22, ten minutes after Wild Dog in a Nest of Vipers, the evening before Carry Me Home (and the Tsume threads that followed), and two days before Dude, That Was YOU?]

"I told them to open the door so I could rip off their faces, but they wouldn't," Kuromaru growled. His growl rose into a snarl as they passed through the sublevel corridors, past more Intel agents. As far as he was concerned, they were probably all in on it, and therefore equally worthy of his anger.

"Well, hang onto that ripping of faces. When Botan gets out of here--"

"I'm going to rip off his face so much."

Tsume nodded grimly, shoving into the stairwell and hammering up. "Me, too. Bite off his other pinky."

Kuromaru's tail wagged enthusiastically. "I can't believe they just locked me in a cell. Why didn't they interrogate me? I'd have told them."

Tsume didn't point out that they were probably more worried about his ripping their faces off. The second floor came and went.

"And then, if they didn't believe me or made you smell upset, I'd have ripped their faces off."

Tsume slammed through the third floor doorway. )
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Blind-Sided [closed to Kuromaru, Kakashi, and Tsume] [May. 5th, 2009|07:11 pm]

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[Takes place March 25th, two days after Laugh Like You Really Mean It and Make Me Better]

Kuromaru shook the thoroughly-dead hamster, feeling its spine snap again, and trotted out of the Forest of Death. Forest of Death hamsters weren't easy prey. Not only did they have the agility of a rodent, but they had oversized teeth, too. And anything that weighed forty pounds and had nasty claws and paw-length incisors was something to be reckoned with. Not that Kuromaru had been worried--not even for a moment.

Okay, maybe one moment when it had gone for his balls, but anyone would be worried under those circumstances. )
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Wild Dog in a Nest of Vipers [closed to Ginta, Tsume, & Ibiki] [Apr. 6th, 2009|10:44 pm]

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[Takes place Saturday, March 22, three days after Don't Wanna Fight This War, and two days after Picking Up the Pieces]

Ginta was just on his way out his door when he ran into Tsume and Kuromaru. That wasn't unusual--they were neighbors. But seeing them in the company of Abe Jimon was. He knew the man more by reputation than direct experience. Officially he was one of Intel's debriefers, but rumor held that he worked Internal Ops, handling the sort of debriefings that followed mission failures, agent deaths, suspicions of treachery...

"Hey Tsume, Kuromaru," he said casually. "What's up?" He nodded a half-bow to Abe, who returned it with stiff-necked formality. "You coming in or going out?"

Tsume gave their escort a sharp-eyed glance. "Going out, apparently," she said. Her voice held nothing more alarming than irritation. Kuromaru, at her side, evinced a distinctly doggy version of the same sentiment, shaking his ruff and grumbling something so low it sounded like a growl.

"That good, huh?" Ginta asked. He gave Abe a cool look. "Something going on a friend ought to be concerned about?"

"Not at all, Sakamoto-san," Abe replied smoothly. "It just happens that I was delivering a request to Inuzuka-san to go over some details of her latest mission. Since she happened to be in, we agreed that there was no time like the present." His smile made Ginta itch. )
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Make it Right [Closed to Tsume, Ryouma, Kuromaru] [Feb. 20th, 2009|10:18 pm]

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[[Takes place March 18th, two days after Pleased To Meet You, Won't You Lock Me In A Cell? and three days after The Weight of the World]]

Tsume glanced out the window once more, though Ryouma had long since disappeared from view. Then she ducked back into the bathroom, angling her head to see the bandaging on one temple. She was down to a large, skin-colored band-aid that looked nothing like skin. New flesh, vividly pink as the edges of scabs peeled away, drew lines back into her hair and flicked across her forehead, melding slowly into the rose-petal pink of new skin. The worst of the rot was still heavily scabbed under the band-aid, but even that was only the size of her thumb, now. It was healing slowly.

Kuromaru's was healing slower still, since his damage was worse. Still, his skin was mending. His mental state... wasn't. )
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Pleased to meet you, won't you lock me in a cage? [Closed to Asuma & Tsume] [Jan. 26th, 2009|02:26 am]

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[Takes place the day after Playing Hero, and an hour after One Step / Two Step]

He should have just gone to bed.

Well, first he should have found the right floor, identified his room, hit on any pretty neighbours, and then gone to bed.

But no, he had to be curious. Because anyone who'd seen the gloomy, unappealing staircase leading downwards by the Quartermaster's cubbyhole would definitely head back to check it out later. It was a perfectly normal human compulsion.

In crazy people. )
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Playing Hero [closed to Tsume and Asuma] [Jan. 23rd, 2009|11:11 am]

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[Takes place March 15, the day after Pay it Forward, at the same time as The Weight of the World]

Mid-March was finally starting to bring the warmth spring always teased with, sending people flooding outside, awnings unfurling over cafes. At least until the next cold snap, when everyone would bundle back in.

For her part, Tsume found herself outside just for the sake of being outside, though it wasn't yet warm enough to wear anything but long sleeves--and tired as she was from attempting Inuzuka jutsu (next time, she really would follow the Hyuuga's orders, she promised), it seemed colder still. Kuromaru padded along beside her, his coat looking ragged and mangy. Winter fur was coming off in tufts. There were drifts of it in her apartment, and he'd only been home for a few days. She didn't mind.

The breeze whipped through the crowded little district, and for a moment people clutched at jackets and sweaters. Then it was gone, and everyone was shedding cloth once more as if it were warmer than it actually was.

In the lull between the old scents clearing away and the new jostling back in, Tsume caught wolf.

Her gaze cast around, finally striking a tall man sitting by the rail of a restaurant's patio, a canine curled around his feet. The canine rose first, uncoiling to nearly as tall as Kuromaru.

Beside her, Tsume felt more than heard a deep bass rumble as Kuromaru began to growl, his hackles rising.

"Easy," she murmured, resting a hand on his shoulders and purposely not looking at the other Inuzuka. She knew him. Knew the scarred shinobi with one missing finger, the lobe of his ear knicked short. One tattoo bled deeper than the rest, where he'd had it re-inked after a kunai had nearly parted his jaw with his face. He was a hard man, a strong leader, and a natural alpha.

All she had to do was walk past. Highly aware of the weight she'd lost after being injured and the bandages still over her finally-healing face, she rocked her shoulders back, stared straight ahead, and stalked closer.

Walking past was easy enough. If they both pretended they didn't see each other, there was no challenge. If she just ignored him and he didn't chase her down, there was no challenge. If she'd been whole, there'd have been no challenge.

She wasn't whole.

Someone bumped her, sending her catching herself against her hound, half a step closer to Botan than she'd meant to be. Her gaze landed on his table, only a few feet away from where she stood, with a thin metal rail between them. Beneath her fingers, Kuromaru's hackles rose further. His bones vibrated with a growl.

Botan moved. Tsume's gaze snapped up to his, fast and hard and sharp as a blade. For one heartbeat everything was fine. )
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Pay It Forward [closed to Tsume and Genma] [Jan. 22nd, 2009|11:07 pm]

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[Takes place March 14th, five days after Would You Bite the Hand, two days after Connect the Dots, and one day after All the King's Horses and All the King's Men...]

"You're cheating."

"I am not!" Kuromaru shuffled his cards in his human hands, lips pursing together as if that might help him think.

"You are, too! If you have two aces, that means there are five in the deck." Tsume shuffled her stack and glared at her familiar, who was currently wearing her face--if horribly injured. In human form the scabbed injuries should probably be bandaged, but bandaging through a body-change was almost impossible, and they fell off his fur. She looked away again quickly. The hitai-ate he'd pulled down over his missing eye did little to hide the twisted, oozing flesh around it, raw skin that coursed across his temple, smearing over his forehead and writhing around the mangled flesh of his missing ear.

Her nausea was from the jutsu that had given him human form, a jutsu she probably shouldn't have done. His appearance wasn't helping her guts any, though. )
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All the King's Horses and All the King's Men... [closed] [Jan. 22nd, 2009|08:58 pm]

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[Takes place March 13th, the day after Connect the Dots, and two days before Ryouma gets off his crutches in The Weight of the World]

"What are you doing?" Tsume watched her familiar warily as he gathered up his puppy plushie and trotted toward the door, tail waving behind him. It had been only two days since he'd been discharged, evidenced by the bandages across his face and head, and she wasn't thrilled at the idea of letting him out of her sight.

"I told Ryouma he could have this puppy back at the hospital, but he forgot it. I just saw him outside." His tail wagged again. "I'll be right back."

Glancing out the window of their apartment, Tsume just catching sight of the tall, dark-haired shinobi as he crutched out toward the training fields. "Kuromaru--" She remembered too well his panic at Ryouma less than a week before.

"It's fine," Kuromaru said with great exasperation. "I was just wounded. I'm okay now. Discharged and everything." And then he was gone down the hall, a shadow slipping along the corridors. )
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Connect the Dots [closed to Haruichi and Tsume] [Jan. 21st, 2009|01:32 pm]

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[Takes place on March 12, eight days after the humans were released from the hospital and Ordinary Miracles, one day after Throwing a Bone.]

It was a relief to know that, soon, they'd have their chakra links back. Going without had been an exercise in weakness, highlighted by her spar with Raidou.

But the doctors had pronounced them tentatively rot-free, and ready for their chakra links to be rebuilt. Everything was finally spinning to a close, and Tsume couldn't begin to describe the relief. Waki had even said that her face would start healing faster, with her chakra pathways repaired and her energy flowing properly again.

The hospital was just as odor-ridden as always, and she breathed shallowly through her mouth while Kuromaru grumbled about alcohol and disease.

"...and if I get ear mites," he continued under his breath.

"You're not going to get ear mites in a hospital," Tsume shot back, sliding a grin down at him. "You just got out of the hospital, and they didn't leave you with ear mites the first time." Three people scooted out of their path, the patient wide-eyed, and they took the stairs up. Up into the rooms for chakra and seals, and Tsume glanced down at her scroll to check the number before heading down the hall.

Their footsteps echoed, but at least here it didn't smell so horrid. It smelled like... like...

She knew that scent. Nonexistent hackles rose. )
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Throwing a Bone. [Closed to Raidou and Tsume] [Jan. 21st, 2009|01:30 am]

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[Takes place two days after Equilibrium and Could You Bite the Hand.]

It was amazing, really, what ANBU could get away with. Raidou had punched a cop in the face, Genma had broken an Uchiha collarbone, and both of them had come away with nothing more than an official reprimand, three months of docked pay, and an amused look from Arisa, Genma's Intel friend, who'd come to bail them out.

Whatever complaints you could make about Intel, they sure managed to make criminal charges vanish fast. Raidou wasn't quite sure he wanted to know how--or why. Being grateful was about all he had the energy to manage, what with the hangover, and most of that was directed at Genma.

Sometime in the evening after their release, Raidou found his backbone, quenched his lingering desire to duck and run, and sat through three-quarters of a healing. The fact that Genma performed the honours with a quick smile, careful hands, and a whole lot of patience, made it more of a trial than actual torture. But Raidou still planned to stay far away from anymore damn claws.

Well, right after he found Tsume and sorted things out. )
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Blood Will Make It Right [closed to Ryouma and Tsume] [Nov. 30th, 2008|05:25 pm]

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[[Set the day after The Safest Place You've Found, Gestalt, and Ryouma's journal entry of March 6.]]

Ryouma had never considered himself much of a morning person. True, there was that whole exciting vista of a brand-new day spread out before him, but facing it generally involved getting out of bed. When Tsume slipped out, sometime after dawn, he rolled over, mumbling something incoherent, and snuggled into the pillow she left behind.

Then he smelled coffee, and woke up properly.

Tsume was puttering between bathroom and kitchen, hair still mussed from sleep, toothbrush wagging in the corner of her mouth. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and propped himself up on one elbow to watch. She disappeared into the bathroom for a moment to rinse and spit; when she wandered out again, she was raking her fingers through her hair, sorting the messy locks into some approximation of order. Silent in thick woolen socks, she padded back to the tiny kitchen-nook to check the coffeepot and fetch down a mug. Even in the overlarge tee-shirt she'd slept in, standing on tiptoe and reaching over her head, she was one long lean line of muscle and elegance.

Ryouma grinned at the world in general. "Putting the mugs on the top shelf was my best idea ever," he said, and sat the rest of the way up. "Did you make enough for me?"
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Gestalt (closed to Kuromaru, Yasuo, Waki) [Nov. 21st, 2008|08:05 pm]

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[Takes place in early March, two days after Just Promise To Keep Your Heart Broken, and at the same time as Ew, What's That Smell?]

Yasuo had been looking at his partner's partner for some time, gaze traveling up to the human body only to drop back down to his book again. There was something niggling at the back of his head. Something about the shape...

Tsume had been there earlier, and would be back again later. Watching her look at herself, so badly damaged, had been almost painful. He knew the form upset her and caused disorientation in Kuromaru, whenever he woke. He woke expecting a wolf-form, and instead he was still a man. The canine's chakra was weak and diseased--they were waiting for him to get a bit stronger before the next surgery. Yasuo understood that any jutsu that used Kuromaru's chakra would only make the rot spread now. It was why they hadn't tried to wake him up and change him back--they worried that even letting him release the jutsu would be harmful. )
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Eww, What's That Smell? [closed to Genma and Tsume] [Oct. 30th, 2008|11:06 pm]

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[Current Mood | pleased]

[Takes place two days after Just Promise to Keep Your Heart Broken and Empathy is a Good Thing, Right? Early afternoon on the same day as What Hell Is Like]

Genma was really quite pleased with himself as he was preparing to leave the lab. He'd spent weeks perfecting the mix of heavy-metal ions and jellyfish toxins, and had finally arrived at a poison that was swiftly lethal, sufficiently generic in its symptoms for its victims to be mistaken for having died of natural causes, and completely undetectable. He'd summoned a somewhat grumpy Aoshi--his rat with the most sensitive nose--who had declared that he didn't smell anything but the food, and could he please have a plate without the poison now, since he had been called upon when he'd been entertaining. In fact, if Genma would provide enough for him to take back to his guest...

Genma had happily handed over a whole piece of meat, which dwarfed Aoshi's head, and sent his summons back to his date. He'd cleaned up the plate of poisoned stir-fry, burning the inedible food to ash with a jutsu, and soaking the bowl in an acid rinse to be sure no traces of the dangerous substance remained. Then he put away his ingredients and finally, the new poison itself.

He labeled the vial with clear, firm strokes: Poison. Contact and vapor safe. Do NOT ingest. Use standard neurotoxin antidote with chelating agent. Contact Shiranui Genma for more information. Smiled at it as he set it on the shelf next to a few other finished poisons. All in the ingestion category. Inhalants were, unsurprisingly, stored under a fume hood, and contact poisons were double locked in glass containers, on their own shelf. Then he stepped into the airlock, stripped off gloves and lab coat, dumping the gloves in a waste container and the coat into a laundry basket. He'd taken off the oversized glasses that served as eye shields before summoning Aoshi, preferring the risk of accidental injury to the surety of ridicule. So that was that. A quick stop in the men's room to wash his hands, take his ponytail down and put his hitai-ate back in place, grin another self-satisfied grin at himself in the mirror, and he was done with poisons for the day.

Now was chow time. The smells from that test dish had been sorely tempting. A late lunch should still be possible in the cafeteria, if nowhere else. Time to go find some curry!
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