|[May. 22nd, 2014|05:36 am]|
He tried again. "What if you just tell me one thing? Whatever you want. I dropped everything on you. I can take a little back."|
Raidou sighed very softly, and looked up at the packed earth ceiling. "I killed a baby tonight, about yea big." His hands sketched a shape not quite the length of his forearm. "With a kunai."
Twelve hours ago, sketching blueprints in the dirt on Kaede Ridge, Ryouma'd listened without much interest to Kakashi's plan for Raidou to kill an infant. It hadn't been more than words, then. Namiashi-taichou enters through the window into the small storage room, checks on the servants, then enters the nursery. The nurse will most likely be asleep already. He immobilizes her, then eliminates his targets…
Nobody said, going in, We're going to kill a baby. You couldn't. The horror came after.
His crossed arms slipped down to hug his knees. "First time?"
"No," Raidou said. His gaze dropped from the ceiling to his own hands, lumpy with bandages. Weariness lined his face and dragged at his shoulders. "That's probably something I should have told you and Hatake on the first day. Those rumors about ANBU? True."
In the village, in civilian neighborhoods where nobody's sons ever grew up to be ninja, in the chuunin lounge where the worst duty you ever pulled was bodyguard for a scumbag industrialist, they called ANBU babykillers.
He'd known that, and he'd joined anyway.
"You don't get used to it," Ryouma said.
"No." Raidou paused. "But you get better at it."
He didn't look better.
But he'd held up all the way back to the safehouse, presumably, and then he'd come out to guide the rest of his team home and see to their needs. He'd offered Ryouma help and he'd talked him down from the edge, and he was only now letting his shoulders sag, now that his team was safe and tended and didn't need him quite as much anymore.
Maybe that was all the better you got.
"Why did you join?"
Raidou's eyes flicked up, surprised. But he said, after only a moment's hesitation, "Because I could. The Kyuubi attack gutted ANBU hollow. Once the rebuilding was underway they needed warm bodies, and I didn't have much else to do." He picked at a loose thread in the bandages over his knuckles. "Why did you join?"
Ryouma shrugged one shoulder. "I turned twenty, and I was still alive."
He realized, belatedly, how that sounded. "Not that I've got a death wish! Just, I made jounin a year ago and I never actually expected to live this long. So I realized I'd actually made it to be an adult—d'you know the civilian drinking age is twenty?—and I figured I should do something to mark it. And the ANBU Trials were the next week. So I signed up."
Raidou laughed, short and hoarse. "Of course you wandered in. You know other people train for years and don't make it?"
Some of them had been his friends. At least Takeshi hadn't been too awkward about it, when Ryouma and Hakone ran into him at The Green Pig a few days ago. Hakone and Ryouma had both stood him drinks, and tried not to talk too much about anything that involved their new tattoos.
Ryouma stretched out a hand to stir the stew. "Maybe Kakashi's not the only genius on the team. Tell me something else, taichou."