|[Jun. 3rd, 2013|02:33 am]|
Katsuko let out a silent breath through her nose and didn’t let herself slump. “Where will you be going, captain?” she asked.|
Ozawa looked at her. “Back to jounin blues. Sagara-sama has graciously declined my request to renew my commission.” The slight, bitter twist on ‘graciously’ told Katsuko exactly what Ozawa’s opinion on that was.
“Why us?” Mitarou demanded. “Isamu and I are injured, but our team has a damn better record than some of the others. Sumeragi’s squad should be—”
“Sumeragi’s team is also being reassigned,” Ozawa interrupted. “But this isn’t a reflection of how well HQ thinks we worked as a unit. There were empty spaces that needed filling.”
Raidou, who’d been listening the entire time with a faintly poleaxed expression, finally cracked. “Captain?”
“Get used to it, Namiashi.” Ozawa’s eyes creased at the corners, the only sign of her amusement at Raidou’s expense. “I recommended you personally. Don’t screw it up.”
“But—” Raidou started, scrambling for coherence and coming up empty-handed. “I. What.”
Despite everything, Katsuko couldn’t resist. “Now you’ll have to do even more paperwork.”
He covered his face with both hands, voice coming out muffled. “Tell me Katsuko isn’t my lieutenant.”
“Ueno hasn’t expressed any desire for promotion,” Ozawa said, deliberately vague. Then, relenting, she added, “No, you’ll be getting someone else. Don’t know who it is, yet, but it won’t be Ueno.”
“Small mercies, right?” Isamu joked, trying for a smile. “It’s been a good run, guys.”
“Yeah.” Mitarou rubbed the back of his neck, the corners of his mouth pinched and unhappy. “Too short of a run. I’d gotten used to having Ueno and Namiashi as meat shields.”
Katsuko elbowed him in the side, more gently than she usually would have. Mitarou was the one who’d given her the most encouragement during their first mission as a team. “You’re gonna have to learn how to pull your own weight again, buddy. Sad, I know.”
Isamu gave a watery little chuckle.
Raidou finally pulled himself together. “You guys need to get good fast,” he said. “Or me an’ Ueno are gonna smoke you dead.” He held his hand out for a fist tap; Katsuko obliged with a crooked smile.
“Impossible,” Mitarou said, dry as dust. “We have a basic sense of self-preservation holding us back. We’ll never reach your level.”
Raidou didn’t miss a beat. “Not with that attitude.”
“Don’t encourage them,” Katsuko said. “Not everyone can pull off flawless as well as we can.”