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Red Sky at Morning [Nov. 16th, 2016|05:34 pm]

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[Takes place the morning of June 10, Yondaime Year 5, three weeks following Laws of Gravity and just over a month after Salt the Earth]
WARNING FOR ANIMAL DEATH in the first two tags]

Training field three looked, and smelled, like a battlefield. Genma nudged Ryouma with his shoulder, nodding at the blood-spattered grass. “So far it’s messier than your jutsu, but at least it reeks less.”

“I’m pretty sure I can do explosive rot if you want it, Lieutenant,” Ryouma offered mildly.

“I know. That’s why we started with sardines when you and I worked on wound sealing.”

Kakashi, dripping in blood from head to toe, took a few steps out of the blast radius while a pair of chuunin brought a fresh victim to the field and secured its lead to a stout iron post. The pig, staked well upwind of the carnage, didn’t seem to be bothered by the gory remains of its predecessor. It looked around with mild interest as one of the chuunin put a bucket of feed in front of it, then began contentedly munching away.

Otani Yaeko, an observer from the Jutsu Records Office, tapped her clipboard. “How close was that attempt to Iebara’s jutsu?”

“It looks a lot like what was left of Iebara after Hatake was finished with him,” Genma said, “but nothing like the stuff Iebara himself did.”

Otani nodded and jotted down a note before she called, “Hatake-san, are you ready to try it again?”

Kakashi flicked an acknowledging salute, then turned to focus intently on the pig with both eyes. At the distance from which they were observing it was impossible to make out the pinwheels in Kakashi’s transplanted Sharingan, but they were doubtless spinning fast. He nodded at one of the chuunin; black steel flashed in her hand. )
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Laws of Gravity [Aug. 1st, 2016|06:48 pm]

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[Takes place the afternoon of May 20, Yondaime Year 5, following Worth the Pain and The End Is Where We Begin]

The ward was quiet after Ryouma fell asleep.

Unobserved, Kakashi took the shameless opportunity to study him. On missions, Ryouma always made a point of turning his back on the team and shrugging his blankets up, hiding his face. That probably had something to do with his grandfather, Kakashi thought darkly.

Right now the sheets only came up to Ryouma’s chest. The low, v-shaped neckline of his hospital gown was pulled askew, showing a slice of collarbone. If Kakashi leaned close enough, he’d be able to see Ryouma’s carotid pulse beating.

Since he was supposed to be guarding, not identifying target points, he stayed where he was and looked at Ryouma’s face. It was strange to see it unanimated. Without humor or tension lending their edges, Ryouma looked both younger than he was, and older than he should have. Faint lines had already started to etch the corners of his eyes, and there were shadows that ran deeper than just a few nights’ missed sleep. A couple more years and he’d probably have some silver hair of his own.

Kakashi tilted his head and tried to picture Ryouma ten years younger. The sharp jawline would have been shallower, the cheekbones less defined, the straight-bladed edge of his nose might not have had that broken dip in the bridge. He was a handsome man now; he would have been a beautiful child. And smart enough to create his own jutsu a few years later. Exactly the kind of boy who’d make his family proud.

Except the only family Ryouma had ever mentioned was a mother who’d died, and the grandfather who’d taken him afterwards, now also dead.

He had me for three years.

Where had the father been? Where had Konoha been? Young shinobi were a precious resource. Who’d let Ryouma vanish halfway through a war with a drunken, bone-breaking bastard?

And after everything, Ryouma had limped back to Konoha and signed up to protect it. Probably for the same reason he wore an extra dogtag around his throat, separate on its own chain: it was the closest he could get to home.

Kakashi could see the edge of that tag now, tucked beneath Ryouma’s gown. He’d glimpsed the name on it — Tousaki Miyako — before and assumed it was a mother, sister, or wife. Ryouma was only twenty, but that was still old enough to be a widower. Now, though, he had a better idea.

Very gently, Kakashi slipped a finger under the chain and tugged until the old, scarred tag came into sight. )
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The End Is Where We Begin [Jul. 12th, 2016|06:57 pm]

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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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Worth the Pain [Jul. 8th, 2016|07:54 pm]

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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]

For the first fifty kilometers of the run to Shirakawa, Kakashi and Ryouma didn't talk.

It wasn't exactly a race, like the first few times they'd competed on mission marches. They knew each other's paces by now: Kakashi's eye-blurring turn of speed, Ryouma's staying power. Kakashi set a pace at the very edge of Ryouma's limits, and didn't push it. Ryouma focused on the burn in his lungs, the dull ache in his knee, the perfection of his body moving exactly as he meant it to, and refused to let himself think: This might be the last time I run.

Three kilometers outside Shirakawa, with the thickly wooded hills giving way to gentle meadows and farmers' hamlets, and the town's smoke smudging the horizon, Kakashi said, "Niimi-sensei does good work."

Kakashi was looking at the dusty snake of a road curving up southwest from Tanazaku to Shirakawa, not at Ryouma. He said, "I asked Rin."

"I wasn't thinking about it," Ryouma lied.

Kakashi let the silence wash back. Perhaps, for once, he didn't feel the need to point out that Ryouma wasn't fooling anyone. )
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Soldier On [May. 27th, 2016|08:52 pm]

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[Takes place May 17, two days after Hold the Line, three days before the funeral in When the Last Roll is Called]

Kurenai received her orders at family dinner, which was not unusual. Her grandmother, the esteemed matriarch of the Yuuhi clan, had dismissed the youngest grandchildren to play quietly in the garden; one of her aunts was serving tea, while a teenage cousin handed around plates of sweets. Kurenai shared her plate with her little sisters, Akane and Kaede, and hoped the clan council wouldn't take long. Her feet were beginning to fall asleep.

An elderly uncle droned through household accounts. An aunt presented her petition for increasing the amount deducted from the pay of active duty Yuuhi ninja for clan maintenance, and was shouted down by three cousins, all chuunin. Kurenai's grandmother sipped her tea and frowned down the long hall, and the quarreling cousins quieted.

"The new tatami mats for the family shrine can wait," Yuuhi Benihime decided. Her voice was a mild, age-roughened alto; Kurenai had never known her to raise it. She never had to. "The roof repairs are more pressing. See to it, Masaru. Kurenai-chan, do you have a mission this week?"

Kurenai started. "No, grandmother. My current assignment at HQ will last for another three or four months before I rotate into the field again."

Benihime nodded briskly. "Then speak to your team leader for me. I require your presence at 0900 for—oh, two or three hours, every day for the next two weeks."

Fifteen-year-old Akane made a soft little Oooh sound under her breath. "Think it's marriage meetings?"

Kurenai pinched her. "Is this a family matter?" she asked, over Akane's indignant squeak. "We're shorthanded at the moment, in the wake of what happened in the capital—I don't know if I can be spared—"

"I've taken this case on special request from Shibata Tomohiro," Benihime said. "I'm sure he won't object to my requisitioning an assistant. And you happen to be my only grandchild with S-level security clearance." She sipped her tea with satisfaction. "I'll see you at my work room tomorrow morning. Now, Kaede-chan, what's this I hear about your aunt Madoka spotting you with an Uchiha boy?"

On Kurenai's other side, seventeen-year-old Kaede went crimson with mortification. Akane perked up gleefully. Kurenai sighed, and passed Kaede the mochi.  )
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When the Last Roll Is Called [May. 8th, 2016|08:09 pm]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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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Tousaki Ryouma Performance Review: Month 1 [Sep. 30th, 2015|10:05 pm]

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[Discussed in Break it Down by the Numbers]

ANBU Periodic Performance Review Form

Agent: Tousaki Ryouma, 010950
Position: ANBU Team 6, Hunter, Rookie
Evaluating Officer: Shiranui Genma, 010203, Lieutenant, ANBU Team 6
Review Period: Y05, 19 April – 17 May
Missions: 2: ANB4052704-I-ISEG, ANB4050505-A-TSUT

    He shows good teamwork, and responds quickly to changing battlefield conditions, although he also shows a troubling recklessness and seems to be subject to a fair degree of emotional instability )
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Hatake Kakashi Performance Review: Month 1 [Sep. 30th, 2015|07:47 pm]

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[Discussed in Break it Down by the Numbers]

ANBU Periodic Performance Review Form

Agent: Hatake Kakashi, 009720
Position: ANBU Team 6, Hunter, Rookie
Evaluating Officer: Shiranui Genma, 010203, Lieutenant, ANBU Team 6
Review Period: Y05, 19 April – 17 May
Missions: 2: ANB4052704-I-ISEG, ANB4050505-A-TSUT

    Hatake skirts the line of insubordination with a great deal of finesse, and seems to treat it as a sort of game )
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Ueno Katsuko Performance Review: Month 1 [Sep. 30th, 2015|11:05 pm]

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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]

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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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Hold the Line [Aug. 30th, 2015|03:31 pm]

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[Takes place around midday May 15, Yondaime Year 5, immediately after The Summoning and Follow My Lead]

The universe was on Raidou’s side. Genma was in the first place he checked — working by the lamplight glow in Team Six’s windowless office.

As soon as Raidou opened the door, Genma’s head came up. He turned from his desk, one eyebrow quirking up in anticipation of a question, and stopped dead when he saw Raidou. His mouth opened. The senbon between his teeth wavered.

“Taichou,” he said blankly.

It had only been four days, but it was an actual, physical relief to set eyes on the lieutenant. Like the moment a chokehold relaxed and there was air again.

Raidou drew a breath and leaned against the door frame. “Fukuchou,” he said. “How’re you doing?”

There was a pair of crutches leaning against the desk; Genma reached for them, clearly intending to stand, but kept his seat when Raidou waved him back down. “I’m fine,” Genma said. “How are you doing?” He shot a look at the open door. “Can we…?” Quick fingers darted through the hand-sign for talk, meaning, Can we talk freely?

Raidou stepped in and closed the door behind him. “I’m still suspended, but they lifted the no-contact ban, so long as I don’t interfere with the team. I don’t think anyone’s bothering to listen in.”

Genma’s shoulders slumped nonetheless, but he still looked better than the last time Raidou had seen him. Since the last time had involved a hospital bed, the bar wasn’t high. Green-yellow bruises underscored his eyes, legacy of a healing broken nose. More ringed his throat from Iebara's choking. He was wearing civilian clothes, a dark t-shirt with a subtle leaf design, and jeans relaxed enough to accommodate the bandaging that still obviously encircled his right thigh. His hair was twisted up and back into a loose topknot, leaving casual strands to fall around his face. There was a old and clearly much-loved hoodie folded over the back of his chair.

He looked tired, pale, and stressed, but crutches meant walking and paperwork was dedication. Genma was taking care of the team, just like Raidou had asked. )
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The Summoning [Aug. 21st, 2015|09:26 pm]

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[Takes place late morning of May 15, Yondaime Year 5, a few hours after Devil's Got My Secrets and two days after God Save the Foolish Kings]

It took two days to hear anything from T&I. Raidou managed to stay sane, just about.

Shibata’s advice anchored him: Hatake’s loyalty — and Shiranui’s, Tousaki’s, and Ueno’s — isn’t lightly earned, captain. Let that rest in your mind. It certainly made an impression in mine. Whenever he felt himself slipping into worry and doubt, Raidou lifted that thought like a shield. My team has faith.

The meeting had yielded another thing, too, after some time to mull it over: he liked the head of T&I. Shibata Tomohiro was a scary, scary man, but he’d still treated Raidou with surprising gentleness, and only kicked Raidou to knock down old, crippled armor that wasn’t helping anymore. He’d left Raidou with hope.

I’ve yet to find a well-forged weapon so dull it couldn’t be sharpened.

So Raidou filled his time with hard training, eating wholesome food, reading every book on genjutsu and trauma therapy he could get his hands on (when Shun ran out, he went to the jounin library and checked out as many new volumes as the suspicious librarian would let him carry), doing chores around his mothers’ house (there were many), sleeping, and waiting.

When the ANBU messenger finally arrived, Raidou’s stomach didn’t flip. It was the same kunoichi as before: buzzed haircut, lizard mask, absent manners. Raidou set down the heavy weight set he’d been working out with on the grass (it was too big to use indoors; the backyard was barely big enough), swiped a wrist across his forehead, and acknowledged her. “Agent.”

“The Hokage requests your presence at 1130,” she said perfunctorily.

That gave him more than an hour. )
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Follow My Lead [Aug. 12th, 2015|07:45 pm]

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[Takes place the morning of May 15, Yondaime Year 5, a day following Bottle of Smoke and a few hours after Devil’s Got My Secrets]

Genma woke with the sun slanting across the foot of the bed, which in the north-facing bedroom meant he’d slept four hours later than usual. A glance at the clock proved it: nearly half past eight. Asuma had rolled away in his sleep, presenting broad, bare shoulders, rising and falling with the steady rhythm of deep sleep. Genma studied the scar he’d run his fingers over the night before. It was clean-edged and well-healed — the mark of a bladed cut that someone had tended to while it was still fresh. He wondered which of the Guardian Twelve had been proficient at healing jutsu. Was it one who’d died a traitor, or one who’d stayed loyal to his vows and his Daimyou?

It shouldn’t matter. It didn’t matter. Far more important was the question of what sword Asuma had blocked. In the year and a quarter since Asuma had left to serve in Hikouto, how many threats to the Daimyou’s life had come and gone? What missions had Konoha taken on as a result of those threats?

In the morning light, Genma’s problems should have paled. They were minor compared to the nightmare Asuma had lived through. But the attack on the Fire Daimyou, the dissolution of the Guardian Twelve, Team Six’s mission against the Tsuto family, and Raidou’s uncertain future were inextricably linked. You could no more separate the eggs back out of a baked cake.

He sighed, ruffling the hair that had fallen into his eyes. )
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ANBU Legacy Volume 1: Ebook and Print Editions [Jun. 11th, 2015|04:59 pm]


Dear Readers,

If you don't follow our ANBU Legacy Tumblr, you likely missed the past weeks' furor over the ebook and print edition of ANBU Legacy Volume 1.

Let me sum up:

Several months ago, Ki took a lazy Sunday afternoon and started to put together a compilation of all the Legacy threads. The initial plan was just to create one massive, searchable corpus that could be used to check for continuity (and revise a few errors and goofs that had always bugged us.) However, readers on Tumblr responded enthusiastically to the idea of an ebook, and one of our fantastic readers (make-a-guess) reached out about the possibility of using the file to create a printed edition of the book.

At the time, the full document weighed in at 458,484 words--longer than the very longest of fantasy doorstopper novels. (It is, of course, even longer now.) After some debate, we decided to release it in chronological volumes.

Volume 1 covers events from the Prologues (Mama Come Home) to the end of the Demon Mission (The Way Home). It totals more than 198,000 words (more than 400 pages, in the print edition). Volume 2, currently in progress, will likely begin with Asuma and Genma's backstory in The Short Straw and then pick up with the coup in Hikouto (Take the Heartland) through Team Six's return to Konoha in One of Those Lives (Get Used to It). Volume 3 will begin with the Intel Review arc (Sound the Bells) and continue through threads not yet written.

The ebook edition of Volume 1 is currently in its final stages and will be released by the end of June. This edition, like all electronic Legacy content, will be available free of charge in PDF, MOBI, and EPUB formats to anyone who wishes to download it.

The first limited edition of the print run will be making its way to readers shortly. However, since many readers were not able to sign up in time for the first print run, we are currently polling to determine the level of interest in a second run. This edition will likely cost about $35 USD (to include overseas shipping) and will be available only if at least 15 people sign up to pre-order.

Please visit this Google Form to indicate your interest in an ebook or print edition of ANBU Legacy Volume 1.

Thank you for all the love, support, and encouragement you've given us over the years. We appreciate it more than words can express. And we hope that, whether on this website, in ebook, or in print format, you'll continue to enjoy our stories.

- Ki, DK, Nezu, GM, and Zuul
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