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Hard Came the Rain [Jul. 9th, 2017|02:13 pm]

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[Takes place June 25, Yondaime Year 5, immediately after After the Rhythm and Booze.]

Sagara Okiku, ANBU’s fourth commander, was having a good morning.

The twins had slept through the night. Mariko had scampered off to the academy on time, with a completed report on Tetsu no Kuni’s military samurai tucked under one arm. And Ikorou, kind husband that he was, had packed Sagara a bento. It was currently sitting in her desk drawer, a pleasant temptation.

She had even, through some miracle she didn’t plan to examine closely, managed to catch up on her paperwork.

In this frame of mind, she was almost forgiving when the entirety of Team Six — and two dogs — invaded her office, instead of the one lieutenant she’d actually summoned.

“Shiranui,” she said. “You have an entourage.”

Who appeared to have come straight from the training field, judging by the motley collection of filthy, blood-stained clothing. None of them were in uniform. Shiranui seemed to have been punched in the face. Namiashi’s cheek was gashed. Hatake looked like he’d been dragged through barbed wire. Only Tousaki was visibly uninjured, which probably meant he was concealing something internal.

Shiranui bit his split lip. “We were just finishing a post-training lunch. They insisted on accompanying me.” He gave his team a narrow look. “I’m sure this won’t take long, if you want to wait in our office.”

“We’re here to report, too,” Tousaki said, nervously stubborn. His defiant gaze made it as high as Sagara’s tea mug.

The tall yellow shepherd sat down in front of Shiranui, feathered tail coiled neatly around her feet. Her head reached his ribcage. The pug draped over Shiranui’s left shoulder sat upright and scratched one ear. Hatake, less demonstratively, slouched behind Genma and maintained the relatively successful pretense that his summons' actions had nothing to do with him.

Namiashi tucked his arms behind his back, spine held ramrod straight, and didn’t move an inch. )
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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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Devil's Got My Secrets [May. 24th, 2015|08:19 pm]

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[Takes place the morning of May 15, Yondaime Year 5, two days after God Save the Foolish Kings and the morning after Comfort Trap]

The first reports of the day brought Sagara Okiku with them, treading soft and relentless on Lynx's heels. Lynx slid the stack of files onto Minato's desk, saluted, and pulled up a chair for his commander before he retreated to the anteroom and shut the door.

"I don't suppose you brought another pot of coffee with you," Minato said, without much hope.

Sagara tapped her fingers to her tattoo, crisp and correct, and took her seat in front of the desk. Her back was perfectly straight, knees set together, hands resting lightly on her thighs. Sometimes he wondered if she ever slouched.

"I thought the tasks of the day might prove stirring enough," she said. There was a faint glint in her eye, not yet a smile. "But we can acquire something, if you're in dire need."

Minato waved her offer away. )
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Tell You My Sins (So You Can Sharpen Your Knife) [Sep. 20th, 2014|09:17 pm]

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[Takes place the evening of May 11, Yondaime Year 5, following Sound the Bells]

It was dusk fading into night when Raidou and his Intel escort finished the long, weary trudge up to the peak of the Hokage’s Monument. The first glitter of cold stars laced a bruised sky, and the air had a sharp bite after an unseasonably warm day. ANBU’s HQ crouched low and threatening behind the stony spikes of Sandaime’s hair, like a waiting predator.

Raidou attempted to divert his thoughts by wondering, not for the first time, whose bright idea it had been to carve giant heads into the mountainside of a secret village. And what Konoha would do when they ran out of room.

Raise a new mountain, probably.

“You should have enough time to clean up before they want you,” said his escort, with a significant look at Raidou’s travel-stained uniform.

If they planned to throw him out, it didn’t make a damn bit of difference what he was wearing. )
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