Puzzle Pieces

by Nezuko, Prince of Rats

This is a work of derivative fiction based on the manga "Naruto" by Kishimoto Masashi. The characters and the world in which they live are the property of Kishimoto-sensei.

This is a portrait of Shiranui Genma as a young man of 20, in ANBU, as I've conceived him for the outstandingly literary RP Scarlet Spiral on greatestjournal. I owe a debt of gratitude to my co-writers there. Special thanks to Zuul for the title, and Ki, Kiki, and Loren for beta-ing. This was originally part of the whole "Twenty Truths" idea on LJ.

Aptitude: Genma's grandfather was a medic. So was his older sister, Yumiko. Genma could have been one, too. He certainly has the necessary intellect, understanding of anatomy, chakra manipulation skills and facility with ninjutsu. In fact, he's a great field medic, and his skills have saved more than one comrade's lives. But he's just a little too cold blooded to be a professional healer. Instead, Genma is a very, very good assassin.

Family Business: Genma became a ninja because his mom was a ninja and his dad was a ninja and his big sister Yumiko was a ninja. His ancestors and extended family were ninja. It's just what you did if you were a Shiranui of Konoha. And truth be told, Genma likes being a ninja. He's good at it. Even if it hadn't been family tradition, he probably would have ended up as one.

Record: When Genma was an eleven-year-old genin, he was arrested by Uchiha Fugaku, then a captain of Konoha's military police. His jounin sensei bailed him out and straightened things out. The only people who knew the real story about why he was arrested (besides Genma and the police) are now all dead, and Genma's not telling.

Parents: Genma's father died on a mission when Genma was seven. After that he tried to be "man of the house" even though he had no idea what that meant. His mother and little sister Haruko were horribly injured in one of the Kyuubi's early attacks when Genma was thirteen and had just become chuunin. When nobody really knew how horrible the fox was yet. His mom lingered near death for weeks, no longer able to recognize her children, before finally succumbing to her injuries. Genma visited her every day, watching her writhe and rave, and prayed every night that she would die. When she finally did, he vomited until he had to be hospitalized himself.

Career: When Genma was fifteen he was promoted to special jounin. His abilities with foreign languages, with ninjutsu, and with stealthy assassination are what brought him to the attention of the ANBU recruiters. He joined just after his seventeenth birthday. His sister Yumiko slapped his defiant face, traced a finger over the healing scab on his freshly tattooed shoulder and called the mark Genma's death sigil. Less than four months later she and the rest of Genma's family would be the ones dead, along with the young and handsome fourth Hokage and what seemed like half of Konoha's shinobi.

Faith: Genma is religious, in a private, sort of unacknowledged way. He has a little cluster of memorial tablets: one for his mother, one for his father, one for his big sister Yumiko and one for his baby sister Haruko. He rescued the remains of the family shrine from the smoldering ruins of their house after Kyuubi's attack, and it now sits in his apartment. He places fresh offerings there once a week, and burns incense and says prayers at the appropriate times. But if you asked him if he believed in life after death, he'd laugh at you.

Attraction: When Genma first met Namiashi Raidou, the other man had not yet suffered the injury that scarred his face. Genma thought the older shinobi was so handsome he crossed over the border into "pretty." After Raidou recovered from the attack that nearly destroyed his face and left the skin there and down his neck and shoulder forever looking molten, Genma still thought he was so handsome he crossed over into pretty. He tells him so, too, but Raidou never believes him.

Fortitude: When he was seventeen, and seven months in ANBU, Genma was held captive for almost a month by Iwagakure forces who thought he knew something he didn't, and wanted to get the information out of him. Genma figured the only way he'd stay alive was to pretend to be refusing to tell them what they wanted to know, not to admit he didn't know it either. As a result he suffered weeks of vicious torture for no good reason at all. He was finally rescued by ANBU comrades just before his captors lost patience. His two mission partners weren't so lucky.

Fractures: As a result of his treatment by his Iwagakure captors, his hands, once brutally broken, still ache in cold or wet weather, and he has a phobia about having them touched. He also has nightmares about crushingly dark places and endless questions he can't answer and violent beatings he can't fight back against. When he wakes from one of those dreams, he turns on every light and lamp and flashlight he owns, and sometimes lights a few candles, too, just for the extra little bit of brightness to drive away the shadows.

Balm: Raidou is the only person who has ever managed to calm Genma down enough to go back to sleep after one of those dreams.

Rats: Genma can summon rats. The biggest rat he's managed to summon is Hoshi, a curly-haired black male the size of a small horse. The smallest rat he summons who speaks human language is Shinobu, a black and white little boy who's no bigger than your average street rat.

Having signed the contract, Genma can speak to and understand just about any rat. People in Konoha have seen Genma hanging out in an alley holding "conversations" with the vermin of the town. But they figure he's just one more crazy-ass ANBU jounin. Best to ignore him if he isn't actually hurting anyone.

Bad Habit: Genma hates going to the dentist. He does it twice a year, because he has to, and twice a year he gets a lecture about flossing properly, which for a good week thereafter he tries to do. And then he forgets about it for 5 months and three weeks. The two or three days before his next cleaning appointment, he tries to make up for lost time by getting serious about it again, but it's never enough: the hygienist can always tell he's been slacking. He brushes his teeth regularly - it's not like he has trench mouth or anything. But he'd undoubtedly have fewer fillings if he were a little more diligent about the flossing thing. Because of his bad habits, he has a small collection of partially used dental floss sample spools, one from each cleaning appointment over the last several years.

Weapons: Genma uses throwing needles, which are precise, but limitedly lethal. Until you coat them with poison. He knows a lot about poisons. Genma's constantly working on faster, more effective, deadlier poisons to use in the field. He also has made a major effort to inure himself to the more common poisons he might encounter on an enemy's weapons or slipped into his meals. He's worked up a tolerance through repeated, minute, deliberate self-intoxication. More than once Raidou or Kobayashi or another comrade has had to haul his convulsing carcass off to the hospital, along with whatever bottle of dangerous shit he'd been playing with, for the medics to fix.

Leisure: Genma has a shelf full of books that Raidou thinks are excruciatingly boring. Books like The Seven Ages of Tea Country, and Dialects of the Outer Island Nations, and Botanical Neurotoxins. He also has some really beautiful collections of foreign erotic art, smuggled in from out-of-country missions.

Genma makes merciless fun of Raidou's books, too. He wonders how a guy smart enough to read The Art of War for pleasure can possible enjoy something called My Summer Colored Midnights. Raidou insists his books aren't romance novels. And that The Legend of the Gold Tower is the best action story ever and the fight scene at the end absolutely rules.

So Genma read it, because Raidou liked it so much. And when the movie came out they went to see it together. They both thought it was terrible, and great fun at the same time, because it didn't nearly do justice to the book/was a perfect encapsulation of that insipid book. And the fight scenes were an absolute riot

Dating: Seeing that movie together, and the two hours they spent rehashing it in a bar afterwards, had almost been a date. Except not really. Cause they weren't dating. Genma very carefully picked just the right not-at-all-dressed-up old tee-shirt so as to make it clear it wasn't a date. And he made sure to wear freshly laundered jeans. And even shaved. But not because it was a date or anything.

Raidou showered. But not because it was a date. It was because he and Genma had sparred together all afternoon, and he stank. Which to be honest, Genma kind of appreciated. The showering. (Because Genma may be the sort of friend who would never force the issue, but that doesn't mean he's above getting a good eyeful if circumstances allow. Like they sparred together and so now they ought to get cleaned up so as not to stink. Together.)

Loyalty: When they brought Raidou in, after the attack that scarred him, Genma was in the gym at ANBU HQ working out with weights, trying to recondition the arm that he'd injured on his previous mission. The injury that had kept him from accompanying Raidou on his mission. He doesn't remember that it was Kakashi who came to tell him that his best friend was lying near death in the ICU, brought in without his teammate, but with his teammate's dog tags.

He waited outside the ICU for three days, stinking in his workout clothes, before someone finally got Kakashi to convince Genma to go home, shower and change, with a promise that when he came back he'd be let in to sit with Raidou.

Looks: Genma's pretty typical of Konoha shinobi in not wearing a beard. And even if he wanted to, it's not like he can grow much of one. It's mostly goatee and mustache, and it grows in slowly, a dark reddish brown.

When Raidou finally woke up from the healing coma they'd put him in while the skin grafts took, Genma was there. When he'd woken up enough to actually converse, Raidou took one look at his friend and said, "Lose the beardlet, poser. It totally doesn't work for you."

Genma shaved for the first time in 13 days that afternoon. He never told Raidou he hadn't been trying to grow a beard. Raidou probably knew anyway.

Breaking: For shinobi there are many difficult anniversary days. The kind of killing a shinobi does is personal. And the kind of death he faces is personal. There are lost friends, lost family members, lost lovers, even lost enemies, and certainly losses of self, that ninja mark the anniversaries of.

On those days, Genma usually prays and lights incense and sets up a tray of oranges in front of his little shrine. Then he goes out, gets totally shit-faced, has animalistic sex with strangers who don't necessarily mean him well, and ends up passed out in a puddle of his own puke.

Raidou is almost always the one who brings him home, cleans him up, and tells him not to be such a fucking idiot.

Humor: In ANBU there are traditions. Like hazing the rookies. And hating the obnoxious, self-important chuunin who mans the assignment desk. Genma found a way to do both at once. He managed to let it slip to Yuki, the desk chuunin, who thought he was the gods' gift to women, that Asuma, the rookie who seemed to think he was the gods' gift to humankind, was "interested in him." Then he told Asuma that Yuki was "pining for him." Then he stood back and watched the homophobic mayhem. There's only one other person who knows the story behind the bitter enmity between the two. I'm sure you can guess who that is.

Love: Genma isn't gay. He isn't straight. He just is. He seems to exude sex in an almost raw form and without trying. He gets a lot of offers and plenty of action. If you could somehow force him to make a choice, he'd probably choose men, but only by the slimmest of margins. He's had lots of affairs, but has only one love. Some day Raidou will understand that.