Oi! Guess who's back! For those of you who have been wondering why I haven't update for a while, it's because I've been grounded. Aparently climbing a tree in your back yard and then acidently falling on top of your younger sibling is grounds for a month without electronics. In the middle of summer. Talk about harsh, I didn't even break anything on her! Tch, oh well. Well, thank ranma hibiki for beta-ing this chapter, as well as for a few comments here and there. Also, I'm wondering who I should add as a third team member for this group. I think I have a good idea of who I want it to be, and I'll probably go with that unless someone just hits me with an amazing idea. Oh, and I lied. There is one name in this chapter, but it's an alias.
Well, enjoy and review. And thank ranma hibiki for beta-ing. (still not sure if that's a word...)
"Can I help you?" the girl asked.
What in the hell is going on? We can see quite clearly that this is unexpected. The young man's face is the very definition of surprise and the young girl mirrors that face perfectly. What is this girl doing here, seeking shelter in the same place the young man did? What is this boy, for that is what she sees him as, doing here, hiding at her dojo like a common thief?
"Umm… What are you doing here?" The young man asked sheepishly. He had yet to move, surprise still keeping its hold on his body. One doesn't expect the door to a vacant building to be slammed open in the middle of a thunder storm.
"I train here. What are you doing here?" the girl answered and asked. At the risk of sounding impolite, she wanted to know. Was this some sort of test set up by her sensei? If not, then why in the hell was this boy even here? She had been training here at the same time of day for almost three months now. It was a public building, but that doesn't give him the right to break up her routine.
"Heh heh, yeah, sorry. I just came here to get out of the rain and… Wait, is that my jacket?" The young man's sapphire eyes and focused on the dripping piece of orange fabric. The girl looked up and saw that she was still holding it as a shield from the rain. And come to mention it, she was still outside. Yeah, that made a lot of sense.
"Ano… Can I come in?" If you are wondering why the girl is asking for permission to enter her own dojo, I can't help you. Rest assured that no one else can either. The young man shook his head as if it would dislodge the surprise. He quickly stepped forward and grabbed the young girl's wrist, gently pulling her inside before shutting the door.
Both students are staring at each other; the sounds of rain striking the roof were filling their ears, the fresh smell of rain entering their noses. They stand as still as statues, as if they are afraid to be the first one to act. The young man is still standing by the door in his dripping black T-shirt and orange pants, a small puddle forming at his feet. The girl still has her hands in the air, holding the orange coat like a tarp, dripping water onto her head. We see a single drip run down her nose, hanging on the tip for a moment before falling to the ground. This drop caused a soft tickling sensation that many of us are familiar with. In the girl's case, it made her sneeze, which caused her arms to shift and let go of the jacket, which meant gravity played its part and pull the jacket onto the girl's still sneezing head.
Oddly enough, this broke the stupor that the young man was in. Blinking away his surprise, he stepped forward and pulled his jacket off the girl's head. What he found was a pair of honey hazel eyes wide with surprise and embarrassment. It wasn't dignified for a future shinobi to be trapped by a wet piece of cloth. She fought her embarrassed blush down as it was trying to rise to her face, knowing it would show far too easily if it did appear.
"Ano… Thank you, I guess." We see that her head is slightly tilted down. The girl clearly doesn't want to be staring this newcomer in the face. We may assume that this is due to embarrassment. I also assume that you have heard the phrase "Assumptions make an ass out of you and me." If you have not, you are able to say otherwise from now on. Here's a hint: Ass-U-Me. Back to the two young ninjas in-training, the young man rubs the blond hair on the back of his head with a single hand while grasping his soaked coat in the other. The gesture may signify one of many things. It could be showing embarrassment from the fact that his jacket had fallen on this unknown girl, or it could be a pitiful attempt to hide fear that this unidentified female would use it as an excuse to beat the crap out of him.
"Ano… I'm sorry to have to ask this, but who exactly are you?" The girl felt like smashing her head against the nearest wall. She must sound like an idiot! The only people she was ever really around were her family, both immediate and extended, and her sensei. Other then some of the more prominent figures in Konoha, such as the Hokage and Hyuuga Hiashi, she didn't really know anyone. Her parents had every reason to be overprotective, but it still has its repercussions.
Clearly not guessing as to what was going on in the girl's head, the young man continued to grin. This was too perfect for him. Usually if someone didn't know who he was, they would try to hurt him at all. Perfect.
"I'm just a shinobi in training. Who are you?" Excellently executed. Give just enough that she should be satisfied, but not enough to know who he is personally. The young man's grin grew wider he shut his eyes, basking in the ego boost he had just given himself. Because of his now shut eyes, he had no idea that the girl's eyes grew wide. We, of course, did see it. Or at the very least, I saw it and told you. No sense in being picky about it.
"A shinobi? Really?" Her voice had grown several levels in both volume and energy. It was not the same subdued and embarrassed voice that was coming from her mouth a moment ago. No, this was laced with energy and excitement. To see a ninja her age was a spectacular event. She was the only child in her family, so seeing a ninja under twenty was a rare occurrence for her, and even then she rarely spoke with them.
The young man is clearly startled. Apparently he had said just the wrong thing. The idea was to get her to think little of him and hopefully overlook him. The spotlight was nice, but when it was on a one-on-one level, it just felt weird. And now that this girl knew he was a shinobi, she was looking at him as if he was Ayame when she was bringing out a triple order of beef ramen with a log of naruto on the side. That couldn't be good.
"Ano, yeah. I'm a student at Academy. And you are?" Just find out her name. If you can get the conversation to turn from yourself to herself, you might be safe. His logic is sound, but it matters little when the prescribed events don't take place. The girl ignored the second request for her identity as she moved closer to the future shinobi, hope and wonder flashing in her eyes.
"What's it like? How hard are the classes? What kind of things do you do? How many students are there? Are the teachers really strict? What kind of jutsus do they teach you?" An avalanche of questions poured from her mouth, and with each one she moves a little closer without truly realizing it. The young man is leaning back a little apprehensively, obviously not overjoyed with the proximity that the girl was choosing to take. The last time a girl his age was this close to him, her father beat him within an inch of his life. As he moved, the girl's questions came in one ear and out the other, not registering in the slightest. For now, He just needed his space.
"Right, I'll answer whatever you want, but can you just back up please?" At this point, if we move over to the side, we can see that the young man is leaning so far back that he risks falling and that the girl is almost matching his lean only a foot away, practically threatening to fall on top of him. As his words reach her ears, however, she seemed to remember where she was. The look of amazement leaves her eyes and the blush that was in jeopardy of striding onto her face earlier makes a clean break. Her face is painted red as she all but leaps back, stammering an apology at the speed of light. A comparison has been created, courtesy of ranma hibiki. "That is the speed of light, not to be confused with the speed of sound, which is slower, or the speed of "one who has committed a grievous error and has been found out so is now pleading for their life!!!" which is much faster then the speed of light." Thank you ranma hibiki.
"Oh Kami, I'm so sorry. I don't know what came over me, because I really don't act like that usually, but when you said that you were a shinobi I got all excited and I just had all these questions that I wanted to ask and I thought you could answer and I kind of forgot that we don't know each other and"
"Okay, I get it. Slow down and breathe." Now, the young man in front of us was trained to know what to do in all sorts of situations. He knew that if he was being chased, always keep in mind that you can't run forever and try to find a place to hide. He knew to flail his leg in the event that someone is seated on his back. He knew which end of a kunai to throw at an opponent and how to hold a shuriken without cutting himself. He did not, however, know how to treat a girl with mid range hysterics. Again, a comparison created by ranma hibiki. "Not mild hysterics like "uh-oh! My older sibling just found me in their room going thru their stuff" or major hysterics like "OMFG!!! I accidentally let the dog loose who then chased after a cat who ran into a high explosive's factory that has a bunch of hidden missile's with enough force to blow up half the continent and the timer just started so now I only have 10 seconds to live!!!!"
"Okay… Let's try this one at a time. Ask one question and then I'll try to answer it. Then I'll ask a question and you try to answer it. Sound good?" We can see that the girl has stopped quaking at this point, as the young man has a hand on each of her shoulders. She is still looking at a fixed spot on the floor, as if she is ashamed to look the stranger in the face after that last display. Still, she was able to nod, if just slightly. The young man sighs with relief.
The world is in slow motion for us, or at least that is the way it seems. The young man moves ever so slowly, removing his hands from the girl's shoulders and taking a few tasteful steps back. At a similarly sluggish pace, the girl raises her head and reveals a small smile, if a bit hesitant and self deprecating. Even the falling sound of rain seems scattered and deliberate.
The world snaps back to normal speed with an alarming snap. The plunking sound of falling raindrops resumes it continuous melody and the cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning occur at equally random moments. Both of the adolescents in our presence know that now is the time to speak, but neither have the desire to do so themselves. Finally, the quite proves too much for the young girl. She asks her first question.
"When you said that you were a shinobi in-training, what exactly did you mean?" The young girl mentally patted herself on the back for the question she came up with. It was neither to inquisitive into this stranger's personal life, nor was it so cliché that it made her seem dense. There was the added plus that she wanted to hear about how other apprentice ninjas preformed. This perfect stranger was a window into the world she couldn't truly know and she'd be damned if she let it slip away from her by sounding foolish.
"What do I mean? Well, I'm a shinobi in-training. I go to the Academy, like you said, with a bunch of other people. There aren't many sensei's there, but they do what they can, I guess. Let's see… They teach those cool ninja techniques, like henge and stuff. They teach us that hand-to-hand combat stuff, too. And some of that weird mind-bendy stuff. Sometimes they do other things, like untying ropes and such. Oh, and the food stinks, too." It was at this point that the girl learned something very important about this newcomer: he was an idiot. Calling genjutsu "weird mind-bendy stuff," just who the hell did he think he was?
"You're not exactly at the top of your class, are you?" The young man gulped. Called out by a complete stranger, there was only so much farther that he could fall. We can see him visibly pushing such negative thoughts to the back of his mind. In their place was a wide grin, almost stupidly large.
"Was it really that obvious?"
"Yeah, it kind of was." The young man's head falls as the words leave the girl's mouth. Ah crap. Oh well, no sense in trying to hide it. Reestablishing his resolve, the young man straightens up and begins to defend himself. I suggest that you place a bag of popcorn in the microwave; this is going to be an interesting show.
"Yeah, you called it. I'm not exactly what you would call 'smart' but that's all relative. Give me a written test and I'll collapse, but give me a brain teaser and I'll solve it in nothing flat!" Confidence is radiating off the young man. He clearly believes the crap that is spewing from his mouth. From the skeptical smirk sported on the girl's face, we can assume that she sees the young man's crap for what it is: crap.
"Any brain teaser, huh?"
"You have a chicken, a fox, and a bag of birdseed on one side of a river. You need to get everything to the other side, but you boat will only hold yourself and one other. If you leave the chicken with the birdseed, the chicken will eat it. If you leave the fox with the chicken, the fox will eat it. How do you get everything across the river in tact?" If you want the answer, PM either me or, guess who, ranma hibiki. I know the answer, and apparently so does he. I'm assuming ranma hibiki is a guy, but don't hold me to that.
"Ano… It's my turn to ask a question, isn't it?"
"What, the brain teaser master can't solve such a simple problem?"
"No, I can. I just want to ask my question already." Do I really need to explain the crap coming from this young man? To be on the safe side, he is desperately trying to change the subject. His skills at misdirection have much to be desired. In other words, he is failing miserably, and the girl knows it. With a satirical smile, the girl signals for the young man to ask his question.
It is at this moment that the young man realized something: he had no idea what to ask this girl at all! Just moments ago his head had been swimming with questions; who she was, where she was from, why she wanted to know about the academy. That all went out the window as his intellect was brought into question. And why would you need to bring a fox along with a chicken? What was the point?
In a battle of wits, our hero is a dead man.
"Hello? Are you going to ask your question?" The now disillusioned girl was becoming impatient and had no problems showing it. Of course, the only ninja her age that she had ever met just had to be a complete and utter moron. Maybe being home schooled wasn't such a bad thing. Hopefully stupid wasn't contagious…
"Right. My question thingy. Right. So, um… Is there a place here that has dry clothes? Wearing a wet rag and soaked pants is getting kind of old." The girl's eyes widened. It had just clicked that she was soaking wet, too. Add that to the fact that she was wearing thin shirts…
As inconspicuously as she could, the girl looks down and sees, to her satisfaction, that her three shirts are able to protect her from a rather awkward situation. Sure, they showed her figure a little better than she felt they should, but the most important areas were well hidden. She looks back at the boys face to check for the tell-tale red that usually came to a pervert's face, or so her mother had told her. A sigh of relief escaped from her chest as the young man showed no signs of receiving "a free show." Still, she was more than a little self-conscious about being soaked now, not to mention very uncomfortable. Time to play the good hostess.
"Sorry I didn't think of it sooner. Sensei keeps a few sets of workout and recreational clothing in the back. There is probably something that you can fit into. Just follow me." Having spoken, the girl started to move to the back of the dojo at a brisk pace, the young man hot on her heels. We don't need to worry about loosing sight of them, for even if we do, we can simply follow the trail of water they are leaving behind.
However, we will stay with our merry little duo, mainly to receive some entertainment at their expense. For example, the boy's face is slightly flushed with the blush that the girl was trying to hide earlier. Why? What honest to Kami male can walk behind a young girl whose skirt is stuck to her rear and not feel at least a little perverted? Particularly when said female is dripping with water. That is, assuming, that the female in question is legal, or that you are both illegal but still around the same age. Needless to say, this pair falls into the second slot.
"This is the closet. Grab something that you think will fit. We have some rice paper walls over in the corners that we can change behind." Having spoken, the still saturated girl reaches in and grabs some garment as well as a towel and goes behind the rice walls to change. No, we will not be following her, you sick, pedophilic perverts. Or Orochimaru cultist. (If you don't know, don't ask.) Instead, we are to watch as the young man tries to find something to wear that won't make him look like a cross-dresser. Half of the closet was filled with pink robes for crying out loud! Eventually settling on a rather worn gi that was hiding in the back of the closet, Naruto went to his own corner and began to change.
No, we aren't going to look. Do those things on your own time.
Wet clothes were thrown onto walls. Damp towels were soon to follow. Tightening the belt on his borrowed gi, the young man steps out of his sheltered corner. Across the room, the young girl does the same, tightening her own belt before tying her hair back up.
"Are you okay? I mean, you look kind of pale. Did you catch a cold?" The girl looked towards the questioning boy before sighing to herself. How was he supposed to know? Resigning herself, the girl decided to tell him. She moved over towards her spot on the ground, the spot that she always stretched each day she had lessons. As she lowers her self to her knees, she motions for the young man to come join her. He makes his way over to the girl, not quite sure where to sit. Should he sit on her left, her right, or across from her? She offers no aid in the matter, so the young man prays he is doing the right thing and gently seats himself on the girls left, facing the same way and looking out the door, watching the rain fall with its gentle pitter patter.
"I'm not sick. Well, I guess maybe I am. I was born with a weak body. That's why I'm always so pale. It's my body. It's my damn body!" The girl was rolling her hands into fist, grabbing bundles of her robe. Her voice rose steadily, turning into a near shriek come the end. If we move closer, we can she that she is shaking, eyes shut tight, fists clenched. The young man hesitantly moved forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. She filched away from his touch, but seemed to settle down a little.
"Hey, you okay?" The blond boy asked softly. There was a small, uncertain smile on his lips, as if he wasn't exactly sure of what to do. The smile was mirrored on the girls face and equally as hesitant.
"I'm sorry. It's just that every time I think of how weak I am, I just so upset." She sighed to herself again. There was no sense in tell a half-truth. Heart spilling time.
"My dream is to become a strong kunoichi. I'm the only heir to my clan, so I don't want to disappoint them. I'm really good at some things, but because my body is so weak, I couldn't get into the Academy. My father had to go to the Hokage to ask for a special tutor for me. Ever since then, I've been working with my sensei, trying to get stronger. If I work hard enough, I'll be able to do anything. That's what my parents keep telling me. I want to believe them, I really do, but sometimes it just seems so hard. Sometimes I can't help but think that no matter how hard I try, I just won't be able to accomplish my dream." She was stopped from her depressing monolog as she was hit in the back of the head. She turned to the offender, glaring daggers.
"What the hell?" she demanded, not bothering to restrain herself.
"Baka," the young man answered, not bothering to even turn and look at her. This, of course, only served to make her angrier.
"What the hell did you call me?" She was no longer asking, she was demanding. Here she was, pouring out her soul, and he had the nerve to call her a moron!
"I called you a baka because you are one. Only a baka would give up on their dream so easily." This silenced the girl. Quietly, she pulled her legs in and began to hug them. Where was this going?
"If your dream is to become a good ninja, go do it! If you think that you're going to fail, you'll do just that. If it's your dream, then it's not a possibility; it's going to happen. Only a baka expects to fail with her dream." The young man spoke with the voice of sages. The girl stared at the boy who was attack her self-doubt without a second reservation. Was this boy the same idiot that was here only a moment ago?
"Do you work for your dream?" The girl was snapped away from her musings.
"Do you work for your dreams?" Did she? Did she truly work for her dreams? If we could get inside her mind, we might see the countless memories of her fighting her sensei, jumping, flipping, striking, and pushing herself to her limit and beyond. We could see her spending countless hours with shuriken in hand, aiming at the central red of a bulls-eye. We might even see her sitting in front of her easel, remaking the landscape with great care and a painter's spade.
"Do you as hard as you can, and then some?"
"Yes, I do." The young man smiled brightly.
"Then you'll achieve your dream. If you work for something instead of giving up or waiting for something to happen for you, you'll achieve your dream for sure!" The confidence, the self-assurance, the very self-belief that this boy radiated was nothing short of amazing. This wasn't like her parents or sensei, even though they were saying the exact same thing. When they said it, it seemed more like a formality than anything else. It was just something they said because they felt like they should. This boy though, this boy truly believed what he was saying. It reminded her of the two she had seen earlier, the ones with bowl cuts. They believed they could make the boy there great. This boy believed she could become great. It was a wonderful feeling, knowing that someone truly expected you to succeed.
If we look the girl in the face, we might see the faintest hint of a blush forming.
"Thank you. I really mean that." The girl sheepishly extends her gratitude and the young man is all too quick to accept it. He placed one of his hands on the back of his head and began to scratch it absentmindedly as smiled warmly again.
"Don't mention it." It is at this point in time that we see something beautiful. A single ray of sunlight has broken though the clouds and falls right in the entrance of the dojo. Both present are struck quite with awe as the single beam is joined by another, and then another. Soon, a large beacon of light was shining through the dark, clouded sky and illuminated the whole world for the two young ones. Silently, the young man stood up. His fair hair was shining in the sun light as he turned to the girl.
"Do you mind if I borrow this gi for a bit? I'll bring it by sometime next week if that's okay."
"Huh? Oh… ano… okay, sure…" The girl wasn't exactly thinking completely clearly. The words of this complete stranger were still ringing in the forefront of her mind, repelling anything else that tried to make its way in. As the young man was walking out the door, a thought occurred to the girl. She jumped up and called out to the departing stranger.
"Wait! I never got your name." The blond boy turned his head back, a slightly depressing smile on his lips.
"People don't tend to like me once they know my real name, so please, just call me Hyakunan." Having spoken, the young man turned and ran, the only signs of his presence being the footprints he left behind, the puddles he left in the room, and the thoughts he had left hanging in the girl's mind.
"Try as hard as I can and then some. 'Trouble,' huh. Well then, 'Hyakunan,' I guess I'll see you in a week." The young girl remained standing there, thoughts still weighing heavily on her. We shall leave her to her peace. And thus, good-bye, until another day.