title: to the death

summery: Twenty-four rules to being a ninja and a teammate, because they're practically one and the same anyway.

pairing: Team love

note: And why are there 24 rules as apposed to, I dunno, a normal number like twenty? Because I felt like it. Oh, and I have no clue where the prompts came from – can't remember, sorry. 8D

word count: 1435

date: 8.13.08

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to the death

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1. 2 a.m.

If your teammate shows up at your home at two in the morning, you slam the door in their face. This is because by acting so foolishly, they are showing they don't care for your rest, which is the same as not caring about your performance, which is saying they don't give a damn if you screw up the upcoming mission. So, as a good ninja, you have every right to send them crawling away with a broken nose.

This rule does not apply if said teammate is bleeding, broken, or otherwise injured.

Then, you wake wide up and get ready to bash some heads in.

2. metaphor

"I hate you" is what you say when someone almost gets you killed. You spit it over the blood gushing from your mouth and ignore the cracking and shifting of your own bones that every movement causes.

You are only allowed to say it to the one you risked your life for. They'll understand.

3. lost scene

You will not have lazy moments of complete carefree bliss. No matter what, there will be darkness lurking and an invisible pressure that weighs on every conversation. You will not be allowed to be children and everyday best friends.

But you will fight together, you will bleed together, you will learn together, and you will live together.

Someday, you will have someone to die at your side.

No one can ask for more than that.

4. passions run

You are allowed to become romantically involved with your teammate. It happens quite often, in fact, what with how your lives tangle and merge and practically are one. Even if you deny it, you'll love your cell and sometimes the affection can shift.

All you have to do is remember what happened last time someone hurt them and not count it against your other teammates should you ever stray from anything less than perfect.

5. rise

The best thing any teammate can ever do for you is need you.

Because when they look at you with desperation and you feel their helplessness and their need, you will forget that you can't do anything. There is a point at which physical strength doesn't matter and all that counts is pulling yourself up off the ground and giving it one more go.

Somehow, this point can be reached when a life that's not your own but might as well be hangs in the balance.

6. connection

When you are old and decrepit and can't even stand on the legs that could once pump you across entire countries, you will still need your teammates. They might not be there, and there might be the crush of that missing on your soul, because you will need them.

Because without them, there will be no one to yell and kick and punch and try to kill without even a tad of guilt.

(And then laugh at when they try to kill you back.)

7. lull and storm

When a teammate becomes a tentmate and a tentmate is a snorer, you are allowed to do whatever it takes to shut them up. You can tease them, of course, and you can drug them and you can try to tape their mouth shut. Anything goes and the more allies you have the better.

But the night the snoring stops, abruptly and completely, you sure as hell better be ready to find out why.

8. animal

You will see them at their worst. In front of your eyes they will morph from man to monster and slaughter with a rage that will frighten even you, the one that is just as bad. And it will change how you see them forever, but you will love them all the more for it.

Because they'll need you to tell them it's ok later, as they look at the crimson stains on their hands and forget to breathe.

9. children

You have to name at least one of your children after at least one of your teammates.

If kids aren't your thing, you are required to get pet.

10. we all float on

(hope)

When you are about to die and a teammate looks you in the eyes and you see the blatant fear, you damn well better smile back and mean it.

Then, no matter what, you fight. They don't deserve to watch you go down without a struggle.

11. chess

In this game you are the pawn and every single one of them is the king.

Protect them at all costs.

12. duty

Your duty is to the one that pays you.

But just try remembering that when the pulse of a bloody hand squeezing your own gives a final, resounding thud and eyes that will follow you forever freeze.

13. rip

You know you are forever bound when you feel the jolt and know before any sense can tell you that they aren't ok.

(You'll know you love them when the gash never heals.)

14. missing time

You are allowed to leave your team.

This is the rule that everyone knows but no one tells. Because no matter what they say, no one wants to lose a bestfirendteammatepartofthemselves.

But you can leave. You can leave and change and be anything you want to be.

All that is required is that, someday, willing or not, you come back and take the swings they will inevitably throw.

15. itch

Some days will be slow and not-quite exciting, and you will be forced to the most menial of tasks.

And when the old woman asks for a back scratch and points to her wrinkled flesh, "not it" is the safest way out. If that doesn't work, you better hope your punch is the strongest and your run the quickest.

16. explode

A ninja always, always keeps themselves under control.

This is null and void when a teammate needs you.

17. fight/flight

When the crazy old man comes running down the street, shouting about how 'you crazy kids! You ruined my !" run.

Before you do, trip your teammates and shove them into the dirt. It will buy you precious few seconds needed to save you hide. If you can, knock them out and leave them perfect, defenseless dummies ready to take a knocking.

And when the enemy is closing in, knifes and chakra flashing, clench your fists and grit you teeth and give them the honor of running away – this time.

(But they'll so totally owe you.)

18. locks

Lock your heart and throw away the key.

They are ninja and they are trained and they know you better than anyone else.

They'll find their way in.

19. comedy of errors

Your first mission will go wrong. Someone will get lost and someone will almost die and you'll probably want to quit that very first hour.

Wait it out: You'll laugh so hard it hurts in a few months.

I can't – ha! – I can't be-believe you did that!

20. tragedy

You will know loss the moment you turn around don't see them standing there, waiting and fighting and watching your back.

You will know strength – true, pure strength that shatters skulls and stops hearts – as you fight for their right to get back up.

21. the beginning is the end is the beginning

They will assign you to your group and you will hate the other kids.

They will be weird and bizarre and why the Hell are you wearing that?

Give it a year.

You'll all be a walking freak show. That matches. Shame? No such thing.

22. seize the day

There won't always be missions to go on and people to kill.

So when you have a break, don't pretend they don't exist; that their only purpose in life is to fight and hunt and slaughter. You might not feel like it, but they are human and so are you so remember them when you're heading over to the ramen bar and think you might want some company to – at very least – make you laugh at their idiocy.

Maybe next time they won't be around to ask.

23. stories

Tell stories about your team.

Tell the others what they're missing; all that you guys have ever accomplished. Lie and embellish if you must, change the facts and skew the details until you cease to be children and sound like gods.

And when those poor souls dare question you, you show them you're not all talk.

24. hold

And don't let go of them – never let go – because they're all you've got.

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note: Prompts are my new favorite thing. They make writing ridiculously easy. And line breaks are my new most hated thing. Why won't it work?