AN I took out some of the Japanese from chapter one like Rel suggested. I plan on only using the suffixes and words like ba-san and nee-san because unlike English you can use these to address people you don't know the name of. Like in the wave country arc of Naruto he calls Haku nee-san at first because he doesn't know his name( and apparently his gender).
Also in English it is considered rude to walk up to some one and call them Granma, whereas in Japanese O-baa-san is acceptable because the 'o' is an honoriffic and the san shows a certain level of respect and can be used when you don't know the persons name. 'Baa-chan' like Naruto usually calls Tsunade is more disrespectful because it lacks the honoriffic and denotes to much familiarity. I think baa-chan jii-chan is only supposed to be used by children to their own grandparents, but I could be wrong.
Chapter Two Tears, Legends, and Secrets
"Hey Shino." She said with a smile the did not quite reach her eyes.
Then it clicked. Someone who could trust him personally with clan secrets, someone who had strong ties to weapons, that someone was-
"Yeah, I look a mess don't I?" She tried to laugh it off unsuccessfully.
Indeed she did. Her face was covered with patches of soot, her bangs were plastered to her forehead with sweat, and her normal panda buns were replaced with sadly fraying braided pigtails that reached her waist. Most disconcerting of all though were the dark rings under her eyes.
"Sorry for the wait." She said gesturing to the office chairs. "And the mess. I wasn't expecting anyone so soon after speaking to Tsunade-sama."
He sat and watched as she did the same, beginning to rummage through the draws of the old office desk.
"I feel like an idiot." She started to ramble, while searching. "I should of thought about you from the beginning but… a lot's happened. Ughh… this place is so disorganized."
"Then I am agreeable for this mission?" He asked, subconsciously worried she might still want to weigh her other options. The scroll from Tsunade-sama was still tucked away in his pocket and felt heavier with the thought.
"Totally." Tenten said with confidence, shooting him a small smile. "Ah shoot give me a sec…" She suddenly ducked down and started searching through the bottom drawer.
Shino wanted to shake his head at the mess around him. Tenten was well known for being a remarkably organized person. Her favorite training exercise relied upon her excessively organized summoning scrolls. In training she would have her opponent give her the name of a weapon, any weapon. Before her opponent could draw their next breath she would have already summoned and hurled the named weapon with deadly accuracy.
The room he was in was obviously anything but organized. The desk was littered with scrolls and different sheets of paper. Some had even been stabbed with a Kunai to keep them in place. The In and Out boxes reminded him of their Kage's, with the In pile threatening to topple on to the floor at any moment.
Now that he really looked there was very little standing room besides the space by the two doors that led to the front and back areas of the store. Boxes stacked on boxes, filled with more paper of various types, littered the floor and the few filing cabinets against the wall were overflowing with more.
"I take it you are the new management Hiro-san mentioned earlier?"
"Huh? Oh, yes. Did he give you the whole 'Closed due to a change of management' thing?" She mimicked the boys tone perfectly. "I swear he's trying to be the big man of the house and it is so not working." She gave him another sad smile before reaching down to pull out a handful of haphazardly folded maps to spread across the desk.
Shino could see the half shed tears waiting to fall as she tried to flatten out the wrinkled maps for the twelfth time. The deadly weapon specialist was trying to stall to gain her composure. Her fidgeting made her look even more pitiable when combined with her current state of appearance.
As she tried to hide her sniffles he was suddenly reminded of Hinata. While Kiba, their other teammate, was the shoulder for her to cry on Shino was the one who would listen to what ever she needed to say without fear of judgment.
Carefully he leaned across the desk and stilled her hands with his own, praying to God that she would need the latter rather then the former right now.
"Tenten?", he said after she had, with her chin down, continued to stare at their joined hands for a solid minute.
"I haven't really told anyone from our group yet. Not even my teammates… I've kind of been buried in here since…" Finally her eyes met his own, silent tears leaving tracks down her soot stained face, and braced herself with a deep breath before continuing.
"Kou-Kouteshi jii-san, the man who raised me… He d-died two weeks ago…", she choked out between sniffles.
"I am truly sorry Tenten.", he said, truly not knowing what to say. "You have my deepest condolences."
She nodded her thanks and fresh tears began to fall.
For once Shino felt he might be out of his league. He had hoped that it was only the stress and responsibility of running this establishment weighing down her soul. He even went so far as to prepare himself to offer advice and perhaps even his services to help with this place once the mission was complete. Now he felt he should have known that nothing short of losing someone she considered a family member would bring this bright and strong young woman to tears.
"He was almost as old as Tsunade-sama." She took another deep breath, squeezing his hands. "He knew it was coming… and passed in his sleep. He'd been telling me for years 'If I ever croak, this drawer labeled Tenten has every thing you need to bury me and keep this place running.'*"
She gave her saddest smile yet and he honestly found himself preferring the easy grins he'd seen her use in training. Even the more manic ones, that constantly reminded them all too much of Anko, would be better than the vision before him.
"Unfortunately," she continued, "that drawer seemed to be the only thing he did label."
Tenten made a sound that could have been a small laugh or a sob, he couldn't tell. Sniffling a bit she pulled back, blinked her eyes rapidly and wiped her face with a dirty shirt sleeve. It didn't help much, he noted sadly, the tear tracks were only replaced with more soot.
"Well that's enough of that." She went on with another deep breath. Her puffy eyes aside she began to adopt a more professional manner. "This is more important right now. What exactly has Tsunade-sama told you so far?"
"Only that it would be a reconnaissance mission that may require additional back up. She also sent with me a list of Shinobi for you to choose from so that if back up is needed she can have them on stand-by."
After Shino handed her the scroll she went to place it in the precariously tiliting In box before sighing and chosing instead to use it to hold down a corner of the map.
"Thanks. I'll go over that once we're done here."
"I had also assumed, since this is a mission even the Hokage must not know the specifics of, that this is a clan mission."
"Right, but you're wondering what clan little orphan Tenten could possibly be a part of." A bit of pride laced her words. "Tell me, what do you know about the clan with no name?"
Shino's mind was brought back to one of his academy history lessons. Another child had brought it up and the instructor had dismissed it as an old wives tale. Shino almost had as well until his father had asked him about his day at school. Now he found himself repeating what his father had once told him as a boy.
"The Clan With No Name came to light during The Time of the Bronze Kunai." he started, as if reading straight from a text, "The time began by the depletion of Iron goods near the middle of the First Great Shinobi War. Fire country has always been predominately rich in Copper, Tin, and other metals, but Iron deposits are still scarce if not non-existent. Our allies were repeatedly prevented from delivering us any of the raw Iron we needed to make weapons. As a result we began scavaging battle grounds for scattered kunai and shuriken, as well as fashioning lower quality Bronze weapons as the materials were more readily available.
"In the Second Great Shinobi War our enemies attempted to use the same tactics as they had in the previous war. Knowing or lack of Iron resources they focused on our supply routes from the beginning. The war had lasted twice as long as the first, but the countries supply of Iron never ran out.
"Some say we had simply stocked up during the time of peace but all the Iron storage areas combined could never contain the entire amount that was used during the war. Another popular belief started from a Earth country rumor that said a merchant clan fled and offered their services to the Daiymo of Fire in return for refuge. The clan was believe to posses an ability to locate allusive metal deposits as easily as a Hyuuga could spot an enemy from several miles away.
"Of course both Daiymo's had denied the rumor and the clans name was never learned."
Tenten almost had a true grin when he finished and Shino was glad to see it.
"The mine that the young girl mentioned, is an Iron mine in Fire country." He stated.
"Yep.", she confirmed still smiling, probably happy to share the secret with someone new.
"The mission is to investigate a potential breach in the mines security."
"Yep.", she replied again but with her smile and tone weighed down by the serious of the situation. "O-baa-san, Kouteshi's wife Hitoshii, went down there in his place this month. We sent her a hawk to inform her of the funeral arrangements but she didn't make it back in time. We've had no word from the mining village and now she's a week late from her scheduled due date. So not only am I worried about her but the mine as well since we've had no reply.
"I've checked the reports for the area and the town that our mining village picks their mail up from has been burnt to the ground. It could be a coincidence, but I'd rather not risk going with out being prepared.
"Now this line," She said pointing it out on the map with recovered professionalism, "shows the route we always take to prevent being followed. It normally takes a week for civilian travel and two days for shinobi. We want to plan for three days on the way there to allow for weather and four on the way back incase I haven't found her yet and I'll need to stop in the towns and ask if anyone has seen her lately."
"Is there a possibility she may simply be lost?"
"It's doubtful since this isn't her first time out there, but then again she's no spring chicken either, so maybe. The route is also on an area that usually has a lot of Anbu passing through, though and no one has found her yet.
"What I want to do is head up to our mining village first," she said tracing her finger along the marked path and tapping a spot on the northern borders mountains. "From a distance we can cautiously observe for anything that might point to it being compromised. If its not we can go in and ask around and if it is then one of these two villages is where we can call and wait for back up."
The two towns she had pointed to both flanked a third with a red x marked through it. "I take it this is where your village used to pick up its mail?" He asked pointing it out on the map.
"Yeah." She said starting to get a little more down and proping her chin up on the desk. "The fire was pretty bad with a lot of people hurt. Ino and Sakura lead medical teams to each of these towns to help with the survivors. If I don't find her before turning back I'll have to check in and see if she's among the burn victims…"
"Or the dead…" he finished her thought sadly, in the safety of his own mind.
Somewhat impulsively he took her free hand into his own. "We will find her Tenten. No friend should let another go through this alone."
"Thanks Shino," she smiled and it was the best one he'd seen from her today. "That really means a lot to me."
Shino began immediately packing his winter gear when he arrived home that night. His normal traveling pack hung from a bed post at the foot of his bed, always prepacked and ready for a last minute mission. He searched through his closet pulling out warmer clothes and his heavy yellow traveling cloak and adding them to the growing pile on his bed.
Now, it is true that simple changes in weather would have no great effect on him, or any Aburame, but the much harsher winter conditions in the mountains could still be lethal without proper protection. He wouldn't need it here in Konoha yet but in the northern mountains where the mine was located they'd be essential.
Searching the bottom of his closet for his snow boots, he tried to push down the last bit of worry Tenten had all but stamped out earlier. After looking over the map again with her earlier the mine's close proximity to the border of Mountain Country had him suggesting a full team of four. She had shot down his suggestion by repeatedly assuring him that the mountains making up the border are impassible for miles around the village.
Unable to find his boots at the bottom of the closet he looked to the top shelf. Scanning over the contents of it, he was rewarded with the sight of black shoelaces hanging out of the box that contained all the unused weapons he had gotten as gifts over the years.
Shino took the boots down, and in doing so, knocked the handle of a kunai into view. The number etched into the butt of the handle caught his attention. '1010' he thought, 'It's not a batch number as I had thought, but a makers mark. Tenten.'
He stood still, boots still in his arms, as images float into his mind. Tenten's sad smile and tears streaking through the soot smudges she had gained while crafting weapons similar to the ones in his closet. This image overlapped the one he usually kept of her in his mind. He tried to summon a happier and less recent image of the normally strong and cheerful Kunoichi.
He remembered watching her train with her team. Perspiration glistened on her sun tanned skin as she twirled in the air; fire and mischief in her eyes as the wind blew her bangs away from her hiteate; a wicked smile gracing her lips in the bright sunlight of the afternoon. Her delicately shaped hands, Callused through hard work, deftly caught her summoned blades as they were released from her scrolls and in graceful and fluid movements hurled them effortlessly at her targets with deadly accuracy.
Still staring at the kunai Tenten had crafted he reviewed many other memories of her in a new light. He slowly came to appreciate the differences and similarities between themselves. They were both somewhat sideline players, both the last to come to mind unless their specific talents were needed. Yet compared to himself, she was always cheerful and friendly in all her social interactions. She had none of the social awkwardness that he was burdened with, no constant struggle to fit in with her peers.
He became lost in his thoughts as they uncharacteristically traveled to what made her a woman. Thinking of her easy smile, his attention drifted to her lips. Thoughts of her dexterity in training drifted to her womanly build. Visions of her in the midst of arduous training and deadly battle drew his mental gaze to her shapely limbs and strong core leading further to the softer regions of her body.
His eyes refocused to the top shelf of his closet after being pulled back to reality. He kept his chin down in embarrassment and effectively hide his flushed cheeks in his overly large collar.
"Father." He nodded to his father standing in the doorway to his room. Even though his father's own high collar shielded his face from view, Shino was left with the impression that the man was smirking at him.
"Going somewhere that cold, son?" Shibi's voice held a note of mirth more common to the older Aburame's in the clan. The ones who survived the trials of growing up as one and found humor in their progeny's effort to do the same. Nevertheless Shino's suspicions of being found amusing had been confirmed.
Shibi knew with absolute certainty that his son had been lost in thought over a girl. His first clue wasn't even that he was staring off into a closet for Kami knows how long. Nor was it the fact that he had walked up early enough to watch one the boots slip from his son's hands without noticing. But the reason he had come up here in the first place was the slight buzzing that had caught his attention. The noise was a lot more audible then was norm for a kikaichu hive but in a slightly different pitch. A pitch they gave off when ever a their Aburame host was experiencing an... amorous emotion.
"Yes." Shino responded quickly, hoping to avoid another rendition of the birds and the bees, or the bees and the butterflys as the Aburame's called it. "The woman who raised Tenten-san has gone missing while traveling. There is a chance she might have been in the village that burnt down in the northern mountains and we are leaving tomorrow to search for her. Why me? All of her genin team are away on missions as well as most of our peers. It seems my mission is just as much to offer moral support as it is to search."
He hoped his explanation did not seem to scripted even though he stuck to the truth as much as possible. As his father sighed he knew he need not have worried.
"In that case son, I wish you the best of luck and pray you find her in good health." Shibi's tone was somber as he turned to walk away. "I'll leave you to prepare for your mission."
Shino picked up his dropped boot and began switching out the summer gear that was prepacked with the winter gear he had assembled. Internally he was grateful that his hive had calmed during the short talk with his father. The buzzing was once again at a level he knew only he could hear.
'I'll have to be more careful with my control," he thought. 'Especially while alone on this mission with Tenten."
He had just finished his mission preperations when the foul odor of something burning reached his nose. 'Kami help us and the clan,' his mind screamed as he raced down the hall and stairs, 'Father is trying to cook again.'
AN - Finaly done. I hope I did alright. That last bit took me forever. The local coffee shop I always go to had sortof a writers work shop thing sunday. It was only four people including me but everyone shared a poem, story or idea and received feed back and constructive critisism. It gave me the push I needed to finish this chapter and I'd like to think I walked away with some thing from it. I'm looking forward to it again next week and getting chapter three out of the way.
Chapter three is going to follow more of Tenten's thoughts and feelings. I don't see Shino as some one who self narrarates what is on his mind but I'm going to try it with Tenten. I like to think that I tried with Shino and it just didn't turn out that way because of his character but I could be wrong. It might just be something wrong with how I right. If I have just as much trouble with Tenten I will know it's me and I can try to fix it.
See you next time and don't forget to review!
*Small real life note- My father keeps a breifcase next to his desk with my name on it. It's got his VA information, Life Indurance info, House morgage info, and numbers and such to put him in theground and keep the house above our heads for atleast a year.
It seemed really sad at first when he handed me a copy of his will at age 15 but now at 23 I see what all those life insurance commercials are talking about. My dad is 63 and rides a Harley, He's just being realistic like he's always been.
Names Kouteshi - Steel; Hitoshii - Equal; Hiro - part of a hiroi meaning wide,spacious; Kairi - no definition, Kingdom Hearts Refrence; Kami - God