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 Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you

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Chikamatsu no Hina

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Sat 22 Mar - 5:56

"Occupational hazard. If he hadn't tried to kill us first, he need not have died." Hina made a sound of agreement as she put the scroll back in one of the many hip pouches she was wearing. But was it true? There were so many nuances to this whole story. It wasn't just black or white. There were many shades of grey. (About fifty, she'd guess.)

As Akira called out to Meran not to be proud Hina made a sound of disbelief. Meran and not proud? Now there was something that was unlikely to happen. During their goodbyes Hina was wondering whether she should ask Sasori if it was okay to tell her father that she had met him, if she promised not to tell where. But since he wanted the leg cast buried, she guessed the answer was a negative. So she decided not to ask.

When they breached the trees and stared into the open desert Hina felt relief at having the space around her again. But a split second after she felt an almost physical blow to her stomach as she was reminded of her nightmare. She froze up, but it went unnoticed because at the exact same moment Meran called out that he couldn't go on.

Hina turned around to face her cousin, thankful for the pause he was calling. But she was confused when he said he wanted to honour Hiten's memory. 'But, he's not dead.' But when he explained what he meant and why, she understood. She sat down on her knees in between the other two, closing their little circle.

Freshly shaken by the reminder of her nightmare and listening to Meran's words she felt her eyes tear up. When she saw Meran gave a tear she felt the first one of her own run down her cheek. When both of her friends had spoken she figured it was her turn.

"I don't know where you are now, but I hope that you in some way will be able to find some form of water and shade, at least in your mind." She didn't know what else to say. "We will do whatever we can to get you back. That I promise. Until then, I wish you the clearest winds possible." She as well had dug a small hole with her hand. The others had both filled the holes with precious and rare gifts. Meran had given a tear, symbolising his weakness. Akira had given her feelings, speaking open and honest. Hina pulled a kunai from one of the pouches and grabbed a lock of hair from one of her ponytails. Inwardly she hesitated, but outwardly her hand never wavered and she cut off a small lock of hair. It wasn't much, but she would still notice it later on, even if she would maybe be the only one. She gently placed the hair in the hole and covered it over.

She stood up. "Alright. Let's go home."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Sun 23 Mar - 9:59

[Timeskipz]

After some time walking, about half a day Sasori would join them again in a human-shaped wooden pupped, armored with light metal. It wasn't Hiruko, but it was a hell of a lot better than being exposed out in the open, according to Sasori's logic. He just hadn't find a human body well enough to create a puppet out. Hina would be able to see it wasn't an actual scorpion, but really well made.
'I'll be traveling with you for another day,' he simply stated, making it so they couldn't refuse. 'We're going the same way.' If they would ask questions Sasori would state that he is 'going after the blood brothers.' He didn't ask anything about Hiten at all, but made sure he left them again with enough food and helping Meran walk a bit where needed. When he left he simply said: 'Stay alive.' and to Hina and Meran: 'When you speak of me to your parents tell them I treated you right,' pointing them in the direction of Suna.

In the following days they would encounter a few challenges, but nothing as lethal as what happened in the cave. They had to find water and food in the dessert and avoid themselves from getting sunburned and find places to sleep. It all just took a bit longer than expected.

It would normally take three to four days to get back to Suna, but because of Meran's broken leg it would take a bit longer. Six whole days in fact. This due to the fact of Meran being currently crippled and them being worn out from the loss of Hiten and everything else that had happened in the cave. They would enter the town by sunset. As soon as people got the knowledge they arrived again their parents would be called and they would be taken to the Kazekage's office for something that seemed  interrogation, bombarding them with questions about Hiten and his disappearance. Some high people from Suna where there, Kazenkou and even Gaara and Kankuro. They after all where missing someone from their team. When they told a form of their story everyone in the room would be shocked and some people didn't seem to believe it at all, but they could go home after all.

After the interrogation they could go home and Meran would be taken to the hospital, where his parents would join him so the docters could get a good look at his leg, telling him the bone was - luckily enough - skillfully placed and Meran could go home.

Hina went home with Kankuro and her mother. Hina's mother would try to hide a tear running over her cheek, putting her arm over her daughters shoulder and pressing her a close to her as possible. They knew something was off with their daughter and Kankuro tried to solve it with immature jokes. Her mother almost snapped at him. 'Kankuro, leave the child alone. She's tired.' Afterwards she told girl she would make a warm bath when they got home.

Akira's parents were happy their girl was back. 'We were worried,' they almost snapped at her, but Akira would know her parents were proud. Her father would put his hand at her shoulder and smile a bit stiff. 'Glad you're back. Let's go home and tell us about your adventure.'

[feel free to make one more post and if it's for me you can start with your CP.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Mon 24 Mar - 1:14

At the end of a very long day, they were finally free to go home. Akira gave both Hina and Meran a tight hug before she left with her parents. She resisted a sigh when they told her they had been worried. "I know," she said, sounding weary. But her father continued saying he was glad she was back. "Let's go home and tell us about your adventure," he told her. Once more, she thought, but nodded at him. She'd rather disappear to her room and sleep, instead of spending time with her parents.

Before long they entered their house. Her father sat down on the sofa while Akira took a deep breath, taking in the smells of her home. Home at last. She took a seat on the sofa opposite the one her father sat on, making sure she didn't look like all she wanted was to plop down on her bed. Her father, a grave-faced dark haired man by the name of Sakurai Takeshi, bid her mother to fetch them tea. She returned shortly, placing a tea tray on the low table in between the two sofas before sitting down next to her husband. "Let's hear it then," she spoke with a sharp voice. Akira didn't think anything of it, her mom always sounded like that.

Akira filled her mug with tea and blew on it, waiting for it to cool down as she mulled over what she was going to say. Sitting here with her parents in front of her, it was an interrogation all over again. "Everything went well the first few hours," she started. "It was the end of the afternoon, so we decided to stock up before leaving for Suna. I soon found us shelter to spend the night and made a fire, while the rest found food and water. So all went well up until this point." She took a sip of her tea. And then I found a corpse, but I'm not gonna tell you that.
"So what went wrong?" Kimiko asked. "You were days late."
The cave we were taking shelter in, turned out to be a living legend's man cave, who also happened to have slaughtered the man I found as a corpse. She took another sip. "The blood brotherhood attacked. There were dozens of them."

Takeshi took a sharp intake of breath. "Bastards, attacking fresh genin." He scowled, shaking his head in disapproval.
"But you are unhurt," Kimiko noted, complacent. "Good, that's good." Akira nearly rolled her eyes. Yes she was unhurt, but no thanks to herself. Her parents seemed to be under another impression though.
"Yes, we raised you well," Takeshi added, nodding. Oh for the love of god, Akira thought in aggravation, sipping her tea some more. Please don't let this turn into a 'we are so awesome' party. But the gods weren't so kind. "I never held much trust in that quiet kid, the one who didn't make it back," her father went on, oblivious to Akira's mood turning darker. Then again, when did her parents ever tune into their daughter's mood and feelings? "I'm not surprised. The kid was too mellow and soft. He was bound to go down fast."

"His name is Hiten," Akira said venomously, not able to take anymore of this bullshit. "And he is no less than me. The only reason I sit here before you is because I got lucky." She rarely spoke out against her parents, so they had surprised looks on their faces. She took a breath and drank some more of her tea to calm her down.
Takeshi was the first to regain his voice. "I will forgive you your outburst, seeing that you're very tired."
Akira met his gaze unflinchingly. She was not going to let them talk shit about Hiten in her presence. "Thank you father," she recited stiffly. Fuck you father, she thought angrily. I don't need nor want your forgiveness. You don't have the first idea of what I've been through.

Her mother continued where they'd left off. "Dozens of them, you said. How did you make them leave?"
They were so clueless. Did they seriously think she and her friends drove them off by themselves? "We had an unlikely savior, a friend to the village." Could Sasori be called that? She supposed he could. He had even traveled with them for a day on the way back and provided them with more food, when he could have just left them alone. He told them to stay alive, and he wanted the Kazekage to know that he treated them right. He certainly wasn't their enemy, but 'friend' might be a bit too much. Still, it would suffice. "He killed them all," she continued. Well, maybe not all. But certainly a good lot of them.

"Who is this man?" Takeshi demanded to know. "We will want to give him our gratitude."
"That won't be possible," Akira replied. "I'm forbidden to talk about him." Her tea was pretty cool by now, so she downed the rest of its contents and put the mug down on the table. "Meran has an injured leg, so the way back was slow and tedious, that's why we were late." She stood and stretched, telling her parents there wasn't anything more to be said about what happened and asking if she could go to her room. Her parents obliged her and within a minute she was finally able to plop down on her bed, landing face first into her cushion.

She groaned with content and rolled on her back. After six nights without comforts, she had come to miss her bed. And she was alone at last. She couldn't believe her parents had the gall to speak badly of Hiten. They also spoke about him as if he were already gone. She didn't want to believe it. Of course, there were the facts to consider as well. The blood brotherhood was famous for collecting bloodlines, and Hiten's was a real gem when it came to that. He might already be dead.

Might, she reminded herself. Determined, she got off her bed and took a shower, washing off the dust of her journey. Her clothes were dumped in the laundry, but she took her headband back with her to her room. She put it on her nightstand and watched the lamplight gleam on the metal sporting Suna's sigil, an hourglass. She climbed back in her bed, curling up underneath the blankets, turning off the light. In her head she imagined the hourglass representing Hiten's life. Slowly the grains of sand trickled down, and she wondered when Hiten's time was up. We'll come for you, she promised silently, before she drifted off to sleep.

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Thu 27 Mar - 7:37

The long trek home had been gruesomely long. She was used to the sun beating down on her, and her desert scarf gave her enough protection against its rays, even though she was sure she would be slightly more tanned than usual when she'd get back. But ironically enough travelling at a slower speed was tiring, yet she didn't complain a single time. She felt exhausted, both mentally and physically. The openness of the desert was welcome as well, she didn't feel as suffocated anymore. But the vast emptiness of the sand around her and the silence in which they travelled caused her mind to wander along with her feet. She had a lot of time to think about the events that had happened back at the border to River Country. Hiten, all those deaths, the letter from one lover to another, the woman who would now be a single mother, the child who would grow up without ever knowing its father. All those items had passed through her mind multiple times and she had mulled them all over. And she had come to a conclusion.

If she kept going in this way she wouldn't survive.

If she couldn't handle death. If she stopped to think about someone's background and family every time someone died. If she thought about all the "what ifs" and "buts". If that would cause her to loose focus and hesitate only once, even for a split second. Then she would die. And perhaps her friends wouldn't survive either. They had already lost one fourth of their team. Twenty five percent. Logically she knew that it wasn't her fault and that she hadn't been able to do anything to prevent it from happening, but if she had been able to prevent it. If she'd had a chance to stop whoever it was that took Hiten from taking him. Would she have? Could she have? Would she have been able to kill someone? Her mulling over of thoughts told her that she would have to.

She would have to shape up. Grow up. Stop being such naive child. She would have to focus and leave her feelings at home. Out on a job she would have to stop seeing people. Enemies weren't people. They were targets. Or, would have to become, at least. She figured this wouldn't be something that would change overnight, but she would definitely work on it.

When the first familiar dunes around Sunagakure started appearing at the horizon she felt such immense relief that she would most of all have wanted to run there in one go. Unfortunately they had Meran to think about, he couldn't run. And as the thought 'Home.' passed through her mind she felt that she wouldn't be able to run either. Her legs felt like jelly filled with lead. As they entered the city through the South Entrance the sun was setting to their left, basking everything in its golden glow. Hina couldn't help but smile as she felt happiness wash over her. Home. Safe. But her smile was tired and had an underlying of pain. They were, after all, incomplete.

They were led to the Kazekage's office and people on the streets stopped to look at the three children walking through the streets. Looking as if they had been dragged through hell. Meran was leaning heavily on her and Akira, because they had to bury his leg cast and crutch in the sand somewhere outside Suna. Inside the office the Suna Council was lined up behind their desks, with the three friends standing in the middle of the room. Old men and women were asking critical questions. Where was Hiten? How did Meran break his leg? Why had they been gone for so long? Didn't they know that there were time limits to keep to? If they had been gone for much longer they would have been noted as dead or missing, and in the latter case hunted down. Did they not take this serious? (Those types of questions mostly came from Guuzou.) And where the he- eh, how did they get a hold of all those weapons? (That was her dad, who was staring incredulously at the three stuffed hip pouches hanging from his daughter.)

They tried to stick mainly to the truth, telling the council and the kazekage that they were ambushed by the blood brotherhood, but they added that they suddenly were knocked out and when they woke up, everyone and everything was gone, save for the pouches they had found lying about. Hiten had been gone as well, they had tried looking for him, but couldn't find him anywhere. At this point Hina, who had tried to stay professional started shaking slightly, and had to tighten her grip on Meran's shirt to reassure herself that he, at least, was still here. They left out all the parts about Sasori. She would tell her parents later on, and she was guessing Meran would tell Gaara. That way everyone who needed to know would know, and those who would be best without that information, would be without.

Finally, they were dismissed. Some elders stayed and talked with each other, some walked out straight away. Kankurou walked over to his daughter and pulled her up in a bear hug, lifting her off the floor. Hina clasped her arms around his neck and breathed in the scent of her father. Familiar and comforting. She looked up when she heard the familiar footsteps of her mother entering the room and Kankurou set her down. Chikamatsu no Kahoko's eyes were brimming with tears and she quickly buried her face in her daughter's neck as she pressed her close. She put her arm over her daughter's shoulder and they headed home.

Hina leaned against her mother and just let herself be led home, not paying any attention to the way.
"I know that I told you to 'break a leg' during your exam, but you didn't have to take it that literal, princess." Her father said, casting a sideways glance at his dead tired daughter. She didn't react in any way at all. He didn't know that it actually had been her who har broken Meran's leg. "And leaving Hiten in the desert like that. You know your mother and I both think you don't have to loose weight. You didn't have to go to such extremes." He nudged Hina's side. [/b]"Come on, Hina-hime, where's that beautiful smile of yours?"[/b] He tried his best to cheer her up, he really did. He just didn't realise that everything he said right now was making everything worse.

"Kankuro!" Kahoko snapped, showing where Hina got her temperament from, "Leave the child alone. She's tired." She drew Hina closer to her and thumbed away a stray tear running down her daughter's cheek. [/b]"When we get home I'll draw you a nice hot bath and you can soak for as long as you want."[/b]

Since the Chikamatsu wasn't a clan bound by blood they didn't have a compound where all the members lived, but the clan heir did live in a huge house. A house where her father had regular meetings about clan matters and where they had more than enough room to have receptions and other parties and meetings. There were also large availabilities for creating puppets, with a smithy and a wood-workshop and numerous other rooms. There were also two large dojo's, both under roof, meditation rooms, and way to many rooms to mention.

Kahoko got one of the maids to draw a hot bath in the large bathroom and led her daughter to her room, where she helped her daughter, who had almost entered an apathetic state of being due to fatigue, take off the hip pouches and her clothes. Two of the hip pouches dropped to the floor with heavy metallic clunks, and the third sounded softer. It was the one containing scrolls.

When Hina had stepped into the warm water, shivering, her mother pulled out her long hair from it's three pony tails and started washing it. Hina didn't like physical contact with people she didn't trust or know, but with people she loved it actually soothed her when they gave her a hug, or touched her hair. Her mother washed Hina's hair in silence and then helped her dry off. It was comforting to Hina to almost be treated like a child again. She didn't have to do anything. She didn't have to think. She just had to stand there and let her mother take care of her.

When they exited the bathroom Kankuro showed up. "Do you want some hot coco, princess?"
"I.." Hina's voice cracked a bit. She cleared her throat. "I think I just want to go to bed. I'm really tired. Is it okay if we talk tomorrow?"
"Of course," her mother immediately replied.

Both her parents led her to her room and put her to bed, both giving her a kiss on the forehead. Telling her they loved her and that they were so, so proud of her. As they left and closed the door behind them Hina rolled over on her side and pulled her knees up to her chest and pulled Chouchou from the headboard, holding her close. Snuggling with a piece of wood might not sound very comfortable or comforting, but Hina had always been more of a doll (or puppet) person, and not much of a stuffed animal person.

Left alone again to her own thoughts she willed sleep to take her. But her brain finally had nothing else to focus on but the silence, and was filling in the gaps of nothingness with memories and horrible fantasies. Hina curled up even tighter, pressing a hand to her head to try and shut out all the thoughts. "Stop.." she begged. "I just want to sleep... Why can't I just sleep..?" The dark shadows swirling around her insides intensified and she swore she could hear a sound behind her in the room.

"Hina..." She heard a faint whisper behind her. "Did you really think it would all be over so easily?" She swore she could feel a hand on her shoulder and screamed, whipping around in her bed and firing two senbon from Chouchou into the wall.

The door burst open, causing Hina to jump back in her bed, pressing up against the wall and scream again. "What's going on here?!" her father demanded, checking around the room for enemies threatening his daughter, crow flying into the room along with him. Her mother immediately dashed towards the bed, holding a kunai in her right hand. "Hina! Are you okay?!" Hina sank back into the bed and started sobbing uncontrollably. All the tensions finally let loose and she stretched her arms out to her parents like a toddler might.

Her parents immediately walked over to her and sat down next to her in her double bed, cradling her closely in between them.
"Shhh," her mother soothed her, stroking her hair.
"Tell us what happened, princess." Kankuro said, rubbing her back.

And the entire story spilled out, with hiccups and sniffles and stutterings. Everything. About how everything first went great. And how she found a a puppet arm and a scroll inside, how she opened the scroll, and summoned a lab on Meran - "I thought I had killed him - and then had to set his broken leg, something which she'd never done before. How the blood brotherhood showed up and they didn't know what to do, she had been so sure she would die there and then. How Sasori swept in and killed everybody, while she had thought that he had been dead, but no, he was alive. At this her parents threw each other shocked looks over her daughter's head, but she didn't notice anything and continued on with her story. How she had talked to Sasori and he had helped them and "he was actually quite nice, but so scary too". How they tried to find Hiten but couldn't find him anywhere, and that he was somewhere out there, but he might be dead as well. And about her hellish nightmare. And lastly about how she found the love letter and that that dead man had a family and now somewhere a child would grow up without ever knowing its parents.

Apart from the shock of their daughter meeting Sasori her parents had listened intently to her emotionally laden story. They said that, yes, it was difficult to be a shinobi, but that she did perfect, and that they were very proud of her. They couldn't have been more proud of her. And they would talk more with her in the morning, but for now she should sleep.

Hina, feeling empty after spilling her heart out, lied down and closed her eyes, pulling Chouchou closer to herself again. Kahoko sat down next to her daughter and started to sing a song, while stroking her hair. It was a song she often sang when Hina was sad, and it always calmed her down. Kankuro sat on the bed, looking at his daughter drifting into sleep, his mind churning away at the information he had just received from his daughter. He and Kahoko had both always known Hina would have to walk this path, and it wouldn't be an easy one. And he had even expected her to perhaps someday meet Sasori, but so soon? And to see his daughter this sad and broken caused his heart to clench in his chest.

The soothing tones of her mother's voice lulled Hina into a deep sleep. A sleep without dreams, but more importantly, without nightmares. Before she was entirely engulfed by the blissful nothingness of sleep her thoughts went out to the bags with the scrolls in it. The love letter, and the puppet prototype. She would look at them both tomorrow, and talk more with to her parents about everything that had happened. Tomorrow. Yeah.. tomorrow.. Now sleep.. Nice sleep.. Nice... Sleep...
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Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you
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