(They Call It) Soulless, #8, Kamaru

(They Call It) Soulless,  8) things you said when you were crying

Kako says that the things he learns at the Academy are more like general suggestions than hard and fast rules. “The point of the Academy is to standardize everything so that shinobi who haven’t worked with each other before can function as a team if needed. Teamwork is Konoha’s forte, after all,” she says, “But even concepts that sound good have their faults.”

Kako says a lot of things like that, things that force Kamaru to reconsider what other people say. Look underneath the underneath. Mostly, it’s just to prompt him into critical thinking, but there are some Academy lessons that she outrightly dismisses, practically spitting on them.

“A shinobi must never show emotion?” Kako sneers, reading over Kamaru’s shoulder at his homework on the kitchen table, “How stupid.”

Kamaru blinks, looks up at his sister, surprised. More for her venomous tone than the opinion itself.

Kako sighs, softens, explains. She tries to find teaching moments in everything. Sometimes, Kamaru wonders what she’s preparing him for. “Of course, professionalism is important while on duty, and stoicism in the face of danger can be a shield of sorts, but to say never is overly restrictive and impossible to do. Also, emotions can be weapons of their own. Well. I don’t need to tell you that, you’ve met Gai-senpai.”

Kamaru shudders. Yes, he has met his sister’s zealously enthusiastic senpai.

“Not to mention things like killing intent or positive intent… And for all that we’re shinobi, we’re still human. Emotions and all.”

Kamaru nods, marks a bold line through rule #25 on his homework, and keeps going. But he doesn’t really consider the entirety of this conversation until later in the evening, after he’s gone to bed then woken back up, thirsty and blearily walking to the kitchen practically still asleep.

Kako is already there–mostly because their apartment is so small that the kitchen is also their dining and living room–standing in front of the framed picture of their parents, the small stone tablet with their names on the shelf beside it.

It’s the closest thing their parents have to a gravestone. After they died, the Nara had offered to bury their father in the clan graveyard with his family. But they hadn’t extended the offer to their mother.

Unsurprisingly, Kako had refused. “They would want to be together,” she had said. Kako hadn’t cried then.

She’s crying now.

“It’s harder than I thought it would be,” she says to the two dimensional faces of their parents.

Kamaru freezes in place, unable to move forward.

“But I’m going to keep doing it. Even if you wouldn’t approve. I have to protect him. I don’t know if you would have let me. Sometimes I think… it’s awful… but I know that a few weeks more and you would have followed procedure.”

Kamaru’s thoughts whirl. What procedure? He’s pretty sure that Kako is talking about him, but what is she referring to? Her next words send him retreating to his room.

“I can’t help but wonder if maybe it was for the better that you’re gone.”

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