Shikako Nara’s Guide To Delinquency and Military Insurrection
(Rule Three: Look underneath the underneath)
Ibiki refuses to look back. Eyes forward with the occasional check of peripheral vision because tunnel vision is stupid and deadly, but otherwise he only looks ahead.
He knows she is following–a strange, suspicious shadow–but he refuses to acknowledge her.
All that matters is the mission.
All that matters is getting back to Konoha.
“I could heal you,” the shadow offers, maintaining a constant distance between the two of them. Closer, he gets testy. Further, he gets wary. This exact distance is irritating, but bearable.
Ibiki does not respond.
“I promise I won’t do anything bad,” the shadow continues then, after a considering pause, “Though I guess that’s what I’d say if I were going to do something bad, so how could you tell?”
“I could tell,” Ibiki answers, automatically defending his abilities, before grumbling at himself. New chuunin rank obviously doesn’t mean new maturity level. He’ll have to work on that, later. In the village. If he gets a later.
The shadow smiles, pleased at finally getting a response. She skips a bit, drawing nearer, but at Ibiki’s increased grumbling, she slows down again, hands raised in acquiescence.
“Didn’t I prove myself in that last skirmish?” the shadow asks, more to the air than to him. He wouldn’t trip up again so soon, and so she’s certainly not expecting him to respond.
In more than one way, she’s right: the team of Cloud nin would have easily killed him had he been alone. Should have easily killed the two of them, really, outnumbered as they were. In terms of battle prowess, she’s definitely proved herself.
The fact that he’s still standing and not bleeding out slowly in the middle of contended territory also proves that she’s real and not just a pain induced hallucination like he had assumed for the first few hours of their interaction.
Of course, that doesn’t disprove the possibility that this is a genjutsu. And a particularly sadistic one at that, given the face that the shadow is wearing.
Eyes forward. Complete the mission, get back to Konoha. Nothing else matters now.
But retreating is one matter, avoiding the truth is another.
Internally, he sighs. Out loud, he says, “Cloud has made many enemies.”
She blinks, surprised that he’s answered even if belatedly, before tentatively offering, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”
“You sound uncertain,” Ibiki responds, “And that’s reductive. Wars can and frequently do have multiple sides.”
Rather than immediately argue, the shadow hums. “Well, you’re not wrong,” she concedes, before letting them return to a casual silence.
That’s not how Yoshino would have responded.
Forward. Mission. Konoha.
The shadow is young, though. Younger than Ibiki despite her skill. She takes his words as a learning opportunity, never mind that she must be more experienced than he is.
If she really wanted to sabotage his mission, she would have already done so, and easily. If this were a genjutsu, then he’s already failed. Either way, stubbornly letting his head wounds remain untreated is just stupid.
Ibiki sighs, stops, and eyes the shadow.
She slows to a stop at a respectful distance away.
“What do you know about this?” He asks, lifting the box. Seals cover the outside, an active array, so he hadn’t been able to put it in a storage scroll, but it’s small enough as not to be unwieldy.
“Enough,” she says with a shrug, noncommittal, and he’d almost admire it if it weren’t currently counter to his goals. “If you let me heal you, I’ll tell you more.” She punctuates this with an overly bright smile and a playful flourish of her hands.
“That’s poor negotiation,” he says, because if he’s apparently committing treason by colluding with the shadow then he might as well do so thoroughly and continue their teaching moments. “But I’ll take it.”
Her smile softens, turns more genuine, as if understanding the decision he’s made. She heals him and even gives him supplies to clean up the blood, before lackadaisically swiping a finger across the top of the box.
Ibiki tenses. The sealing array glows briefly before going inert. It unlocks.
“Look inside,” the shadow says, and for the first time she sounds like the battle hardened shinobi she really is, “If you think Danzo should get that, then you’re not Morino Ibiki.”
Ibiki never gave her his name. Somehow, he’s unsurprised.
A/N: Finally filled all the things you said prompts! The longest ask box event that just slow bled across literal MONTHS. Sorry for taking forever lionheadbookends!
I’m reluctant to start a new ask box event–or, at least, since it’s mid-November and December is coming up, I’ll probably just do another Ask Box Advent Calendar again in two weeks anyway so a different ask box event now is kinda excessive so… I guess what I’m saying is save ask box prompts for December and I will try to figure out what else to do instead over the next two weeks?