Externality 6e/? (2018-01-18)

In the orphanage, family is an impossible dream. Adoption an unheard of miracle, passed down as whispers from the older children to the younger in the dark of the night. The closest thing to bedtime stories they get.

But a team is more attainable and nearly as good–better, if you believe the propaganda. Good teammates will be in your thoughts and in your heart, have your back and your trust.

Together, the ideal team functions seamlessly, different parts of a greater whole. Together, the ideal team can easily defeat an army ten times their size.

They are not an ideal team.

They are not even a team.

Frankly, in all the chaos, it’s hard to tell if they’re on the same side.

Tetsuki jerks backward to avoid a hit, only to duck and get knee to the nose while avoiding a set of shuriken from the treetops. They embed themselves perfectly into her opponent’s calf–he howls in pain and she definitely takes the opportunity kick out at his other leg, bringing him down completely–but they could have easily stuck into her shoulder instead.

TenTen’s aim is perfect, but it doesn’t account for allies getting her way.

Naruto Uzumaki learned this the hard way, kunai sticking out of his shoulder until he pulled it out and used it for himself.

The both of them are absolutely filthy by this point: dirt and blood, a fair share of it their own, staining their clothes. Neji Hyuuga doesn’t have this problem–a neat pile of paralyzed bodies clustered at his feet.

There’s so much going on–so many people and weapons and other metallic knickknacks, zippers and buttons and jewelry–that Tetsuki can’t tell if any of them have tokens on them. She doesn’t have the time to more thoroughly search them, either, not when for every opponent she takes down another two pop up.

It’s no longer just the mob they’re fighting at this point–the ruckus of large scale battle attracting the more active and eager of their classmates. Only the light of the moon and the occasional flash bang illuminates the space, with clashing kunai and the scent of blood in the air, it really is like a true shinobi battle.

At this point, it barely has anything to do with the exam, hidden grudges bubbling up easily without adult supervision. Tetsuki herself is not entirely immune to the fever of battle:

“Hey you,” she says to the sensible son of a bitch Komadori. All the warning she provides before punching him right in his surprised face. But tit for tat is not the way of shinobi, grudges are not resolved by simply balancing the equation, and so what should have been a simple surprise hit becomes a prolonged fight.

This time Tetsuki uses everything she has, doesn’t limit herself or conserve energy for running away. Genjutsu falls over him in layers, shrouding his senses, but his memory and practiced motions pull him through, chakra flaring to throw off her efforts. She responds feral, brutal, and so does he.

They are still fighting when TenTen runs out of weapons, the clearing liberally sprinkled with her efforts, and she has to drop into the fray herself. They are still fighting when Naruto Uzumaki and Neji Hyuuga stumble into each other–the latter’s Byakugan deactivated for some reason–and are forced to literally fight back to back. They are still fighting when the sun rises, sky blazing orange, and the exam officially ends.

They are fighting up until Yanagi-sensei and Hinoura-sensei bodily pull them apart, well-rested adult selves easily lifting their exhausted child bodies, and it’s as if she suddenly wakes up.

Her entire body throbs furiously, painfully, adrenaline wearing off and leaving her with the consequences of her actions. She squirms in Yanagi-sensei’s hold to search for Naruto Uzumaki, to meet his eyes and apologize because–she forgot about the exam. Forgot about his objective and the token. Forgot about him.

Failed him.

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Trailblazers (2017-12-24)

Their romance is nothing like a fairy tale–too steeped in the violence of their work–but it’s real and true and everything Tetsuki wants.

She marries a good man, solid and stable, who makes her feel like she can be a good woman, too, if she just wills it.

Every kiss from Tetsuya makes her feel like the heroine of her very own story.

She loves Komadori, but not the way he hopes for–still, he is dear to her, and her to him, and it is difficult to be vulnerable in a world of war.

She reaches out, accepting his touch, and lets the intimacy speak for her.

He is a good man; it’s unfortunate Tetsuki isn’t the right woman.

Their’s is a lost connection, a hypothetical disaster in the making.

Azula would as soon kiss her as she would gouge her eyes out–they would surely destroy each other.

Maybe, in another life, Tetsuki would even let her try.

Love is soft and sweet again, no longer the clawing desperate creature, thread-like bonds gentle yet firm:

Tetsuki doesn’t need to say how important Maya is when her actions have already done so, words have never been how she communicates with Hiei, and it’s mostly a joke when she threatens to shave off the fox’s hair.

Tetsuki gets used to poison kisses, everything growing green around her; she’s lightheaded from giddiness as much as the toxins, luxuriating in the sensation.

Or maybe it’s the sound of machinery, oil streaked across her skin; or the view of the stars from outside the atmosphere, breathless but not suffocating.

Now she’s a heroine in more than just feeling.

~

A/N: Or, some quick three sentence fic about Tetsuki being in love?

Check out the Ask Box Advent Calendar!

Trailblazers (2017-10-04)

Hibari’s report–if such a brief statement can be considered such–is punctual but useless. As per usual.

“The herbivores tried to fight back. They were bitten to death.”

Of the three Guardians he sent on the mission, Tetsuki-senpai is the most professional. Normally, she can be depended on for a comprehensive report.

Obviously, that is not the case.

Tsuna wrinkles his nose at the thought. It sounds so detached, so very much like a mafia boss and not the head of a Family. There is a difference, one he strives to stay on the correct side of.

He is worried about Tetsuki-senpai, of course, something is clearly wrong–but it is not his place to stand outside her door, cajoling.

He sent her on that mission. He is responsible for her pain.

///

There is creature comfort in staying curled under the covers in the dark. Wallowing.

It’s not really healing so much as pressing against her wounds and letting the muffled pain echo back at her.

But for now she allows herself this.

Well. Her conscious does.

Her subconscious, not so much.

Komadori enters, unhindered by the barrier because he is, in truth, only a part of her. Still he carries a tray of food and switches on the lamp desk.

It is not so bright–only a small radius, focused downwards instead of out–but it still sears her retinas, blinking away streaks of non-color.

“This is the reverse of what you used to do,” he admonishes lightly, helplessly. “Are you still trying to remember?”

He does not approach the bed, does not even look at it, and so she slouches from beneath the blankets towards him.

There is a small smile on his face: Komadori had always been overly indulgent of her.

“Remembering is not the problem. I have too many memories now. They want the Tetsuki from before all of this, before you and the others and everything I went through.”

“So, what, instead of remembering you’re purging?” he asks. If it were Naruto, it’d be loud, aggressive and provoking, an instinctive frustrated answer. But it’s Komadori, and so she eats and ponders and he lets her.

“Even if I could,” she begins, turning away back to bed. This admission will take more of her meager reserves than she can afford, “I wouldn’t erase what I went through. I just need… more time.”

~

A/N: My sister is getting married this weekend. Traveling tomorrow and no doubt a lot of work in the upcoming days so… posting will be sporadic at best.

Externality, part 4e (2017-07-06)

Plan A–the plan they’re currently enacting–was mostly Naruto Uzumaki’s idea. She tweaked some parts to make it less risky, but the core of it has more flair for the dramatic than she herself would produce.

Plan B–which she had hoped to use on the possibility that their disguises were seen through–relied on the facts that she could switch seamlessly between the henge disguises and that the idea of Neji Hyuuga ambushing someone would be so intimidating that no one would think to test her in a fight.

The henge is not the problem.

The problem is that she’s already been hit three times in this fight and even if she were to switch into the Neji Hyuuga disguise, no one would believe it now.

Gods, this did not go as well as she had hoped.

They have enough armbands, is the thing. They want the remaining token and she’s not even fighting the right person.

As seconds fly by, the smoke disperses more and more, and any advantage she had in this fight against that sensible son of a bitch Komadori is swiftly dispersing with it.

Naruto Uzumaki’s laughter sounds strained now, too, and she knows they’re in trouble.

She tries to trill a whistle–her signal for retreat–but Komadori gets in a hard jab to her sternum that leaves her breathless.

Her henge shatters.

Well, there goes the whole disguise strategy.

Her opponent hesitates–or perhaps, so used to class spars, allows her to catch her breath–but that’s just the opening she needs:

She replaces herself with Renji, their somehow still unconscious hostage, and gives herself some space and what little cover remains of the smoke.

There! Now due north of her, Naruto Uzumaki still in disguise, fighting another camper and losing. She lurches in that direction. Now that she has air again, she finally trills a whistle, reaching out and yanking Naruto Uzumaki out of the way of a punch.

“Let’s go!” she shouts, running and pulling him with her, even as he tries to twist himself away. Thankfully, he’s not trying to stay and fight, but even as he begins to run with his own momentum she keeps her hold on him.

She is vigilant all the way back to the camp, paranoid that someone–especially that sensible son of a bitch–might track them down. But after several feints and a set of bunshin as decoys, she finally lets them spiral back into their camp.

Naruto Uzumaki’s bruises already seem to be healing, or maybe they aren’t nearly as bad as hers which she can feel radiating pain and heat off her skin.

Was it worth it? Attacking the camp directly only got them an additional armband and token each.

But they’ve almost completed Naruto Uzumaki’s impossible objective; surely that’s work a few scrapes.

Still, “You’re getting first watch,” she says, before performing the minimal amount of basic first aid on herself and passing the fuck out.

Externality, part 4d (2017-07-05)

The weird thing is, Tetsuki thinks–ducking under a blind flail and returning with a punch to someone’s nose, cartilage crunching under her fist–she doesn’t like taijutsu.

Sure, she can learn and perform kata well enough and, more often than not, she does win her spars during class… which would imply she’s decent at taijutsu.

But that’s only as compared to her fellow students.

As this particular situation can attest to–a camper grabs at her sleeve, how quaint, she grips their arm and tosses them over her shoulder–the majority of her classmates aren’t exactly impressive.

Naruto Uzumaki laughs and blows a raspberry and she whistles in response, their established back and forth to keep track of each other in the smoke. From the sound of it, he’s a little bit northwest of her and has gotten an armband. She thinks maybe the laughter is genuine, so at least he’s enjoying himself, but she’s also been hearing some grunts of pain from him. No doubt someone’s gotten a couple lucky hits on him, better make this quick:

She crouches down and pats at her fallen opponent, delivering a knock out blow beforehand just to make sure–there, in a pocket, metal body temperature, the now familiar feel of a token. They can check the color later.

She whistles again and clicks her tongue–one token down, one more to go.

Someone gets a hand in her hair and yanks. She stumbles, one arm barely catching her fall, this close she can actually see a vague outline of the other person. Hell, she can see the blue of his sandals.

Komadori, that sensible son of a bitch.

“You’re not Atsushi,” he says, somewhat redundantly. Her henge is still up, but her hair is far longer than her disguise.

“I’m not?” she asks in Atsushi’s voice–or a close enough approximation as she could make with what little of it she heard when they ambushed him earlier–an attempt to baffle him before punching hard at the side of his knee.

It’s not enough to dislocate his kneecap, unfortunately, but it does surprise him enough to make him let go of her hair, allowing her to scramble back to her feet.

He’s not so taken off guard that she can just disappear back into the cover of the smoke–they maybe only have another thirty seconds before it disperses into uselessness–and he attacks her immediately.

She barely dodges a kick and gets a punch to the jaw for her efforts. Frustratingly she recalls that this particular classmate is one of the few who consistently beat her in spars.

Gods damn this sensible son of a bitch.

Externality, part 4c (2017-07-02)

The smoke bombs are one minute from detonating–that is, if they detonate at all, they were from the damaged box that Hikari-san let her have because of possible water exposure–when someone says,

“Should we try to find Mina?”

It’s hesitant enough that it almost gets drowned out by other voices, but still worryingly sensible.

“No way, she made her choice!”

“We don’t know if she did make a choice. For all we know, she’s out there unconscious, too, and we’re just blaming her for something she hasn’t done,” the same someone says, reasonable and far closer to the truth than Tetsuki likes.

Better kill that line of thinking.

“If you think that’s the case, go on ahead,” Tetsuki says, “Hell, if you’re that sure about it, I’ll even go with you. But it doesn’t feel right leaving the camp so unprotected, especially if Mina did sell us out.”

“That just means more of us should go!” this frustratingly sensible classmate says, “If Mina and Renji got ambushed just the two of them, then we might need bigger numbers.”

“And leave the camp less defended?” Tetsuki repeats, scrambling, trying to find a reason that isn’t, my fellow infiltrator and I would like to stay behind and continue our planned sabotage, if you please.

“Yeah, Komadori, if you want to go out there and look for that traitor, then go ahead. But don’t go dragging the rest of us into it.”

Oh, thank the gods, an aggressive, selfish classmate to the unknowing rescue.

And just in time, too.

She and Naruto Uzumaki exchange a quick, relieved glance with each other, before taking survey of where the campers are respective to themselves and each other.

Smoke starts to spew out of the fire pit, just a little at first, to draw attention, before erupting in huge billows of smoke.

Tetsuki kicks out at the camper nearest to her, catching him off guard and knocking the wind out of him, and Naruto Uzumaki laughs–disorienting to the campers, but encouraging for her.

This is going to be fun.

Character Statistics: Externality, Team Two

Graduation

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Taki Chuunin Exam

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Konoha Chuunin Exam

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Shippuden


Kakashi

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Naruto

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Tetsuki

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Komadori

~

A/N: Here is Team Two aka Team Vanguard from my series Externality.

In this series, my main OC Tetsuki accidentally helps Naruto graduate one year early, leading to the both of them and another OC, Komadori Ouba, becoming a genin team under Kakashi.

They end up taking the first Chuunin Exam which, because it’s a year earlier than canon, is not in Konoha but in Waterfall (following the logic of Dreaming of Sunshine that the Chuunin Exams would alternate between big villages and small villages so that old hostilities don’t prevent advancement for more than a year).

The Konoha Chuunin Exam is just a really good marker of time–since it’s not as if their team has changed Orochimaru and Sand’s plans, so the invasion is still on–and then ambiguous Shippuden point in time just to round it out.

edit: Komadori’s Shippuden strength corrected.