Missed Post / Ask Box Event? / OC Dolls (2017-10-26)

… I need a push to do some writing! Let’s reprise one of the ask box events, shall we?

What do we think: a softer ask box OR ask box fake fic titles?

(And so it’s not a complete missed post, dollmaker pics of OCs under the cut)


Konran (from Counterpoise), Tetsuki (from Externality), and Kiyoshi (from (In)Difference)–aka, my three kunoichi OCs.


Lark, Oleander, and Vinn from various RPG campaigns

Character Statistics: Counterpoise, Team Five



Kiri Chuunin Exam


Konoha Chuunin Exam













A/N: Here is Team Five aka the “Retrieval” Team from my series Counterpoise.

In this series, my main OC Konran takes the Academy graduation exam two years early (because Naruto has somehow canonically failed the graduation exam three times but is still in the same class as his agemates?) and somehow barely passes. She, along with two other OCs–Ringo Nohara and Zakuro Yuuhi–become a genin team under the jounin Riichi who is a minor canon character that I have co-opted as my own and tweaked slightly (or, rather, conflated with a different unnamed minor canon character) to give a cool backstory.

They end up taking the first Chuunin Exam which, because it’s two years earlier than canon, is not in Konoha but in Mist (I’m unsure about how much of a disaster Mist infrastructure was before Mei took over, but I imagine it’d be a HUGE faux pas if any of the big five shinobi villages passed up their year to host the exam. The smaller villages can get away with doing so, which is probably how Akatsuki stayed under the radar as leaders of Rain for so long, or rather it’s not as much of a surprise if they pass it up, but one of the big five? That’d just be embarrassing).

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.

Counterpoise Remix (2017-03-20)

Your first night in Konoha, you do not cry.

Still, you sit up and clutch at your face, desperately trying to stay quiet, so keenly aware of how close your bedroom is to that of the Namikazes’ and how thin the walls.

Despite having had a largely nomadic lifestyle, you are overcome with homesickness.

Iruka normally finds the hour before classes soothing. The warm sunlight streaming through the windows, preparing for the day’s lessons, and appreciating the calm before the storm that is a day of teaching preteens how to be soldiers.

Normally, he’s fond of the time before classes begin. Now the silence is dragging, suspenseful and ominous, and he both dreads and hopes for the clock to move faster.

The Uzumaki princess will be joining his class today.

He’s not starstruck or anything like that–almost half of his class are the clan heirs or seconds–one of his students is the Hokage’s son!

He has long since gotten used to instructing the children of the elite. It’s hard to be intimidated by their family name when you remember them as six year olds with snot running down their noses.

Which might explain why he’s nervous about the Uzumaki princess, though he knows that only contributes part of the reason.

His grandmother had been from Uzushio.

His dad frequently reminisces about childhood visits to Uzushio, family reunions dozens of members strong. Iruka would have grown up the same, had the islands not fallen before he was born. As it is, all he has are the stories that his parents pass down to this day.

Uzumaki Konran is princess of an intangible kingdom–memories and legacies–which makes her all the more intimidating.

On the back of every Konoha flak jacket is a spiral the same bright red of Uzumaki hair, an oath of alliance given form.

This is not a coincidence.

Konran’s first morning in Konoha went as thus:

Following silently, uncertainly, in the trail of the Hokage’s son. Watching the villagers turn to him, like flowers to the sun, smiling and calling out greetings that he easily returns: he grew up surrounded by so many people, loved; the village steeped with his presence, familiar places as much part of him as his very body.

This is his home, and she is a stranger.

At the Academy–and how strange, such formal education; she learned around a campfire, the road was her classroom–Naruto’s friends call him over. At first, he goes toward them, but his steps falter, he hesitates and looks back at her.

Her, the intruder in his life.

She waves him off, perhaps more dismissive than she intends, and steels herself. Umino-sensei has her introduce herself, she struggles to match the stares of thirty different faces. They have known each other for years, have developed friendships and histories all without her. She finds an empty seat close to the window.

An outsider looking in.

Uzumaki Konran meets Nohara Ringo and Yuuhi Zakuro entirely by accident. Hatake Kakashi meets her deliberately.

Her decision after graduation shouldn’t have been a surprise to any party involved.

And yet.

Dear reader, know this:

There is no fate, there are no soulmates, no guarantees or warrantees; but in this vast, infinite universe there may be something that ties us together.

Something like resonance.

I did not love her at first sight, nor second, nor third. I did not even like her immediately; though that is not to say that I disliked her immediately, either. She was interesting, and fascination became fondness became affection.

Once I loved her, I could not stop.


A/N: Okay, that should be it by now… thanks for being patient and humoring me, everyone 🙂

Counterpoise Remix (2017-03-19)

Namikaze Naruto and Uzumaki Konran meet for the second time in the spring before their twelfth birthday.

It is not an entirely auspicious event.

In the first memory I have of Uzumaki Konran, it is not, as the reader might presume, her hair that I recall best, though such a notion is not unfounded.

Like her mother before her, Konran had worn her hair long and loose then, a red curtain more vibrant than any other hue found in nature. And it is true that to this day her crimson locks are often considered her signature–only to those fortunate enough not to face her in battle, of course, for they would know her better by her chakra chains, fuinjutsu, and stark determination instead.

But her hair, while eye-catching, is not what first comes to mind, for her cousin had accompanied her then, Uzumaki Karin’s own tresses hewing to the familial standard.

No, what I remember most clearly of Konran’s first day in Konoha are the bloom of cherry blossoms all around and the unassailable look of anxiety on her face.

A little over a decade ago, the status quo of international politics changed when the Land of Rain ended their self-imposed isolation; at their head, daimyo and commander in chief both, was an Uzumaki.

This is not his story.

Shizune knows its not her place to decide, but surely in the privacy of her own mind she’s allowed to cultivate her mutinous opinions. Shishou and Kushina are using her and her team as courier, so she deserves this much at least.

But her indignation evaporates quickly enough when she glances over at her team’s young charge. The only thought left afterward is: Poor Ran-chan.

She doesn’t know what they told her, but Konran seems determined to embody some untouchable ideal of an Uzumaki heiress. Normally, when she’s anxious, Ran-chan will edge closer to Juugo as if to borrow some of his calm. Now head raised, shoulders straight, Konran walks firmly in the middle of the diamond formation Shizune’s team has made–protected like a noble princess, and all the more apprehensive for it.

Karin flutters around her cousin, sensing her mood but not knowing how to fix it. She picks at fallen petals instead, as if to maintain Konran’s immaculate appearance, but that seems to be making it worse.

Perhaps out of a heretofore unseen emotional sensitivity, Suigetsu snaps at her, freeing Konran from her attention. Then again, Suigetsu hardly needs an excuse to annoy Karin.

Shizune knows her team well, almost as well as she does Konran, the young girl very near to a sister, so she knows this:

Shizune won’t be the only one who misses Ran-chan during her time in Konoha.

The Uzumaki clan, though highly diminished, are no less storied or prestigious for it. Hosting the Uzumaki heiress would be an honor for any Konoha clan, one highly suffused with political implications.

For that reason, it was decided that she would be hosted at the Hokage’s residence, to maintain neutrality without causing insult.

What other reason could there be?

You are not surprised when the Hokage meets with you and Shizune-nee in person, not really. You are important because the people you are related to are important, and Shizune-nee is Tsunade-oba’s only disciple–the Hokage would be foolish to delegate such a duty to someone else.

You are surprised that he stays with you after Shizune-nee and her team leaves Konoha, that he guides you to the Hokage’s residence and ushers you around the house, describing all the rooms. You’re quite sure this is actually him and not a clone of some sort–his chakra signature deeper than clones tend to be, and that of his bodyguards’ brushing against your senses–and so you’ve begun to grow confused.

Surely the Hokage has better things to do with his time than play tour guide to an unwanted guest?

He pauses in his commentary, expression shuttering to blankness.

Impressive. Less than one day in Konoha and you’ve already insulted their leader.

But his smile returns, if smaller and somewhat pained, a slight wrinkle in his brow.

“You are not unwanted,” he says simply, before resuming his narration after a pause. She keeps her response to herself, taking in as much of the information as she can stand.

After all, this will be her home, too. For the next year, at least.

Minato’s daughter looks at him with familiar eyes that see only a stranger. She doesn’t know better, was never told otherwise, and so she doesn’t know how swiftly and thoroughly it breaks his heart.

That pales entirely in comparison to when he witnesses his children speak to each other, voices filled with polite disinterest.


A/N: I had this weird persistent dream remixing Counterpoise into a “more peaceful but not necessarily kinder world” AU in which both Kushina and Minato live but, for reasons that may or may not eventually be written, they each take a child and don’t see each other for over a decade. Then, in order for Konran to “complete her training” she’s sent to Konoha for a year (what is Naruto/Konoha Twelve’s last year at the Academy.

And it started with weirdly flowery prose–I don’t know who exactly the first person POV is, except for a strange Lemony Snicket-esque narrator–but then it kind of bounced around to different POVs so it didn’t feel right to maintain that.

I might write a little more–I have some thoughts about Zakuro and Ringo in this ‘verse, as well as how Naruto and Konran’s relationship develop, and a lot of miscellaneous details of what Kushina and Minato’s survival would change in the world–but not consistently since the idea is kind of embarrassing and I’m mostly writing this one so it stops plaguing my brain :/

But hope someone out there enjoys it, at least.

Word Prompts (I25): Introduction

Konran Uzumaki – Counterpoise

(Spiral in, storm out.)

She wears wire in her hair, braids of red and metal winding round and round her head. Pins blunt against her scalp, sharp points outward, everything hidden under a bandana rigged to blow.

Uzushio’s legacy, beneath dark cloth.

Kiyoshi Utsugi – (In)Difference

(Neutrality brings peace.)

Lightning thrums under her skin, running along her nerves, writhing. Wind at her fingertips, whipping at her cheek, waiting to be unleashed.

Conscious clear, target in sight: shoot.

Tetsuki Kaiza – Trailblazers / Externality / Iron Will

(Fate worse than death.)

The first time around she is furious-regretful-afraid-satisfied, at least, she will be swiftly avenged.

The second time she is desperate: she doesn’t want to go, doesn’t want to do this again, doesn’t want this curse.

By the third she is hollowed out and resigned.

Aomi (Inuzuka) – B*tch Please

(Humanity is beastly.)

The rage in her has nothing to do with the fangs in her mouth or the growl in her lungs. She dreams of hunting intangible things–justice, strength, the future–plans like shaky ground beneath her paws.

Truth and loyalty require sacrifice.

Windy Strife – Into Thin Air

(Steps ahead, left behind.)

The suit sits heavy on her shoulders, fabric stiff and blue still new. The bow, long carried, doesn’t quite match but it fits perfectly in his hand.

Zie is a weapon, forged and honed, then and now.

Reyniero Chason – Running Backwards

(Battle fiercely for the king.)

There are no options, train on the track, future written down and read in the past. And yet, here I am, poised to defy the fate put on him.

If anyone is the spare, it’s me.

Branton Evans – Growing Strong (Burning Bright)

(Thorns, sparks, and silver linings.)

He knows much about regret, had felt it even as he continued to walk away, needing to follow through. Time doesn’t always heal, sometimes it erodes instead.

Nevertheless, things can still be salvaged.

Haru Kuwabara – (En)Closure

(Winning might be everything.)

Go is a battle, is a conversation, is life–according to her grandfather anyway. But she knows death, so she knows that despite all the drama, go is just a game.

But against gods and murderers and the stark face of justice, it’s a nice thought.

Ember Ketchum – A Year With The Moon

(Knowledge is double edged.)

Sight beyond does not make her immune, does not make her anything but a liability. Her entire existence is a dilemma and now, it seems, she has made the wrong choice.

Behind a glowing wall in her mind, she watches herself attack her brother.


A/N: Surprisingly, the word prompt is relevant to the writing! Except for the last one, each section is basically a motto + three sentence fic (or four sentence fic) summarizing my various OCs. Almost like little trailers for the different series… (The last one isn’t because I realized that Ash having a twin during the first Pokemon movie, ie the one featuring Mewtwo, would have the potential for EPIC FEELS).

Basically, after my weird breakdown/rant/fit of low self-esteem that I had yesterday I kind of wanted to make up for that. Sorry, again, @to-someplace-else, it wasn’t your fault, I go through moods, I hope you (and other readers) enjoy this.

Post Word Count: 422, TOTAL Word Count: 10860

So… last day of November. Unsurprisingly, did not meet the NaNo quota but that’s okay because a lot of my posts this month (like this one) were three sentence fic and for some reason I wrote a lot of poetry…

Counterpoise drabble (2015-10-22)

Zakuro is the fastest on their team. So it’s unsurprising that, after the explosion, he’s the first by her side–slowly helping her sit up from where she had been thrown.  

“You idiot,” Zakuro says, half fond, half worried, before smacking the back of Konran’s head. The blow is cushioned by three layers of cloth and hair so she hardly feels a thing, not that it was terribly strong anyway.

Konran coughs in response, a puff of thick, dark smoke leaving her mouth. Her face and the front of her jacket is likewise covered in soot, making her grin a bright sickle of white in contrast. She tries to talk, but only succeeds in agitating her lungs–she coughs again.

“Stop it,” Ringo admonishes, before gently laying a chakra covered hand on her chest. The first time he had hesitated and Zakuro had nearly turned purple with laughter, the implications obvious even if she hadn’t hit puberty yet. But they’ve been a team for years, and even if her chest isn’t as flat is it once was, Ringo’s her medic.

That strange contradictory sensation of cold warmth seeps into her skin, her muscles, her ribs, her lungs, repairing the damage she’s done to herself.

“Now exhale,” he orders, and she obeys, pleased to find her breathing restored.

“Thanks,” she says, as they both absently reach a hand out to Zakuro, who easily pulls them off the ground. She looks down to check over the state of her jacket and frowns, “I don’t think this one’s salvageable.” Even if she washed it, there would still be stains in the fabric–where it isn’t completely incinerated, anyway–and the zipper teeth are fused together.

“Sweet. Can I have it?” Zakuro says, because he’s kind of an jerk, “I’ve been meaning to make some kind of dummy trap, and I was considering using some of my stuff, but if that’s wrecked then I might as well use it,” he explains, because at least he’s a productive jerk.

Ringo punches his arm anyway, which leads to a short scuffle between the two boys. “We should head to my place,” he suggests, casually, as if he didn’t have Zakuro in a headlock, "I got some more clothes for you,“ he adds with a shrug.

For some reason, Ringo occasionally receives girl’s clothing as gifts. Which he then re-gifts to Konran because, well, he doesn’t want it and she’s always up for getting free stuff.

As they head towards the unofficial Nohara clan neighborhood, Konran chattering away about how she’s sure next time the one-touch barrier seal will work, Zakuro suddenly stops. Turns around. Stares at an innocuous looking patch of road. Then reaches out and shatters an area genjutsu so strong it makes his two teammates shut their eyes lest they become nauseated by the chakra backlash.

When they open their eyes, they see what Zakuro uncovered. There’s a hatch in the road.


A/N: Yup. I have no idea where this is leading, or if it leads anywhere at all. Is it an ANBU tunnel? A ROOT tunnel? An abandoned Senju secret base filled with cool stuff?

I dunno.

Shout out to @cheloneuniverse who sort of reminded me about this series by liking all of the previous installments.

Counterpoise AU drabble (2015-09-04)

“Be careful,” a mother says to her daughter, “Stick to the paths we’ve marked. If you stray, you might end up in danger,” she warns. But the mother lets her daughter go, anyway, because how will her daughter ever learn if she doesn’t go?

The daughter–perhaps she is named after a flower–heeds her mother’s words; for a while. But there is much to explore in the forest, so many sights and sounds and scents to follow that she before she knows it, she has gotten quite lost.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem–everyone in her family can retrace their steps, follow the route they’ve taken by the lingering remains of themselves in the air–but she finds that her scent has disappeared.

No, it’s been washed away.

It’s as if a rain has fallen, drops of water still clinging to leaves and bark, turning the ground a shade of moistened darkness. But the sky had been sunny the entire time, and she hadn’t heard the percussion of rainfall.

She reaches out to touch a tree, damp from the mysterious not-rain that washed away the traces of her scent. The water is cold against her fingertips, as if only one degree away from becoming ice. She pulls away quickly, rubbing warmth back into her hand.

“What are you doing here?” A voice asks, low but sweet, like the juices of a fruit lingering on the tongue.

The daughter, the girl maybe named after a flower, startles. Turns to face the other.

The questioner is a little girl as well, smaller and younger than herself, with brilliantly bright red hair.

“I’m lost,” she answers truthfully, trustingly.

And the other girl, with hair so red and eyes so gray, smiles. It should be nothing to a girl whose own mouth is filled with fangs, and yet…

“I can help you, if you’d like,” the little girl says, hand outstretched beseechingly.

And when she takes that hand in her own, all she can think of is the feeling of water so close to ice.


A/N: I’m… not sure exactly? I had a vague idea of sort of reversing the Little Red Riding Hood story, but it sort of adjusted itself to become a Counterpoise AU in which Hana Inuzuka (okay, I know the Hana is supposed to be nose not flower, but I liked the parallel because in some versions of LRRH she’s named Rose Red) gets lost and a creepy, amoral!Konran (who has a water affinity) basically scares the crap out of her.

Untitled Counterpoise x Leverage drabble (2015-08-28)

Connie is dressed up in her spoiled, barely an adult, heiress persona–with freaking Eliot Spencer as her supposed bodyguard–when she spots a bright shock of messy blonde hair out of the corner of her eye.

“Oh fucking shit,” she curses, turning towards goddamn Eliot Spencer, so her face is hidden from what she is pretty sure is her twin brother and his mentor.

“What is it?” Eliot Spencer, what the hell, asks. If he weren’t constantly on alert, Connie would say he went on alert, but as it is his awareness just heightens instead. He moves in closer to her but doesn’t crowd her, which is greatly appreciated.

“Connie,” Ringo prompts over the comm line, when she continues to curse instead of answering, “What’s wrong?”

“Noah’s here,” she says between gritted teeth, because this sucks. This entire con might fail because her cover will be blown and it’ll be her fault.

“Who’s Noah?” Parker asks, skilled enough to simultaneously indulge her curiosity and break into the penthouse suite of a seventy story tall building.

“My brother,” she admits, hiding her grimace behind her flute of champagne. This is embarrassing and unprofessional.

“Noah? The only Noah on the guest list is…” Alec Hardison says, no doubt pulling it up on his computer in the surveillance van to check, “A Noah Gunderson, junior partner at Stuart and Hathaway law firm.”

“We have different last names,” Connie explains, and she feels stupid because this is something she should have checked before.

“Ooh, that’s him alright,” Zachary hisses through his teeth so as not to bring attention to himself as a waiter talking to thin air, no doubt spotting Noah himself, “I didn’t know he made junior partner, though, congrats to him.”

“Just last month,” Ringo says cheerfully, unhelpfully, “I sent a fruit basket with all of our names on it. God knows he needs the vitamins.”

“Ugh, you assholes can congratulate him in person when he finally spots me and kills this whole op,” Connie mutters.

“Hey, it ain’t over yet,” Eliot Spencer, oh my god, says reassuringly, and she doesn’t even flinch away when he puts a hand on her shoulder. She’s ruined the con and she’s freaking out? So embarrassing and unprofessional.

“He’s right; we can fix this,” Zachary says, grifter mind already flipping through options and strategizing. “You haven’t made contact with the mark yet, and the only person you’ve introduced yourself to as Leona is the VP and she’s already left the party. Get rid of Spencer’s tie, undo the top two buttons of his shirt, and loop your arm through his.”

“Oh god, this is why Noah hates us,” Ringo moans, easily catching on to the plan.

She follows Zachary’s instructions quickly, huddled in close so it’s not too obvious that she’s partially undressing someone in the middle of a formal party. With a casual movement, she drops the tie to the ground and kicks it beneath a table unseen, before turning around and linking her arm through his. In less than five seconds Connie turns from billionaire heiress to high class escort. Just in time, too.

“Connie?!” Her brother shrieks, the epitome of subtlety and class. Mr. Hathaway, Noah’s mentor, turns to look–and probably regrets it, what with the way his face twists at the sight of her. He’s always been extremely awkward around her.

“Well now, darling,” Eliot Spencer, she’s too busy to come up with more epithets, drawls–catching on and playing up his Texan accent–loud enough for her approaching brother to hear, “I thought your name was Rachel.”

“It is,” Connie says, insistent, as if she really were an escort under a pseudonym whose real name had just been shouted across the room, “He must be mistaking me for someone else,” and this time she glares at Noah, as if she really were angry at him for blowing her cover. Which she is, just not this cover.

“Oh,” Noah says dumbly, obviously, before unconvincingly adding, “I don’t know you at all! Sorry about that, you just looked like someone… oh, shrimp puffs!” He says, spotting a tray being carried over by a waitress, “Aren’t shrimp puffs great?”

Zachary and Ringo both sigh, out of relief and exasperation.

“I see acting skills do not run in the family,” Alec Hardison remarks dryly.

No they do not, Connie thinks as she watches her brother awkwardly try to chaperone what he thinks is his sister hired as an escort for some rich pervert. She is so sorry, Eliot Spencer.

A/N: Not an immediate continuation, but it is related to this drabble. Which would probably help make sense of the above drabble. And, again, this is me adapting my OCs from Counterpoise into Leverage.

Gotta get some stuff out of my system.

Untitled Counterpoise x Leverage drabble (2015-08-17)

The phone rings.

Connie, being the closest to the phone, immediately crumples up a piece of paper and chucks it at Zachary’s head in the strange hopes that maybe he’ll pick it up instead.

He is not amused, lobs the paper ball back at her, and goes back to his cup of tea.

The phone rings again.

Connie hisses, head swiveling around to try and find Ringo to pass the responsibility onto him. He is nowhere to be seen.

The phone rings for a third time.

She has no choice. She has to answer it.

“Leverage Incorporated, this is Connie speaking,” she says, voice light and even.

“This is Alec Hardiso–”

She hangs up.

“What the hell, Connie?” Zachary asks, having watched the entire production, “Was it telemarketers?”

“Nooo,” she stretches out the word, quickly backing away from the phone.

This time, when the phone rings again, Zachary is closest. Which means he has to be the one to answer.

It rings.

“Damn it, Connie, that doesn’t count!”

And rings.

“Those are the rules!”

And rings.

“You obviously had it first, you can’t just hang up and run away!”

And rings.

“I panicked!”


“Leverage Inc,” Ringo says, having apparently appeared while the two of them were shouting at each other. Amazed, Zachary and Connie stop yelling at each other, to watch Ringo handle the call maturely.

“Yes, I understand. No, that is within our capabilities. Thank you, I will make sure she knows that. Okay then, we look forward to seeing you in person. Goodbye.”

Once the call has ended, Ringo takes a deep breath, the screeches, “It was the original Leverage team!” ruining the cool persona he had built in the last thirty seconds.

There is a reason the three of them are friends.

“No, fuck you, no way!” Zachary says, clambering over the back of the couch to stand next to Ringo and the phone.

“See?” Connie shrieks back, vindicated.

Ringo nods in complete agreement.

“No, no, no! Fuck you guys, you’re totally playing me!”

“It was Alec Hardison,” Ringo says, not even blinking an eye as Connie, their resident hacker, temporarily swoons, “Their team has a target who owns a vacation house in the city, they wanted our permission to operate here. And asked if we would be willing to help out.”

“Oh my god, hell yeah!” Zachary agrees raucously.

“And he says that Connie’s work on the Oceanus security system was impressive,” he reports dutifully.

Connie’s breathing somehow grows higher in pitch.

“Wait a sec,” Zachary says, cutting into their collective fannish admiration.


“Are they coming here?” He asks, looking around unimpressed. The base of operations for their particular branch of Leverage is a small warehouse with a bathroom and a tiny walled office area. It is strewn with wires, various weapons, a worrying amount of empty pizza boxes and take out containers, and one corner has three dressers bulging alarmingly full of costumes.

They have work to do.


A/N: So this is just a random scene from a fic I’m not going to write which is basically me adapting the Counterpoise team into the Leverage world. I seriously am not going to continue this, I just needed to get this written down because it was bugging me.

So in this Westernized form of them Zakuro is Zachary, Ringo is still Ringo, but Konran goes by Connie because her real name is Conrad. As said before, Connie is the hacker, Zakuro is the grifter/grease-man, and Ringo is the enforcer. Though they do all have skills in each area.

[I will get back to Descendants fic tomorrow. I’m sorry, everyone, I just totally blanked.]

Counterpoise drabble (2015-07-30)

This is our legacy, Zakuro thinks, as he watches Riichi-sensei’s indolent composure break to scream at his genin teammates. Anko-senpai and Satsuma-san do not hesitate to scream back.

“This is your fucking Exam, Anko, how do you not know when that bastard sneaks in as one of the contestants. He fucking spoke to you!”

“Don’t push this on me, Satsuma’s the one whose entire genin squad was a sleeper cell of his spies. They might as well have had Sound headbands on, you four-eyed idiot!”

“Riichi’s band of perfect little soldiers could hardly keep their covers through the preliminaries. Talk about not knowing your team–you didn’t even know what your student’s hair color is!”

“You have no right to talk about my team when they’re just cleaning up after the massive steaming pile of shit you call your squad!”

Back and forth the shouting goes, flinging insults and blame and accusations at each other. Yet no one actually says the name which started it all.


Konran, no longer quite as short as she used to be, yet still small enough to fit comfortably under Ringo’s chin–due to their own growth spurts–is huddled there. Her hood and bandana are in tatters, revealing the bright red mess that remains of a once neatly pinned up braid. Ringo, arms still shaking from nerve poison, tries to comfort her as best he can.

We don’t have to end up like them, Zakuro hopes, watching the adults tear open old wounds just to make each other hurt.

He joins his teammates, wrapping around them as best he can, as if so long as they were hidden they would be safe. He removes the shredded headband from Konran forehead, surprised it had stayed on even that long, and replaces it with his own, clumsily tying it in her preferred bandana style. For Ringo, he gently pulls his arms down, rubbing at biceps and forearms, in an attempt to massage away the pain.

It’s still obvious her hair is red, and Ringo’s the medic, not him, so he has no idea what he’s doing, but he tries. He wants to help.

They don’t say anything, both still in shock in their own ways, but Konran grabs the fabric of his shirt and pulls him even closer, and Ringo’s face presses into the curve of his neck and shoulder. Zakuro doesn’t ignore the spots of dampness, but he doesn’t say anything.

Every so often, Ringo gets gifts. It’s just… something that happens; has been happening since he was born and his parents decided to name him Ringo after his late aunt.

His father says they’re from Hatake Kakashi who, despite being an elite jounin, is kind of socially stupid. It’s survivor’s guilt, his father explains, because he was on a team with your aunt.

His mother contradicts: It’ll take a lot more than trinkets to make up for what he–

And that’s when father shushes her, at least when he can sense Ringo. Which, so far, has been every time.

But he can guess what mother was going to say. It’s… well… not public record, necessarily, but next of kin do get more details on cause of death, if not quite the full story. And, well, it’s hard to hide medical records from an entire clan of medic nin.

So, yeah, gifts. And despite what mother says they’re not really what he would call trinkets. Ringo gets a lot of really nice gear–top of the line mesh and weapons and the higher grade soldier pills. Not exactly out of his family’s pay range, but if he didn’t already get it for free, he’d probably end up buying the cheaper stuff for himself.

He also occasionally does get stuff that he would consider trinkets. Little pots of medicinal plants, books and scrolls, non-perishable food, and once, a particularly shiny and colorful rock. Small, inconsequential things, closer to annoying than useful, but he keeps everything regardless.

But… to be honest? He doesn’t think it’s just one gift giver. Ringo can tell which ones come from Hatake Kakashi–they usually follow after the occasions when he senses the familiar electric-bright shock of chakra on the roof opposite his bedroom. They tend to be… pointed, if not practical. If he tears one of his favorite shirts, a new, similar one will be given to him within the week. If he stares too long at the bookstore’s display for the next installment of Tokuina Bubun, then a brand new copy will end up on his windowsill.

But… some of them are really random. He doesn’t use senbon, but occasionally he’ll receive some. He doesn’t use elemental ninjutsu either, but D through B rank water and fire jutsu scrolls fill up his bookshelves. He wonders why water and fire, specifically, but he wonders why ninjutsu scrolls in general so… Or even, occasionally, girl’s clothing. Which is weird and which is the only stuff he doesn’t keep–unless sharing snacks counts as giving away. He passes those onto Konran who takes it with both confusion and aplomb.

So, yeah, possibly two gift givers. He’s not going to say anything, because this has literally been going on his entire life and there’s no need to make it an issue now all of a sudden. But he is curious. And… okay, maybe a little concerned?

Because if one of the gift givers is Hatake Kakashi who does it out of survivor’s guilt (or atonement)… then who is the second and for what reason are they doing it?


A/N: Oh god, I’m so sorry. I said I wasn’t going to do this series, but apparently I’m just a big liar face. So here’s some more Counterpoise! Featuring Zakuro and Ringo this time because, you know what? This series is about more than just Naruto’s twin sister, it’s her story and that includes the people that are important to her.

Aaaand, yes, I am implying that Obito is being a little creepy and giving Ringo gifts he would give to Rin if she were alive. Hahahaha. Are they courting gifts? Are they apology gifts? Who knows?

Well, I suppose Kakashi is also being a little creepy too.

And I firmly believe that Ringo will never refer to Kakashi with anything other than his full name. Always.