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Fandom Squad Shithead: A Naruto AU

Sub Genres
  1. Action
  2. Adventure
  3. AU
  4. Naruto Universe
Lore
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Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Tetsuo shrugged his arms in response after a moment. He couldn't remember if he'd heard a family name earlier. If it was a name he'd heard before, it wasn't ringing a bell. He would think he would remember some wrinkled case of stupidly-tall impractically-large-hat if he'd seen it before.

It took him a moment to register that Katsuro had ordered him, again, to attend to his teammates, and affirmed he would take care of this. When Tetsuo did finally understand, he nodded mutely. Should he say something? It didn't matter, because in the next moment Katsuro was gone. Tetsuo flinched when the grenade detonated, causing a much larger explosion than he was used to from paper bombs. He watched in awe Katsuro pounced on his opponent with an animalistic ferocity. He couldn't see anymore due to the smoke blown up from the bomb, but he heard the destruction his instructor had left in his wake.

He wanted to watch, but something told him that he needed to get himself far, far from their range if he didn't want to get caught in the crossfire. That, and he knew his teammates needed him.

Not wasting any more time, he ran back to find his teammates.

As if on cue, Haruki heard the bomb that was set off somewhere in the distance. His head still felt fuzzy and slow. He certainly didn't feel like he was in the right headspace to be tampering with some pouches hanging below a polar bear's waistline. That was nevertheless what he knew he would have to do. He nodded dumbly, then crawled closer to Toshio's waist to start rummaging for supplies. Haruki had his own, but they had all been in his bag which was God knows where now.

Tetsuo arrived then. He slowed, staring warily at Toshio, even though he knew logically it was Katsuro's summon, then ran straight to Mizu.

Haruki wanted to tell him that Mizu was alive (he assumed, anyway, since Toshio had told him to help patch them up, including her), but the words felt thick and muddled in his mouth, and he couldn't speak anymore. Tetsuo was pressing his head to her chest like he wouldn't believe it until he heard her heartbeat for himself anyway.

The silence between them, only broken by the slow, but steady, thumping of Mizu's heart, left far too much room for Tetsuo to hear his own thoughts now. This was his fault. He knew it, and that fact made him feel sick. He shouldn't have thrown those bombs, that was stupid of him. He could have just as much just let himself get sucked in to try to land a hit. It had just been a clone, after all. He'd seen firsthand Mizu put her own body in front of Genzo's, just to cover every mistake he had made. It was cowardly that he hadn't gotten the nerve to do the same. When the wind bullets had come, too, he should have pulled her out. Knocked out, she had been completely left open to attack. He assumed that it was Toshio that had dragged her here, and if he or Katsuro had shown up any later...

He stopped himself there. He didn't have time to list off every one of his regrets. He'd drive himself insane if he did.

Tetsuo picked himself off the ground. He grabbed a canteen out of his bag and took a swig. It barely did anything to help his throat. Tetsuo wiped the dribble of water off the corner of his mouth. "Haruki, take care of her and I'll cover you."

Haruki hesitated, having found the supplies Toshio had told him to grab, but suddenly blanking on which he needed now. "What do I..."

Tetsuo couldn't believe this needed to be saved, then he remembered the exact airhead that he was dealing with. "Stop the bleeding first. That cut," he pointed to the one from the wind bullet, "looks worst, so start with that."

He nodded, even though he was still unsure of the best way to do this. He grabbed gauze, but it felt too wide and not long enough. He heard Tetsuo walking around him and started to try to push Mizu's body on her side to get a better angle for the cut.

Tetsuo interjected. "Jeez, if you're going to do that, at least sit her up."

Haruki nodded numbly, just as before, but before he could do anything, Tetsuo had already wrapped his arms under Mizu's pits and lift and drag her up against the nearest trunk. Haruki followed.

Blood had dribbled down to Haruki's fingertips from all the cuts lining his arms. He pressed the clean side of the gauze up against the cut.

Of all injuries Haruki had sustained, the one that concerned Tetsuo the most was whatever had bloodied his hair. He stood behind where Haruki leaned over Mizu and, gingerly, dug through matted hair to find the cut on his scalp. He heard Haruki suck in a breath when his fingertips found open flesh. It was close to the middle, but thankfully it didn't seem like he'd cracked his head open or anything. He poked at it a few more time to find an approximate start and end point then, without warning, started pouring the lukewarm water on his head. "What happened?" he asked, brushing his fingers through soft hair to try to run the blood clumps out.

"There was a paperbomb. Knocked me into a crane." Haruki spoke uncharacteristically quiet. He didn't have the energy to say any more than that, and a wave of dizziness washed over his again with the blood washing down his head.

Without a word, Tetsuo pressed dressing of his own to the cut on Haruki's head to stuff any more bleeding.
 

Gilzar

Bear With Me Here ?
Administrator
The stalemate between Katsuro and Genzo continued. Genzo kept his sword raised in one hand, while keeping his other hand prepared to throw out hand seals out his knives. Anything to keep this jonin back. Genzo examined this man, and now that he was much closer Genzo could begin to make out his characteristics. For a moment or so, Genzo looked at Katsuro before spotting the scar running along his face, and his rather unique mohawk haircut. After a moment, realization overcame his demeanor. Much like Katsuro had figured out who he was, Genzo had figured out who Katsuro was. Both of these men were famous war veterans on their respective fronts.

Katsuro once again made the first move, this time he lunged out a kunai before dashing over to Genzo's flank. Only this time, Genzo was prepared for Katsuro's speed. The moment he lost sight of Katsuro he immediately lunged to the side, narrowly dodging both the kunai and a ferocious kick thrown by Katsuro. Though it missed, he could feel the force generated by it narrowly skimming by his face. Immediately Genzo slashed his sword down to counter Katsuro, but was met with Katsuro's kunai-knife and his blade was stopped. Rather than recourse, Genzo pressed his weight down on the blade, trying to break through Katsuro's guard.

"Katsuro Katashi, the bulldog of Konoha." Genzo called out as both men struggled. "Didn't think I'd run into you out here."

Katsuro, not one much for talking in the midst of combat, said nothing. Instead, he opted to try and connect with another punch. Easing one hand off his kunai knife, he readied himself to throw another punch. Only this time he wouldn't get the chance to throw it. Utilizing his free hand, Genzo made a hand sign and blasted Katsuro back with wind once again. Genzo knew he couldn't keep up with Katsuro in close range. With his sword, he could hold him off and buy time to get away, but it was unlikely that he could win any taijutsu exchanges. With space between them once again, Genzo knelt down on one knee and did his hand signs.

Once again, he fired out a volley of airbullets. Katsuro quickly recovered from being blasted back, and sprinted to the right to. Behind him, each bullet narrowly missed and tore about the trees like paper. The barrage stopped, but now Genzo had both space and time to finally do some prep work. At the moment he had a little less than half his chakra remaining. He needed to finish this. Reaching into his gear bag, Genzo tossed down several smoke pellets, disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

Katsuro halted in front of the cloud of smoke, and immediately began hand signs of his own. "Fire Style, Dragon's Breath!"

Katsuro focused his energy, then blasted out a wide, continuous stream of fire right into the smoke. If he couldn't see Genzo, he'd burn him out.

Mizu

As Mizu sat upright on the nearest tree trunk, she slowly began to fade back into consciousness. Her eyes slowly began to open, but her vision was blurry. In her ears there was this loud ringing noise, like an explosion had happened right next to her ears. Instantly she had to close her eyes again, as the incoming light was blinding. She groaned, as the front of her body was in pain. Immediately she clutched against her side, before keeling over and coughing up blood from her dried throat. Now steadying herself, she began to get her bearings. She hurt like hell all over her body, but she could still move...somewhat. Using the tree trunk, she stood herself up.

It didn't take long for her to notice the other two, as well as the bear. Just then, as she clutched her side, had she remembered what had happened. They were fighting Genzo...and then they were here. She didn't recall getting the wound on her side, or even ending up here. She just remembered getting sucked into the vortex and seeing that paper bomb...Immediately she realized what had happened, and her head shot over to the other two, with a scorned look on her ashen face.

"Which one of you thought it was a good idea to throw the paperbombs?!"

She grunted again, and continued to clutch her side. There were sounds of fighting in the background, and she could see the polar bear was here. Did this mean that Katsuro had finally arrived.

"Where's Genzo?"
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
In spite of the noisiness from the battle afar, Haruki had started feeling unfocused and tired. He jolted back to the present at the sound of Mizu groaning. "Mizu," he said, blinking. In his surprise, he eased up the pressure on the wound. Then her body racked over, coughing blood, and he frowned with worry. Shocked, and still feeling strangely detached, he did nothing to stop her when she got to her feet.

Tetsuo had also been watching her with surprise and concern. This didn't last long, when in the next moment she was shrieking with anger. As though forgetting the remorse he'd felt just moments before, he felt a rush of anger of his own. He hadn't noticed before, but the very sound of her voice annoyed him.

"How about you shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down?" he said, drilling a glare at her.

"Ow ow ow ow, Tetsuo," Haruki whined.

Without realizing it, Tetsuo's fist had clenched up and he was pressing down, hard, right on Haruki's wound. He eased up, moving the dressing to a cleaner part. The bleeding had slowed some, but he might need to get another dressing in a moment.

He tilted his chin to the direction where he'd last seen the man. "Katsuro just showed. He's dealing with him now."
 

Gilzar

Bear With Me Here ?
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Mizu continued to clutch her side, now glaring at Tetsuo due to his retort, and treatment of Haruki. Even in the midst of battle, and in an aftermath where they were all beat up Tetsuo still had an attitude. She didn't even accuse him of throwing the paperbombs, but he pretty much answered who probably threw them. Her grip tightened on her side - he could have killed her. Had she not dug her kunia into the dirt, she would have been closer to the explosion and lord knows what condition she'd be in, if not dead.

"You asshole!" Mizu shouted, grunting in pain, as shouting made her wound hurt more. "You could have killed me!"

"Enough you two!" Toshio growled to the two bickering genin. "Mizu, you're loosing blood. Sit down so you can be treated. Keep pressure on your side too."

Mizu bit her teeth together in frustration, groaning as she sat down. Being stubborn however, she wasn't going to wait and depend on someone else to patch her up. Reaching into her shinobi pack, Mizu pulled out a roll of gauze wrapping. She put the roll into her left hand, and clamped down tightly on the roll as she lifted the lower part of her shirt just enough to expose the bare wounds on the right side of her lower torso, though obviously not too high. She then bit her teeth down onto the lower part of her shirt to keep it up, and began to wrap the gauze on her side. This wound would need disinfectant, but in this place it could wait.
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Tetsuo's face flushed with his temper. The sounds of Katsuro and Genzo's fight were an ever present reminder of danger. If it weren't for that, he might have been able to relax, and maybe he wouldn't feel so ready to fight over the slightest accusation, but these were the conditions they were in.

Before he could shout his retort, the bear intervened, and reminded them of their most present concern.

Tetsuo bit his tongue, but his face was still red and he kept glaring at Mizu as she sat back down and started to patch herself up. She was a real idiot, he thought to himself, throwing a huge bitch fit even when she was grunting and groaning in pain every five seconds because of it. He also resented the roughness with which she took it upon herself to stubbornly apply her own gauze, not thinking about how that's exactly something he would've done.

Haruki started slumping to the side a little. Tetsuo saw his eyes looking glassy, staring ahead past Mizu towards absolutely nothing else in the treeline.

"Hey," Tetsuo said, reaching over to snap his fingers in his ear and roughly pat his cheek. "Stay awake, idiot."

Haruki sat up a little straighter and refocused his eyes. He sighed, because all he wanted to do was take a nap. He'd always wanted to sleep in some grass. Maybe this time it wouldn't be as itchy as it had been before and he'd have the most blissful slumber right here. Haruki just held onto the gauze, not really having anything to do with his hands now. It had barely absorbed anything, since he'd neglected to lift her shirt, so he only managed to soak up what was bleeding through the fabric.

Tetsuo swapped the gauze he was using for a cleaner one, then started looping a bandage over it, then under Haruki's jaw, then back up. Next would be dealing with the bleeding in his arms.
 

Gilzar

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Administrator
The flames settled from the smoke, and only one Genzo would emerge from beneath the flames of Katsuro's breath. His back was charred, and smoke could be seen rising form his visibly smoked back. He dug his sword into the ground, trying to keep himself upright from the attack that had just occured. Though Genzo was in a vulnerable state, Katsuro would show no mercy. From underneath his sleeve he slipped out more high grade explosives. He chucked these at Genzo, and they exploded. But to his surprise they would pop Genzo into a shroud of water. Immediately Katsuro caught onto what was happening: Genzo was trying to set him up for a trap. Instantly, Katsuro dashed to the side to avoid a counter attack, narrowly avoiding the blade of Genzo. A moment or two passed, as he took in the severity of what he just dodged. Then, the war veteran retaliated. He threw forward a large punch, filled with chakra in hopes of ending this encounter.

Much to Katsuro's dismay however, he had just stumbled into a trap. The moment he made contact with the clone, it burst into an explosion of wind. There was a loud bang, and Katsuro was cut up and hurled back by the force of the explosion. Luckily his flak jacket protected his chest from the force, but Katsuro was still banged up by it. Much like the genin that Genzo had previously encountered, Katsuro covered his head as his arms and torso were cut up by the volatile wind clone. In pain, but still determined to destroy his opponent, Katsuro brought himself to his feet. But it didn't end there. From behind Katsuro, Genzo emerged from a puddle of water, handsigns already made.

"Wind Style, wind bullets!"

A barrage of wind bullets were fired toward Katsuro. Immediately Katsuro took off, narrowly avoiding the bullets as they were all hurled in his direction. He weaved between trees to make himself harder to hit, as well as jumping in the air to make himself harder to hit. Katsuro's retreat at this point had gotten him to a long range against Genzo. This is where Genzo wanted him to be, and Katsuro wasn't going to allow him to get comfortable. He shifted his direction of running, and dug back into his flak jacket and pulled out his heavy grade explosives. With a lunge, Katsuro tossed them straight toward Genzo. Recognizing the explosives, Genzo retreated by back, giving Katsuro time to close the distance and get close to Genzo. Immediately he began hurling punches and kicks toward the rogue sand ninja. Genzo dodged most of them, although just barely. He knew better than to try and exchange with Katsuro, as he wasn't skilled enough to keep up with his speed and power. When the opportunity presented himself, he leaped away from Katsuro, tossing down a paperbomb to cover his retreat so he wouldn't be flanked.

Mizu meanwhile looked back over at the sound of explosions, shocked and awed at this sight before her. So this was what happened when two high-level jonin met? She recalled that hearing Kaito say that Katsuro was one of his best Jonin...but to see him in action was completely different. Katsuro was fast, aggresive, and relentless. Meanwhile Genzo was smooth and slick with his movements, and precise with his attacks. It seemed like every time Katsuro had the upper hand he'd pull something out of his sleeve like that exploding wind clone.

Gritting her teeth together, Mizu got back to bandaging herself up. She made one last loop before she finally tied the gauze together to finish up her own treatment. She then stood up, leaning against the tree near her for support.

"We can't just sit here. Shouldn't we do something?"
 
Last edited:

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Tetsuo finished wrapping up Haruki's head. It probably looked silly, but he cared much more about function over form. Next he rounded Haruki and lifted his arms with his hands. Haruki allowed this without protest. Instead, he tried to leaned forward to try to reach the tree trunk for rest, but Tetsuo pushed him back to sit up. It was at an awkward angle that would've been uncomfortable with in a matter of seconds anyway. Not to mention it was getting in the way of Tetsuo inspecting his arms.

He saw now there were tiny cuts and scrapes all over, as well as a few large gashes from the wind bullets that tore into his forearms. Not to mention the deep wounds where his shuriken had been blown back, embedded into him.

Fuck it. Tetsuo unrolled a heaping of bandaging to wrap his entire arms. It was hard to find one part worse that the others. His arms were just fucked up all over.

When Mizu spoke, Tetsuo looked at her like she'd grown a third head. "Like what?" he asked, so incredulous he'd stopped wrapping Haruki's arms. He couldn't believe this. Mizu had just woken up, and she's trying to jump back in already. Specifically, jumping into a fight against a seasoned rogue hellbent on killing them. He hadn't been watching the fight, but he could hear it. He heard very well how their clash was leveling the whole forest around them. Whatever was going on there, he felt certain that they'd only gotten a taste of this man's power now. Just the thought of challenging him again flashed the sinking feeling of Genzo diving at him from the air again, then the sensation his arms were peeling down to his flesh all over again.

So dumbstruck by the suggestion, by her of all people, that he didn't even say anything in protest.
 

Gilzar

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Mizu looked over at her comrade, the sounds of battle still thundering over in the distance. Though it was obvious that they were outgunned on almost every turn by Genzo, Mizu still felt empowered to do something. It just felt wrong leaving Katsuro to handle Genzo all alone when they had plenty of tools at their disposal. Though, maybe it was just he inner pride. As she looked into the eyes of Tetsuo, she could see that he didn't agree. Still clutching her side, it made sense to her.

"I just hate sitting here, and doing nothing..." She spoke grimly to Tetsuo. "It just feels like everything is out of our hands right now."

Meanwhile, Genzo and Tetsuo continued their dance of combat. The two had exchanged at close range a few times, but Genzo managed to weasel his way out of them. In one instance he even took Katsuro by surprise and engaged him, cutting Katsuro bad over his right shoulder.

"Wind Style: Rolling Thunder!"

Wind envoloped all of Katsuro's body, forming a tornado-like shape around him that torpedoed straight to Genzo. As it barreled toward Genzo, tons of paper bombs and explosives were hurled all around it, creating a path of destruction following it. Having no choice, Genzo retreated into the air once more to try and escape it. While he dodged the tornado, he couldn't escape the explosions. One of the explosive tags nailed him, sending him hurling away. The damage was great, and Genzo's ears rang as he steadied himself to his feet. He wiped the blood away from his lip, before a smile grew across it. The stories were true. Katsuro Katashi really was one of the leaf's finest. He was unrelenting, and even though he was straightforward with his attacks it was still fast enough and strong enough to be effective.

Genzo began to make handsigns, though not for an offensive move. His chakra reserves were low, and he knew that in his current state he couldn't beat Katsuro. He'd have to retreat, and formulate a strategy to beat Katsuro. That was exactly what he did as well. In an instance, Genzo leaped into the air, before whirlwinding off into the air at an incredible speed.

Katsuro stood, breathing intensely. He kept his guard up for a moment or so, before he realized that Genzo was truly gone. Though he kept an eye out for anything that the rogue sand nin may have been pulling, Katsuro walked his way back to his students. As he walked, he picked up whatever scraps of the Genin's supplies he could find. Things like Mizu's staff, Haruki's bag, and anything that might have gotten knocked out of it.

It didn't take long to locate Toshi and them. There was a looming silence as the adrenaline of combat left his veins. Though it was unusual for Mizu, this was typical for Katsuro. He didn't appear to be bothered by it at all, but that's what happens when one is as experienced as Katsuro. This was just another battle, and he doubted that would be the last they saw of Genzo. Katsuro set all of their items down, before looking the three of them over. Of all of them, Mizu was in the worse shape. Her side was badly damaged by one of Genzo's air bullets. If they hadn't arrived in time...who knows what would have happened. For a moment or so, Katsuro looked into the distance, as if looking for someone who was hidden. Then he turned to the others.

Though still huffing in and out, Katsuro pulled out a cigarette and lighter. He lit it, in his typical fashion. After all that excitement he needed it to calm down.

"Are you three okay? Can you walk?"
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
For a second, he thought she might have had a plan. If there was something for them to do, then he'd be willing to do it. But instead, all she had was that she felt wrong sitting there and felt the need to do something.

Before Tetsuo could retort, there was the howling sound of wind funneling from Katsuro's jutsu, and a cacophony of explosions that would have swallowed anything he could say. He walked forward to take a look, but all he managed to see was Katsuro standing still. He waited, then saw the jounin start to walk, no sign of Genzo, but collecting Mizu's staff from the ground.

Tetsuo walked back to finish dressing Haruki's arms as their sensei made his way back to them.

When Katsuro arrived, he waited in the thick silence for the man to say something. Even though Tetsuo had gotten out of the fight a while ago, he just looking at the rise and fall of Katsuro's chest made him aware of his own pattern of breathing: a little heavy from the adrenaline still in his system. He noticed the gash on the jounin's arm and wondered if he planned on doing anything about it.

Tetsuo was the first to respond to his questions. "We're fine."

He then looked at his comrades, as if to double check his answer. Haruki had looked over when Katsuro had arrived, but now he was staring back at nothing in the treeline. His answer was to nod, slow and silent.

Tetsuo looked back to Katsuro. "You're bleeding," he commented, as though to remind him. "Is he really gone?"
 

Gilzar

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When Tetsuo pointed out the wound on his arm, a puzzled look overcame Katsuro, and he looked down at his arm. "Huh?"

Running down his arm was a deep gash, bleeding down his blue sleeve. Because of all the adrenaline in his system, Katsuro hadn't even noticed the wound. Immediately he put his hand over the gash, putting pressure against it to stop the bleeding. He then walked over to Toshio, and reached his free hand into another one of the bear's pouches, pulling out bandages and anti-biotics. During this, Tetsuo asked if he thought Genzo was gone.

"I think so." Katsuro responded simply, rubbing antibiotics against the wound. He let out a sigh, as his breathing slowly returned to normal. Of all the things in the woods, the last thing he ever would have expected to run into was Genzo Yoshikazu. Just why were they looking for a little girl as well? Just thinking about it made Katsuro frown. There were so many things about this case that just wasn't adding up.

"You three are lucky. You know that right?" Katsuro asked the three of them. "That was Genzo Yoshikazu, a notorious war veteran from the hidden sand."

Katsuro took a moment to inhale more of his smoke, before exhaling and continuing.

"They call him the Jackal, and for good reason. He's a very opportunistic fighter, and they say in the desert he's almost unbeatable with his wind attacks and unorthodox style. That's an A-rank criminal you three just went toe-to-toe with."
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
"It's not like we just stood there," Tetsuo retorted.

Logically, he knew that Katsuro was right, that they had just lucked out. There's no reason to believe that a squad of three genin could stand a chance against an A-rank rogue, much less a squad's first fight together, with Haruki acting lame during most of it. Even though he knew that, he felt annoyed that the jounin chalked it up to nothing more than sheer luck they'd managed to survive that long. They'd busted their asses off, and even though he had been annoyed when Genzo appraised them, he had said he and Mizu were above-average genin.

It was bizarre to him knowing now that that man had been a war veteran. He'd always imagined rogues as always being criminals, maybe even being born that way. How does someone go from fighting for their land to being outcast from it?

"What the fuck is he doing here, then?" he continued, gesturing to the land around them. "He's got some big reputation, but all he's doing is hanging around some stupid ass samurai trying to hunt down this dumb girl. Which, by the way, we had caught those two, but they fucking got away."

Haruki looked up then, not too much unlike he'd come out of a dream. "He had said that Rei was worth a lot of money," he said, still speaking quiet as he looked between Tetsuo and their sensei.
 

Gilzar

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"The fuck?!" Katsuro immediately replied to Tetsuo, shocked that a missing girl would have a price on her head. Just why the hell would someone other than her father be paying money to find Rei? Just when this case couldn't grow anymore confusing it had. First the girl wondering so far in the woods at such a random pattern, then her trail leading through the minefield, and now someone else trying to get the little girl. As Katsuro patched himself up, he tried to make sense of it all. Like all respected Jonin, Katsuro head read up on most of the BINGO book, and he did remember most of the details about Genzo.

"Genzo's just a bounty hunter for under-ground crime syndicates across the nations. If he's here, then that girl's worth a lot of money to someone. Those Samurai are probably part of a crew he hired..."

Katsuro finished bandaging his arm, then adjusted his glasses back up. Picking his bag back up, he slung it over his shoulders.

"Alright. We're calling it for today. You're all too beat up to keep looking for her, and we need to get some questions answered. Something tells me our employer hasn't given us all the details about Rei's disappearance. If you feel like you're too hurt to walk, get on the back of the bear."

With that said, Katsuro began to lead the team back to the village. Mizu, still clutching her side, followed behind. While she was just as confused as the others likely were, she was just too exhausted to express it. Her pain would come and go in her side. Sometimes it ached so much she had to lean up against Toshio. Other times she could walk freely.
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Tetsuo's face fell. He felt like they'd barely made any progress with searching for the girl. They found one clue, then got stuck dealing with Genzo and the ronin. As if there wasn't enough pressure before, trying to find a girl that had already been lost for a few days, now they were racing against an A-rank rogue and his gang of hired thugs. He didn't like that they could get an edge on them while they rest, but he couldn't argue with Katsuro's decision. The genjutsu alone had worn him out mentally, and Mizu and Haruki both were in far worse shape than him. Though he wouldn't admit it, he knew it was too dangerous for him to go searching on his own, and there was no way he could ask Katsuro to go with him.

If there was something he was happy about, it was holding that Sando guy accountable for whatever information he'd been withholding from them. It was easy for him to feel suspicious, if for no other reason than he'd decided he didn't like this guy. There was a part of him hoping Katsuro would rip him a new one.

Tetsuo took another swig of his canteen, cleared his throat, then followed Katsuro out the quarry.

Haruki was sluggish to get to his feet and walk over to collect his bag. Normally, he would have jumped on the opportunity to ride on Toshio. His whole body was aching from unprecedented strain, but a depressing wave of exhaustion had washed over him, and more than riding a bear he wanted pity and attention. At the moment, he was getting neither of these.

He heaved an enormous sigh when he hoisted his bag off the ground, then gave a pained, whining, "Ow," when he set it on his shoulder.

After no immediate turned heads of concern, he sidled his way closer to Tetsuo. "Hey, Tetsuo, could you carry my bag for me?"

Tetsuo looked at him for a moment, neither seeming to particularly care or pass judgment. Then he rolled his eyes, sighed, replaced his canteen in his own bag, then took Haruki's and threw slung it over his shoulder.

Haruki made a show of sighing in relief, then thanked him.

Instead of responding, or otherwise acknowledging him any more in any way, Tetsuo turned back to Katsuro to ask, "Did you find anything where you went?"
 

Gilzar

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Taking a moment to rest, Katsuro looked back to his team. He then looked off into the distance, disappointed by the lack of information he had for them. After a moment, he just shook his head. Right now he didn't know anything more than when they had set out this morning. All that he knew was Rei was somewhere deep in the forest, across a mienfield. Katsuro knew that the genin would only become more confused with the answer, but at the same time he had to be transparent with them. If he thought they were annoying now, they'd be even more annoying if they became convinced he was lying to them.

"No. The trail just keeps going on. We followed it all the way to a minefield before we saw your flare."

Mizu stopped when Katsuro stopped, and was speechless to his reply. Her mouth gaped open as she tried to comprehend what he'd just said. Rei had run through a minefield? Why would she do such a thing? Could she even be alive after doing such a thing?

"Do you think she's dead, sensei?" Mizu asked.

"No. I think she's light enough that she wouldn't set off the land-mines." Katsuro replied.

"If she was dead in the minefields I'd be able to smell her corpse." Toshio added. Mizu glared over at the bear, somewhat disturbed by his reply.

"Well, then it's settled." Katsuro replied. "Tomorrow we're heading down to those minefields to continue the search. After we get our answers I'm going to start you all on training to walk over landmines."

Now well rested, Katsuro began to wlak off again, and Toshio began to follow. Mizu, still trying to take in the statement immediately followed. She wanted to protest, but she knew Katsuro was right. If they didn't know how to walk over landmines then things may get interesting.

Hopefully you can all learn quick."
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Tetsuo, having stopped when Katsuro stopped, looked visibly relieved when he and Toshio announced that Rei had not blown herself up in some abandoned minefield, like his first instinct had told him. This relief didn't last long at all, because then he was thinking about how screwed they all were if they, specifically Haruki, didn't get this training down right before they were sent to search through a mine field just the next day.

Then there was a small part of him that felt if he hadn't set off the flare so soon, Katsuro would have been able to investigate the mine field more. They probably could have held out for a little longer, he thought now, and maybe they wouldn't have to be facing another day where Rei was somewhere wandering further out from them. The minimal progress they had made frustrated him, but there was nothing they could do now.

Haruki was looking uncharacteristically pensive as he stood there with them. He was probably just as pessimistic about the mine training, if he had to guess, based on his graceless dunk into the water earlier.

He saw not out to this training for them This land was simply too riddled with traps, with apparently an infestation of girls who liked testing their luck with them. He saw no point in arguing, and so Tetsuo hefted and adjusted the two bags he now carried, and walked on following the rest of his squad.
 

Gilzar

Bear With Me Here ?
Administrator
Though the trip was long and exhausting, given the state that they all were in, eventually the group made it back to town, just as the sun began to lower itself over the horizon. In just a few hours, it would be nightfall, and Rei would still be out there. The thought of not having the girl yet bothered both Katsuro and Mizu. However, there was noting either of them could do about it. If they continued to explore the woods at night, especially in the state they were in, then they'd eventually find themselves lost as well.

Once they arrived to the village, Toshio was de-summoned. Though it wasn't spoken, the bear was likely aware that his services would be called upon again tomorrow. Katsuro lead them up the hill, and toward the manner. Just like before, the hillside path was riddled with armed guards, eyeing the group's every move. Eventually, they had arrived to the gate of the manner. One of the guards hollered to open the gate, and once again the team found themselves within the confides of Tekara manor. At this point, activity had died down. The once busy courtyard now was only filled with a few roaming guards, walking along the walls of the compound to ensure there would be no intruders. Though Katsuro once batted an eye at this, he was beginning to formulate his own ideas on just why this place was so well guarded.

Then, from out of the main doors of the manner came the bald servant, Yoshiyo. Just looking at the group, the old man gasped, covering his mouth with his hands and hastily walking to the team.

"What happened to you all? Where's Rei? Did you find anything out there?!"

"Where's your employer Sando?" Katsuro asked abruptly, ignoring Yoshiyo's questions all together.

"He's...." Yoshiyo paused, taken back by Katsuro's remarks. "I'll get him in a moment. Please, come inside so that we may patch you all up!"

Yoshiyo bowed to the group, then hastily led them back inside the manor. Rather than taking them to a courtyard, he instead took them to what appeared to be a dining-room of sorts, but for guests. The walls of the room were finely decorated, and laid out on the table was a wide variety of food. One could guess that this was likely laid out for them, and waiting for them upon their return. The servant motioned for the team to take a seat, and Katsuro complied this time around. Mizu took a seat as well.

"I'll grab first aid as well as Mr. Tekara." Yoshiyo replied. He left the group momentarily, and could be heard shouting orders down the corridors as he searched for Sando Tekara.

"Let me ask the questions." Katsuro remarked as the sound of multiple footsteps, and a cane beating against the ground.

Sando came caning in eagerly, looking at the whole squad anxiously. His fingers rubbed against the wood of his cane as his eyes beaded at every group member.

"What happened? Where is my daughter?!" Sando asked. Behind him several servants came in, all with bandages and various other first aid supplies. They began to tend to the group's wounds, patching up anything they may have missed and replacing old bandages.

"She's still out there. My students were ambushed by mercenaries looking for your daughter as well."

Sando paused, taking in what was just said. "Pardon me?"

Katsuro bashed his hands against the table in anger, and swatted away the servants tended to his arm. He marched across the room to Sando, irritated by the entire situation.

"You left a lot of shit out of the mission details." Katsuro remarked. "Do you mind telling me just what Genzo Yoshikazu is doing looking for your daughter out in the middle of the fucking woods?"

Sando just stared blankly, backing up slowly from Katsuro.

"As for your daughter, you should know that she wandered into a minefield, and that's as far as we could follow the trail."

The caned man bit against his lips as he thought of everything laid out before him. He wiggled his cane in nervousness, as he stared to the floor. Slowly, his eyes traveled back up to the grizzled Jonin standing before him.

"I didn't know they would be out there. Had I known that information on Rei missing had traveled that fast I would have told you."

"Told us what?!"

Once again, Sando looked away uncomfortably, shifting his mouth over to the side as he thought how to word this.

"I used to do business with the Naku Shita. Distribution through the blackmarket, much more cost efficient way to sell goods after the war was over. Eventually the market rebounded, and criminal organizations were no longer profitable for my enterprise. So, I cut ties. Now they want my empire back under their grip, and they don't want to ask nicely. My wife is dead, and I only have a daughter. They likely want to ransom my daughter to me in exchange for my business, the same way they'd blackmail other businesses who cut ties with them. That's why I have so many guards here, and that's why I've been doing everything I can to find her quickly."

He sighed. "Though I suppose it's all in vein now that they have Genzo on the job. He could kill every guard in this compound."

"Fuck...." Katsuro muttered, sitting back down, as he rubbed his hand through his hair. "We're dealing with the Naku Shita?"
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Haruki could smell the buffet before he could see it. Herbs that almost covered up the smell of fish, and when he was being seated with the rest of his team, he saw heaps of rice next to dishes full of skewered meats. Now with it in front of him finally, he wasn't as enthusiastic about the several-course meal as he'd first imagined he would be. No doubt he was hungry and eating would help boost his energy again, but in the wake of the upcoming discourse, he felt ill at ease.

Haruki slumped at the table, and after scooting the plate laid before him further up out of the way, he planted his face cheek-first on the table. When a swarm of servants lifted his arms, gave him fresh bandages, he did nothing to protest. He adjusted his body in little ways to help the grabbing hands reach where they were trying to, wincing at the ointment dabbing at his deeper wounds, but he kept his face firmly attached to the sleek whatever-sort-of-expensive-wood table they were seated at.

It took Katsuro banging his fist against the table for him to finally lift his head in alarm. He was shocked to find that none of the dishes had spilled over by the force of their sensei beating the piece of furniture.

Tetsuo stood up in surprise, too, when Katsuro did this, though much less surprised than Haruki was by the jounin's actions. A small part of him had been looking forward to this.

A servant had tried to grab his arm and push his sleeves up with care, but like his jounin sensei, Tetsuo batted him away with his hands. The man looked shocked, even moreso when Tetsuo fixed him with a mean glare. The other servant that had accompanied this one exchanged a look with the first, until they awkwardly looked away and respectively went to Haruki and Mizu's side to see what they could do to help.

Sando's arrival had annoyed him tenfold. The urgent way he and Yoshiyo both had asked for Rei pissed him off. Couldn't they see with their own eyes they didn't fucking have her? And now it took Katsuro storming towards the cripple like he could lunge towards him for their client to admit how exactly he'd fucked them over. He didn't know who the Naku Shita were, nor did he fully understand the precise economics that he discussed to justify his actions, but he understood enough to know that he'd gotten into some illegal shit that was coming back to bite them all in the ass.

"You should have told us," he said, both stern and accusatory.

Haruki had also never heard of that organization. Was it not just a gang Genzo ran that was looking for this missing girl?

He leaned closer to where Mizu was to whisper, "Isn't that just like those samurai we dealt with earlier? What's the big deal?"
 

Gilzar

Bear With Me Here ?
Administrator
Mizu was just as shocked as Katsuro, and it showed. She was visibly troubled by the news that the Naku Shita were behind Genzo's appearance in the woods. They were in over their heads at this point. Four ninja against an entire criminal underground organization, run by the most ruthless gang leaders the land had ever seen. For once, her and Tetsuo were in the same mindset. Sando should have warned them about this, and it angered her. Maybe if he would have been more specific, then the village would have sent in a team of Chunin plus a jonin rather than just them. Just as she was debating chiming in, Haruki leaned over and asked Mizu just what the big deal was.

Mizu glared over at Haruki. Earlier in the day she would have been surprised, and scolded him for his lack of knowledge. But at this point, she had grown used to how naive he was and just accepted the statement.

"The Naku Shita are the most powerful criminal organization throughout the 5 great nations." Mizu whispered back. "Those thugs were only a tiny glimpse of what they're capable of. If they wanted, they could probably rally an entire army of thugs and send them our way. Just look at Genzo, for example. That's the kind of people they have at their disposal."

Sando meanwhile, gave a sternful gaze toward Katsuro and Tetsuo. "You have every right to be angry with me, but you have no right to judge me. If you were in my shoes, you would have done the exact same thing. It's not like I'm proud of what I did..."

Sando paused, before continuing. "I apologize for leaving out that information, but I wasn't going to tell you unless it was absolutely necessary. If you'd have found Rei, instead of Genzo, we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

Katsuro, somewhat satisfied at the reply, made his way back to the seat. "From now on, I want full transparency between us."

"Fine. Just let me ask, what do you think my daughter doing running through a minefield? I've scolded her multiple times to stay away from them, she knows well enough to keep out."

"Well." Katsuro replied, allowing the servants to began patching him up once again. "Your daughter went a pretty good distance, in a very scattered trail. By my experience in this field, I'd say she was being pursued by something. No one just wanders off that far, even if you're a little girl."

"Pursued by what?"

"Maybe an animal, or something. Hard to tell, but she seemed to be in a hurry."

Sando looked to the floor, taking in Katsuro's news. Once again, he began to shake in anxiety. "You don't think she's d-"

"No. My tracker would have picked up the scent of a corpse if so. She's still alive out there, somewhere."

Sando let out a small sigh, somewhat relieved.

"I suppose you're all done for the night then. Is there any other questions you have that I can answer?"
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
"You me an like there's more Genzos?" Haruki said, paling. "No way..."

They'd already barely survived the situation they'd been. He couldn't imagine facing even more missing-nin like that. It was bad enough knowing that Genzo was out there, but now they had to worry about him having a boss that could have it out for them now.

He sank back down in his seat with a hopeless sigh. Haruki stared down at the polished wood of the table while the servant continued to replace his dressings, careful not to jostle his head too much while they did this.

Tetsuo, meanwhile, unlike his teacher, felt no satisfaction from their client's answer. There was no universe where he would have made dealings with criminals, and he was appalled at the mere suggestion that he would have done anything like the way their client has been handling this situation. If he really cared about his daughter, he wouldn't have even taken the risk. It was all just excused made for his own comfort. It was pathetic.

He was rough when he finally sat back down in his seat, and he made a point to glare at their client the entire time. It was only through sheer stubborn spirit he managed to do this when he started shaking with worry that his daughter may be dead.

So maybe he did care about her a little bit. His actions were still irresponsible, and he would continue to judge him for it. If this was anyone other than their client, Tetsuo would've let him know, too.

Instead, he very deliberately chose to ignore his question and look back at Katsuro. "So what now?"

Taking the cue from the servants that were patching the rugged jounin up again, the two that had tried tending to Tetsuo's wounds approached him again, but Tetsuo swatted them away again like they were a swarm of gnats.
 

Gilzar

Bear With Me Here ?
Administrator
"Well..."

Katsuro looked back at all of his genin for a moment, and at the servants patching them up. It looked like they had gained some energy back just by sitting here, and that they were finally starting to calm their nerves now that they were out of the elements of the forest. While he was eager to train them on how to walk next to land mines, Katsuro also knew that these genin didn't have the gas-tank that he had. They'd need a few hours worth of rest before training began.

"Let's eat, and rest for an hour or so. When the sun sets, we will go in the gardens and begin training for the night."

Katsuro looked over to Mizu. "Don't worry. It's not going to be anything taxing. Just chakra control exercises. You all have to learn how to walk near landmines if this Op is going to run smoothly."

"Very well." Sando said. "Feel free to use the courtyard however you please. Just don't break anything, girl." Sando said, eyeing Mizu as he limped out of the room.

Before them sat a wide assortment of food. It contained a wide variety never seen before by the likes of Mizu. Some of these food items she'd only seen in books, while others were completely foreign to her. Carefully, she slid in closer to the table and began to pick out her food onto her plate. Katsuro did much of the same. However, though it may have been exciting to his students, to Katsuro this was nothing new. He'd grown up in a place like this, eating lavish meals nightly. He dreaded the very thought of remembering that life, or that he once had the opportunity to return to it.

"Alright everyone." Katsuro said. "We've had a long day. Let's enjoy this while we can before we start working again."

With that being said, Mizu began to eat her food, taking in every bite. After a long day like this, food had never tasted the way it did at that moment. Each bite was savory, filling up her empty stomach. In truth, she'd never eaten like this in her life. Even with her uncle, portions had all been taken to the exact proportion needed. No less, and no more. Katsuro ate as well, but at a much more relaxed pace. It was as if he didn't care about the meal set before him.

"So, what are everyone's thoughts on the mission so far?" Katsuro asked, trying to make conversation with his students.
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Tetsuo looked back to glare at Sando's back for the entire time he was leaving the dining room, right up until he turned to limp down the hall. Only then did he take a proper look at the food laid before them.

Much like Mizu, he was unfamiliar with much of the food there. For nearly as long as he could remember, he had been the one making, or at least planning, meals at his home. There were rare times his mother would have bursts of energy and prepare a great meal for he and his sister, and even rarer that she may take them out to eat, but otherwise meals were his responsibility. He never had the time nor the interest to experiment, so they mostly ate the same staple meals. Here, it seemed as though for every seared fillet there were two more raw fish.

In his head, it was a sort of rebellion if he chose to eat none of it. He didn't want to accept food from this man he found so detestable, but he'd barely eaten that morning, and he hadn't had anything since. There was no arguing that he was hungry.

As though it were dirty, Tetsuo carefully pinched the rim of a small rice bowl and scooted it towards him. He snapped the chopsticks set before him and scooped a small bite of the rice into his mouth. It was perfect. It was neither overdone nor underdone, neither too much salt nor too little, and there was some other flavor to it he couldn't quite place. It was easy for him to take a second bite.

After a while, Katsuro asked for their thoughts on the mission.

The thoughts he wanted to share was how their client was an absolute prick. He'd withheld information from them, he made excuses for making deals with criminals, and the way he kept singling Mizu out was getting very old very quickly. Tetsuo, unlike Sando, actually had to deal with her. He had no idea how annoying she could be, and if that demon ever decided to go on a rampage, they were the ones that were going to be attacked first. He had no right to keep acting that way.

But he was their client, and he knew there was only so much he could get away with saying if he wanted to receive his payment at the end of all of this. He turned to glare at the servants that were still there, packing up from having finished Haruki's dressings. He would have to think more about his answer.

He only saw then that Haruki had barely moved. He made absolutely no move to put anything on his plate, and he wasn't even looking at any of the food. He was just sitting there staring at some unremarkable spot on the table with a sullen expression. As strange as he thought it was, Tetsuo wouldn't be the one bringing it up.

"I don't like this Genjo guy being involved now, or whatever this Naku Shita shit is," he answered now, returning to his meal. "It was already bad enough that girl's been missing for two days, now this. We need to find her as soon as possible."
 

Gilzar

Bear With Me Here ?
Administrator
Katsuro wearily looked over at Tetsuo. Much like himself, Tetsuo was not happy with the current circumstances, and was very vocal about it. His eyes traveled over to Mizu, who was still eyeing the doorway that Sando walked out of, obviously bitter about the recent comments he had made toward her. Then he took a moment to glance over at Haruki, but couldn't tell what Haruki was thinking at the moment, if anything ever went through the boy's head to begin with. Of all of them, Tetsuo was definitely the most vocal. At times it was useful, and at other times it was just a pain. In this circumstance it was welcome considering Katsuro wanted to know where everyone stood on the current state of the mission.

"I don't like it either, but our hands are tied." Katsuro said to Tetsuo. "If there wasn't a girl whose very life depended on it then I'd call this shit off and make them send a higher ranked team. You're all outgunned by Genzo, and the Naku Shita will probably throw better men at us next time."

Katsuro took a sip of his drink, collecting his thoughts in a now habitual manner.

"I'm sorry that you all have to go through this." Katsuro said in an almost uncharacteristic manner. "I know what it's like to get thrown into combat when you're not ready."

"But." Katsuro then raised his finger, queing that he was going to make a point out of all of this.

"It's times like these that make a real shinobi. They can't prepare you for this in the academy. I've never backed down form a challenge, and neither should you. We can't go out tonight, we're all too beat up and we won't find anything at night here considering how hard it is to travel these woods in the daytime."

"You do know though...." Katsuro added in. "If the three of you all worked together as a team, a foe like Genzo can be taken down. It's not easy, but it's possible. Even he has weaknesses that can be exploited if done right."
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
Tetsuo sighed through his nose, and for the first time since they'd sat down, he relaxed his posture. He didn't have to be bewildered by the jounin's condolences for long, because of course he was going to try to turn it into some sort of lesson. He doubted that there was any amount of teamwork that would've brought Genzo to a stop with their current skill level... but he knew now that it was maybe the only thing that could help them now. That was a lesson he'd learned out there in the quarry. On their own, they didn't stand a chance.

Frustrated as he was by their circumstances, he would be damned if he didn't try. Katsuro was right: these were dire circumstances. By the time they got back to the Leaf, Rei would already have been dead or ransomed.

... But trying was easier said than done. He seemed fine now, but Katsuro had a penchant for losing his mind if he had to spend more than five minutes without a cigarette. Haruki was skilless and was always asking dumb questions, Tetsuo had to wonder what qualities he even had to offer. He had completely frozen during their fight before. Then with Mizu... he wasn't sure what to feel anymore. She'd annoyed him repeatedly, and he had his own reservations about her being a jinchuuriki... but he was starting to think maybe she was someone he could fight alongside. Katsuro, too, had proven to be reliable in the end.

He took another bite of his rice, thinking more about Katsuro's words.

For Haruki's part, he had still been quiet through the conversation, but he spoke now, quietly.

"I don't think I should be here," he muttered at the table.
 

Gilzar

Bear With Me Here ?
Administrator
Mizu's attention immediately turned to Haruki after he muttered out how he felt he shouldn't be here. For a moment or so she just looked at him, before her eyes slowly traveled over to the floor. As much as she didn't want to admit it, she somewhat agreed with him. Haruki was lacking in seemingly all parts of ninjutsu, genjutsu, and taijutsu. This would be forgivable given that he was a fresh graduate out of the academy, but even then it didn't make up for how he froze up and nearly got all of them killed by Genzo. Giving up, and admitting that one shouldn't be there was something Mizu would never do, but she almost condoned such behavior out of Haruki. Casting such judgement made her feel rotten; She was no better than Tetsuo.

Katsuro stopped drinking from his flask of sake, and glared over at Haruki for a good moment or so. His glasses had slid down the bridge of his nose, revealing his eyes to the world once more. That was a serious statement Haruki had just said. While the others may have brushed the statement off, Katsuro wasn't about to. He wasn't about to let Haruki give up when they needed him now more than ever. There was also his duty as an instructor that he couldn't ignore, to push his students and assist them in any way that he could.

"Don't say that." Katsuro said, in an unusually calm tone. "Why the hell would you even think that?"

Mizu's eyes traveled up from the floor right away to their sensei. She was almost taken back by his calm tone, and almost sympathetic manner. Katsuro was almost always annoyed, on the edge, and intense in everything he did. Why all of a sudden was he acting like a proper instructor? Sure he was doing it in his own way, but it was still out of the norm for him. Somewhat taken back by this, she looked over to Tetsuo, trying to get a read on what he thought of all this.
 

Pine

PK THOT ⚡
In spite of Katsuro's efforts to stay calm and almost soothing, Haruki couldn't bring himself to meet his eye. He hesitated, fidgeting with his hands under the table.

Tetsuo, too, found himself gobsmacked at first by this statement, and how Katsuro wasn't blowing his lid over this. It was less the notion of what was said that surprised him, and more the self-awareness Haruki had to say such a thing. Then he was annoyed, and he didn't try to hide this much while he stared at him.

In his head, he was piecing everything together. Haruki had gotten cold feet during the fight because he never took this, or anything, seriously. He thought it would just be something fun, and that ninjutsu would just be some neat trick to show to friends. Now that he had a taste of real action he wanted out. That made him a burden.

Tetsuo caught Mizu looking at him over Haruki's slouched head. He narrowed his eyes at her, silently telling her to keep her eyes to herself. Then he turned back to down the rest of his rice bowl.

Haruki finally had time to collect his thoughts. He folded his hands on the table's surface and stared at them while he spoke. "I only enrolled in the academy because my parents wanted me to," he admitted. It's something he'd known all along, but saying the words aloud made something drop in the pit of his stomach. Speaking it aloud made it more real. "I never wanted to be a shinobi. And when those samurai showed up, and Genzo, Mizu and Tetsuo fought without even thinking about it. I just stood there. I don't know if I can do anything besides that."

While it didn't fit exactly with the narrative Tetsuo built for him, it fit well enough. Certainly, what Haruki had to say was no better than what he'd already been thinking. He swallowed another bite then glared at him. Without thinking, he said to him, "You're right. You shouldn't be here, then."

Haruki didn't look up at this, and instead just slouched deeper in his gloom.
 

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