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Kaneki Hiro
Kaneki Hiro
Citizen
Stat Page : Kaneki
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Clan Specialty : Taijutsu
Village : Missing Ninja
Ryo : 500

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Mon Dec 13, 2021 11:54 am
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“Anything else you need, sir? Perhaps we can take a walk alongside the river? Oh, perhaps a backrub? Or are you hungry? I believe that there’s a barbecue stand just around the corner.”


“Ah, the spirit of youth. No, no, I am quite fine. Thank you for the kind thoughts regardless.”


A gentle breeze brought with it the scent of life and leaves, and through that Kaneki Hiro smiled as he walked alongside his client for the day- a kindly old gentleman by the name of Kamui. An odd name, he felt, but certainly nothing to poke fun about. After all, today he was assisting the man in perhaps the most time honored of teenage fashions- accompanying him on his winding, meandering journey throughout the village marketplace for each of the ingredients he needed for tonight. It was his daughter’s birthday, he had told him- and nothing but the finest would do for when he was celebrating yet another year of the jewel of his life. Peppers, sugar, meat, spices, paper. The list went on, and on, and on. It was no wonder that he needed a few extra hands just to get it all home.


The work was certainly hard, and already Kaneki was feeling the slightest of strains upon his back from the load. At the same time, he couldn’t find himself cross with the effort. After all, he had offered, he was being paid, and more than that he could already see that his effort was turning into something tangible. A smile, a glimmer in a wizened eye, the way his fists balled in anticipation with each difficult purchase. It was clear that today’s effort was one that meant something, and if he was to participate in that then he would at least do so without apparent complaint or stress.


“Come now, come now. You know, usually I’d have a ninja around for tasks such as this. Did you know that they hire Genin for it? I believe it’s about teaching teamwork. Still, the fact that you are able to- hah! Even in my prime, I bet a strapping lad like you would have given me a run for my money.”


Was he strong? He didn’t think so. Rather than being strong, he had simply been exposed to much hardship. Certainly, his arms were muscled from days helping his father and mother in their shop, but once the town had gone into disarray he had developed in other ways. Faster to avoid harassment, stronger to push away thugs from his mother. Wittier to trick those who would hurt them into targeting other less fortunates. It wasn’t a positive growth- rather, it was a neutral, bitter tasting one geared purely towards survival. It felt bad, he realized. If he was growing purely to survive, then what had happened to that simple life he had been pursuing? Here he was, in the middle of Fire Country, walking around with an old man while his family suffered back home. Certainly, he was sending back money, but he had to get his affairs in order. He could do it if he tried. This job would end sooner or later. A few more steps, a few more items. A few more moments closer to the happiness of a woman he would likely never see. But he could feel it, tangentially. Thrumming through the pavestones of reality, all the way into the ‘present’ of now but the past of then. Through that lens, he supposed, it made absolutely no sense. It didn’t matter, ultimately. He was still getting paid, after all.


“Aha! And here we are. Your well earned payment, young man…”

The jingle of coin, and a smile on his face. One down, one more to go for the day. Now, how to get to the eastern section of the village…


=====


“So you just want me to stand here and hold this curtain of…Dove tens?”


“Duveteen.”


“Duveteen. Sure. For four hours?”


“Yeah. That’s all we need, since it’ll block the light. It’s especially opaque for that purpose.”


“I mean, sure, alright. I’ll do it. But…why?”


“We’re out of C-stands, kid, and it’s cheaper to do it this way than you’d think. Now, are you gonna work, or do I need to find somebody else looking for a free lunch?”


Frankly, he didn’t understand how the heck it was so hard to simply pin up a piece of curtains to a wall, but at the same time Kaneki didn’t feel like questioning this so hard that he inadvertently denied himself a rather easy and non-complex job. Simply stand here, atop two crates that apparently had to be called ‘quarter apple boxes’, and hold up the curtain for four hours. Four freaking hours. Staring at what was essentially a black wall. That…actually kind of sucked. Truth be told, maybe this wasn’t the best use of his time after all. What else could he have been doing? Dog walking, maybe. That could have been fun. He liked dogs. Or perhaps cooking? Cooking was also good. Or maybe working on some of his crafts. Ah, there were so many ways to go about earning cash, and so many side things that could be learned alongside it. But staring at a curtain? For this long? Imagining all the goings on beyond it, but unable to interact, unable to provide meaningful input. Feeling the sun on his back wane with time, grow dimmer, before finally sinking beyond the horizon. After a certain point his arms had begun to scream with exertion, but he stayed, stayed in position until even he forgot the pain. Come on, keep it going. Don’t you feel the trembling in your arms? That means you’re awake. It’s almost done. It’s got to be. Sooner or later they’ll call it and-


“Oh shit, kid!” A tap on the back of his neck sent a yelp from his mouth and for the curtain to collapse from his arms. There was the photographer, astonishment on his face and a coffee in his hand. “We totally forgot about it. It’s been six hours, you’re free to go. Talk to the girl out front and she’ll give you your pay. And don’t be a stranger, alright? We’ve always got more work like this on weekends.”


Actually, maybe there was a lesson to all of this. That he should never take up a job like it again. Hah! Now wasn’t that something. Perhaps there was something to be learned in this after all.


======


“Hsss!”


“Ack! No, no, come on Hina-chan! It’s time for your bath! Jump into the ninja’s arms, it’ll be okay!”


Kaneki had no intention whatsoever of clearing up the particular confusion that his current client had of his ninja status- after all, it was thanks to that that he was able to score this particular job. While not particularly allergic to cats, most felines he had ever encountered had a particular habit of slashing his nose to bits and spitting at his very presence- making the choice to take a job in which he needed to chase one down a decidedly strange one. Still, money was money, and so he would try and be as professional as possible.


Atop the roof of Lady Tadesco’s small yet homely estate, he had found her beloved cat Hina- an elderly tortoiseshell who made up for her lack of spryness with a mean streak a mile long. Why was it that he always had to deal with the mean, violent animals? Certainly, he had the advantage in that his meager training with chakra control allowed him to walk upon walls- but that was a paltry advantage given his relative inexperience with chakra related exercises. Maybe in another time, another place, he would have become a ninja- but here and now he was just a guy trying to get a paycheck back to his family.


And it was in that moment that Hina struck. With limbs outstretched, paws armed with razor sharp claws made to shred even the most precious of comforters to shreds, she launched directly into his torso before launching them both off the building. Below, the sound of screaming and shouting, and the realization that whatever happened next was going to hurt. This was bad- really bad. Damnit! Come on, curl up and-


The pain of a bramble bush catching his fall in a rough hold. A stinging sensation awakening him from the shock of a sudden and unexpected fall. Several scratches lanced pain through his body- they would need medical attention, yet something told him that everything would be alright in the end. And as for his charge?


Hina, the little bastard, was curled up in his lap with a positively smug expression upon its muzzle. Could cats be smug? Certainly, although it was difficult to tell. Still, the glint in her eye, and how comfortable she was in his grasp now that she had gotten her pound of flesh out of him, spoke far more than anything else could have. Ultimately, it seemed that only one conclusion could be reached.


He definitely wasn’t going to be a cat person, and wouldn’t forgive this little mongrel for a long time. Now, where were those bandages?

=====


“So, can you repeat the route to me one last time? Sorry, I’m still somewhat new to this place.”


“Ah, no worries! Come on, look at this map. Actually, take it with you.” The old woman who ran the shelter gave him a sheaf of well worn, well loved paper- as well as the taught leashes to five excitable puppies. “Make sure to clean up after then, won’t you? We’ve been getting complaints lately because they have a few, err. Unsupervised accidents while out and about.”


Kaneki wasn’t sure what failure of a dog walker wouldn’t clean up after their charges. Perhaps it was a cultural thing? Did people in Fire Country not take care of their dogs? He certainly hoped not. While his parents had never allowed him to purchase a pet, citing that it would be dangerous around the forge, it hadn’t stopped him from wanting one as a child. Perhaps, in a certain distant manner, this would be a way of working out those feelings. And what a feeling it was!


Walking with the dogs was like walking with the wind itself. They yipped, tugging, wandered, and nipped at each other’s heels every few steps or so. It wasn’t that they were violent towards one another- far from it, as a matter of fact- but they were so overzealous in their playfighting that there were several times where he had to stop in order to rearrange the leashes. How did they manage to get tangled so easily and so quickly? Maybe it was their youth. So young to the world, so new to their surroundings, that they explored and frolicked every chance they were able to take.


“Ah! A puppy!” A child called out. Stopping in his tracks, he looked. A smaller girl- likely ten or so- dressed in a simply red dress and brown shorts. She was missing a tooth, he noted, and her hair was in two ponytails. Slowly, she approached the farthest dog- a brown little schnauzer with blue eyes. It sniffed her, looked up at her, before proceeding to climb up her and lick at her face. Delighted, she weakly tried to push it off her. After a few minutes, however, Kaneki had to wrap the dog back in again. Giving the girl a gentle wave, before heading off. That was certainly an experience. But what to say about it?


Cleaning up a particular pile of rather unpleasant mess, Kaneki would have to think about the interaction he had just watched. Children in his home town would never have down what she just did- especially after the fall of the Village Hidden in the Stones. It was too difficult to trust people, especially strangers, to not potentially be your enemy or otherwise a threat to livelihood. That innocence, that smile and happiness, was something unique to this land. Or perhaps it was something universal, but made bereft of Earth Country? He wasn’t sure that he liked the answer it would give him, either way. In fact, it worried him all the more. With his step somewhat quicker, he headed onwards on his village-bound route.


=====


This was a job he was uncomfortable with. It was painful. It was close to home. It was also a cruel reality of things. Something that was inescapable, in the current world. That didn’t help his guilty conscience.


“So they sent a boy after me, hmm? Incredible, how circumstances turn out.” Sitting in the foyer of a restaurant, its aging owner- a woman dressed in a formal kimono and her hair in a matronly bun- served them both tea in fire-glazed cups before sitting herself down opposite of him. “You know, I had hoped that a re-establishing of decor would be enough for me to reinvigorate business here. For thirty long years, I’ve been serving patrons in this tea house. It’s been my life, my passion. Something I wanted to pass onto my daughter. But it seems that the village has other plans. A new coat of paint doesn’t change the fact that we’re in the pat. And in the end, bills still need to be paid.”


Sighing, she took a sip of her tea. A cloud of hot air escaped from her mouth. She was old, dignified by age, weariness, and experience. “This won’t be the end of my business- but I certainly had hoped to avoid paying off this moment for as long as possible. It will hurt for a while to come. But I suppose if nothing else, I’d rather not have to send you on a wild goose chase for little old me through the city.” From her long, flowing sleeves, she produced a jingling bag of ryo before placing it between the boy and herself. “The payment for your employers, as requested. I counted every single coin myself. If they say that they’re short- they’re lying.”


None of this felt good. He was certainly the bad guy here. Helping to keep those with dreams but not the means in their place, in the status quo. It was the same sort of bullying that occured back in his home. The same terrible situation that had drove him here, to the Village Hidden in the Leaves.


“You didn’t do this, boy. Don’t blame yourself.” A knowing, aged gaze regarded him with the casual yet wise appraisement of a dragon. Staring into him, through him, picking him apart. “Don’t take an old woman’s failings upon yourself. If nothing else, please help yourself to some tea before heading on back home. And, well. Stop by sometimes, okay? If nothing else, you can keep an old woman company.”


Sip by sip he savored, enjoyed, closed his eyes in appreciate. And sip by sip the cup drained, until eventually he found himself staring at the tea leaves at the bottom of his cup. It was delicious. It was bittersweet. It tasted like his own mixed emotions. He wasn’t sure how to feel about that.


Picking up the offered back of coin, he secured it within his satchel before preparing for the road back to his employer’s place of business. Somehow, the world wasn’t quite as immediately inviting as it was before. This little village had its darkness, just as it had its light.


But that was okay. He would change that, little by little.


[2591]


[exit]


Claiming the following:


2000 words towards Beloved Presence [2000/2000]

538 words towards Manufacturer [2000/2000]. Previous words here.


Discarding remaining 8 words


25 Stats, assigned towards: +25 strength

10500 ryo [5000 base pay + 5000 Beloved Presence pay + 500 D-Rank Missing Ninja Salary]

25 bonus ap
Kita Hajime
Kita Hajime
Citizen
Survived 2021
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Ryo : 0

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Mon Dec 13, 2021 7:59 pm
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