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Old 01-31-2014, 11:07 PM   #1
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Here, Lies.
Closed to Hitoko and Kiba-kun117

She had already cried. She hadn't done it at the funeral, not with all those people watching. She hadn't done it in front of her parents. Nor had she done it when she had come back from Kamenoshi with Hayate, which was when she had found out. But she had cried, in the quiet of her room, after everything had happened.

Asuka had not cried for her brother, for his loss of life. Nor did she cry tears of sorrow. Her salty tears had been angry and disappointed. They were the tears of failure. And each tear was a secret in it's own right, a note of weakness on a muted scale.

But she had reckoned with herself, had broken a pinball machine at the arcade, and had tried to see if her parents' wine collection would do for her what it seemed to do for them. It didn't. Instead, the harsh perfume of fermented rice wine had made her think that she had something left to do in regards to her brother.

She owed him her honest love, as he had been one of the few to ever earn it. Which was why Asuka returned to the shinobi graveyard on that day, not with flowers, but with a package of the dried squid she always used to bring him, and a volume of the manga he had been reading at the time of his death. It was slowly sinking in, that she would not see him again.

Yet, until then, she would visit, as she was now, by sitting cross-legged in front of his grave, tracing the characters on it's face with one, despondent, manicured finger.
Quote:
[ Here Lies ]

Imamuraya Hyouhen

Warrior, Brother, Son.

May you always rest in the depths of our hearts.
"I miss you, Brother." Asuka watched through wisps of her hair as a dewy breeze blew through the graveyard. Her navy blue dress had incredibly small dots of white speckling it like a night sky. Without the simple blanket beneath her, the grass would have soaked her through. She had prepared a small picnic, but had yet to feel hungry.

"I don't think I got to tell you the story of how I tried to save you." She pulled her hair behind her shoulders.

"There's no happy ending."
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Old 02-02-2014, 02:08 AM   #2
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Such a crybaby; he could never escape the tears.

He had all ready cried, bitter tears that stung corner of eyelids and arm wet with sorrow. This was something he’d been getting accustomed to, but it was a definite characteristic he was actively trying to change. How could one honor the title of Number One Rookie when most of his promotion was spent letting his emotions run ramped. He was so sensitive – his Aniki knew this. Thing was, Getsuei Gen wasn’t with him during this expedition. This was something Echizen wanted to do: alone.

Makeshift boots thudded against the slick stone tiles that littered the shinobi graveyard as he literally walked through the valley filled by grave heads. The boy had all ready cried, gloveless hands carrying a wooden bucket strung together by a thick, metallic cord that kept the object sturdy. His free hand was busy brushing away the last ounces of tears that leaked from him as he gathered his composure.

His sniffles may have retreated, but his eyes retained a glossy warmth from the aftermath.

Nerves kicked in once taking notice of a little girl, seated cross-legged, in front a grave right in his walking path. He wanted to leave this place as fast as possible, so his steps quickened. Head hung low, his quiet footsteps passed right by the little girl before he realized who it was:

Asuka-chan?

But it wasn’t any of his business, so he kept on walking. Or, that’s at least what he wanted to do. Something intangible tugged at his shoulders. A subtle unknown force that pulled at his conscious that wouldn’t let him leave without at least—

A-Asuka-chan…?

And before he could will himself to exit, Echizen had turned around and walked back over to Asuka. With bucket hanging between his little fingers, he didn’t make eye contact.

I-I have…some extra – um…flowers."

A small pool of sea water shimmered within the bucket, where a bundle of evergreen, needle-like leaves equipped with blue petaled flowers sat within its belly.

I-if y-you’d like them…that is. I noticed that – um, uh…I noticed that you didn’t have a-any…for—

His eyes shifted to the grave, and then his heart became heavier.

F-for…his grave.

Last edited by Hitoko; 03-02-2014 at 11:14 PM..
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:21 PM   #3
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She hadn't expected to hear her name in that place. She had hoped that the only sounds in that early afternoon would have belonged to her own voice. Imagine the quiver of lips, the sudden intake of breath, as her name was uttered just how her brother would have, while staring longingly at her brother's grave. Though she was a specialist in creating the illusion of pain and heartache, this was a completely different craft.

She hadn't recognized the familiarity of the voice until she heard the voice again, reason startled into hyperdrive. Echizen, the top graduate of her class, a famed crybaby, and unlike Asuka, someone that greatness had always been expected of. She remembered him well.

"Echi-kun."

Her words were shrill, and as her eyes rested deeply on the bucket of flowers, rather than Echizen's own purple eyes, she did not think of what Echizen was doing in that graveyard.

"I... I guess that I should leave some."

The normal Asuka would have shouted, called Echizen a foolish, stupid ice brat, and told him to go dig his own grave. But that girl seemed drowned in that bucket now. Her brother's grave was supposed to be her secret place, not a landmark for childhood meetings.

"I'm not used to this. I don't think I know what I'm supposed to do."

Her calm spirit was not reserved, it was not defensive. As she adjusted herself on the blanket, she felt like an open book, her pages growing damp as they blew through their story on that gentle breeze. There was space for Echizen next to her.

"Would you sit down with me, Echizen?"

It was not an offer, but a hopeful desire. Her brother had left her. She'd rather not be alone.
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Old 02-03-2014, 05:09 PM   #4
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Echi-kun?

His face flushed bright red. They didn’t have a history of being so familiar with one another, or at least familiar enough for her to give him such a nickname. It was so unexpected that the warmth from his face grew when she asked him to sit next to her. He visually hyperventilated; little chest lifting and descending with each inhale. Although his breath soon calmed, his nerves still flared.

Uh – well, um – y-yeah: sure! I’ll, umm…

He couldn’t help but stammer his words. Losing someone of importance always humbled a person drastically.

S-sit? Y-yes. I’ll…sit / down. I’ll sit down right next to…uh, you. H-here.” Taking up on her offer, he tucked both knees beneath his body as he sat on the blanket she provided, “Thank you.

Asuka was never this gentle when it came to Echizen, he could still remember her past insults that echoed within the corridors of his memories. But he sat up right; face a deep crimson glow with bucket set in front of him. He never made eye contact, instead they seemed to look everyone else but at Asuka.

What should I do? What should I do? WhatshouldIdo, whatshouldIdo ?

He removed his head and ran a hand through his crystal strands of hair. Asuka hadn’t been used to this, and Echizen didn’t know how to deal with it, so his attention fell onto the bucket of flowers, before tracing over the headstone of the grave. It was new, or at least a recent addition to the field. He could tell by how clean it was:

R-rosemary,” He blurted out before back tracking, “T-these blue flowers. They’re Rosemary.

Echizen kept his gaze focused on the grave as he spoke.

I-in the language of flowers…Rosemary mean – um…they mean Remembrance

Lifting the bundle of flowers from the pit of the bucket, the little Hyousetsu presented the flowers to Asuka. Their blue petals seemed to dance in a majestic fashion when a breeze went by, its subtle fragrance captivating.

They’re the same flowers I put on Gunko-senpai’s grave.

A fiery glint appeared beneath the ice cool purple hues of Echizen as he looked at Asuka. He was determined that leaving her alone to grieve wasn’t the best thing to do, and to honor her and her lost:

I-I’ll clean the headstone. Before you put up the flowers.

He’d make an offer.

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Old 02-04-2014, 12:14 AM   #5
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No, she did not officially know Echizen. Not really. Back in the academy, she had built a ferocious wall of insults and vicious anger to protect herself against the Battle Royale. It had saved her from so many things, but most of all it had saved her from friendship. She had never been unsure of that choice.

Yet now she had decided, with all her strength of heart, that she would mend certain bridges. Hayate, certainly, and perhaps now Echizen. Echi-kun.

She said nothing as the boy with the white hair took a seat next to her. Her hands remained clasped in her lap, and she continued to stare at the grave. The bag of dried squid fell over when the wind caught its corner, and Asuka moved it back up, to pose against the headstone, the shape of a photograph, but a different visual completely.

Rosemary. For Remembrance.

Asuka took the flowers and looked at Echizen with those blank eyes again. She still didn't feel like crying. The bouquet smelled incredibly familiar, nostalgic. It smelled like home. She didn't know this Gunko-senpai, she could only imagine the sort of heartache it would bring if she had asked. Death was the sort of thing people only talked about when they needed to.

"I will remember him. I think I owe him that."

Asuka heard Echizen's offer and stared straight into his eyes again, seeing the fierce spirit that was there. She could only think that what he saw in her own eyes would pale in comparison. They were a calm lake, those icy blue orbs of hers. Frosted over like the first day of winter.

"Yes. Sure, I mean. Yea, you can... clean it."

Asuka looked back to the grave, and seemed surprised that it was still there. Something about Echizen had almost made her feel normal, as if none of this had happened. She even managed a smile as she read her brother's name.

"You know, he was really awesome... Onii-chan was. He was the top of his class too, just like you, Echi-kun."

She kept the nickname, and placed a soft hand on her old classmate's knee. She didn't know why she was so comfortable doing so. A part of her just thought that she needed to know someone out there was still alive. That she wasn't the only one. She jumped a little, at how warm Echizen felt beneath her fingers.

"He really died like an idiot."

Warmed by Echizen, a few tears had melted out of the corner of her eyes, and with a quick swipe of her arm, she had dried her face, which, free of make-up, looked like everything you would expect of a twelve-year-old.

She still held the flowers in her off hand, and the blue petals shook lightly. Yet they weren't shaking from a breeze. The graveyard, in fact, had grown still as Asuka muttered the word idiot.

This is so stupid.... Why am I still crying?

With the storm in her heart, Asuka's hand continued to shake with the vicious breeze of her body.
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Old 02-05-2014, 06:15 PM   #6
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Asuka-chan.

The light within his eyes became brighter.

It’s okay to cry for him.

For a boy riddled with shy tendencies and nervous twitches, Echizen had his moments. There was a calming aura that manifested about his demeanor, and for that moment he finally made direct eye contact with his classmate. The warmth of her hand settled on his knee, in normal circumstances, would’ve sent him in a frenzy of stuttering – but he realized that this moment was for her. His blunt statement fluttered with the breeze before placing a hand on hers.

Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while,” He gathered to his feet, standing upright with eyes peering toward the gravestone, “so that we can see life with a clearer view again.

Retrieving the flowerless bucket from the blanket next to Asuka, Echizen held it within his small hands and sighed. A meek smile curled at the edge of his lips as his eyes wandered the grooves of her brother’s grave. Imamuraya huh? He never recalled ever knowing the girl’s last name.

It’s a quote that Grandma Akadama told me at Gunko-senpai’s…funeral.

Echizen splashed the grave head with some of the water. It was cleaner than most of the statues here at the shinobi graveyard, but that may have been because of how new it was compared to everything else. Still, the Hyousetsu did this ritual moreso in a spiritual sense, in order to cleanse the bed of her brother’s resting spirit – or that’s at least what he made of it.

Aniki didn’t cry at the funeral either,” He spoke of Getsuei Gen casually since they were all in the same class, “and…and it may have taken him awhile, but after he did—

Water splashed on the grave again.

—It made him feel much better about it.

He turned a timid smile over to Asuka again, the quivering of his hands slowing while accessing more familiarity with the girl.

I can tell you haven’t yet…I do it all the time…

It’s okay to cry for him…

Asuka-chan.
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:29 PM   #7
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There was something so gentle about Echizen's words. It almost seemed like her old classmate were inviting her to cry, that she were welcome into this special group of people, who could relish in their emotions and still manage to succeed. Winners weren't supposed to cry, right?

Yet there was something so nice about the thought of being able to see life with a clearer view again. She had felt clouded by her brother's death. Even when he was alive, she hadn't been herself. She had shoved away team mates, kept Hayate at arms reach, and had even ignored meetings with her team.

Remembering Echizen's good friend, Getsuei Gen, their sense of bloodless brotherhood. Asuka had only had her family, her brother more importantly. Now that he was gone, what she needed was that connection that didn't come in the form of a shared name, someone who was not Imamuraya.

Asuka was letting the tears fall silently now. Echizen had said it would be okay. But she couldn't help but think that this wasn't what her brother would have wanted. And Asuka didn't want her brother to be dead. From deep in her throat, a sort of bestial growl erupted. Her hand gripped the rosemary tightly as the Hyousetsu finished cleaning the grave.

"He wasn't supposed to die!"

There it was, that familiar anger, that steamy shield of hers. In her exclamation, she had thrown the bouquet down onto the still-wet headstone. It landed and the blue petals shuddered in fright at Asuka's fury. She fell into herself, the tears failing to muddle her angry words.

"It was all that stupid war. We should have just killed them all." Asuka gripped her dress' skirt tightly, and a few sparkling drops fell onto her fist. She hated that conflict in Seagull Country. She would have wiped the nation away from the world if it would have brought her brother back.

Asuka looked up, as if managing to recuperate, but the tears were still running down her clean cheeks. In the middle of another angry growl, she sobbed, her throat catching, and she looked away with a rueful cough.

"How did you get to be so smart, Echi-kun?" She grabbed his hand, unaware of how nervous, how awkward Echizen could be. She had forgotten that side of him from the academy. This boy in front of her knew things she was just beginning to learn. She wiped away the tears that had stopped for a moment.

"Jeez, I feel like a real idiot, being like this when I haven't seen you in... years. What have I become? Haha."

The laugh was a weak one. Asuka didn't know the answer.
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Old 02-06-2014, 02:56 AM   #8
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No, no, no – wait, wait, what should I do? What should I do?

There it was. He was seeing it once again: that rage.

It felt as if he were staring straight into a mirror when Asuka raised an outward shield composed of her fiery anger. It reminded Echizen of himself, seeing her outburst. He empathized with it all, to tell the truth. He empathized with her fury, empathized with how helpless these situations always got. Although the Hyousetsu was still going through the motions, nothing in life could ever make him forget the moment he was informed that his eldest, bloodless brother Gunko passed away.

It wasn’t because of the Seagul War, but it was related to the aftermath of it.

Instead of answering her question instantly, Echizen’s eyes wandered to the flowers, whose petals floated down a small river stream of water that descended from the grave head. Setting the bucket down, the Hyousetsu child mustered enough strength and courage as he stepped in front of Asuka. He sat right in front of the girl, looking dead into her eyes. The atmosphere was quiet as Echizen took in the deepest of breaths and calmed his nerves, he was so wrapped up in this that he hadn’t noticed that she’d all ready grabbed his hand.

Don’t run away, don’t run away, I don’t know how to deal with this but I must’nt run away.

With a gentle tug of her hand, Echizen enveloped Asuka in the softest embraces ever. The warmth from this hug may have sky rocketed because of the way the young Genin’s face lit up bright red, but he kept reminding himself that this was what she needed. He definitely knew that he needed a hug after Gunko left.

W-when Gunko-senpai died, I felt the same way.

He spoke with a genuine tone

I still feel the same, often…c-cuz’ Gunko-senpai never fulfilled his dream. His nindo – to become a legend…

And leave a legacy.

I-I’m not r-really that smart…

This was a lie he didn’t know he was telling. Or maybe it was an unconscious humility built by his personality. He spent a lot of time alone, so he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

I’m just….living to honor his, Aniki and my dream.

Meaning?

Y-you must be strong, for yourself and your brother’s memory.

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Old 02-10-2014, 04:33 PM   #9
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Asuka felt herself freeze when Echizen moved to face her, when those iridescent eyes captured her own. Her breathing stopped suddenly, and her eyes filled up again as her lungs struggled to reactivate. Was this the power of... human connection?

Her whole body fell into Echizen's when he gently invited her into an embrace. Asuka gripped her old classmate as if he were the ledge upon which she would keep from falling great heights. She had spent her whole life telling everyone that they didn't understand her, that she was different. That she was stronger than the rest of them.

It was only now that she realized she wasn't the only one. Perhaps she wasn't even stronger than the others. With Echizen speaking into her ear, she found it all to be true. Asuka wasn't the only one.

How did you deal with this pain, Echizen? Why does hugging you make it hurt that much more?

The story of Gunko sounded so much like her brother's. Her tears were quiet, but she shook as they fell onto Echizen's back. She withdrew herself from the hug as gently as she could. She didn't want to hurt the Hyousetsu, not after all the healing he was doing for her.

"Living... in his honor."

She hadn't thought that her living could be an act of remembrance. Asuka had seen her brother's death as the catalyst for forgetting her duties. That had been where the two genin's instincts had different reflections.

"You're right."

What did that mean she should do?

"Hyouhen would want me to be stronger."

It was the first time she had said her brother's name since....

"He would want me to be the best I could be. Because he was the best that he ever could have been."

Asuka refused to believe that her brother's illness could have been a smudge on his career. If Echizen was right, it should have been the proud badge he wore from service.

"You must know what it's like, Echizen, to have a brother who believes in you as much as himself. That's who Gen is to you right? Who Gunko was."

She looked at the small pile of petals that were collecting at the base of the headstone. Fury was not meant to be a shield. It was meant to be a sword.
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Old 03-02-2014, 11:24 PM   #10
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Hyouhen, it sounded like a strong name.

But Asuka, there was something in the syllables that made it sound even stronger.

Echizen’s arms were gentle once they unwrapped from the purple haired Genin’s body. Just as her breath ceased; so did Echizen’s. He breathed slowly, the hue of crimson blushed on his face long after they’d disconnected. The Hyousetsu boy had his courageous tendencies outside of training and actual combat, so a bit of pride swelled his chest as he counted this as a momentous step forward in the right direction. That was, until, he noticed the palms of his hands lay on top of Asuka’s knuckles still.

This broke his demeanor back into the nervous wreck of a child that he was. Retracting his hands back, they fumbled around the ground in search of the bucket as he made nonsensical audio coos of confusion. He shot back up to his feet once retrieving the bucket and turned to her brother’s resting place.

And that’s when she mentioned Gen and Gunko.

Y-yeah…” He stammered, pouring the last amounts of crystal clear water onto the grave head, “…you’re right.

The water cleansed the grooves within the stone, the whole ornament itself looking a lot brighter than before. Echizen felt most comfortable in conversation if his hands were at work, or if he was occupying himself by moving as a means to avoid eye contact. So he lifted the remains of the flowers and unhooked its binding.

You’re exactly right…uh…Asuka-chan. Gunko-senpai…he…well…he’d always say…

Chuckling, Echizen took on a complete different tone, mirroring his senpai’s:

Don’t believe in yourself, believe in me – believe in the me, who believes in you.

Or something along those lines, he’d mutter. But his fingers were steady at work, arranging flowers and blue petals on Asuka’s brother’s grave with such meticulous precision and care that someone who was passing by may have thought that it was his brother beneath them.

B-but Aniki was there for me, just as I was there for Aniki when Gunko-senpai left.

For a second, the beauty of which Echizen was positioning the flowers held the same artist influence as a brother decorating their sister’s wedding cake.

How about you, Asuka-chan…? Will you have someone like…um…a teammate, of some sort t-that…that’ll be there…

…For you?
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