Good Morn, Afternoon, or Ass-crack of midnight all. This week has been a rough one for me... Dude, I swear, some ass-hole almost got shot -not by me, some other fucker- for making a racist slur... I've never seen an Indian man so angry in my life! Wasn't Ghandi all about peace and happiness and what have you? Jesting, my friends... as far as the Ghandi thing goes.
At any rate, I'm glad so many people enjoyed my last chapter! Five Reviews! Hell-Yeah! That's what the fuck I'm talkin' about! I appreciate them all, and here I will thank and answer the lot of you.
FC3Rulez- Hmm, I'll have to look that up and see for myself. Interesting to think that someone had a similar idea for the title of the story. I was toying with calling it Aono's Mangekyou, but... it just don't fit well. Are both his and my own story similar, or is it just the names/descriptions that are the coincidence? It'll probably two weeks before I am able to truly read it for myself, so will you indulge me a bit to the answers I seek? I thank you if you do.
Leonidas Of Olympus- First, great name! Now, onto more important matters- Thank you for the review, it means a lot and says even more that you've taken the time out to do so. Hmm, I can see how you misinterpreted that the abuse started at five- I should probably clear that up; The abuse started when he was Nine, but what deviated him from who he would have been (in the Manga/anime/canon) is that something happened to his parents when he was five, forcing his god-mother, Matsuri, to take custody of him. I hope that clears it up for you, dude.
Zen Neeon- I try, I try; the ways people get out, barely changed, or completely succumb to the gloom and darkness is an intriguing facet to me. Oh, there will be tension, but about what? That is the million-dollar question, heh. I'll do my best to keep the updates consistent, and thank you.
Pyromania101- Heh, I have a pretty... disturbing mind. Seriously, you'll see when he reveals some of the more hurtful things Ishin did and had him do... Maybe even some repressed memories? Hmm, well shit. Thank you for bringing that to my attention; I had simply thought that it was a preference, not a tenant of grammar... I'll try to cut down on that; it'll still be there for a few more chapters, just cut down some where I can as I have up 'till chapter five written already... gotta keep some space between me and my update times -insurance so that none of you suffer long while I get shit in order in my life, if such a time comes.
Yes, he has the Sharingan, the red-eyed gaze from which many deaths have and will be stained upon the Earth. The voice? Well, you'll just have to find out on that one, won't you? I sincerely hope that when it is revealed, it's at least a, 'Well, shit.' moment. Such is the world we actually live in, and sadly the amount of good, non-naive cops is dwindling to replace honor-bound drones and more corrupt fools...As far as the chain goes, just keep in mind that for every good deed, two bad ones are done somewhere in the world.
I do have to question, why would you think I'd bash them in the first place? Have there been some people who do? Unfortunately, I can't quite say that he won't hurt Mizore, partially because I'm not there yet -and my story, aside from a general outline kept in mind of where I want the chapter to go, writes itself. So you appreciate the abruptness and pitilessness of his death in the first chapter? Good.
I can safely say that he won't meet Akua until it is time for him to do so... whether that is before he typically does, or before, I can't say... He already has, far before Iori, but only if you're truly shrewd in your perception will you see whom I speak of. Eh, I know a lot of people are just trying to get their fiction-fix before personal life bites them in the ass... though, I do wish a third of everyone who read it through did so. Meh, every review I get makes it more worthwhile, so I won't be picky.
PrankK1ng- Indeed, it was quite the scrape-by, wasn't it? Such lessons will be taught every now and then, though whether they are blatantly pointed out or something that wisps by in the background on a stray few words. Well now, I can't quite promise that... By statistic, and personal experience, I know that most people who go through even a fraction of the shit he did end up with some form of complex, insanity, resentment, or obsession. It's just whether we succumb to it, persevere, or exist somewhere in the gray that determines who we become.
Disclaimer: /Statement/ Your Mother! /Inquiry/Why, you ask? /Explanation/To assume my Master holds the funds to truly own these two franchises is nothing more than idiocy, meat bags. /Condescending Inquiry/Hk-47? You think that's who I am? /Condescending statement/ I am -Your Mother!- and I reside in -Your Mother- fucker... Go, go away now... leave... you've more important things to do, like read below this... Go, now!
Blood red eyes cast their baleful gaze across the algebra and calculus books before them behind half-lidded eyes. Lazily swirling tomoe orbited the central pupil which had contracted to just marginally larger than a pin-prick. Page after page flicked by them with only thirty seconds between each page being revealed before it was promptly flipped over.
Despite this, the information on each page was memorized word for word, without a single discrepancy or error. He would forever remember the information, more so than even the most traumatizing moments in his life, more so than even the things he held most dear. When he had reached the end of his life-span, when all of the synapses in his mind had mostly died off, or the connections failed, and his memories were but muddled images amidst a deep fog, he would still remember this information in the same clarity that he was seeing it in now.
The eyes were obscured for just a moment when the lids closed in a blink before they were revealed once more to the world, though non were there to witness it. Tsukune Aono, fifteen years of age, sat in his room with his text-book sprawled open on his clean and made futon. The hard-wood floor glistened in a new layer of finish, and the dark brown door made of oak was closed, the dead-bolt below the door knob positioned in it's locked status.
The walls had been repaired, and a new layer of wooden paneling lay over where the damaged wall had once resided. Two windows let in a thin stream of light onto the floor through two deep burgundy curtains which had been semi-closed. A three-bladed fan ran on it's medium speed overhead, sending currents of semi-cooled air down to the teenage boy.
It had been six years since the incident with Ishin had been resolved, and things had only progressed from there for the family, collectively. Matsuri had quickly came out of her funk and enrolled herself in out-patient rehab for close to a year, where Tsukune had found out that the bastard had introduced heroin into her system as a way to make her more... agreeable and devoted to him. It easily explained her lack of action, care, and her excessive fear over carefully worded threats from Ishin which, at the time, made little sense to her.
She had later gotten a job as a school counselor in the high-school which she hoped Tsukune would be attending. Almost two and a half years after starting her job, she had brought home a man to introduce to her son who was, understandably, extremely cautious and wary of the man- something which only Matsuri was able to tell due to her god-son's further reclusive attitude.
The boy had, since the incident with Ishin had passed over, curled in on himself slowly. He became less expressive of his emotions,, so much so that other than the barest changes of his word's pronunciations in their -now default- monotone, she could just as easily roll a die to guess how he was feeling. He had also buried himself in books; at first it was school-work, but by the end of the second year, it didn't matter what it was. He would read everything from books on mythologies, to astronomy, to law, to world history.
Beyond the books, he pushed himself into his martial arts which he had taken back up within the second month after Ishin had left their lives. The boy had looked through all of the known types of martial arts and made numerous calls to locate a dojo which taught one style which he found, a rare style called 'Kage Tora no Mai', also known as the 'Dancing Tiger Fist'. He had come upon this particular art whilst looking for something which had more to offer than basic Kung Fu and Karate, but wasn't quite as reliant on circular movements, like Bagua Zhang. After a month of searching different sources, Kage-Tora no Mai popped up.
From then on, he had been steadfast searching for a master, or dojo which would be able to teach him. It was yet another three month long search that finally yielded someone who would be able to teach him. Ironically, it turned out to be the cousin to his physical education teacher, a man who lived on the coast of Shikoku, nearly twenty miles from Naruto, where a moderate sized fishing village existed.
After mailing the man about intentions on possible lessons, he was assured that he would be trained when he attained a minimum of brown belt in Karate. It would take him four and half more months to get from his green belt to a brown belt. From there, it took almost a month of doing odd jobs and saving up allowances to purchase water taxi tickets to get from his home -which Ishin forced Matsuri and he to move to two months into his relationship with her- in North-Western Kobe, effectually on the outskirts of the city, to the village where the man, Asura Momochi, would be able to teach him.
Of course, Matsuri proved to have an issue with it whenever he brought it up, until he had her talk to the man and agree to accompany Tsukune on his first trip, so that she would know exactly where he was if she felt the need to report anything happening. She had become rather protective of the boy once the events with her ex had passed; an attempt to repent for her lack of protection from that man.
Asura Momochi turned out to be unlike he expected in a sensei. The man lived off on large sand-bar about ten minutes of a boat travel away from the small unmarked fishing village in a moderately sized house made of wood. Despite it, the house was made in a semi-traditional Japanese way, seeming to be in the fashion of rice-paper walls and sliding doors, if the outside was anything to go by.
The man who met them after their arrival was even further from what he thought. Instead of a forty-ish year old man who was empowered with several lean muscles, either a shaven head or slicked back semi-spiked hair, as was the popular style at the moment. This was far from what he received in a teacher. This is not to be confused with disappointment however, despite the fact that, at first, he was.
When the door opened, the man who greeted them spoke in a gravely, hollow voice that bespoke of a long life in which the cons outweighed the pros. It was a voice that would have chilled anyone who heard it -such as his mother- but for him, it made him suddenly realize, truly, that he wasn't alone in the feeling. It was odd, to say the least.
Stepping out from the shadows of his doorway, an obviously bald bandana covered head peaked out and a white bandages which covered the majority of his face were exposed from the sunlight, leaving the tip and nostrils of his nose, his left eye, and his left cheek exposed to reveal very tanned skin which was marred by several blemishes and old, faded scars which almost hid the overall gaunt and slightly concaveness of his cheek and eye socket.
A lone, milky, honey brown eye shifted down and bounced between the two before resting on the boy with an apathetic air, wondering of his purpose. He moved further into view to reveal that he wore a basic Chinese shirt, dark gray in color that had the sleeves removed carefully revealing slightly wrinkled arms which still held somewhat wiry muscles beneath the stretched skin, though his left arm was bandaged from his shoulder to mid-bicep. Coming out just an inch from beneath the bandage wrappings was a small patch of taut, shiny skin with numerous blotches of coloration, signs of third-degree burning sometime in his past.
The lower half of his body was clad in a pair of black pleated slacks which seemed to have seen a long time of activity, they were very faded in spots and around the knees they seemed to be close to fraying and giving way to holes. A closer look showed that the cuffs of his slacks, resting above the wooden geta, had been frayed and had several small lengths of cloth peaking out randomly. An improvised belt made of rope, likely tied in the back, had an added piece of style in a tanned snake-hide which went over the rope like a sleeve.
"Greeting, Momochi-san, my name is Tsukune Aono; we have mailed one another over the possibility of my apprenticeship under you. This is Matsuri Ichiwa, my god-mother." The boy bowed his head in respect of the man, and then promptly straightened himself.
The man of, at least, fifty years gave a short bow of the head and seemed to glance between the two of them in silence before letting loose a soft breath, marred and warped by his gravely sounding throat, "Asura Momochi, greetings."
The man invited them in and the two graciously entered the man's home to find that it was larger than it appeared, having a fairly comfortable living area with a small television, a single counter separating the living area from the kitchen where an electric stove sat, confusing as the boy had sworn that he had seen a wood-burning stove outside.
A bathroom sat on the far side of the house, its sliding door closed along with the two other rooms at the back of the house, likely a set of bedrooms. The wooden floor creaked as they walked about the house to set themselves on one of the eight mats which surrounded a small table before the television.
Not waiting for pleasantries, other than grabbing the pot of tea boiling on the stove and pouring them all a cup of the cinnamon accented green tea, he immediately went into business, "So, you're here to learn Dancing Tiger Fist, are you, gaki?"
The boy swallowed that bitter tasting herbal brew before nodding, "Indeed; I wish to learn something that isn't so... basic as the standard Karate and Kung Fu, yet had more movement application than the Eight Trigrams. I-"
"-What do you plan to use it for?" Asura interrupted gruffly, lowering his re-purposed sake dish from his face, and upon seeing the perplexed look, reiterated, "Why do you wish to learn it?"
He responded quickly, "I want to learn Dancing Tiger Fist because I need something that will allow me to protect my family."
The man lifted his bleary eye from where it had been staring into the dish which reflected the light from the almost empty container to Tsukune's own brown pair and gave a low hum, "A good answer, but your full intentions are not being stated. Tell me, now."
Brown eyes widened for merely a second as an odd sensation of pressure and heat ebbed off of the man, a feeling that struck fear in some primal part of him, yet warmed his skin almost comfortingly, despite it feeling like steel talons poised at his neck. When he felt another burst of the odd sensation waft off the man, he knew he was taking to long and the man was becoming agitated, accented by the narrowing of his eye.
Tsukune soon had an answer for the man, "I want to protect the few that are close to me from anything that may harm them, and I want to be able to protect myself from the same."
The man nodded, but still held a small glint of disappointment in his milky eye, "Yet you're still leaving out one, tiny, tiny bit, aren't you?" The boy's eyes turning downward just a fraction was all he needed to know the truth, "I know why you want to learn, boy. Every reason, in fact."
Despite the boy's shock which quickly turned to a non-verbal admission of disbelief in the way his eyes began to twinkle and the small upturning of his lips in a amusement, the man was not lying. He could, clear as day, see the reasons the boy wanted to learn to fight with this style as if they were etched into his face, and in a way, it was.
Silence permeated the room for a good five minutes as the guests waited for the man to begin talking again, and as time went on, they began to feel slightly out of place, and the feeling just grew as time went on. It got to the point that Matsuri was constantly looking towards the door whenever she thought that Asura wasn't watching her and chewed on her lower lips harshly, causing them to feel raw to the woman.
With a final slurp however, the tense silence was lifted as the pot of tea was finished off by the mono-eyed man who spoke up after clearing his throat, "I'll teach you, gaki." The sharp -to him- excitement that he began to feel was promptly cooled and swept under a proverbial rug as he reigned himself in and even more so by his would-be senie's next words, "You'll be learning from me, but I will assure you that it won't be a toss in the pond, or a walk in the park." The man closed his eye and took in a breath, "If you are looking for something easy and quick to pick up and advance through, then leave here, immediately."
Hearing no scuffling of clothing and the mats, not to mention the floor creaking as a sign of him, or both leaving, he nodded and his brow crinkled a bit, "If you wound easily, or cannot take pain then leave here, immediately." Still, neither moved significantly, though the boy's mother seemed to shift nervously. His brow crinkled further and his voice got slightly rougher, "If you feel that you will whine, or cry about any tasks set before you, leave my presence, now."
Again, there was little movement, and he bared his lone eye open, it's pupil seeming to loose some of the murkiness and gain a little bit of color back into it's brown iris as the odd feeling that had swept through the building twice appeared once more, "If you show any sign that you are going to go against my orders, then know that I will ensure that you never come here, again."
Finally, for the first time, Tsukune shivered the barest amount and was a second away from showing more emotion before reigning himself in and offering a small smirk, negligible to all but the keen of eye, namely Asura. White medical bandages seemed to warp around the area that obscured his mouth from view, giving the distinct impression that the man was giving a feral grin to the youth across from him and nodded, this time directing the action to the brunette, "We begin two days, be here at O' six-hundred, gaki."
The boy stood and began to walk past the man and make his way to the door when he was made aware that his mother had yet to stand. Raising an eyebrow as he looked over his shoulder, he noticed that the man was staring intently at his god-mother. As he was inhaling to speak, Matsuri turned to him and smiled, "Go wait outside, I believe Momochi-san wishes to speak with me." He received a nod in reciprocation from the man whose back was to him. Understanding, the boy assented and quickly vacated the house.
Sometime later his mother exited the house with a weary, worried expression and fixed the boy who had been sitting beneath one of the meager trees which had somehow been planted on the sand-bar with a disbelieving look followed by a shake of the head before she called to him, beckoning him to follow her to the small boat which had been beached by the two upon arriving.
The boy returned home and his mother had quite the talk with him about what was to happen at Asura's dwelling when he went for his training the day after. It had been a long, nice three hour discussion between mother and son, which left both parties slightly shaken by the information the woman had recited to her god-son.
Awakening the day his training was to begin, Tsukune was quickly made aware that four O' clock was quite the unusual time to be waking up. He grabbed himself a breakfast bar after dressing himself and hit the road on a bicycle until he reached docks with the water taxis, only to find that they were not operational at four in the morning. The annoyed boy returned to his bike and went about crossing the bridge into Naruto, and then made his way to the fishing village in some unknown amount of time.
By the time he had made it out to the sandbar, Asura was standing outside of his house with his one visible eye closed, his bandaged left arm gripping onto a polished cane which seemed to be made of a white oak, or perhaps a yew. As Tsukune approached, the elder man's eye opened and seemed to regard the teen with some curiosity, "Have you an idea of the time?"
Hiding his hard breathing behind strained muscular control and flared nostrils, the brunette boy shook his head, "No, no I don't... Do you?"
A grunt was his answer as the single milky eyes narrowed a bit and, unbeknownst to Tsukune, his grip on the cane tightened, "Indeed I do," The man stated with a slight edge of danger tinging his words, "It is currently Oh-seven-fifteen... You're late, gaki." Before the boy could respond, he was cracked upside his head with the cane, causing him to loose his balance upon feeling the force and the stinging pain.
Yet, he didn't register it and merely felt the anger which boiled within him, remembering the bastard who had hit him a while earlier in his life. In spite of this, the boy snorted and got up, a defiant glare burning into the bandaged man's body. If Asura was affected, or even noticed such a thing, the man didn't bring any attention to it and instead, he turned his back to the boy and began to walk towards the house, only stopping to look at the teen, "If glaring into the sand is your preferred activity, then do it on your own time; I've far better things to do than train you, boy."
With an indignant grunt, Tsukune reigned in his anger and covered himself with a mask of indifference as he went forth towards the man who had agreed to train him.
Throughout the day, the man had the boy going through many of the meager katas and stances which he had learned with his experience of the past classes in martial arts. The boy found it to be tedious, yet he knew that this was but a review so that the man would have an idea as far as where he stood.
As the day went on, the more stances Tsukune showed Asura, the more the man would correct him and nudge an arm back, or a foot forwards a tad. Sometimes he would straighten, or bend the boy's entire stance and body stature past the 'proper' way which it was learned in.
As the boy returned home that night, nearly all of his known forms had been broken down and reconstructed by the rare martial arts master, from the ground up. As the boy showered and dressed himself, he felt the fatigue in his arms from preforming so many of the stances and having them meticulously looked over with the literal critical eye of the injured man, and decided that this was either the greatest decision in his life so far, or the worst.
From that point in time, the boy would travel to Asura Momochi to have his lessons with the man. It took time but the boy eventually began to learn from the man his desired style of martial art, the Dancing Tiger Fist. Oh, and what a remarkable prowess of power and technique it was, but even more so than that, how utterly frustrating was it to get down the kata and stances, as well as to execute some of the movements.
He had learned, through watching and later learning, that the style was used to confuse opponents into launching into attacks which were not really called for in the situation; it was just as much a style of defense as it was a way of subtly manipulating your opponent into a sense of false security, or false perception.
Beyond that, it was designed to allow the one who practiced it to stop and reverse or easily dodge any and all attacks launched from a larger opponent, or one far more physically stronger than you. In that, speed was essential, and it was with this -and at the behest of Asura- that he decided to call the style something other than 'Kage-Tora no Mai', so that anyone who was caught in the cross-hairs of the style by him wouldn't have a way of finding it.
He named it, the 'Interceptor Fist', something which he felt, deep inside, was right.
As time went on, his training schedule with Asura began to shift to such a point that he would spend a week at the man's house and a week at his own over the summer, and would spend the entire weekend, save for the night of Sunday, at his sensei's whilst school was in session.
A year after his mother had introduced the man she had brought home, Izuma Suigaku, to Tsukune, the pair revealed to the boy that they were planning on getting married within six months, Izuma having asked for her hand that very day on their date. The brunette boy had glared at the man, scoffed and walked off before he allowed the negative feelings welling up within him to overtake his rationale and cause him to loose control of himself.
Speaking of, Tsukune Aono -he refused to change his last name, under any circumstance- had found himself becoming far more enraged and easily roused, even though he hid it well. It worried the teen extremely, but it would be another year before he would have an answer to the problem that plagued him so.
Despite his reaction to the knowledge of the two becoming engaged, Tsukune had found himself feeling comfortable around Izuma. The man had an oddly uplifting aura that surrounded him, and his outlook on life was both one that saw everything at it's foulest it could become, yet still retained such optimism that it was surreal.
Izuma had confronted the boy as to his attitude towards him and his utter disregard with any interest in getting to know him. Tsukune had responded with, "Why should I? You're just an asshole hiding behind a guise until you can 'lock' the relationship with my mother into place; then you'll show your true colors." The answer had confused the man who confronted Matsuri on it and, after several long discussions during which she had tried to turn the subject away, had pieced together most of what had happened to both her and the boy.
The man had approached Tsukune once more, with knowledge in hand. The answer had been almost the same, save with some words in place of others. Yet, when Izuma sat down beside the boy and sighed right before launching into a story of his own youth, the brunette boy found himself enraptured in the blue-black haired man's story.
"My father abandoned us -my mother, brother, and I- when I was just two years old. I grew up with an effeminate elder brother who had the emotional range of a wooden spoon, and a knack for hiding himself away from everyone until he got hungry; a mother who was overly worrisome of me and tried to fight all my battles for me, as well as drilled it into my head that I should obey anyone older than me. "
Izuma took a puff of of the cigarette he had lit mid-speech and casually looked out the corner of his eye from where he was slightly hunched over to look at the boy beside him, "My best friend as a child, from age four 'till nine, was this brat -let's call him Junichi. The kid turned out to be the worst kind of friend, though I wouldn't know it; my only interactions were, as I mentioned, between my mother and brother up until I entered school."
Another ring of smoke exited the clean-shaven man's mouth as he adjusted the collared shirt's collar, as to make it stop poking his throat, "This guy, man, he was a dick if you've ever seen one. Bastard would invite me over to play a game of basketball that would quickly turn into a game of dodge-ball, all aimed at my head. Call me stupid, certainly naive, but I thought it was normal for people to play that way and made no complaints about it. Not even when, on several occasions, I somehow was hit with the such force by the ball that it knocked me onto the concrete where my head was busted open. 'Course, he didn't help; just laughed, or ran away to his house."
"Hell," Izuma gave a humorless laugh as another cloud of the smog escaped his mouth, "Even if I had told my mother, she wouldn't have cared- or rather, she wouldn't have done anything. Just go talk to his father- a drunkard who wouldn't do anything- and consider that enough, then bother me for weeks as she fussed over my health, irrationally"
With a loud scraping, an ash tray was brought closer to the edge of the table before the couch the two were sitting on for Izuma to put his cancer stick out in, "Now, you know how I mentioned about the obeying authority thing?" He saw Tsukune nod out of the corner of his eye, "Yeah, well... Junichi was a good year and a half older than I was, so naturally..."$
"You believed and obeyed everything he said," Tsukune finished for him in his usual monotone, and received an erratic nod.
"Yup, right on the money, Tsukune." Izuma leaned back and wet his dry lips, his almost black eyes staring at the ceiling and the fan which spun hanging from it, "I should have questioned it -I did, but; rather I should have acted- when he introduced me to a friend of his and had me 'barrow' several albums of music and several movies from him. Even more so when he took me to the gas-station down the road and told me to pick some candy and a drink or tow; he'd pay for them, and top meet him outside."
"That's not the extent of it," Tsukune inclined his head a tad, "is it?"
"I wish, I truly wish." The elder of the two let out a sigh and blinked, "Unfortunately there's more; by the time I was six, something far more insidious than the previous things had happened and was happening. I-I don't feel like going into detail about it, but..." He glanced around, his half-lidded eyes opening fully as he licked his lips nervously and began wringing his hands together, "I don't know how he knew about such things, nor why he even felt the need to... to put it to use, but... over three months of coercion, he sort-of brainwashed me into ignoring my gut and..."
Tsukune blinked curiously, a slight pang of pity for the man ringing in his bowels from the suffering the man was feeling. Another feeling, a pulling at both his stomach -above the pity- and in his forehead told him that it was something traumatizing to the man, "He molested me, for three long years -though I would try to evade him and keep myself away. I-I knew, deep down that it was wrong, but... I couldn't coordinate it with my mind, like It wasn't registering, or something. If I could... If I could, I'd go back and rid that bastard from my life before it ever happened... Yet, I don't completely hate him- in fact, I pity that sorry sack of trash more than anything..."
Glancing over at his mother's fiance' in bafflement, the boy asked with the slightest hint of ambiguous emotion, "You pity him rather than hate him? How could you possibly?"
Izuma sighed and gave the boy a side-long smile, despite the sadness in his own eyes, "Well, you see, it's like this; Junichi was just a year and a half my elder through all of this and you must figure that, at that age, it would be highly illogical to assume he would simply jump into the kind of behavior that he acted upon on his own."
Izuma reached into his pant packet and retrieved a small pack of cigarettes, seemingly empty with the way it was crinkled, until a single bent white stick was produced and promptly lit with the clear lighter which had been sitting in the cellophane wrapper around the blue pack. After taking a drag off of the addictive item, the suitor of Tsukune's god-mother continued, "To that end, I can only imagine that he was repeating actions done unto him by a family member of his own, likely his uncle -creepy asshole, he was."
"Yet," Tsukune stated, an eyebrow quirked upwards, "you said you only pity him, not hate him. Why not both?"
The man pursed his lips, holding the cigarette in place with his teeth, "Because, I realized that he didn't understand what he was doing was truly wrong -not on a conscious level, anyway. Junichi knew no better, and to hate him for his own loss of innocence and subsequent ignorance over his actions would make me the bastard in the situation, in my mind."
Blowing out twin streams of gray smog from his nostrils, the man continued, "Though, in truth, I did hate him for a time. It took me until I was twenty years old to realize that he most likely didn't know what was happening, and a year after that to loose my hatred of him."
The last Aono cocked his head slightly to the side, "What made you realize it?"
"I'm not quite sure; I just found myself thinking on it more and more, especially when the night terrors began to plague me. I guess that it just clicked into place eventually," Izuma admitted with a slight shrug of his shoulders as he took another drag from his cancer stick before blowing it out in a series of rings with a slightly amused smile. Silently, Tsukune stood and left to his room with an absent-minded wave to the man. He had a lot on his mind.
From that point in time, Tsukune found his disapproval of the man who his mother fancied to fall rather quickly and while he didn't become chummy with the man, the two had a respect of sorts for one another and were civil, almost friendly. It wasn't for lack of trying on Izuma's part, but the man eventually figured out that the civility he was getting from the boy was a great boon and he decided to finally take the gift horse, rather than examine it's mouth.
The wedding had been postponed when Matsuri had been rushed to the hospital over her gal-bladder nearly bursting, where they also found that her appendix was dangerously to becoming jaundiced as well, and bursting. Luck prevailed though, and she recovered successfully, though she had missed her wedding date by nearly a week.
Such a thing was fickle, though. In light of her new found health, Tsukune's god-mother and Izuma had decided to enjoy it and let such a thing not even cause a dent. They set a new date for two months and four days away from the day she was discharged from the hospital, April sixth.
After the marriage had taken place, and on the hols of Tsukune's last year of intermediate school, Izuma had been called into the local ONI; Office of Naval Intelligence center. It seemed that his naval reserve card had been pulled along with several others to take part in guard detail along Japan's coastal waters on the missile frigate Amagi. He would be at sea for nearly three months, assuming everything went well, then would come back to port and be on leave for two weeks before another three month stint whereupon completing, he would be placed back in reserve.
The first tour would go well, and within that time, Tsukune would continue his current path academically. That is, he would be completely average of all of the students, despite his knowledgeable mind and yearning for more to devour and assimilate. His reasons for such were quite complicated on the outside, but at the root of it all, it was truly very simple: Tsukune knew that the effort to stay at the head of his class was worth it; he knew the rewards that he would reap and they were merely marginally better than if he did as he currently was.
'Foolish of you, boy,' a genderless, yet deep voice intoned with most certainly a sneer in the recesses of his mind, bringing him out of his thoughts for the moment.
He blinked and his crimson eyes flecked with two swirling marks around his pupil shifted to stare blankly at the ceiling. After a moment of concentration, the brunette teen felt his conscious mind press against a presence near the edge of his mind, 'What is foolish?'
What could only be defined as a mental thump echoed in his mind accompanied by a muted and translucent gust of wind which was neither felt nor heard, yet was still there. Raising an eyebrow at the ceiling a fraction, the Aono boy awaited an answer whilst ignoring what he knew to be a scoff from the voice.
It spoke up again, this time in what could only be a condescending tone, based on the chosen words, 'Willingly sacrificing your future merely due to a feeling of apparent inadequacy when compared to the others in your class. That, or you simply are far inferior in cognitive thought than the others.'
Letting a low growl rumble in his throat as the corners of his eyes thinned in a glare, he mentally hissed, "As a matter of principle and fact, I am far more intelligent than the vast majority of those within my year and one higher. Do not presume me to be a fool for my own plans."
A soft series of rumbles -a chuckle- came from the recesses of his mental realm, 'Oh, we know you're smarter, we are merely unsure of your common sense; the fact that you hide it and preform just at the bottom cusp of 'average' is cause for alarm to us.'
"Then what," Tsukune began aloud in a whisper before correcting his mistake and continued within his mind, "pray-tell, is concerning to you; you know precisely why I chose this course of action. You can hear my every thought."
He got the impression that the entity speaking to him waved nonchalantly in a dismissive manner, 'Indeed, you expressed your concerns, yet we have yet to truly understand how intentionally sabotaging yourself falls into place. One would think that such a situation would be incentive to try harder.'
The boy sighed in slight frustration as he blinked twice, "Because, I will not get anywhere in this world beyond an average man's pay and an average to below average job with the way I currently am. My family has two-thousand yen left over after the bills are paid, and Izuma does not have the connections and strings to pull to get me a higher education beyond high-school."
The voice seemed to sigh and, despite lack of emotional tone, he got the impression that it was annoyed, 'Yes, but that does not mean that you will not make those connections in the coming years, or make enough money to pay for college education, yourself, boy. So why?'
"Why? I will largely not move beyond a job as a cashier, or if I'm lucky, management of a convenient store; I don't have the personality, nor as I mentioned before, the prestige or connections to have a word put in for me." Tsukune grunted and turned his eyes back towards the slightly wrinkled pages of the book he was currently scanning through, "'Sides, with just enough effort to graduate with averages, I give myself time to focus on other things, like learning things beyond the curriculum and training myself."
For several moments the voice was silent, before it spoke up again, 'You may not have the prestige and connections, but you could use-'
A grunt interrupted the voice as Tsukune lightly turned his nose up, "Yes, I could use it, I could make them believe anything and everything. While I'm at it, why not crown myself ruler of the world all the while I waste away due to laziness from being used to having everything given to me on a silver platter." The presence of the voice shrunk itself slightly in his mind, and Tsukune let out a soft breath, "I apologize for that, it was rude of me. But, I will not be casting illusions on anyone merely to move up in the world; it seems so shallow to do something like that."
'We are merely looking out for ourselves and our progeny, boy. Your hexameral report will be given tomorrow; whether you pass or fail is included, remember?'
The boy nodded, but sent a mental affirmation along with it, knowing that such physical mannerisms were not perceivable by the voice, "Of course. I've both dreaded and waited for this day. It is truly hard to gauge how the professors will take my work; it's like juggling my own skill with how they see me. They could easily discount credit from me for any number of things which I refuse to do on paper to get my answers, costing me valuable points towards a grade."
The voice seemed to concede and replied with, 'For professionals, they certainly have a knack for acting out of their confines.'
The boy gave an absent nod and flipped the last page in his book before letting a soft breath escape his lips. Casting his crimson eyes around the room, he pondered how the house had been repaired and changed over the last few years, yet the emotional taint of the events which had polluted the place still remained and dampened his spirits, regardless of the progress he had made in ejecting the mental damage done to him by the man -what little progress there was to speak of.
The boy felt the slight heat in the back of his eyes and closed his lids, veiling them so that he could mentally picture the source of the heat. With just a second of concentration, the string of thermal energy snapped and faded and with it did the presence of the voice into the further catacombs of his unconscious mind. Upon opening his eyes, deep chocolate had become the prime color, and no trace of the crimson eyes remained.
Shutting the book and gingerly setting it to the side of his cot, he leaned back, placing his hands behind his head and gazed at the rotating blades of the fan above him and the painted white ceiling from which it hung. He considered for a moment the possibility of him failing his classes and felt a shiver pass through him as a small fire broiled in his veins, angered at the thought before it faded. No, he wouldn't fail; he couldn't. True, he had very little chance for advancement once he graduated, but if he didn't, well then... he was fucked.
Aono wasn't sure when, but he had quickly fallen asleep as he thought of several contingency plans in the event that he did fail. That night, he was plagued with dreams that combined his past with Ishin, the contents of his parent's house, and failing his high-school entrance exams. All the while, the voice in the back of his mind orchestrated his life and brought tragedy upon him with a maddening laughter that transcended time and space.
The next day, a slightly dejected Tsukune pushed his way into the house, dropping his backpack haphazardly next to the love-seat which Matsuri and Izuma currently occupied. The two, who had been in each others arms, Matsuri more in Izuma's, turned to the boy and inquired, "Tsukune, what's wrong?" The boy glanced up with guarded and disappointed chocolate eyes and retrieved a neatly folded post-card sized paper from his pocket which he promptly handed off to Izuma.
The man looked it over, and by the time he reached the end, his brows had risen to a height that set them beyond his hair-line. Silence prevailed and permeated the room as the man showed his wife his god-son's report card who turned pale, before her cheeks gained a rosy hue. She turned, her eyes baring onto the boy before her who glanced over at her and loosed a sigh, "You... failed?" Her voice was soft, even, and the words were pronounced ever more perfectly than usual. Even her slight lisp over 'f' was minimized to a proportion that it was almost inaudible.
The boy merely nodded his head, "Yes... I failed, mother." She closed her eyes as her muscles tensed, her free hand squeezing into a fist as she took three calming breaths, and then stood, "I can't believe it..." Despite it being muttered, he knew that it was directed to him, and the disappointment put a gash in his proverbial heart, though not much of one. She looked to him, her eyes blazing with a barely contained fury, "I told you didn't I? I told you to stop the nonsense with holding back, didn't I?"
He lowered his head, "Yes, mother. I just thought.." She bit back, "You thought wrong, didn't you?" The boy didn't verbally reply, instead he merely nodded languidly, his body feeling heavy. "I-I can't believe it. I can't believe that my bright Tsukune failed!" Matsuri whispered harshly, turning her head up to the heavens and then palmed her face, rubbing her eyes.
Izuma stood up and placed his hands on her shoulder, "Honey, it's actually alright-"
"No! No it isn't!"
She rounded on him, her face scrunched in anger and her head slightly tilted to the side as she swung her arm behind her to the boy, "He was supposed to graduate and then we were going to surprise him with that, but then he goes and fails and it just... argh! A year and a half of planning, gone to waste!"
"S-sweetie, Matsuri, I-"
"I just want to break something! Oh my, I've not been so mad in so many years!"
Matsuri turned and glared at her son, her lips pressed into a thin line as her glowing red cheeks, flushed in anger, were slightly puffed out as her nostrils flared, "I thought that, if I stopped ragging on you about your grades, you would finally see that you were screwing up! But, I guess, it's my fault for not staying on your ass!" She threw her arms into the air as tears began to swell in her eyes from her anger, slightly smearing the eye-liner she wore, "H-how did you get so... so... arrogant! I, I just... You failed!"
She cried out as the first tear fully dripped from its resevoir and trailed down her cheek, leaving a black-tinged path half-way down her cheek as she shut her eyes tightly and turned to Izuma, burying her head in his chest. The Naval officer wrapped his arms around the sobbing woman's back and leaned down to her ears, "Shh, shh, Suri-chan. It's alright, really." A muffled groan and several sounds that came from the woman hiding her face in his chest later, and Izuma ran his fingers through the copper haired woman's curly shoulder-length hair, "Really, you don't need to worry."
Tsukune cast a curious eye at Izuma, disbelief glimmering in them for a fraction of a second before it receded and left the default expressionless chocolate orbs in their place. He didn't know what his god-father was trying to pull, but it was likely going to get both himself and Izuma a greater tongue lashing, or get the man a nice long stint on 'couchy-inn'. The logic of the man trying to argue the severity of the situation was lost on him, completely.
After several moments of attempting to console the woman, she finally pulled away from him to reveal a vague face-print of wetness and black inky marks on his dark gray shirt. She blinked and sniffed, gently wiping her eyes after she cleared her throat, "H-how do you figure that it's all going to be alright! How could you possibly come to that conclusion? Hmm?" She inclined her head towards him, her hands on her hips as she did so.
Izuma held up a single finger as he bent down next to the cream-colored love-seat to retrieve his brief-case, a rutted and rough textured black outer casing was popped open by the two metallic locks bordering the smooth leather-bound handle. A soft creak and a pop as the metal hinges locked into place later, Izuma was ruffling through several papers that lay splayed under several bound and ordered packets of information and papers.
A soft groan escaped him as he began to leaf through the miscellaneous papers at the back of his brief-case with such speed and intensity that it was lucky the man didn't tear any of the papers apart. Tsukune cautiously took a step closer to sate his curiosity with a glance over the man's shoulder but was promptly forced to jump back as the blue-black haired man suddenly sprang upwards with a relieved exclamation.
He quickly turned and sat himself on the love seat whilst busying himself with the task of flattening out the wrinkles in the paper caused from his hasty search. Quirking an eyebrow at her husband, Matsuri sat down and leaned over his shoulder with a soft sniff, "What do you have there?" A crafty half-smile, half-smirk greeted her vision as Izuma explained, "This, love, is the answer to all of our immediate problems."
Seeing the slight turn of her head and the shimmer of intense curiosity mixed with disbelief dance across her orbs, he elaborated, "This is something a friend of mine gave to me when I mentioned to him our fears of Tsukune-kun's possible failing of the entrance exams." This got the boy's attention as he leaned in and locked eyes with his god-mother, exchanging a speculative glance with her before the man continued with nary a clue as tot he silent communication of their collective doubt.
"Oh? So who gave it to you, and more importantly- what is it?" Matsuri questioned, reaching for the paper and taking it from her husband's hands as she began reading it over. Unfazed by the theft of the pamphlet from his hands, he chuckled and turned to Tsukune, "That's an enrollment form for an apparently prestigious private academy whose classes cover those of high-school, and they offer a great deal of extra-curricular activities which go towards college credit. A great bargain, if you ask me."
Tsukune's eyes widened very slightly, so small in fact that had Izuma not been around the boy for as long -and as often- as he had lately, he would have missed it completely. As it was, he barely caught it, but it made his smile widen all the more, "I was going to spring this on you and your mother in a few days anyway, so I guess this just speeds it all up, huh?"
"I-Izuma, how did you get this?" The slightly astonished and nervous voice of Matsuri asked as her high yet tightly knit brows floated above rapidly shifting eyes. Stifling his chuckling from the look of his god-son, the man turned to his wife, "I told you, a friend of mine in the reserves gave it to me; something about being asked by a friend of his to hand them out."
She nodded, but her eyes shifted upwards to the top of the pamphlet once more, "Did he mention who his friend was?" Izuma looked upwards in thought as he stroked his slightly prickly chin which was part of his growing facial hair that was not yet a five o'clock shadow, "No, I don't think I asked. Why?" She just shook her head and let her eyes glance nervously passed the informative page to her god-son who lowered his brow and turned his attention from Izuma to Matsuri, "So, what's the name of this school?"
Izuma looked to Matsuri with a smile who weakly returned it, her eyebrow slightly twitching as she cast a nervous glance side-long towards the man who she loved with all her heart. The pair then turned and looked to their god-son and simultaneously, Izuma with a great enthusiasm and Matsuri with great meekness and worry in her voice answered, "Youkai Private Academy."
A psuedo time-skip where training, another life lesson, and a step-father of sorts step into the mix. Will Asura play a larger part? If so, how much larger? Youkai academy! -Le gasp- You all knew this was coming... though will it all be the same, or will I completely warp the shit out of it, in time? Who knows.
So, I have my poll up on my profile, with the first poll-y thing... Go do that... also, this just popped in my head, and I'll likely make the poll before any of you read this thing, but... in the case that I don't... tell me who your favorite girl from Rosario + Vampire is, and why -since I'll likely forget, why the hell not get a reason out of you all, non?