A Different Perspective [Private]
Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: A Different Perspective [Private] Fri 03 Jan 2014, 5:36 am|| |
In an unknown location...
Gray eyes, as dull and lifeless as a corpse’s, swiveled back and forth between reading the words inscribed on one sheet of paper, and transferring the contents onto another blank form. Words were scrawled onto the white sheet with the pen held in the gloved hand, the unhesitating motion showcasing the efficient grace that came after years of practice and repetition. When he was but a lad, Hakase would never have dreamed that he would ever obtain the prestige that his current status granted him. He would also never have imagined that he could become so talented in his chosen profession, or the specific field he had gone into. Face set in disinterest as he completed the current form, the man then moved onto the next document in line. Methodically, efficiently, impassively, he went about finishing his paperwork, pausing only to look up briefly at the clock mounted on the wall. He was a physician and a surgeon, but he was not just an ordinary practitioner of medicine. His patients were usually of the lawbreaking inclination; he earned his pay treating those who were injured performing legally questionable acts - people for whom disease or death was a lesser risk than being taken to a hospital of “legal doctors” (as Hakase called them). Such people came instead to Hakase, and here they found their money’s worth.
With years of experience under his tabi, as well as an unprecedented level of medical skill for a shinobi, Hakase was the cream of the crop - the crop of criminal doctors. The man was claimed to be more adept than the majority of Iryou Ninja in regards to medical treatment, and few had seen his work and argued otherwise. He was the best at what he did, and whenever he did what he did, he did so quietly and with no awkward questions asked. The doctor made a point not to dwell too deeply into the backgrounds of his patients, not caring about what they did, who they were, or even how they got their injuries. All he needed to know was what the problem was, and he would fix it. The term “physician-patient privileges” took on a whole new meaning with him. None of Hakase’s patients had any reason to fear that the criminal doctor would ever say anything unwanted to the wrong people. Primarily because he did not know anything himself ,and because most of the “wrong people” did not even know that the man’s business existed - or rather, they had no definite proof that his business existed. Only the most influential of the criminal world had any knowledge of Hakase’s work, and even those few details were shrouded in mystery. Even his name was a nickname given to him by his past patients, a reference to his profession. The man had managed to become more of an enigma than most shinobi could ever hope to, and he was respected greatly for that. That, and he was really good at his job. He was not perfect, but he was said to be almost as good.
Both the clock’s hand and the man’s hand came to a stop at the same moment; the former continued its motion a second later, whereas the latter lowered the pen and pressed against the tabletop as the physician got to his feet. He transferred the pile of papers into a drawer, before grabbing the lone notebook lying atop the desk. Volume clasped in one gloved hand while the other rose to ensure the doctor’s surgical mask was secure, the scrubs-clad man exited his office and stepped out in the long, green-tiled hallway. Locking the door behind him, the physician began making his way down the hallway. On either side of him were a line of doors, of which he only entered particular ones. He would enter room after room, remaining inside for a variable period of time, before exiting and heading for the next. The entire time, the leather-bound book always remained in his hand, and he would randomly stop to jot something down into it after exiting a room. The whole performance had an air of being repetitive, of being routine; and it certainly was. The doctor was on his round, checking up on each of his admitted patients to evaluate their present condition. He was not the only doctor in this facility, but he was the one with the most patients; furthermore, being the supervisor to the entire staff, he also had access to all his subordinates’ patients, and Hakase made sure to inspect them on a regular basis as well. The latter action was more of an evaluation of his staff members. He ran a very efficient and reliable business, after all; it would not do have any form of inadequacy in his establishment. As much as he was a physician, he was also a businessman.
As mentioned, the criminal doctor had a plethora of patients to look at, all requiring differing levels of attention and care. Currently, the patient that was occupying his time the most was a man that had been brought to this facility approximately two months ago. The man was primarily a burn victim, but had suffered numerous other injuries as well. Thermal burns of the third-degree caliber all over his body, multiple bone fractures, several torn ligaments, severe atrophy of the muscles, and significant paralysis in the legs were just a few of the issues to be named. Suffice it to say, Hakase and his team had had their hands full with this one. It had taken several tense days of work to bring the wounded into a non-critical condition, though the situation was still quite bleak at the moment. The patient was still comatose, having been unconscious ever since he had been brought to the hospital by his associates. Normally, someone with such extensive injuries would have been deemed a lost cause by Hakase, and would have been denied any treatment on the grounds that it would only end in failure. However, the patient’s friends had been very adamant, and with the correct amount of “persuasion” (or in layman’s terms, “cash”), had managed to convince the physician to continue with the procedure. As it was, the patient’s life was no longer in any immediate danger, but as Hakase had already announced, the expiry date had only been pushed back. The end would come soon enough, and the patient’s close ones had to ready themselves for it.
And for Hakase’s bill, but he hadn’t informed them of that part yet.
Having finished going round his round, Hakase returned to his office and his paperwork. Seated behind his desk, he tackled the pile once more. As he went through the reams of sheets that he was filling out, he stopped at the aforementioned burn patient’s records, rubbing his temple irritably and sighing. He had half a mind to simply pull the plug on this patient and end the trouble he was causing. He was a waste of Hakase’s time, money, and resources. Tapping his pen on the table, the physician legitimately considered putting the patient out of his misery, and then informing the comrades that their friend had “kicked the bucket” unexpectedly. That way, Hakase would get his money, and be freed of a troublesome and doomed burden. The idea was certainly appealing to the physician.
Yes, he was nothing but a burden right now; a waste of space. He was a sharp contrast to another of Hakase’s patients, one who was also (coincidentally enough) a burn victim. This one had also suffered burns of full-thickness, though primarily on his face and upper torso. No fractured bones, but plenty of damaged internal organs and reduced muscles movement. Just like the first patient, this one had also been unconscious when brought to Hakase by a friend. Unlike the first patient, his injuries had not been so severe that the physician had felt the need to proclaim a time of death right away. Therefore, there had not been as much need for the patient’s friend to convince Hakase to proceed with a treatment (though, Hakase did not refuse the “arguments”). Wallet fattened, the criminal doctor had gone to work on this other burn victim, and the results had been much better in this case. Just a week ago, the stabilized patient had awoken from his lengthy sleep, and he was already showing promising signs of recuperation. The way Hakase saw it, with a few more months of therapy, the man would be back on his feet and fit to return to whatever life he led. Incidentally, if he were to hazard a guess, Hakase would say that this victim was a shinobi of some standing, based solely on the fact that he had some rather peculiar eyes. Revolting, bulbous, and bug-like: only a shinobi could have deformities like that. Or a demon.
The two patients were noticeably different. One a pain, one cooperative. It was clear which one the doctor preferred to work with. Snorting contemptuously, Hakase lowered his pen and rose to his feet, gathering his supplies in his hand and heading out the room.
It was time to unburden his hospital of some dead weight.
Last edited by Ulkira on Sun 01 Mar 2015, 9:59 am; edited 2 times in total
Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Re: A Different Perspective [Private] Tue 07 Jan 2014, 7:29 am|| |
“Keep the change, ma’am,” the gentle voice offered after the speaker slid the bundle of Ryo across the table. The stout, elderly woman with accepted the amount with a pleasant smile, which the blue-haired man opposite her returned in kind. Slipping into his ash gray coat, the man bid the woman farewell and proceeded out of the little café. Stopping briefly to glance upwards at the Sun, the man then assumed a brisk pace as he headed into the nearby woods. Once he was well into the thickness of trees, his gait quickened into a run. The swiftness and grace with which the man ran demonstrated his past of shinobi training. Silently, speedily, Yuuji Subaru dashed through the forest, eyes swiveling searchingly in their sockets.
Late. He was late. Subaru had allotted a time and a place for his “partner-in-crime” to rendezvous with him. That had been half an hour ago. Half an hour ago, Masquerade should have met up with Subaru at the café for a debriefing, but the masked blonde had been noticeably absent. After taking into account the possibility that the Teinei might have been delayed in completing his mission, Subaru had decided to wait a little longer for Masquerade to arrive. Following thirty minutes of waiting, the blue-haired male had had a bad feeling that things might not be going so well for his partner. And that was why the older shinobi could be found making his way towards the area where Masquerade’s mission was supposed to be taking place. Subaru expected to find the Teinei still at the mission site, or maybe somewhere on the path between the aforementioned location and the café. It was a twenty-minute walk from the café to the mission venue; far less if one had the stamina to run continuously for the whole trip, as well as the agility needed in taking shorter, straighter routes. In Subaru’s case, it only took him ten minutes to reach his destination.
At first, he only noticed the shallow, charred depression; it was a second later when he realized that there was a body lying face-down in the midst of the sunken earth. Having come to a stop upon first noticing the mark on the land, Subaru then hurried towards the prone figure once he saw it. He could not tell who the person was, but the obvious fact that he/she was hurt had attracted his attention. And his concern, if the worried look on his bearded face was any indication. Kneeling beside the motionless figure, the man’s expression darkened as he took note of the severity of the wounds on the burn victim. While some people might have been disgusted by the state the body was currently in, Subaru was not appalled by the gruesome sight. He had seen far worse; he had caused far worse. Slowly, a hand moved to lift one of the body’s eyelids with a finger, not only to see if the figure was alive, but also to examine the optics underneath. The sight of the insectile eyes did not seem to surprise Subaru, only intensifying the grim look on his face. Frowning unhappily at the injuries that had befallen Masquerade, the blue-haired man sighed and shook his head.
“Sorry,” he whispered in a dejected tone, letting the raised eyelid close shut.
“Yo! How ya doing today?” a beaming Subaru asked with a wide grin. Before any reply could be given to his question, Subaru raised his hands to chest level in a gesture of apology. “Don’t answer that! I know you aren’t allowed to talk - or should I say, you can’t talk.”
Immersed in his own glowing demeanor, Subaru did not appear to notice (or pretended not to) the uninterested way in which the figure on the bed glanced at him. The male form was garbed in a dull gray hospital gown, with bandages covering the majority of his body. Intravenous tubes were embedded into the back of the patient’s hand, delivering the fluid contained in the bags beside him. The male’s whole head was hidden under wraps of cloth, with only the area around his eyes exposed. The round, bright green bug eyes were staring unblinkingly at Subaru as the latter pulled up a stool to sit beside the bed. For a moment, there was silence between the two, with the wrapped one having turned his attention away from the healthier man. Subaru continued to watch Masquerade with a jovial aura, unperturbed by the injured boy’s disinterest. The Nukenin could hardly be blamed for being so uninterested in socializing, given his present condition.
Being bedridden for so many weeks, with more bed rest ahead, would definitely ruin anyone’s mood. Plus, all those injuries are probably making things worse. Subaru couldn’t remember all the problems that Hakase had enumerated after examining Masquerade; the list had been quite long, interspersed with a profusion of medical jargon and phrases. Most of the words that the doctor had used would be foreign to all but the most qualified of medical practitioners, and though Subaru had a little medical knowledge, he was no doctor. All he remembered was the water downed version that Hakase had exasperatedly given him. Even then, the magnitude of issues to be addressed had still seemed overwhelming to Subaru, despite the simplicity of the terms they had been put in. In the end, there had been no sugarcoating it: Masquerade had been gravely injured, and he had needed serious help.
And that was precisely why Subaru had brought him to a physician as adept as Hakase. Subaru had a decent amount of skill in the healing arts, but he was nothing compared to Hakase. Seems like very few people are. Someone of Hakase’s caliber was not easily found, and though Subaru had managed to gain access to the criminal doctor’s talents, doing so had not been uncomplicated. This whole treatment was costing Subaru a pretty penny, and far more. He had ended up paying even more than was normal for the procedure, as demanded by the physician. The unfortunate fact was that Hakase did not hold many good impressions of Subaru, for there was a bit of animosity on the physician’s side towards the bearded shinobi. The two had history, and that history was soaked with bad blood. Hakase had indubitably asked for a higher payment simply to spite Subaru, and the swindled blue-haired man knew of this fact and the reasons for it. As was characteristic of him, he had not raised any objections in response to them; both because he knew that Hakase would not have agreed to help Masquerade if Subaru had tried to argue, and because the blue-haired man was just not the kind of person to start an argument during such an urgent moment. Masquerade’s life had been in peril, and Subaru had opted to pay the devil of a doctor his overpriced fee, rather than risk worsening the Jinchuuriki’s condition.
It made one wonder why Subaru would go to such lengths to help Masquerade, a person he had only known for about a year, and had interacted with for even less time.
“So, I got you this,” the older man began, reaching into his coat pocket to pull out a pair of sunglasses, which he held out towards the Nukenin turning to look in his direction. “I figured that, since your mask is broken and stuff… you could wear these for the time being. You know, if you want to cover your eyes or something,” Subaru finished softly, his voice having adopted a sympathetic tone. He was not making this offer because he felt that Masquerade should keep his eyes covered, but because he thought that the reason Masquerade wore his mask was to hide his eyes. What other reason could there be? It was the most obvious one, after all.
Subaru’s yellow eyes flitted to the remnants of the damaged mask lying on the table on the other side of Masquerade’s bed. Both lenses were damaged, one broken in half, the other having completely shattered; the metal headband was singed, blackened, and cracking, in need of serious repair. Just like its wearer, the mask had been heavily damaged. However, unlike its wearer, the repairs on the mask had not begun, because the owner had not allowed any restoration to be started. Since awakening and being handed the mask by Subaru (who had obviously brought it along when he had found Masquerade), the Nukenin had kept it at his bedside, not allowing any to touch it or fix it. What exactly his reasons were for acting like this, Masquerade never said. Subaru had been quite surprised when Masquerade had refused to have his mask repaired; the bearded man had always been of the opinion that the mask had a lot of sentimental value for the Nukenin. His behavior at the moment was perplexing, to say the least.
Speechlessly, Masquerade looked down at the eyewear in Subaru’s hand, insect eyes unreadable of emotion. After a second or so, the bandaged boy turned his head away silently and reclined back into his piled pillows. Masquerade’s burns were making it difficult for him to speak, as were all the procedures that he had undergone. According to Hakase, the problem was only temporary, and Masquerade simply had to allow his vocal chords time to heal. And in regards to healing, Masquerade was doing pretty well. As Hakase had disclosed to both Subaru and Masquerade, the Nukenin’s body was healing itself with exceptional speed.
While on the subject of Masquerade’s speedy recovery, it was clear that the criminal physician found this to be a fascinating phenomenon. How else would one explain evident the light that appeared in his otherwise soulless eyes whenever he examined Masquerade? The doctor was clearly more interested in Masquerade’s recovery than he was with his other patients. Subaru guessed that Hakase was also intrigued by Masquerade’s extremely atypical eyes. Who could blame a researcher like him for being interested? The doctor had no idea that Masquerade was a Jinchuuriki, seeing as he had a “no questions” policy, and it was that very policy that was keeping him from asking any “unnecessary” questions - despite how much his curiosity clearly yearned to ask those questions. If he had asked, he would not have gotten an answer from either male; and there was a plausible answer for this. Subaru, being in the know as he was, suspected that the reason why Masquerade was healing so quickly was because of the Bijuu in him, who was speeding up the boy’s recovery with her chakra. Subaru knew all about how Masquerade disliked the Shichibi helping him when he did not ask for it. He wondered how the boy would feel when he learned about the aforementioned fact. Assuming he didn’t know about it already, that is.
But that was all beside the point. Subaru had made an offer of kindness to Masquerade, and he was awaiting a reply. Verbal communication may have been difficult, but Masquerade’s body language had conveyed the message. He did not want the sunglasses, hideous eyes exposed or not. Despite the rudeness of Masquerade’s reply, Subaru did not pursue the subject any further. Instead, pouting in mock dismay, he huffed loudly. “Alright, then! If you don’t want them, I’ll just wear them instead.” Slipping the rounded sunglasses on, Subaru spread his arms apart expectantly at Masquerade, wordlessly asking how he looked. Masquerade merely inched his head a fraction in Subaru’s direction, pausing only to look for a few silent seconds, before turning his attention away from him again. Subaru placed a hand to his heart in mock dejection. “Ouch! Easy with the sarcasm!”
Masquerade shook his head slowly in exasperation.
Last edited by Ulkira on Sun 01 Mar 2015, 10:00 am; edited 3 times in total
Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Re: A Different Perspective [Private] Tue 14 Jan 2014, 6:20 am|| |
Chains. Shackles. Bindings. A cage. She was used to being in a cage. An uncomfortable cage. A degrading cage. She had been in many a cage before, each with slight or significant differences. Sometimes it was the simple barred container; other times, it was something more distinctive, like the one she was trapped in right now. This one was not exactly a cage, per say. Braces bound to each of her six wings, pinching them and fanning them out behind her. Her six needle-like legs were locked in the same shackle that her long, reptilian tail was. The tail had been had been forcefully curled downwards, and was running along the bottom of her body. Another shackle apiece covered her abdomen, thorax, head, and horn, leaving her incapable of moving any part of her body. Numerous thick, sturdy chains stretched out from the surrounding darkness to connect to these restraints; these very chains were keeping her suspended several meters above the stone floor, like some kind of giant chandelier. This prison was restricting and uncomfortable; but she was not affected by the merciless nature of her restraints. She was used to being in such discomfort. She’d endured this prison for over two decades, and before that, she had tolerated other prisons just as inhumane.
Humans intrigued the Shichibi. She was fascinated by them, like a botanist was fascinated by plants. Both when she was free and when she was sealed, she would observe and study humans curiously. She found interest in them because of their diversity and individuality; she was one of the few - if not the only - Bijuu that showed this much interest in creatures “lesser than her kind”. Or so it was said. Regardless, the Shichibi did find humans, or at least her hosts, to be interesting. It was only natural for one species to be fascinated by the behavior of another, provided the first had the sentience to feel such interest. The Shichibi, sentient being that she was, found enjoyment in “prodding” her hosts and seeing their reactions. Even if she herself did not have any involvement in how they acted, it was still fun to see a human’s behavior.
Sometimes, though, her hosts were not so much fun so much as they were, say, stubborn or frustrating. And her current host was certainly of this classification. The boy, Kai, was strange because of his many perplexing habits. For one thing, he was a criminal that followed a moral code so close to a law-abiding ninja’s, that it was sometimes a wonder why he even performed felonious acts. But at the same time, he would place the completion of a task at a higher priority than any moral or sentimental values he might have. Case in point, when he had chosen to bring that Heiwajima heiress back to the fiancé she did not love, rather than let her run off with her ninja lover; he’d even gone as far as killing the lover just to avoid having any further complications in the mission. The life had been taken coldly, unhesitatingly, and with impartial logic as its justification. Granted, the Shichibi had sensed the guilt that the boy had felt for his actions, but the fact of the matter was that he had used the situation as an example for why a Nukenin should prioritize the completion of a mission over any sentiment. He performed his missions with a single-track mind, eyes on the end and the reward that awaited him. Yet, the Shichibi was certain that her host was not greedy or materialistic. He was just strange. Not the strangest host she’d ever had, but still quite strange.
Still, the main point of mention was definitely the fact that the boy refused to have the Shichibi bail him out of trouble. He had this odd belief in his own freedom, in his own independence. It was ironic that someone who valued his own freedom so much would be content with keeping another sentient being imprisoned within him. One would imagine that Kai would want the Shichibi to have the same freedom that he wanted. “Treat others like you want yourself to be treated,” the Shichibi murmured to herself, amused by the human saying. Of course, Kai would have to be an utter fool to want to free the Shichibi from her prison. Freeing her meant that she would either seize control of his body, or she would cause his death as she was unsealed from her prison. Both were scenarios that the Shichibi was sure Kai would be opposed to.
“Considering all the bad luck he’s had so far, it’s a wonder why he hasn’t died yet,” the Shichibi mused sardonically. Being a Jinchuuriki had helped Kai out plenty of times. Like this current situation: the injuries Kai had received from that Juudai boy had been quite severe, but because he was a Jinchuuriki, he was recovering very quickly. Jinchuuriki were known to have quicker healing factors thanks to the Bijuu’s chakra fused with their own. This recovering speed paled in comparison to the one granted to that vile fox’s host, but it was still noteworthy. The Shichibi’s chakra was the sole reason why Kai was responding so well to the physician Hakase’s treatment. If it had not been for her chakra, the boy might have been in a far worse condition than he was now. In a sense, she was helping Kai survive, and that was something which would definitely upset him; cxcept, the Shichibi was not voluntarily healing her host. She could not control what the part of her chakra that was fused with her host’s did. If she could, she would have brought about his death a long time ago.
The sound of footfalls on stone echoed throughout the room.
“What do you want?” The Bijuu’s voice had a noticeable level of coldness in it as her eight compound eyes swiveled down to peer at the humanoid shape. Kai looked up at the insect Bijuu with a similar air of aloofness. He was dressed in his usual attire of a white coat, blue shirt, and purple pants; however, he was missing his mask, instead leaving his own blank, bug-like eyes exposed for the Shichibi to see. The green eyes drifted away from the blue-gray insect to scan the room they were in.
“I grew tired of looking at that hospital room. I figured I may as well come in here while I’m in bed rest.” He lazily raised his arms upwards to gesture around the vast, stone room. “This place does have a greater aesthetic appeal than that ward.” The Shichibi said nothing further as Kai walked a few paces away, towards the “entrance” to the room, and sat down against the stone wall. Neither person made a sound following this; Kai was staring blankly at the ground, while the Shichibi’s eyes had shifted to look above and away from her host. It was clear that the boy was not here to chat with the Shichibi, and as it so happened, she was not in the mood for a conversation either. She had been anticipating the boy’s arrival, however. It had been expected that Kai had come in here to scold her, to rant about how he was not pleased that she had been speeding up his recovery without his authorization. She had been looking forward to toying with him by first ignoring him, and only telling him the truth after his mood worsened. Sadly, her fun had been spoiled, since Kai did not appear to be here to discuss that matter. He really did seem to be here because of boredom.
Several minutes had passed before, out of the corner of one compound eye, the female Bijuu saw the boy look up from the ground and glance around the room, blinking slowly and pensively. He looked around for a couple of seconds later, before rising to his feet and beginning to walk around the room. The Shichibi did not bother following his motion with her eyes, since she knew she would lose sight of him the moment he stepped out of her peripherals. She could not turn her head, so her vision was restricted to that which was directly in front of her. As such, she could not see how Kai was looking up and down at the walls with a thoughtful face, eyes narrowed as he surveyed the stone surface. She did not notice how he tapped his chin while observing the manner in which the walls of the room seemed to be expanding and contracting slightly. The Shichibi did not see the boy reach forward and place a gloved hand on the rocky surface of the wall, running his hand over the rough plain. She did not see any of this, but she accurately surmised that the Nukenin was inspecting the room they were in. As far as she could remember, this was the first time her host had ever been in this part of his subconscious for no purpose other than to kill time. It was therefore understandable why he would show a slight amount of interest in this little world within his soul/mind, when he had nothing else to engross his attention.
“Curious…,” the inspecting Nukenin remarked softly, the acoustics of the room enabling the Shichibi to hear him perfectly. The tapping of feet against stone got closer as the blonde returned to the Shichibi’s field of vision. Stopping in front of her, the human crossed his arms over his chest and stared up at the ceiling far overheard, concealed in the shadows of the room. It was a few seconds before he spoke up, turning to face the bound Bijuu as he did so. Emotionless green eyes flitted up to meet the gaze of the similarly unreadable, yellow eyes. “I heard you this time. Back then, when I was lying helpless, I heard you speaking to me. Unlike the time when I was in that Town, I could hear your voice perfectly, despite my attention being focused on other things. I suppose this means that our connection has been strengthening. Once again, you knew what you were talking about when you gave me that advice.”
A shadow of a smile flickered on his face. The solemn air still remained around both human and Bijuu, however, as the former continued. “I heard you asking me if I wanted your help; you asked me for permission, rather than just coming to my assistance. I had been helpless, powerless. My life may not have been in danger, but I was still in a dangerous situation. Even when there were explosive tags being attached to my face, you still did not take matters into your own hands. You waited, and you asked.” He gestured up to the Bijuu with one hand, head bobbing up and down in a nod. “In other words, you kept your promise, just like you did during the Town incident. And just like back then, I am truly grateful for your honesty. Thank you, Shichibi, for being so cooperative with my principles.”
He gave a small, sincere nod up at the Bijuu. Said Bijuu was silent for a moment, her thoughts unknown, and her lack of body language making her expression unreadable. Her unblinkingly eyes surveyed the smaller figure for a few seconds, before she asked him a simple question: “If you could hear me, Kai, then why didn’t you agree to my help?”
The shinobi slipped his hands into his pockets, and stepped out of the Shichibi’s line of sight without a word.
Last edited by Ulkira on Sun 01 Mar 2015, 10:01 am; edited 3 times in total
Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Re: A Different Perspective [Private] Mon 20 Jan 2014, 5:01 am|| |
The irony. The irony in being beaten by someone who was once weaker than you. The irony in being a medic, yet sustaining an injury requiring another medic’s assistance to heal. The irony in considering yourself to be a sensible person, but being foolish enough to take on a task that was beyond your capabilities, something which was obvious both in hindsight and foresight. The irony in being a criminal ninja who could, deep down, be considered a pleasant and good fellow. The irony in possessing a power beyond most people’s wildest dreams, but not using it when your life was at such risk. Well, that last one was not actually ironic; it was odd. And if humans were anything, it was odd. And Masquerade, he was no different from other humans, in that he was also odd.
The Nukenin raised empty eyes up from the ground to stare up at the unseen ceiling. He was seated on a small mound of stone, the only such feature on the otherwise level stone floor. This little seat had been a making of his own, one that he had conjured up with his mind. This was part of his subconscious, and as such, it seemed that he had some control of its appearance. Though, not as much control as one might expect with the aforementioned view. The most the blonde had been able to accomplish was creating his current seating arrangement; beyond that, he could not alter the appearance or structure of the cavern he was in. Just this accomplishment had taken many weeks of trying. Perhaps the difficulty in changing the environment could be regarded as symbolic. His subconscious was a part of his very nature, his personality: to simple change it on a whim would never work. People did not change in the blink of an eye. Change was slow and gradual, particularly in the case of a person’s mindset. With that in mind, it would not be too surprising that Masquerade would not be able to alter the structure of this part of his subconscious. Any drastic change here, like making a flower blossom on the stone floor or increasing the light intensity, would probably require some kind of major mental or spiritual growth. And though Masquerade felt he had indeed changed in some aspects, it did not seem like the change was having much of a difference on his personality. Perhaps the change he assumed that he had undergone was nothing more than dormant traits surfacing?
A gloved hand rose up to rest its palm against the human’s lower jaw, the arm propped up against his thigh; the index finger of the same hand began to slowly and rhythmically tap against a cheekbone. It had been over four months since he had encountered Kumoi Juudai in those woods. The fifth month since he had been hospitalized was almost here. So that meant that the second month since he had started spending his time in this part of his soul was about to end. Five months, huh? This was the first time that Masquerade had been in recuperation for so long. He had rarely injured or exhausted himself enough to ever need more than a month’s worth of bed rest, or therapy of some kind or the other. He usually tried to be more cautious in regards to mistreating his body like that. This was certainly the first time that he had been wounded so badly. Considering the extent of his injuries, Masquerade was not surprised that it was taking so long for him to heal. Still, it could be taking longer. If that criminal physician, Hakase, had told Masquerade anything from his behavior, it was that he was impressed by how quickly Masquerade was recovering (actually, if there was one thing that Masquerade had gauged from the doctor’s behavior, it was that he was a soulless demon of a man).
Masquerade was not as big a fool as his past actions may have implied. He knew that the reason why he was healing more rapidly than other patients was because he was a Jinchuuriki, and had a gargantuan mass of chakra within him. He knew that the Shichibi’s chakra was playing a small, yet significant role in speeding up his recovery. He also knew that the Shichibi herself was not willing doing this. She was not using her chakra to heal Masquerade without his permission. Why was he so confident of this? It was because he knew that she was complying with their agreement. She had not broken their agreement when Masquerade’s life was at risk before, and she certainly would not do so again. Besides, Masquerade’s death would mean nothing but liberation to the Bijuu. Such a fact could be regarded as one reason why Masquerade was reluctant to trust the Shichibi with his life. What Jinchuuriki would be?
The five months had not passed by quickly or smoothly. Sure, his body was healing well, but the treatment had been arduous and tedious. He didn’t have the motivation to list all the tests and procedures he’d gone through, or all the medications he was and had been taking, because of the copiousness of their number and variety. Still, the results were looking good. He was no longer restricted to his bed anymore; he could move about, though not as efficiently as he would have liked. He had yet to do anything that was expected of a shinobi. But he was getting there. Hakase had said that it would only be a few more weeks until he would be able to get back on his feet, and actually stay on them unaided and not temporarily. Soon enough, he would be back in fighting shape, and he would at last be able to leave the hospital he was in. It said something when someone as unambitious as Masquerade was itching to get back into his shinobi lifestyle, to get back to training and working. Rest was essential for a shinobi, yes; but it could also be demanding in itself at times.
Inattentively, Masquerade slid the fingers of the hand he was resting his head on over his face, still staring blankly upwards. Hakase had explained very clearly to Masquerade that while he would be able to return Masquerade’s body to its original state, there were some issues that even he could not resolve. As Hakase had put it, the Nukenin had been caught in a powerful explosion. While the criminal doctor could repair the debilitating problems, it was unlikely that he would be able to restore everything that Masquerade had lost. While that news might sound frightening, there was some good and bad news concerning. The good news was that Masquerade had not lost anything that was vital to his continued existence (or male pride). The inside of his body and its functioning were fine. On the other hand, Hakase had stated that there might a few “disfigurements” on Masquerade’s appearance now; mostly on his face. After all, the boy had just gotten his face burnt by six explosive tags. One did not walk away from something like that still sporting a model’s face. Not that Masquerade had had a model’s face; he had never paused to even consider how much attractive value his face had, as there was little point to be considering that when you spent every waking minute wearing a mask. Masquerade did not care all that much about his appearance. In fact, he was used to having a disfigured visage. He did have some of the most repulsive eyes in the ninja world. Any other marring on his face would be treated with the same amount of disinterest and acceptance as the other. Though, admittedly, Masquerade had yet to see what state his face was in currently, or how it had been before his treatment had begun. His bandages had been removed, and his nurses and doctor, as well as Subaru, had all seen how he looked. Masquerade, on the other hand, had not looked in a mirror even once without his wrappings. He had no desire to see his face in its current state. He would prefer to only see the final product, if possible. This was not out of fear of what he might see; it was more likely because of the belief that his post-treatment look mattered more than the way he looked in between his treatment.
Masquerade blinked, coming back to his senses at the sound of the vast, echoing voice. He lowered his hand from his face and looked up at the Shichibi. This was not the first time the Bijuu had spoken to him in the last two months, and it was not the second time either. In the beginning, only time the she would speak to her host would be to ask why Masquerade had not accepted her help in beating Juudai. This was a query she had asked numerous times in the span of the first month. Every now and then, at random moments, the Shichibi had posed such a question to Masquerade. And each time, he had remained silent. If he had been refusing to answer because he did not wish to discuss the subject, then the Shichibi had not taken the hint. She had probably kept pestering him for an answer to both satisfy her curiosity, and to annoy him. That was certainly what Masquerade would have done.
In any case, the Shichibi had eventually stopped asking Masquerade this question, though the Nukenin never did grace her with a satisfactory answer. As it happened, the topic was barely brought up again. That did not mean that the Bijuu and Jinchuuriki did not speak to each other at all since then. On the contrary, it was inevitable that conversation would commence between the two. This inner realm was rather boring at times, so Masquerade would end up making idle conversation with the insect, or she with him. Simple, meaningless chatter that served no purpose than to liven up the atmosphere momentarily. The talks were never more than taunts, teasing, and mocking. They spoke civilly to each other, but the distrusting undertones were noticeable. They were conversations between two people who were not friends, but did not consider each other enemies. More like unwanted colleagues, who each did their best to degrade the other while keeping things amicable.
“Seeing as you’re almost healed and everything, what do you plan to do next? Are you going to go a quest for vengeance against Juudai?”
The Shichibi’s voice was practically oozing with mockery. Masquerade cocked an eyebrow at her, smirking amusingly. “Don’t be ridiculous, Shichibi. I won’t be so foolish as to swear a vendetta against Kumoi Juudai, simply because he beat me. My pride is not so easily shattered. Besides, it is rather obvious that Kumoi Juudai let me live in the hopes that I would seek to pay him back for his actions, just as he did with me. He wanted me to get stronger and come after him, so that he can defeat me when I am stronger and prove that he is indeed superior. Now, why would I bother giving him the satisfaction in knowing that I am following his wish? I have no interest in revenge; I’m not so stupid as to seek something that will give me no solace whatsoever. Call it cowardice, but I have no interest in doing something that will serve me no benefit.”
“Is that right? So was there no benefit in letting me take care of Juudai?”
The smirk faltered and vanished as the Shichibi smugly made this remark. Masquerade’s bug-like did not narrow in response, but the frown on his face showed his annoyance. “No, there was not. Kumoi Juudai was not going to kill me, because - as I said - it was obvious that he wanted me to go through everything he had gone through. The shame, the misery, the self-loathing, and the subsequent quest for power and retribution; he wanted to make me suffer the same way he did. In other words, he wants to dictate the way I should live my life. Given that in mind, it should be obvious why I would be loath to complying with his wishes.”
Hands pressed against his knees as Masquerade stood up from his seat. He followed the action by folding his arms behind his back and walking away from where the Shichibi was. As he came to a stop, he began to speak, voice slowly and softly, voice emotionless and flat. “I made an oath to myself many years ago; one that you’re undoubtedly very familiar with now, given how many times I’ve mentioned it. I vowed to lead a life that only I was in control of. No one other than myself would boss me around. Only I could make my own decisions, and only I would choose how I lived. If there was any aspect of my life that I could control, then I would not allow anyone else that privilege. Everything I would do, I would do of my own volition.”
He turned around to look sideways up at the chained creature of chakra. “Truthfully, I only began thinking like this after I learned I was a Jinchuuriki. To be stripped of my own individuality and freedom, to be seen as nothing more than a tool to be used by someone else... I’m sure you’ll agree with me that that is hardly an appealing lifestyle.” Masquerade was aware of the irony here. He was aware of the fact that he, who valued his freedom so much, was restricting the freedom of another. But it was the way it had to be. To ensure his own freedom, Masquerade had to strip the Shichibi of her own. If he let her do as she pleased, he would not be most likely not be able to do as he pleased. Cruel though it might be, that was how life was. Where someone gained, there was another that lost.
“I value my freedom above everything else… However, lately, I’ve come to realize a very obvious fact.” Masquerade placed a thin, long-fingered hand to his chest, directly above his heart. “I cannot safeguard my freedom if I cannot first preserve my life. There are many dangers in this world; many things which can threaten me. However, I know that I will never be strong enough to prevent the inevitable. A time will come when I will die. Nothing in this world is eternal; everything ceases to exist at some point. I’ve seen enough deaths to be convinced of this…” The people he’d killed as a shinobi; the people who’d died in his hometown; the people who had been slaughtered in the Town; his father; Sakamoto… The list was quite extensive with just these mentions.
“Good or bad, affluent or impecunious, shinobi or not: a time comes when everyone meets their end. I cannot prevent myself from dying, and I am content with that; somewhere, at some time, I will pass from this world.” The corner of his mouth curled upwards in a smirk as he lowered his gaze to the ground. “Strange, don’t you think, that someone who is so fixated on his own independence would be so accepting of the fact that he has no control over the time and place of his death? I acknowledge that there are some things in life that I cannot control, death being the most prominent of them.”
The Shichibi continued to listen silently to her host’s monologue as he clenched a fist resolutely. “There are, however, some things that I can control. I can control my actions, my behavior, and the kind of person I am. And, though I cannot control when and where I die, I can at least try. Just because I can die at any moment does not mean I should let that happen. If there is something I can do to keep myself alive, then I will not hesitate to follow through with it. If my life is at risk, then I shall do whatever it takes to survive. No matter what the deed, if I am capable of it or willing to do it, then I shall. When I die, I want it to be because I have done everything I can to keep myself alive, and failed.”
The boy’s tone had never risen or quickened the entire time he spoke. Every word had been delivered in a soft, composed voice devoid of emotion or passion. Despite the lack of any heartfelt inflection, the seriousness of the message was clear. There was no hesitation in the boy’s voice or face. He had been thinking about this view for a while now. Ever since he had escaped from that town of murderous corpses, he had realized that he had do to whatever was in his power to keep himself alive. Now, this latest incident with Juudai had only strengthened that belief. Masquerade valued his life greatly, so he would have to discard morals, sentiment, and such hindrances in preference of a more… “rationale” way of thinking. Not to say he had not been rationale before. Masquerade had always done what he assumed was the most sensible thing to do; however, he had always taken “good” morals into consideration. Now, such luxuries could not be afforded. He had to be objective – impartial. It did not matter if a deed or action was good or bad, illegal or legal, fair or unfair: if it served him a benefit, if it kept him alive, than that was all that mattered. There was no reason to be overly good or wicked; all he need do is be pragmatic. Yes, pragmatic.
Chains clinked as the Shichibi sighed audibly and figuratively rolled her eight, yellow eyes. “Well, that was a lovely speech. But all I want to know is why you didn’t let me help you. If you’re so invested in keeping yourself alive, then why not accept my help? Your refusal seems to contradict the whole “do whatever it takes to survive” ideal.”
Masquerade smirked slyly, speaking in an almost coy manner. “Make no mistake, Shichibi. I said I would do whatever was required of the situation, but only if I was willing to. It is only my own capabilities I wish to rely on. Against Kumoi Juudai, I was at my limit. There was nothing I could do to stop him. The only one who could have stopped him would have been you, Shichibi. But for that to happen, I would have to compromise my freedom by allowing you to control my body like a puppet. If you could have lent me some of your power for me to use myself, then it might have been a different story. But alas, it was not the case. I know I could have died back there, but I would rather die than sacrifice my own freedom.”
The Shichibi was silent for a few seconds before she spoke. “Fine, then. Do whatever you want, Kai. It’s your own life, so make or destroy it however you please. I’ll be here watching it all unfold.” She did not sound cross or concerned. She had sincerely accepted her host’s opinion, and as was characteristic of her, she was acting good-naturedly about it. A legendary entity though she may be, Masquerade would not deny that the Shichibi was far more understanding with him than most humans he had met. Even now, she did not sound any less civil or polite than she had ever been with him. It seemed that what Subaru had once told Masquerade was true: the Shichibi was noticeably nicer to her hosts, and humans in general, than other Bijuu. And perhaps, Masquerade was nicer to his Bijuu than other Jinchuuriki were with theirs.
“I would expect nothing less than a diligent watch on your part, Shichibi. I know how curious and nosy you can be. I’ll be sure to put on a good show for you, hmm?” He smiled amicably at the Bijuu, though there was the natural underlying streak of sarcasm in his tone.
The Nukenin closed his eyes, and when opened them again, he was no longer with the Shichibi. He was in the hospital ward, sitting on a chair by the window. His green eyes, peeking out from under the multitude of wrappings on his face, shifted to look at the pile of parcels and boxes beside his bed. These contents of these containers consisted mostly of a fresh set of clothes and shinob gear for Masquerade. These had been brought in by Subaru at Masquerade’s request to replace the items the Nukenin had lost during his scuffle with Juudai. Exhaling heavily, he leaned back in his chair, turning his focus to the stormy night sky outside his window. His thoughts went back momentarily to how a one’s personality changed gradually, and not overnight. This change in him, it had not only been gradual, but it had technically not been a change either. As a shinobi, as a Nukenin, and as a Jinchuuriki, Masquerade had always put some importance on his life, and had always been pragmatic in his actions. The only difference now was that he was willing to be more selfish with his decisions - more impartial. He was now more inclined to seeing things as being either beneficial or unbeneficial to him, and acting accordingly. He was more willing to see things in a slightly different way.
… With a different perspective.
~ Topic Concluded ~
|Subject: Re: A Different Perspective [Private] || |
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