Posts : 811
|Subject: Victory is so Bitter Wed 20 May 2015, 4:57 pm|| |
|The light of a new day shone over the Village Hidden in the Clouds, all throughout the village, there was a new found sense of life and vigor. People ran up and down the streets and commerce was at an all time high. Rumours of a festival to celebrate their success against the Parahambla floated on the winds. |
She should have felt like this too, yet here she was, sitting on her bed gazing lazily out the window onto the village. Ever since the mission had been completed, Meiko had barely moved, much less left her room. All she did was reflect on the mission, how she could have done things differently, how she could have done things better. Mana had entrusted her with the role of second-in-command. What did she do with that honour? She abandoned her friend and in the end, wound up holding everyone back. The real heroes of that mission were Mana and Hiruzen. They were the ones who defeated Niku. Hell, even Kiyomi and Mugen were able to contribute to the mission. Kiyomi's telepathic link allowed for perfect communication while Mugen's spontaneous actions helped to corner Niku. What did Meiko do?
The girl's normally vibrant red eyes now looked to be half dead as she gazed off to the horizon. "What have I been doing all these years?" Looking back, her career as a shinobi read as someone doing the bare minimum. Promotions came out of necessity from the village as opposed to any real effort on her part. While Mana was out bringing down international criminals, Meiko beat up a couple bandits while out on a supply run for her father. The only real mission she had been on before this was to rescue a young Genin who had been kidnapped. Even then, she had needed Mana's help to bring down the kidnapper.
"What have I even accomplished?"
A knocking came at her door. Meiko made no indication she had noticed, but it opened anyway. Glancing over, Meiko recognized the old man who had been by Mana's side since her arrival. He was simply referred to as Assistant and while he could be crude, he did his job admirably. In his hands was a tray of fresh takoyaki. The scent immediately filling the room and tantalizing Meiko's senses. Normally, the girl would have been instantly craving the delicacy, yet now all it did was cause her to feel sick to her stomach. "The Lady Mana is not in the mood for food right now and I would hate for such fresh food to go to waste. I was wondering if you would care for some takoyaki, miss Meiko."
For a moment, Meiko looked blankly at the food before turning her eyes to the Assistant. "No, thank you. I appreciate it but... I haven't been feeling well..." The Assistant let out a deep sigh. "That's too bad. I put so much effort into these. I guess I'll enjoy them myself then. No point throwing out good food." As the Assistant was leaving, Meiko called out to him once more. "You said that Mana was not hungry, does that mean she is back from her council meeting?" "Yes, the Lady Mana returned a short time ago, although, she is... indisposed at the moment."
With that, the Assistant left and quietly closed Meiko's door. Indisposed? What did he mean by that? Had something happened? Getting to her feet, Meiko moved to her door and peeked out into the hallway. Waiting for the Assistant to disappear around the corner, Meiko quietly made her way out and towards Mana's room. It couldn't hurt to knock right? The poor girl had suffered enough, what was going on now?
Tapping her knuckle against the door, Meiko softly called in to her friend. "Mana, are you there? Can we talk?"
Age : 28
Posts : 1494
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Wed 20 May 2015, 6:18 pm|| |
|Loud and cheering voices could’ve been heard from outside the closed window. It was a nice and warm day, not unlike every other day in the village of the Clouds, Kumogakure was by far the hottest place that Mana has been in which ironically was bordered with the coldest place. All those experiences, all those travels and all those battles, all those friends she made and lives she saved. Will all of that lose meaning once the magician dies? Mana could hear children running around, their parents shouting at them to be careful. Had Mana ever gotten a chance to be a mother what kind of mother would she have been?|
The girl’s face dug deeper into the pillow which was soaking wet. She wasn’t pouring tears anymore, it was that slower pace of crying where one was just laying down in their bed and water was slowly seeping out of their eyes with nothing one could do to stop it. Mana just couldn’t stop thinking about all sorts of things she never thought about when she wasn’t told she’d die at some point, sooner or later. The young woman sighed as she looked outside the window, being depressed and crying one’s heart out felt so weird on a day like this. “Was that… A balloon?” Mana wondered as she thought about getting up and checking.
“Hmmm, it seems some strange day has come to this building, young ladies just stopped eating all of a sudden…” Assistant passed by Mana’s room talking loud enough for Mana to hear, without a doubt on purpose. Still, as sad as the magician was to know that she’s dying, it was weird to hear that Meiko didn’t want to eat. Since when does Meiko refuse food? Something was wrong… “I should go check on her… But… If she sees me like this…” the Sennin thought to herself as she flipped on her back. This bed was starting to feel so icky with all the tears accumulating on every single one of the pillows.
Assistant didn’t open the door, he just gently tapped at it with his fingers, “You know there’s going to be a parade for all the heroes who protected the Country and the Daimyo. I’m almost positively sure you had something to do with that so it would only make all the sense if you made your presence be known, I hear they’ll have fireworks in the evening…” Assistant tried to cheer Mana up but after a long pause the man just left. “Oh… A parade… So that’s it…” the magician finally understood what all of the noise from outside actually was. Just a parade for the heroes… The young woman sighed as another urge to weep came forcing her to tighten the grip on that pillow.
Maybe it wasn’t the essence of the fact that she was going to die that petrified Mana, maybe it was the fact that she actually had the choice not to die. All she had to do was go back home, abandon her quest to save the world and live as a traitor of the Leaf, Kumogakure has expressed interest in aiding her Tribunal case in defending her honor but… The social stigma would still be there. Even if she did not return back home – Nakotsumi Mana would still be just a traitor, at least when the last moment comes she’d know she did everything she could.
Actually, this could’ve been made to work! Now that Mana was dying anyways she had no use to preserve herself, she could devote entirely to fighting the Parabrahma and take in as much of them as she can before the inevitable comes. It was just too bad, she sort of thought about trying a different life, maybe start with the whole dating thing and now this happened… Assistant knocked again, “Lady Mana, there were some village representatives, they said they’d like to see you perhaps show a trick or two in the parade, they understood that you were still recovering from your injuries but they at least hoped you could be there and smile for the people. They said “Kumogakure has grown quite fond of the young lady” and that was the exact quote…”
It was a pity that the man had to leave after standing by the door for some more time again. Mana’s thoughts were on different matters entirely. “I wonder what will Rukasu do when I die, will he change forever and try to uphold what I tried to make him to be or will he become mad with grief? Shit… If I die… Dad will be plugged off from life support because no one will pay the hospital… Father…” Mana almost yelled out in pain as her face dug deeper and deeper into the pillow until it looked like it’ll soon collapse.
It was then that the magician heard someone knocking on her door, it was Meiko, she wanted to talk. Mana’s mouth opened to yell “go away” but it froze, if the magician says anything in her whiny voice her friend will know something is wrong, she’ll do anything but that. That was because despite all the pain that Mana had caused to Meiko, the redhead always remained the magician’s best friend… The reason why still eluded Mana, Meiko was a kind and cheerful young woman who deserved to have real friends, good friends that do things together not someone who constantly is either beaten down to their bed or fakes their death…
The pause was way too long, anyone would’ve already gotten the clue and left… Mana knew Meiko wasn’t like that, she didn’t just leave, she was the most stubborn person the magician ever knew. And yet… It was always Meiko who peeled off Mana’s body off the dirt when she was down. Mana sighed and tried to make the most “normal” sounding voice, it did sound a bit on the weaker and softer side but overall it would’ve been normal considering she was still “injured” or whatever the public version was. Truth be told Mana had few physical wounds at the moment, most of them were just psychological and emotional.
What did Meiko want? Did she just want to check up on Mana? If that was the case she wouldn’t have been so discrete, she’d have entered right in. Maybe Meiko was suspicious that Mana didn’t eat? Nah, there was nothing unusual about Mana lacking the appetite, the magician was one of the worst eaters out there. Mana flipped on the other side to face the window instead of the door and covered the back of her head with the blanket. She didn’t want her friend to see her having been crying for several hours. Some part of Mana’s didn’t want to tell Meiko anything but…
Meiko was always honest, always was nice and kind to Mana despite the magician being the worst friend ever. She deserved honesty, she deserved to know why Mana won’t be coming home with her, at least in her final moments the magician should try and stop lying, just try to be a good friend so that maybe one day when her kids play ninja in the backyard and the traitorous Konoha’s Sorceress is the villain in that story, Mother Meiko would remember the Mana the way she was before her death…
Last edited by Ruka on Wed 20 May 2015, 7:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 811
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Wed 20 May 2015, 7:11 pm|| |
|There was no response for a long time. Silently, Meiko stood outside Mana's door, waiting for a response. She knew the girl was in there, Assistant had taken his time talking quite loudly outside her door before moving on. Was she angry at Meiko? Because of her, Mana had been hurt quite severely. She wouldn't blame the magician for throwing her aside for that. It was more than she deserved anyway. |
Yet still, the magician found it in her to still speak with Meiko. A meek response came from inside, choked, as though Mana was trying to suppress something in her voice. Taking in a deep breath, Meiko slowly opened the door and stepped inside. She found the girl hiding under the sheets of her bed. "So, I'm not the only one having problems... I should have known..." Mana had always been like this, taking everything so personally that every little failure hit her so hard it was amazing the girl could even wake up in the morning.
"You can come out, I know something is up. Otherwise you wouldn't be hiding your face like that." Sitting herself on the other side of the bed, Meiko would just wait patiently for Mana to come out, or at least, speak about what was on her mind. Whatever Mana's issues were, they vastly outweighed Meiko's incompetence. At the very least, she hoped she could actually help her friend this once before she went back home.
The best guess that Meiko could come up with that would leave Mana in this state was the council meeting she had with the heads of Kumogakure. Likely they had decided on Niku's execution despite Mana's request for an alternative. Even for an enemy, Mana would give everything she had to help them, it was what made her who she was, what made her a hero. Yet, she always pushed herself too hard. They had known each other for years, yet it was so hard for Meiko to recall the times when Mana was truly happy with herself. Meiko was going to pose her a question soon, one the Magician was not going to like, but it had been on her mind for some time.
She would ask her about retirement.
Age : 28
Posts : 1494
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Wed 20 May 2015, 9:33 pm|| |
|A small part of the magician expected, no, wanted her friend to leave. Just… Shout something hurtful, like how much of a drama queen she is, how she always gets hurt and tell her how Mana is doing all of this for attention or something like that. Had Meiko done that she’d be angry at Mana, she’d probably leave the magician and would no longer be her best friend but… At least she’d be safe, she’d be safe from both the things that the Sennin brought upon herself but also the knowledge that her friend was dying. A squeak on the door handle suggested that Meiko wasn’t that kind of person.|
By now most people Mana knew already hated her: her own villagers, people that the magician loved more than anything ever thought of her as a traitor, this new ninja Hiruzen has become hates her for whatever reasons he has for hating her, Yoroi used to dislike her for being soft, for being a criminal and now he would've hated her guts for being a traitor, Kumogakure council may hate her for the way she walked out on them without a definitive answer. They may after long attempts turn the people over to their side, people were more likely to hate a woman who has already betrayed her home. That kind of people were easy to hate.
The comfortable thing with hatred was that people left, it was painful, more painful than anything ever was but… In a way it protected the people. Had Meiko left she’d find new friends, interact more with Kiyomi and be happy, she wouldn’t have to share Mana’s pain every other Tuesday and pick her friend up every time she falls down which is quite often. People one loved leaving was like being stabbed, Mana knew how both those things felt and they were pretty darn similar. Both were quite likely to kill you: stab made one bleed out, solitude made one die of sorrow and loneliness.
Meiko told the Sennin it was alright to come out and show her face, Mana wanted to yell something silly out, actually she did. “I’m fine!... No… I’m not fine…” the young woman initially tightened the grip on her sheet but then pushed it off and jumped up showing her friend her tears and lunging forward to hug her. She had to tell it to Meiko, be honest with her friend at least once in her life. If Meiko didn’t punch her out as she often did to people who got into her personal space it would’ve only triggered a more powerful cry of sadness out of Mana before she finally would’ve gathered the strength to let go of her friend and tell her.
“I fulfilled my promise, I went to the hospital today right before going to the meeting with the Kumogakure Council and got my body checked… I guess I’m not invincible… All those injuries: bloody man, Honda, Ayushi, Leech, Parabrahma… Everything stacked up and… I’m dying. They didn’t know when, they said I was supposed to be dead long time ago but… When it comes it will be out of nowhere and it’ll hurt. I’m gonna die, Meiko!” Mana would’ve then turned around and punched the wall strong enough to draw blood from her knuckles.
“So what does it goddamn matter if I eat, what does it matter who or when I fight? How am I supposed to care about what’ll happen to me if I’ll just die anyway…” suddenly Mana’s depression turned into rage as hair flowed wildly over her angry face, her lips twisted from pain of the bleeding wound and her own emotional distress. “So I decided to be honest for damn once in my life! To stop hiding my pain away and just tell you. I thought I’d be more firm when the time to die came, I always thought death would be something to release me from my duty to protect everyone but… I don’t want to die!” Mana punched the wall again forcing more blood out. Physical pain kind of helped her deal with the emotional pain.
Mana knew her friend, she knew exactly how Meiko would react, the usual reaction of shock and sadness could have been skipped but Meiko wouldn’t have been herself if she didn’t start speculating on how to help her. That was the strangest part – Mana and Meiko were pretty alike but despite that fact the magician was always the one called a hero and always the one given praise. “There is no hope to heal this… My whole body is shutting down… The only way to possibly cure this is to take ALL of the Ayushi cells and use them on my whole body but that would mean that no one in the world would be able to get better again. By letting myself get healed I’d take away the chances from everyone ever going through the same as I am right now… I’m not that important…”
Finally Mana would stop punching the wall and just fall down on her bed, turning her face away from Meiko. She was silent for so long, bottling these emotions and words in, keeping everything to herself. “Do you know what they told me in the Council?” Mana would’ve asked with a weak and pathetic voice of a broken and crying young woman. “They asked me if I wanted my name to be put on the candidates for Raikage, they told me that “I have no home anymore” so I may as well accept Kumogakure as my new home. The worst part is that they’re right, I’ve already betrayed Konoha, I told Kumogakure everything I knew about the Parabrahma… Which is why I have no more home. I can’t go to Konoha, I can’t live as a traitor, I’ll go to Red Scorpion, I’ll go to Hogo no Shima, I’ll go to wherever Parabrahma is and I’ll fight to the end…”
Mana wiped her own tears with her sleeve and curved into a ball under the sheet. “Because what do I have to lose? Every life I save before I get killed is already a bonus compared to me just dying like a sick dog writhing in pain… I’m sorry, you shouldn’t hear any of this, I’ve been a terrible friend all of our time we knew each other, I’ve ran away for missions, overworked myself and almost died countless times. I never accepted your help despite the fact that you would’ve saved me so many times… Honestly, I just wanted to be honest with you for a change, at least once, at least once to have my mind completely open so that you knew how I felt… Please go back to Konoha, please live a normal life, as normal as you can get, save some kidnapped genin once in a while. I’ll make sure to make everything right before I go…”
Posts : 811
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Sat 23 May 2015, 12:31 am|| |
|There was another period of long silence as Meiko patiently awaited her friend's response. Under all her blankets, the Magician looked like a chubby worm the way she kept squirming around. If her mood had been better it might have even elicited a chuckle or two from Meiko. Sadly, today was not going to be a day of laughs. Meiko could feel it in the pit of her stomach, that nauseous, churning sensation that came whenever you knew you were in trouble and there was no way out. Practically instinctual since childhood, yet this sensation wasn't in regards to herself. She was worried for Mana, something horrible had happened to her again, perhaps worse than anything before, to leave her in this state. |
Finally, the girl could hide no longer. Throwing away the sheets covering her, Mana sat herself up and looked directly into Meiko's eyes. It was immediately obvious she had been crying. Her eyes and cheeks were red and soaked. She then threw herself forward, embracing Meiko in as tight of a hug as she could muster. This only further confirmed Meiko's fears that something was horribly wrong. Returning the hug, she embraced her friend and prepared herself for the worst.
It took some time for Mana to settle down, having broken out into another fit of tears when Meiko held her back. That was when Mana gave the worst possible news. As promised, she had finally gone ot the hospital to get herself checked up and the results were catastrophic. She was dying. There was nothing Meiko could do or say in that moment. Frozen by her words she could only stare on blankly as Mana turned and punched the wall, breaking open her hand in the process.
Finally, Mana was allowing herself to be honest. Not just with Meiko, but herself. For years the girl had denied herself just about everything so she could help others. Her time, her money, even her health had been given in service to both Konoha and the world at large. Only now, when she was told that her time was running out, did she realize what she had given up. As great of a hero as she was, there was no balance in her life. For her, it was all work all the time. Rage overtook the girl as she screamed out against this injustice, striking the wall again and drawing more blood from her fist.
The pathetic self-loathing Meiko had been feeling vanished in these moments. Once again she was worrying about herself when Mana was like this. Just like she always had, Mana called her a friend but a friend would be there for her more. A friend would never have let her reach this state. For the moment however, she could not approach Mana, not until she calmed down. The magician needed to vent right now and Meiko was giving her the space to do so.
Mana continued on to explain what exactly was happening with her body. It was simply shutting down and while there was a possible cure, it was one Mana would never take. Ayushi's cells, a monster Mana had brought down some time ago. Created through mad science, Ayushi became an immortal monster capable of regenerating from nearly any sort of attack. Yet somehow, Mana had managed to take him down. While he could not be killed, his regeneration was suppressed to the point where he could no longer reform his body. Yet still his cells lived. Through testing it was discovered that those same cells could be used to cure serious diseases and wounds. However their number was limited and Mana's treatment would require using all of the remaining cells to cure herself. Robbing others of their use in the future. There was not a single selfish bone in her body.
Slumping down on the bed, Mana turned away from Meiko, remaining silent. The red head could tell she was trying to muster up one more thing to say. When she was finally able to speak, it was involving matters of the council meeting she had just attended. Apparently the council wished for her to place her name in for Raikage. After saving the village, it was quite likely she could be chosen even if she were from another village. To press the point, they said she had no home to go back to, a fact that Mana agreed with as she shared information on the Parahambla with an 'enemy' village.
Pulling the blanket over herself again, Mana began apologizing for constantly overworking herself, for never asking for help, basically everything Meiko and Kiyomi kept chastising her over. Finally, she told Meiko to just go home while she went and made 'everything right'.
For a moment, Meiko was silent. It was a lot to take in all at once. Still she had to do something. Taking in a deep breath, Meiko edged her way across the bed and patted Mana on the shoulder. "Mana, you're no traitor. If you hadn't moved whne you did the Parahambla would have overthrown Kumogakure and all their resources would be in their hands. They would have a stable and powerful base to begin enacting further plans. It would have been just a matter of time until Konoha was their target and we would have been helpless. I'm sure the council and the Hokage will see that. No one is calling you a traitor. You've done nothing wrong."
She would give Mana a few moments to think over her words before continuing again. "And don't you dare say it doesn't matter what you do. It does, now more than ever. For so many years you've pushed yourself for the good of others. Hurting yourself over and over. Now..." Tears were filling Meiko's eyes as the words choked themselves in her throat. Sniffling loudly, she swallowed the lump in her throat so she could continue. "Now that you're... nearing the end... You... You need to do the one thing you haven't been able to for so long. You need to think about yourself."
Meiko needed another moment to collect herself. She too just wanted to break down at this point and cry. But right now she had to speak with Mana, she had to at least try to help her, one last time. Before the girl's stubbornness took her away forever. "This kind of comes back to why I wanted to talk with you in the first place. Mana. You've worked so hard for so many people and every time you get hurt. Now, more than ever, I think you should... retire. You've done more than anyone could have ever asked for, and then some. So please, don't go throwing away what time you have left. Let's go home together. You can live out the rest of your days around friends. It would be better than just running off to die in some foreign land."
Pulling back the blankets to uncover Mana's face, Meiko took one more deep breath. "I'm sure that, with some treatments, we could at least slow the process. Give you some more time. Maybe just use a small amount of Ayushi's cells? I'm no medical expert, but it might give you a few years at least. It's worth a shot, right? You've fought so hard for everyone else. So please, just this once, fight for yourself."
"Mana, you deserve to be happy."
Age : 28
Posts : 1494
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Mon 25 May 2015, 9:18 pm|| |
|Meiko did her best to comfort the kunoichi, how was one supposed to comfort a person who was told they’d soon die? A person who was just informed that whatever they do with their life will ultimately not matter, a person who was told that if they wanted to do something with their life they had to do it quick because at any point they could be subjected to a painful death. Meiko’s words were right, they also were something that Mana already knew, if committing treason would’ve been the wrong choice Mana wouldn’t have done it… It was the only choice she could’ve made, it wasn’t even a choice at all, just a procedure.|
Then Meiko continued on, since she started it was evident that this fight was well planned, it was probably in Meiko’s head for a long time with the redhead looking for an opportunity to let it be known. The Sennin didn’t really know just what was the deal with everyone telling her to retire. She had already told Meiko when Mana returned from Kirigakure – ninja don’t get to retire, the only retirement they get is the permanent kind. Meiko’s argument and request was tempting initially, yet the more the magician thought of it the more she rejected it.
The young woman slipped out of the bed and stood up, she hasn’t stood for a long time so it kind of felt weird, her head felt dizzy and her stance was no longer like that of a proud and strong kunoichi of the Leaf, it was that of an unconfident young woman who had no idea of what was ahead. She looked through the window, she wanted not only for it to seem like Meiko’s request was thought over but also to actually think it over properly. Her friend was always by Mana’s side, at least after everything was over, her advice was always appreciated and Mana respected her friend’s opinion.
“I can’t.” she just cut short. “Your suggestion sounds smart, small amounts of Ayushi treatment could probably prolong my lifespan, even more, when I’d be dying the medical ninja might identify what specifically is causing my death and treat it instantly, I’d be locked to a hospital bed and a life of endless hospital visits and I’d still live only as long as not too much of my body shuts down at once… The thing is… You assume I’d be happy, I wouldn’t be. Maybe I’d manage to settle down, maybe even start a family but… I’d see genin and experienced ninja being brought back in body-bags every day, all this crazy bullshit with giant statues and puppets and monsters wouldn’t stop and others would have to deal with it…”
Mana turned around and her head looked down, she placed her palm on her chest just to feel her irregular heartbeat, it felt like she was dying already. The poor thing was so irregular it scared Mana, at times it pounded like crazy and sometimes it looked like it couldn’t cope with the pressure of keeping the woman’s blood pumping. “The problem is that every time someone would get hurt, someone would die I’d feel bad. That’s just the kind of an idiot I am. I’d blame myself for quitting, for not preventing all of that. I’d blame myself for giving up on my duty to protect everyone who needs help… Even more, if I happened to have a child the little one would hear from everyone how his mother used to be a big hero but all he’d see her do would be withering down into a dying woman. They would start thinking the same way of their mother as she’d think about herself…”
Mana sat down on the bed and kicked her feet around playfully, she was sad and depressed but having Meiko around to talk to was something that always calmed her down. “You say that I deserve to be happy… The thing is – that’s how I am the happiest, to you what I do may seem horrible, I get hurt, I struggle with not dying every day, I have the greatest responsibility knowing that whenever someone evil and badass appears I have to be quick and strong and tricky enough to stop them or else it’s the village or the whole world who’d pay the price. The thing is – that’s what makes me happy. I couldn’t be happier than I’d be the moment I’d die in painful agony, knowing that the Parabrahma plague the world no more and that I did everything that I had the power to do, that I didn’t forsake myself. That’s what makes me happy, not all those other things. I probably wouldn’t even know how to talk to a boy anymore…” Mana slightly blushed as a small grin formed around her face and she slapped her own face with a palm.
“I know you and Kiyomi care about me, if you didn’t you wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t have fought beside me. All this time, you kept scolding me that I was being overprotective of you and never for a moment did you guys think that maybe… Maybe trying to be a hero is what made me happy all the time. Knowing that people will come back to their families excited me way more than the prospect of making that of my own. I’m weird like that, I don’t get happy when I’m happy, everyone else has to be happy for me to smile for real. Being happy isn’t who I am, I was born to make everyone else happy and keep them safe, that’s what chakra manipulation means to me. It’s a gift from a higher power that makes me an enforcer of peace, the stage magician part is just something for fun…”
Mana stopped talking as she felt an urge to cough, she didn’t want to, if she coughed blood up again it’d only remind her friend that she was dying. The young woman walked up to her friend and gently hugged her crying head. “I mean… Yeah… I’m going to die, I can’t change that, the way to change that is not an option. But don’t remember me as an unhappy and depressed sack of tears, remember all the fun times we used to have, despite all my run offs we did have a pretty good run, didn’t we? There were good times, there were bad times, there were times when I wanted to be stronger to be able to protect you guys more. There were times when I just made bad decisions but in the end it all worked out, that’s the wonder of life – freedom of choice, freedom of making the wrong choice, all those moments we shared… But none of that will matter if I don’t finish the path I started on, I can either die a hero, finish the path, or I can die a person who quit halfway and abandoned their nindo just to live a year or two longer. Deep in your heart you do know I’m right, don’t you?”
Mana knew that Meiko did, she always was the more sensible and less stubborn member of the team, Mana was supposed to be the little sister of the team, always messing up and making mistakes, always eager to prove herself to the older siblings and in a way that was pretty much spot on.
Posts : 811
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Tue 26 May 2015, 1:10 am|| |
|Meiko watched as Mana stirred a bit before throwing off the blankets and getting to her feet. The Jonin prayed that Mana would take her words to heart and pass on the torch of hero. Not for her own personal gain, but for Mana's own sake. Yet deep down, Meiko knew better. Mana might as well been nicknamed Konoha's Most Stubborn, there was little to no way of changing her mind on a matter once she had made her decision. It was that stubbornness that had brought her this far, and that same stubbornness was putting her into an early grave. Even before she spoke, Meiko knew there was no way Mana would accept simply going home and living the rest of her days out in comfort.|
Just as she had suspected, Mana denied the thought of retirement. Not wanting to have to be restricted to the hospital for lengthy visits as they tried to extend her life another day. Much less starting a family, only to have her children watch on as she wasted away. In that sense, Meiko understood Mana's rejections. Watching someone you love fall to pieces was not something anyone should be subjected to, much less one's child.
As Mana turned back to face Meiko, she placed a hand over her heart and her gaze fell low. The other reason she could not accept retirement was due to the fact that the woman blamed herself for everything bad that happened, or would happen. A fault Meiko and Kiyomi had been trying to break her of for years. Not only had they been unsuccessful, that feeling of Mana's had only intensified as the years went by. At its worst, Mana had nearly taken her own life when the young Satsuki Uchiha had been murdered by none other than Rukasu. Yet somehow, she had still managed to forgive the self-proclaimed "Snake King". Even though she had known the Magician for years, the lengths she would go for her beliefs still surprised Meiko at times.
Mana sat herself back down on the bed as she continued. Meiko meanwhile shifted her own weight so she sat cross-legged behind her friend. At this point, her voice had lightened up a bit and her cheeks were loosing some of the redness from all her crying. If anything, she was at least relaxing a bit, despite the circumstances. Going on to say that her heroics were the things that made her happiest. More than her stage shows, more than the few days off she had ever gotten. To see people able to reunite with their families once more was her greatest joy. Yet there were some choice words of her's that Meiko did catch on to. Namely when she said she was not meant to be happy in the traditional sense. The Jonin could not help but think that train of thought was merely a coping mechanism to help her accept all she had denied herself.
It was only now that Meiko realized she had still been crying this entire time. Silently the tears had fallen down her cheeks, staining the sheets with a small, salty puddle. As she wiped her face dry, Mana turned and embraced her once more. Meiko of course, returning the gentle hug with one of her own. She was accepting her fate and rejecting any chances of changing that. Yet she still wished for Meiko to remember the good times they had together. And now she wished to finish what she had started. To use the last bit of her time to bring an end to the Parahambla, before they brought anymore harm to the world.
Sniffling, Meiko pulled Mana in tighter. This was essentially Mana's last will and testament. She wanted to go out as the hero everyone knew her as. Something like that, Meiko could truly understand. She was the front liner in battle, it was accepted that she would most likely go down in a blaze of glory at best on some dangerous mission. Sometimes, when she was alone, or working on her weapons, she had even thought to herself that might not be too bad. Mana wanted this, who was she to deny it?
Still, there was one thing she could still do.
"Yeah... you're right..." Meiko finally managed to choke out as she released her hold on her friend. "Even if I were opposed to it, you would still disregard anything more I said on the matter and run off to this Red Scorpion place or whatever else until you croaked." Laughing softly, mostly to mask the sound of her choking back more tears, Meiko took in a deep breath and placed her hands firmly on Mana's shoulders. "So, I won't stop you. However, I do have one request that I beg you will indulge me on."
Her eyes locked with Mana's as she gave the girl a moment to think on what the request would be. "We've stuck a large blow against the Parahambla. It will take them some time to lick their wounds before moving out again. During this time, let's go home. You should see Konoha at least one more time before the end. We'll get your affairs in order, like what to do with that fancy mansion of yours, and to give the hospital a head's up on your condition." A second laugh broke out of the red head, this time it was genuine as a memory floated to the surface. "You should have seen them back when you put yourself in that crazy coma. Half of them were working as hard as they could to save you while the other half were panicking about running the hospital bankrupt if something happened to you." Sure it wasn't the funniest thing in the world, but considering how grim the current circumstances were, looking back on that day was worth a chuckle.
"Plus, I'm going to need to stop by the old forge before we head out." Releasing her hands from Mana's shoulders, Meiko materialized a broken chain and a fancy kunai in her palms. "I gotta fix up a couple things thanks to Hiruzen." Returning her broken weapon back to the seal, Meiko took a deep breath and looked Mana in the eyes once again, this time with a soft smile. "I'll be with you until the end. We'll finish off the Parahambla together."
Age : 28
Posts : 1494
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Tue 26 May 2015, 12:48 pm|| |
|Meiko was surprisingly understanding about all of this. It was quite evident from her stance that this speech was a long time coming, maybe even from way before the whole Parabrahma thing. For her to plan this speech for so long, then to see Mana’s point of view so maturely… Was this really one of Mana’s friends? Of course Kiyomi was always more brutish and stubborn about her attempts to make Mana into something else than she was always supposed to be but… Meiko’s mature and understanding response somehow just made it all more painful.|
It was true what Mana said before – her entire life she was rushing to her own grave, she was ready to die at all times, the woman only thought that once the day to die would come she’d greet it with grace and her head way up… Now Mana has never been more scared in her entire life, suddenly she realized that she didn’t know what was ahead of her, she didn’t know anything about death or the nothingness after it, she didn’t even know when exactly it’d happen. All this unknown terrified her. That fear made her ready to burst into fearful tears at any point, she was a ticking time bomb of emotions.
Part of the magician expected Meiko to actually say something that would make Mana go home and live, deep in her heart Mana wanted to live, wanted to live more than anything else. Was she selfish and cowardly because of that? Mana knew that if she came with that onto the open Meiko and Kiyomi would start insisting that she acted upon those thoughts, they’d move heaven and earth to give Mana those cells… That was the worst thing – the cure to her death was so within her reach, all she had to do was ask… Seeing Meiko cry alongside her sort of calmed the magician down, sharing her pain was so much easier and Meiko definitely deserved to know this.
Meiko’s reply revealing how well the armored youth knew Mana only made the magician’s lips smile a little bit. The three girls knew each other for so long, there probably has never been such a close friendship between three ninja who were once a team. Mana may have been almost a hero already but it wasn’t her that deserved to be remembered, it was this bond between the three. And yet when Meiko spoke Mana felt uncomfortable, she wanted to do it, she wanted to be reasonable and go back with Meiko but… To go back home? Where everyone would look at her weird and talk about her… Mana squirmed a little.
“I… You know… When I left Konoha heading to Kumogakure back then I looked back on the Hokage Mountain and… It somehow seemed to me like I’d never be back, like I’ll never see it again. I don’t know what’s my status in Konoha, maybe everyone hates me and thinks I’m a traitor, I may be imprisoned the moment I come back. Then there’s also the fact that I’d be only hand’s reach away from Ayushi cells…” after a moment of calmness tears started running down Mana’s cheeks. She had a very shameful reason not to go to Konoha. One she was very embarrassed to share.
“You know… I always thought I’d be ready to die, that when my enemy places their knife at my throat that I’d have my head up and proud… But… I’m really, really afraid… I don’t want to die. At all… To have Ayushi cells right there, just across the street, to have the chance at life so close to me would… It’d break me. To talk to people who can help me, to talk with the Hospital and have to answer their questions why I don’t cure myself… It’s… It’d be too much for me. I’m sorry I’m such a selfish coward but… I think it’d be better if I sent Assistant to Konoha to deal with those things, I won’t head to the Red Scorpion without you, I’ll first find out where exactly will the Parabrahma attack and wait for you to return here, once you do and I have our next destination – we can head there together.”
Mana was sort of right, she and Kiyomi got a bunch of locations from Niku’s head: Red Scorpion, Hogo no Shima, Okina Iwa, even Konoha at some point. The magician needed clarification on where exactly will the organization strike next and while she does so Meiko can fix her equipment in Konoha. “I mean… Konoha may not hate me, maybe they wouldn’t arrest me for treason, even if Kumogakure Council believes they would. But I cannot risk it. Those are the two reasons why I’d rather let that creepy thought of never seeing Konoha before my death come true…” Mana rubbed her teary eyes with her knuckles, she was so pathetic and weak, there were so many things she was afraid of: getting arrested and thrown to Bachi prison again, death, having her chance at life just across the street to where she lived, all those human things.
“I guess I’m not the hero I thought I’d be… Guess when Little Mana exclaimed she’d grow up to be a hero she didn’t know anything… Heroes aren’t afraid of dying, heroes don’t care if their chance at life is close to their reach, heroes don’t care if they are labeled traitors. Guess I’m not like all those other heroes, I’m not like the White Protector or all the other heroes we’ve read about in textbooks. I’m not a proud hero with amazing power, I’m just an ordinary human, just an expendable soldier who is afraid to die…” Mana’s eyes turned away, she was ashamed of her own humanity, of her own feelings and her love for her own life. “I wonder if my parents would even be proud of me if they saw me now, knowing I’m afraid to see my own beloved village because of my own humanity. Knowing that I’m afraid to die, that I want to live…”
Posts : 811
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Thu 28 May 2015, 7:49 pm|| |
|A small smile grew over Mana's lips, a faint but genuine smile. Just enough to tell Meiko that her words were getting through to her friend. While Mana had already made it clear that she was going to continue the fight against the Parahambla, regardless of her own health, Meiko hoped to at least bring her back home one last time. She had been gone for so long and the girl feared herself a traitor for taking preemptive action against the organization. Bringing her home was the only way such a notion could finally be dispelled from her mind. Meiko could only watch her friend struggle with the idea before finally coming to an answer.|
Despite the longing in her eyes, the desire to return home, Mana once again refused Meiko. While she mostly just gave excuses, the biggest one was the temptation of Ayushi's cells. Simply being that close to the cure, she feared that her willpower would give in to 'selfishness'. That said, her following actions hinted at something deeper. For a few moments, Mana fell silent and hid her face from Meiko, but even so, the Jonin could tell that she was crying again. Fighting back more tears of her own, Meiko sighed silently and simply lowered her gaze to the mattress.
Everything about this was wrong. Something this tragic shouldn't be happening. It just wasn't fair. Mana was so kind, so giving and what did she get in repayment? Suffering and pain, over and over again. At this point the Magician had suffered and given so much that the mere concept of a normal life was an alien concept to her. Something other people enjoyed all while she threw herself under the bus again and again. Just like she was doing now. Meiko had already decided that she would not go alone, not this time. Yet still the red head wanted to save her friend. Bring her home and give her the life she deserved.
When Mana was finally able to compose herself, she explained her fears of returning home. The proximity to the cure and having to explain to the hospital staff why she was refusing care. Thankfully, she did accept Meiko's offer to join her in the final fight against the Parahambla. Not that Meiko would have given her a choice in the matter. The Magician had a horrible track record of running off alone or rejecting help from others when it came to missions and anything dangerous. While she still refused to return home, she would remain in Kumogakure while Meiko returned to Konoha to repair her equipment and stock up. At this point, a partial victory was all she could hope to gain against Mana.
Mana was tearing up again, wiping away at her red, puffy eyes. This time, Meiko reached out to her and pulled the girl into a gentle hug. "Hey now, are you seriously saying you're not a hero now? Just because you're afraid to die? Come on, that's a bit too strict of a definition of hero, isn't it? Heroes come in every shape and size, from every walks of life. Those textbook examples, the White Protector and such, they're romanticized beyond belief. You work in the entertainment business, you should know this." Releasing her hold, Meiko let out a light chuckle as she wiped away her own tears. "Those stories are written to inspire us. One thing that often goes unwritten is a very simple fact. They were human too. They had their own doubts, their own fears. Being afraid of something is nothing to be ashamed about, death especially. What makes a hero isn't how their life ends, its what they did while they were alive."
"Trust me, you've done more than enough to rank among the greatest heroes. They're going to have entire books just on your life. The many great deeds you did. Taking down the Leech, Ayushi, this attack on Kumo. Your diplomatic trips to Kiri. Mana. You are a hero."
Age : 28
Posts : 1494
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter Sat 30 May 2015, 3:39 pm|| |
|Meiko was always one of the people whom Mana could always turn at for advice. For all the credit that the magician received for being a good orator to boost one’s feelings and always know what and when to say, she really couldn’t hold a card in front of Meiko. The armored kunoichi always made Mana feel better, as bad as things seemed, no matter what problems ailed the magician’s mind: even when she returned from Kirigakure after being called a “Witch of Death”, after her mother died, whenever Mana was unsure of her own feelings and actions. When nothing made sense anymore Meiko was always there.|
After the redhead’s speech the magician smiled and accepted the one of many hugs. “You know, now I know why Kiyomi was so obsessed with you back in our childhood, you’re really a gem. If there will be one positive thing after I die, it’ll be that maybe people will finally start giving you the respect you deserve. Honestly, all things considered it makes no sense for you to be my best friend – people always talk about me, reference me as a hero and never talk about the things you do. You probably feel like you’re in my shadow but truth be told neither you nor Kiyomi are. Whenever I feel down I always look at how persistent and strong and cheerful you are, whenever I remember you fighting it always gives me strength to stand back up. You have the heart to inspire people way beyond I ever could…”
It was quite ironic remembering how Meiko used to be the one feeling down in the Team Hokage, always feeling like she wasn’t worthy of being placed in the team. The redhead used to feel so bad about her bad skills in ninjutsu and sometimes her worries made her mess up a little, her lack of confidence used to be the thing that made her get hurt so many times. It was so amazing to see her overcoming that, becoming a proud and powerful kunoichi who earned her spot on the team many times over. If anything, Mana did the least to earn the spot, all she did was fight Kimiko after meeting her once for it. Plus even when she was on the team she always ran off and got involved in her own plots and missions to hang out with the team. It was quite lucky that neither Kimiko nor Yoroi kicked her butt out of the team after she so rarely trained or did missions with her team.
Depression and problems with confidence was not a recent problem for the magician, yet she never struggled with it when she was young. Maybe it was because no one expected much of her: a child born in an average family, no history of amazing ninja in her family, no clan or bloodline, average grades in the Academy, average performance in every mission, refusal to kill, refusal to resort to violence without a solid reason… She was the black sheep of the village’s ninja roster. No one expected great things from Mana so the magician didn’t as well, because there was no pressure and no responsibility on her shoulders the young Mana never struggled with confidence, it was all just a game to her. When suddenly she became strong and people started relying on her for all sorts of things, the problems started…
“Well, I’m already in the recent edition of textbooks in the Academy, that’s why the children like me these days, no appreciation for magic this generation, I swear…” the magician tried to joke. It was true, at some point she was interviewed by the author of the ninja textbooks and gave him permission to write about her life. Children studied not only her life and strived to be like her but also most tried to copy her techniques because none of the early ones were too complex seeing how the magician invented them herself at an early age. “But I suppose you’re right, none of the legendary heroes were offered seats of two village Kage posts and refused both of them… I’m history’s most unique idiot.” the woman laughed out again. It was true – some officials had spoken to her after Yoroi’s leave from the seat, as someone who has saved two of the three Great ninja villages and even the whole world once she was more than eligible to become the youngest Hokage at that time. Yet Mana refused to submit her name for consideration on both occasions.
“Thanks Meiko, I promise after the Parabrahma are done for I’ll go back to Konoha, even if I’ll get stared down under the ground, even if they’d have confiscated my funds, even if no one will even like me anymore, I’ll come home. Just because I want you to be happy, because everyone else being happy is the way for me to be happy.” Mana promised with a thumbs up. For the first time in a while she felt somewhat confident, she felt like the Parabrahma could’ve been beaten, she had already fought against two of them and managed to hold her own and she had friends and good people all around the world to back her up. The world will help protect itself.
Then the magician staggered to the end of the bed and fell down, her body felt really tired and heavy. “Ugh… I’m so tiiired… And I’ve been sleeping for a week, maybe I’m getting old or something… Naaah, we’re never gonna get old.” Mana smiled as her eyes softly closed, her mind started to drift into sleep before her mouth opened again. “Hey, maybe you should go check that parade they’re gonna be having in the evening out. You’ve fought pretty hard, go eat a lot of cotton candy, find a handsome guy or something. Start enjoying your life. You’re not a freak like me, you need to relax and be happy, I’d love to join you but…” Mana yawned “I think I’m gonna pass out for another week…”
|Subject: Re: Victory is so Bitter || |
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