16: Planning to Moderate
*They are running full speed towards the Village Hidden in Flowers when they see the forest open to a large flower field. Staring at them was three young shinobi. Two men and a girl.
[Iyo] Looks like another welcoming committee.
*The boy in the center walked forward.*
[Boy] Yuriko, you finally made it.
[Misaki] Iyo, meet Kazurui. Yuriko’s fiancé.
*The boy smiled at him. Iyo glared, causing the two other shinobi to rush forward.*
[Boy] Glare like that again Leaf Ninja.
[Aoshi] Now now. Why don’t you children calm down. We aren’t even in the village yet.
[Kazurui] He’s right, Ghee. Let’s talk in the village.
*He turned toward Yuriko.*
[Kazurui] Would you care to do the honors, Yuriko?
*Yuriko wanted to puke. She hated romance. Misaki did not like it either, who in her annoyed state walked past everyone and punched through the genjutsu shell. Shattering the barrier like glass and revealing the small village to everyone. In front of them was a large stone and wood gate. It separated the village from the edge of the flower field and forest. The village itself was a busy mess of merchants and young visitors. Iyo and Aoshi walked forward to catch up with Misaki. They expected Yuriko to go with them, but she had paused for a second. Yuriko looked at Kazurui. He had changed since she last saw him. Not only was he taller, but his blond hair was no longer shaggy. When Iyo turned around she quickly ran past the Hidden Cloud shinobi to catch up to her team. Ghee clapped Kazurui’s back. *
[Ghee] Man, your fiancé’s friends are rough. You sure this is the girl you told me about?
*The girl besides them let out a loud sigh.*
[Girl] I don’t like her.
*Ghee laughed and dragged his teammates into the village.*
Scene shift to inside the Village Hidden in Flowers.
*Kazurui and his team had just caught up to Team 7. They were at the check in table.*
[Check-in-guy] Ah, we’ve been waiting for you. You are the last representative team to arrive.
*Aoshi took the paper work from his hands. The man looked very displeased with them.*
[Aoshi] I’m sorry for that. A routine training event led us into rogue shinobi. It caused an inappropriate delay.
[Check-in-guy] It’s fine. The festival doesn’t start until tomorrow. I suggest you rest up and prepare for tomorrow Leaf Shinobi.
*Aoshi nodded and walked away. Leaving the three young members of Team 7 to run and catch up with him. Aoshi walked until he reached the the Hidden Cloud shinobi.*
[Aoshi] It seems are lodging is right next to yours.
*The Hidden Cloud female rolled her eyes. Yuriko had the feeling that she liked Kazurui.*
[Kazurui] We’d be happy to show you to the building, but we’d be even happier to show you were the food is. I’m starving.
*Aoshi nodded and all of them walked towards one of the buildings. Many young shinobi were going in and out of it.*
Scene Shift to inside of a large cafteria.
[Ghee] They set up a cafeteria for us. The foods great if you like cold noodles and dumplings.
[Misaki] We love those.
[Iyo] She means she loves those.
*They walked through the rows of the tables. Most were filled but they were able to find one in the back. As soon as they all sat down a young girl in a pale pink kimono came and asked for their order.*
[Kazurui] 8 noodles and 2 dumplings please.
*The girl nodded and walked away. Kazurui turned and looked at Misaki.*
[Kazurui] I figured you’d all be hungry.
*Iyo glared at him.*
[Iyo] You presume a lot of things.
*The girl went to say something, but he put his hand on hers. She looked at Yuriko smiling.*
[Kazurui] I apologize if I said something to offend you. I know the Nara clan and the Akimichi clan are close.
*All the young shinobi in the cafeteria stopped what they were doing and turned to watch them*
[Misaki] What’s everyones’ problem?
[Kazurui] The first challenge was announced this morning before you arrived. It’s a team test. They are probably waiting to see if the Hidden Cloud and the Hidden Leaf will team up.
*Yuriko noticed how smooth the words came out of his mouth. The last bit came out naturally louder and more pronounced, emphasizing a warning message. Kazurui was smarter then she remembered. Team 7 heard a familiar laugh. The two Hōzuki brothers and a little girl were walking towards them.*
[Kyoka] I’m afraid Misaki’s stuck with me.
*Misaki face palmed. Yuriko turned away from everyone to look at all the staring faces in the room. It made her uncomfortable. She could feel Shukaku getting excited. That’s when it caught her eye. Her cousin Oashisu was sitting at a table with shinobi from the Hidden Mist and the Hidden Stone. That meant the Sand was not allying with the Leaf. What was the Hokage thinking. Oashisu waved at her cousin, causing some of the onlookers to shift their direction towards them.*
[Kazurui] It is supposed to be teams of three. Everyone can win.
*The Leaf, the Sound and the Clouds as one team.That would be something to see. The atmosphere in the room reflected that. Everyone was tense. Yuriko and Iyo both had the feeling everyone was waiting for them to show up.*
[Hyoka] Like the Sound will pair up with the Hidden Cloud. Misaki please tell me you aren’t considering working with this trash.
[Misaki] I’m not considering anything, but the upcoming food. The one who has say about the Hidden Cloud is Yuriko.
*That’s when the stares turned into whispers. She heard the Uchiha name in everyone’s mouth. All the young shinobi and their Jōnin leaders. Yuriko stood up from the table.*
[Yuriko] I’ve lost my appetite.
*She turned around to leave. Yuriko felt Misaki’s and Iyo’s laughter in her head. They knew she was putting on a show.*
[Iyo] Does the great Uchiha not want to dine with us peasants?
[Yuriko] An Uchiha doesn’t need help from any other shinobi. You guys choose who you want.
*Yuriko turned around and walked out of the cafeteria. Great. She would not be able to eat now.*
Scene shift to outside the flower village.
*Yuriko is sitting in the flower field behind the village. Their is a river right in front of her. She pulls out the letter labeled Itachi.*
Be careful in the Village Hidden by Flowers. Their Genjutsu is comparable to your mothers. Do not trust anyone. That includes your own teammates. I do not believe for a second the Nara brat is as naive as he lets on. I’ve seen him working on the drugs. Remember the Uchiha are in a uncertain time. You need to survive and marry Kazurui. If you must get help only go to him.
He will help you.
Do well Yuriko,
*She burnt the letter and collapsed into the flower field. The sun was so strong little white lights appeared around her mask.*
[Kazurui] You look beautiful amongst the flowers.
*She sat up. Kazurui was heading towards her alone with a small bundle of food.*
[Yuriko] How can you see what I look like. I have a mask.
*He sat down next to her.*
[Kazurui] I have seen you without your mask before.
*Yuriko took a deep breath and removed it. She was surprised to see him smiling.*
[Kazurui] See. Still the same girl.
[Yuriko] Please, stop. When you talk like that you make me uncomfortable.
*Kazurui opened the bento box and handed it to her. She started to eat slowly.*
[Kazurui] I guess it’s weird for you. We have only ever met each other twice.
[Kazurui] Can I tell you something?
*Yuriko looked at him confused.*
*He looked out at the water.*
[Kazurui] That day when we were little. I didn’t find out where I was going until I was standing outside of Sunagakure. I threw a fit.
*Yuriko couldn’t picture Kazurui throwing a fit.*
[Yuriko] You? No way.
*He shook his head.*
[Kazurui] Who wouldn’t? My father was like most Raikage who came before him: stern, hot headed and not very open to sharing. The whole thing seemed like a way to make me him.
*Yuriko turned to look at him.*
[Yuriko] A five year old can see things like that?
[Kazurui] Well, maybe not so eloquently as I just said. Either way, I kicked the sand official who greeted us at the gate. My father was livid. Right before you came out, I was slapped.
[Yuriko] I bet seeing the scary Uchiha didn’t heal your wound.
[Kazurui] Can you believe I didn’t even know you were an Uchiha until I arrived at your house that second meeting. When I saw you walk out of your home with your father and mother all I thought was my life was over. You looked like a walking zombie.
*Yuriko glared at him.*
[Yuriko] Thanks for that.
[Kazurui] It’s true. You were so pale and fragile looking. I thought the desert winds would blow you over. And your eyes. They seemed to look right through me. No one in the Hidden Cloud lines them like that.
[Yuriko] So I scared you just like everyone else.
[Kazurui] I don’t think scared was the right word, but it changed the second you took the first step. You fell remember?
*She nodded her head.*
[Yuriko] I got scolded after you left for that.
[Kazurui] My father pushed me forward to go help you, so I did. When I helped you up your face was bright red and you were shaking.
*Yuriko looked away at the water.*
[Kazurui] I remember that we spent that whole first meeting sitting on a bench talking about the differences in weather while our parents looked on.
*She just nodded.*
[Kazurui] I went home that day so confused.
[Yuriko] And then you had the confusion for six years, right?
*He shook his head no.*
[Kazurui] Don’t be so dramatic. I forgot about it until I ended up in front of your door step. When I saw the Uchiha symbol on your door, I thought your parents were blacksmiths.
*Yuriko cracked up laughing.*
[Yuriko] Wrong fan.
[Kazurui] Definitely, wrong fan. Seeing you that second time was like meeting a completely different person. Before you seemed fragile. That time you seemed like you supported yourself through your sadness. You sat in that room like a statue. The whole conversation we had was like talking to a video game character. I was the one with a shy red face.
*Yuriko smiled sadly and he reached for her hand. When she withdrew it quickly he pulled back.*
[Yuriko] I grew up a bit.
[Kazurui] I’m sure. Bearing the Uchiha name and being a family member of the Hokage is never fun. After I saw you I became obsessed with figuring out what changed. That’s when my father told me your last name. I saw the faces of all the officials in the room when he told me and I understood.
[Yuriko] And that’s when you fell in love with me?
[Kazurui] We are thirteen. I don’t think any of us know what love is. The first time I saw you I felt like you were something I was supposed to protect. The second time I saw you I thought you were someone I could respect. After that and all the news of you I would get and your occasional letter the respect turned into admiration.
*Yuriko looked at him shocked.*
[Yuriko] You admire me?
[Kazurui] We don’t have to get married. If one day you want to piss both Kage’s off I will stand right by your side, but I would like the chance to get to know you. Maybe the getting to know you can show that we are a good match. After all, both of are parents apparently considered personality when they made the match up.
*Yuriko put the bento of food down in front of her.*
[Yuriko] What do you want to know?
[Kazurui] If you’ll go on a date with me tomorrow?
*She nodded yes. Neither noticed Iyo watching them in the trees across the field. His face contorted with pain.*