Title: Cut-Glass Heart
Characters: Gekkou Hayate, Shiranui Genma, Namiashi Raidou, Yamashiro Aoba, Gekkou Shizuka
Rating: T (this chapter)
Warnings: A bit of the old ultra-violence, expletives.
Notes: The original CGH was a 350 page lump of unadulterated crap. This version might actually make something like sense.
Disclaimer: Naruto is not our toy, although sometimes we wish it was. Almost everyone you meet here belongs to Masashi Kishimoto, we just borrow them, occasionally. Hayate’s parents, Gekkou Ken’ichirou and Gekkou Shizuka, and Hayate’s sensei, Kaifune Dana, belong to Sweetbriar, and Genma’s mother, Shiranui Riza, and Raidou’s sister, Namiashi Yuuko, are all Penbrydd’s fault. All quotes from the Tao are from Henricks’s 1989 translation. (Lao-Tzu. Te-Tao Ching. ed. Henricks, Robert G. New York: Ballantine, 1989.)
Author’s Note: Unlike our other semi-epic fic, Corybantic Dance, Cut-Glass Heart is set in something like the canon-verse. The differences are few and far between, and none are particularly significant, yet.
Penbrydd does love his adrenaline-junkie!Genma…
Warnings: A bit of the old ultra-violence, expletives, eventual yaoi (GenHaya).
Hayate watched his mother pass back and forth down the hall, through the house, from his futon in his bedroom. The door was open for once, and the nine-year-old boy could see her as she stomped through the house, apparently getting ready to go out on work-related business. At least, that was what it looked like. Hayate found this odd and a little alarming. He knew that his mother had been permanently discharged from ANBU (even if they did call it a "suspension") after she’d emerged from her four month stay in the psych ward, which had directly followed her very last and very bad mission to Kusa. So he knew that she couldn’t be going back there. At the very least, it didn’t look like she had her ANBU uniform in her hands, but then, she hadn’t taken the discharge well at all. Hayate supposed, somewhere in the back of his mind, that he could understand that. It had been ANBU, after all, that had broken her in the first place.
Either way, it was obvious that his mother was going somewhere, and the fact was confirmed when she stepped into his room instead of passing it, buckling on her weapon pouch. She was wearing the standard uniform instead of civilian clothes or her old ANBU uniform. Hayate sniffled a little and coughed into his hand, looking up. "Where are you going?" he asked, curious and blunt, as his mother squatted beside him.
"I’ve got some work to do today, Hayate," she said, reaching to smooth back his hair a little. He frowned.
"You’re not going back to ANBU, are you?"
His mother’s jaw tightened, and Hayate knew he’d said the wrong thing, because now that she was back from the hospital, ANBU was one of those things they were Not Supposed to Talk About. "No, Hayate," she said, and Hayate relaxed. The tightness still bore about her face, but it didn’t look as though he’d pushed the wrong buttons too hard. "Not going back there."
Hayate seemed to consider things a moment, coughing quietly. "But you look like you’re going back to work," he pointed out, a bit cautiously. Shizuka just nodded, absent-mindedly drawing the sheets up about her son higher.
"I am," she confirmed. "Mommy’s going back to regular missions now, Hayate. I’ll be in charge of a fresh team of tokubetsu jounin from now on." She smoothed back the hair from his face again, and there was a brief moment of silence — of nothing — before she leaned forward and dropped a kiss on his warm forehead. She patted him and stood, brushing herself off. "I’ve got to go now, Hayate. Dad will be home in a few hours, I think, and I’ll be back sometime later. Make sure you rest and take your medicine. Be good, Hayate."
Hayate reached out and closed his hand around her ankle, looking up at her with large, dark eyes. "Be careful, Mom," he said, his voice reedy and painfully sincere. Shizuka just gave him a small, wry smile.
"I’m not going on a mission, Hayate, I’m just going to meet the boys." She tugged her foot free of her son’s grasp, and his hand fell to the floor limply. "I’ll be back later." She left the room, closing the door halfway behind her, and Hayate watched her with baleful eyes as she went.
Shiranui Genma was, as usual, profoundly unimpressed. He’d made tokujou the previous week, and that was probably the high point of the year, if not his entire life. The prospect of meeting his new team wasn’t exactly thrilling — especially if they were anything like his last team. Kyoumi had been amusing, when she wasn’t trying to take over the world, right down to the tiny details. Philosophy was fine — it was when she started telling him how to wear his pants that she really got irritating. He would never admit that she’d been right, but he didn’t have to admit that — she already knew. Even the philosophy was a rough topic when Himaru was around, though. Himaru had never been the brightest candle, and he had a nasty habit of punching his teammates in the face when they stopped making sufficient sense. All Genma needed was another team like that, and he’d just stop having a nose — or a sense of reality.
He stuffed his hands in his pockets as he approached the training grounds, where he was supposed to be meeting the new team. He knew nothing about them — including their names. Slotting three senbon between the fingers of his right hand, Genma examined the trees circling the field. He would not be taken by surprise. Within seconds, he spotted the solemn-faced mountain of a man leaning against a tree.
"Waiting for your team?" Genma called out as he approached. "I think that leaves us wanting only two. I remember you from the Academy — you’re kind of hard to miss — but I don’t think we ever met. I’m —"
"You’re Shiranui Genma, the walking cock," the large man finished.
Genma snorted, derisively, and flicked his senbon. "I think the phrase you’re looking for is ‘cock of the walk’." Great, another Himaru — all bulk and no brains.
"No, I’m sure I said what I meant. ‘Walking cock’ — I’ve heard about you, not least from my little sister." The large man stood up straight, looming over Genma, who only came to his chin. "Namiashi Raidou. You ever look at my sister, and I’ll break both your knees. Just so we’re clear."
"Good man. I’ll keep that in mind." Genma bowed. "Do you know who our third is?" He seemed completely unfazed by the threat, and Raidou found himself with a sort of grudging respect for his new teammate — anyone who could take a statement like that perfectly seriously, file it, and then just move on was obviously going to be good for more than he appeared.
"Didn’t get a list." Raidou leaned back against the tree, but he didn’t have time to stand around for much longer — only a moment later did a third figure appear on the training fields, quickly headed their way, but as she drew nearer — and it was unmistakably a woman — it was clear she wasn’t their third. For one, she was clearly older than them — somewhere in her early thirties or late twenties, it looked — and there was something about her stature, the way she held herself, that suggested higher rank.
As she came closer to Genma and Raidou, both of those things became more apparent, as did the wild look about her — something that centred around her eyes in particular, a threat lurking malignantly beneath a deceptively dormant surface. "There are only two of you here. Where’s your third?" The words were all but barked out in a harsh, brassy voice that fit perfectly with the sharp-featured face of the woman. Something on the pale side, with battle-hardened features — the skin almost looked as though it were stretched over her bones, pulled too tight by years of built up stress and buried mission trauma that was standard fare for anyone above genin rank. Her face was framed by a few locks of shoulder-length brown hair, though the majority of it was swept back away from her face. She was wearing the standard issue uniform, though it looked as though her sleeves had been torn or cut off at some point, leaving her arms bare. The scarlet tattoo on her right arm stood out boldly, almost challengingly, against the pale skin. The woman gave them a wild, hard-faced look, waiting for an answer.
"How the fuck should I know?" Genma demanded. "I don’t even know who he is, nevermind where. Who the fuck are you?" He eyed the woman suspiciously — not because she was a woman, by any stretch of the imagination, but because she had dropped in with no warning and failed to introduce herself. It paid to be careful in their line of work.
Raidou tried to blend into the tree and failed completely. The new arrival was probably their captain, and if Shiranui wanted to get killed, that was his business. Raidou wanted no part of that. Just the same, he would wait until she presented herself properly before he introduced himself. It was always best to make damn sure that one was speaking to the person one expected to be speaking to.
The woman just smiled thinly, dangerously, before her hand shot out and grabbed hold of Genma’s nose tightly. She yanked him forward sharply by his nose, cranking it to the side painfully, and leaned in to speak to him. "My name," she said, the wicked, deranged smile never leaving her face, "is Gekkou Shizuka. I’m your new captain." She studied Genma’s face for a moment, scrutinising his features. "Watch your mouth, punk," she said, before letting go of Genma’s nose and shoving him back. "Next time, I’ll break it."
"Won’t be the first time, taichou." Genma snorted and rubbed his nose, then offered a polite and correct bow. "Shiranui Genma. Yours for the duration." He smirked and flicked his senbon suggestively, purely an ingrained reflex.
As he offered a similar, if slightly less insolent, bow, Raidou speculated that Genma was very likely going to be dead by the end of the week, if not the day. At least the town bicycle’s irrepressible mouth would keep the attention off of him. "Namiashi Raidou. Pleased to meet you, taichou."
Shizuka’s eyes flickered between them in a surveying manner — there was something unsettlingly predatorial about her gaze. "So you do talk, then," she said blandly, addressing Raidou. "I was beginning to wonder if you were mute, or just stoic." Her gaze settled on the hilt of the sword strapped to Raidou’s back. "A sword, eh. You a kenjutsu specialist, or do you just carry that thing around to compensate for something?"
"Kenjutsu is not my speciality, but I do study it. This is my weapon of choice. It serves me well." Raidou stood perfectly still — his best impression of a small mountain — and tried not to look defensive about his choice of weapons. Just because everyone else in his father’s family wielded a hammer didn’t mean there was any reason for him to do the same.
Genma looked up inquisitively, but decided against asking what Raidou’s speciality was after seeing the look on the large man’s face. Some things were just better left unexplored — besides, if he interrupted again, he’d probably get his face broken by one or both of them. Shizuka just nodded, seeming impressed with Raidou’s utter calm. She opened her mouth as if to comment — but the words never quite made it out, because someone else was talking first.
"Yo — hey, am I late? Man, I knew I shouldn’t have taken that extra five minutes in the shower…"
Shizuka’s head swivelled to the source of the voice — another young man around Genma and Raidou’s age was jogging up to them, his hitai-ate tilted jauntily to the side. A good portion of his face was obscured by the large, dark sunglasses on his face, and his hair made it look as though he’d slept while doing a headstand on his pillow. He grinned unabashedly at Shizuka.
"Did I miss anything important? Hey, are you our taichou? ‘Cause I don’t think either of those two guys are…oh, man, is that an ANBU tattoo? You were in ANBU?"
Shizuka cut off his babbling with a sharp smack to the side of his head. He reeled back, staring at her in shock. "You just — you just hit me!"
"You seem to have a penchant for stating the obvious," Shizuka all but snarled back. "What’s your name? I assume you’re their third. You’re late."
"Yeah, uh, I — Yamashiro Aoba. But I didn’t mean to be late, so —"
"If you keep talking, Yamashiro, I’m going to break your face." Shizuka stared at him threateningly until he shut up and shuffled over to Genma and Raidou, looking fairly embarrassed. There was a sharp twang as Genma bit his senbon hard to keep from laughing. Shizuka propped her hand on her hip, the sword strapped to her back rustling slightly with the movement. "You should already know this, Yamashiro, but I’m going to pity your stupid and repeat it. My name is Gekkou Shizuka, and I’m your new captain." The predatorial smile was back to twist her lips. "Let me be honest with you. I’m not nice." Each word was said slowly, clearly, as if they needed to be in order to sink in properly. "I’m probably one of the worst team leaders that could be picked for a couple of rookies. I’m not going to baby you; I’m not going to walk you through this. If you’re not ready for the kinds of missions we’re obviously going to be taking on, then you should already know that. If that’s the case, then you ought to turn around and leave this team right now. If you die, I won’t hold myself responsible." Her eyes glinted. "Are we clear?"
"Lady, cut the shit. I’m here, and you own me for the duration. Now stop wasting my time and tell me where you want me, and what I’m going to do at the far end." Genma flicked his senbon in irritation. The more she tried to be frightening, the less effective it was. "We’re not snivelling little Academy students, we’re tokujou. You give us our fucking jobs, and we do them. If one of us can’t hack it, then somebody doesn’t come back. Goddamn shame to be that unlucky fucker."
Raidou’s eyes shot wide and a hiss slipped through his teeth as he stared at Genma, trying to convince him to quit before he dug the hole any deeper. It wasn’t really out of any sense of responsibility to Genma; quite the contrary: a dead Genma wouldn’t be hitting on his sister — he really just meant to keep the team leader from killing all of them.
Genma smirked and flicked his senbon at Raidou, acknowledging the warning and ignoring it. He knew exactly where the face shot would be coming from, and it was time to redeem himself — to prove once and for all that just because he was skinny and little, a few shots to the face weren’t going to make him blink more than once.
Shizuka was too fast for him, at any rate — and this time, it wasn’t her fist, but her foot that came flying up to connect with Genma’s face with a sickeningly satisfying crunch. She righted herself just as quickly, brushing herself off, as Aoba stared in mild horror at the blood that was now gushing from Genma’s nose. Raidou merely blinked and stepped back, mostly to avoid getting any of Genma’s blood on himself.
"Both you and Yamashiro could do to take after Namiashi’s stunning example of shutting the fuck up when appropriate," she said with a thin-edged smile. Aoba’s nervous swallow was audible. "That’s taichou to you. Any more questions?"
Genma staggered back from the impact and gripped the senbon tightly in his teeth as he snorted and spit blood, which did nothing for the mess running down his face. The bridge of his nose, he was pretty sure, had collapsed. The world swam, but he stayed remarkably stable. His eyes gleamed and a crooked grin burbled up from under the blood. "Yes, taichou. Are you done, yet?"
Raidou stepped back again, distancing himself from Genma. "No, taichou. No questions." Aoba echoed the same, shutting his mouth so fast afterward that he nearly bit off his tongue. Shizuka nodded at the two of them curtly, not bothering to face Genma again.
"Shiranui, go see the medic on duty in the Hokage tower. Get your face fixed back up, and then come back out here."
Looking disgusted, Genma spit more blood into the dirt. "By your will, taichou." It had been a direct order. He turned and left, moving swiftly and liquidly back toward the far edge of the village. No one said a word while he was gone — Aoba out of nervousness, Raidou out of pure virtue of being Raidou, and Shizuka for only the gods knew why — and when Genma returned, still looking fairly vexed but with a considerably less broken nose, Shizuka waited until he had sauntered back into line with Aoba and Raidou before speaking.
"Our first mission is next week, A-rank," she said, voice clipped but still raw and harsh, like permanent fixtures in her tone. "Since you are not, in Shiranui’s eloquent words, snivelling little Academy students, I expect you all to be prepared, ready to work with one another, and on time." Aoba cringed visibly and Genma looked smug. Raidou refrained from moving at all. "I’d like today’s meeting to be over as soon as possible — I’m sure you all feel similarly. I have a sick son at home that I’d like to get back to, but I sure as hell wasn’t about to hold this meeting in my own home."
"I, for one, compliment you on your professionalism and generosity, taichou. Not exposing your team to your potentially contagious, but no less important for it, offspring was indubitably a good choice." Genma smirked, but slightly more respectfully. "Where do you want us, and at what time?"
Raidou decided he was just going to let Genma do all the talking. He seemed to be hellbent on getting his face broken as frequently as humanly possible, and he was also smart enough to ask the important questions. The walking cock was turning out to be of more and better use than he could possibly have anticipated.
"Village gates, nine hundred hours," Shizuka answered, and snorted at Genma. "And don’t be stupid. If you catch a little head cold, Shiranui, you should be able to deal with it. I don’t want you anywhere near my son for entirely different reasons — any of you, really." She clapped her hands sharply, two rough-cut staccato beats that rang in the air briefly. "Less dawdling, boys, and more planning. We have a mission to prepare for."