Suijin Umiken

Rogue Ninja in Noumu

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A single white cloud dragged haltingly across the otherwise bright and sunny sky above, it's wispy tail trailing across the center of the brilliant sun that was just making it's way over the horizon. It's golden, far-reaching rays bathed the village in a mixture of warmth and light. It was still far from dawn, but Suijin had business to attend to at Noumu Harbor. He made his way east after crossing the extensive bridge to Mizumura Coast, crossing the terrain in between with relative agility and ease. There had been rumors circulating of rogue ninja gathering in Noumu Harbor, although he was uncertain of how many there were or what their intentions might have been. He doubted they were all a part of one cohesive group but he was prepared to deal with them, regardless of the circumstances. He hoped that he would not have to resort to any drastic measures, however.


As he moved across the edge of the beach with long, quick strides, he pondered how his afternoon, and subsequent evening, would go. Being a high-level shinobi of the Water Village, his days were seldom peaceful or simple. His afternoon likely had many complications and major events in store for him. With the occasional leap, he would clear any large rocks in his way with general ease, moving perpetually faster with each rock he went over. The eastern harbor was finally beginning to come into site, its moderately sized wooden dock extending far outward into the sea, with numerous boats and ships docking and leaving. One massive ship in particular sat situated in the middle, surrounding by slightly smaller watercraft. Large, burly men were exiting the ship, carrying various pallets of goods.


Suijin scanned the area, as if looking for anything or anyone who seemed out of place. For the most part, everyone around him seemed to belong there. Although, he was experienced enough at what he did to know where he should be looking first if rogue ninja were what he was after. The blonde-haired shinobi made his way towards the nearby tavern, quickly ascending the stairs that led up to a curtained entrance. After brushing the dark black cloth to the side, he entered the establishment. In the center of the room was a large bonfire, crackling as the powerful flames warped the wood beneath their frenzy, smoldering them gradually. The smoke twisted in its artistic way, forming curls in the gloom, illuminated only by the roaring fire in its midst and what little sunlight the setting star cast through the windows.


Along the wall was every hue of amber liquid in their inverted bottles; every vice that Suijin had been ordered to avoid. He found his way to the bar, only to take a seat atop a mid-sized stool. For anyone shorter, it might have felt just right but for Suijin, he felt a bit too high up. Regardless, he raised a firm finger to call the server, which was met with the usual "How may I help you?" from a grizzly bear of a man, his facial hair thick and bushy compared to his balding scalp. 'Aren't they usually cute bar-maids...?' Suijin thought to himself, casting the thought aside before he told the man his order. "I'll just take a glass of water. I'm not here to drink." The man nodded and walked off to fill a glass with ice and water. Upon his return, he sat it down before the leader of the Hunter Ninja. "Have you seen any suspicious characters around here?" The blue-eyed shinobi pressed, as he looked around the room at the myriad of drinkers, many who had taken to dancing, singing and playing music.

"You're in a tavern, they're all suspicious." The man retorted coyly.

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Waves slapped against the side of a wooden boat, the small impacts rocking the buoyant structure docked in Noumu Harbor. The setting sun, accompanied by the keels of seagulls, peeked over the horizon and tinged the sky with rosy streaks which broke up the solid slate blue of pre-twilight. Under any other circumstances the sight would have been serene, however for the girl in the bed of the boat it was more like a sour hangover. Reimei's temples throbbed in a way that crossed her vision and made her feel the littlest bit queasy as she squinted her eyes open from sleep. The silence amidst told her that the two boys she'd been sailing with weren't around. She winced as pain shot through her temple, the sensation traveled up her chin, along the left side of her nose and exploded around her scarred left eye. Her hand shot to the area, only for her to discover that both of her hands were inhibited by rope tying them together. She grit her teeth against the pain and shifted her head around to look at the boat for a reason to this situation. The floor of had scratches and scuff marks, possibly from some kind of scuffle. She rested her head to stare up at the sky again. She knew she was sailing with two civilian friends, Aorie and Osaka, along the shore of the continent in search of Osaka's mother who'd gone missing weeks before on a trip north. Yesterday morning they'd stopped at a small port to find out that the next major port was in the Water country just a day away. The boys had agreed that they'd be going there. What had happened later? She turned on her side to spy a torn fishing net, and she winced again. She remembered getting antsier and antsier as they got closer to the Water port, and in the middle of the night when Aorie spotted land in the distance, panic had consumed her and she'd fought the two boys  like a trapped animal to get out of the ship. She attempted to throw herself into the freezing ocean and had given Osaka a black eye in her effort. Reimei groaned as she realized that Osaka had probably knocked her out when his arms came around her neck after that, and the ropes around her wrists now were for their own preventative protection. She cursed herself. Why did she act like that? The boys must think she lost her mind.


She sat up and looked around at what she could see of the harbor, which happened to just be more boats further along the dock. It seemed the boys isolated their boat from the rest; good for them. Thankfully she saw that her feet weren't bound, which meant she could stand and step over to the long nail in the main mast that stuck out a little sharp and dangerously, and saw the rope off her wrists. Once freed, the red head tied her hair up and tucked it inside the checked hat stored away in a cooler, then moved on to a tiny case. She opened the case, used one hand to hold her eyelids open, and the other to apply green contacts to her irises. She blinked back the tears that brimmed in response as she looked around, making sure the coast was clear. No one seemed to be paying much attention to the petite woman, which was all she could ask for as she stripped out of her current shirt. As she unhooked her bra and set about wrapping bandages tight around her chest before anyone saw, or dare she think, one of the boys. Aorie and Osaka were aware of her true gender, and so they usually gave her her space, but that certainly didn't mean she wanted them to get a look. Once wrapped and her chest looked similar to a man's, she put her bra and shirt inside the empty cooler her hat had come from, then snatched one of Aorie's shirts and her everyday vest and put those on. She was a speedy dresser, a skill acquired from a few years of changing clothes in public places with very short time allotments of privacy, so it didn't take her very long to feel satisfied that she looked the part of a man. Once the petite twenty-two year old woman felt she made a convincing appearance, she climbed out of the boat and stepped onto the dock. She swayed slightly as she adjusted to solid ground and her temples throbbed even more.


The sky, now a bright rosy color, lit her seemingly short red hair an intense fiery orange hue. She pulled the bill of her hat lower over her eyes so as to not draw any further attention to herself. She wasn't sure exactly where they had docked, and she didn't believe she had ever been to this port town before, but a voice in the back of her head was telling her it would be unwise for her to make a scene here. She passed by a massive ship, one whose bowels were spilling with large burly sailors milling about with large goods in their arms. One of them, an older gentlesailor, struggled to carry one of the largest crates down the gangplank on legs that likely trembled with arthritis. Reimei, ever the affectionate soul towards the elderly, ascended the gangplank and lifted the crate herself for the sailor. "Please, allow me," she smiled at the man and carried the crate down to the dock before he could argue otherwise with her.


The gentlesailor followed her down, "Thank you, Lad, but I could had that one just fine." 


Reimei snorted and grinned at the man, despite the jarring throbbing of her temples, she couldn't help but think he was a stubborn one. She suspected the maybe one of her own grandparents would be like this man, if she considered her own personality. "Yes, you did. I just happened to beat you to it."


The gentlesailor's barked laughter was strong and loud, causing several of his fellow crewmen to turn their attention on them. Little did Reimei know that she'd helped the first mate, who was well known amongst his crew for his surly attitude, and his laughter was a rarity. "Good lad!" Reimei smiled and bowed politely to the gentle sailor, and he turned back to his crew that'd froze in their tasks. "Get back to work, you scrubs!" The men stumbled back to their tasks in a rush, and Kenichi looked over his shoulder at the retreating boy. Something about him reminded the man of the granddaughter he'd lost while on a voyage out at sea years ago, and seeing the boy go panged him a little.


Reimei followed the direction of the villagers she saw trudging off on their early evening journey of debauchery. She was familiar with the type. Middle aged, always working, often spent their nights married to the long table inside of bar as they attempted to forget the stress of daylight hours. Where they were going was where she wanted to go. Aorie and Osaka knew that the redhead's port ritual was to find the nearest dinghy bar and drink herself into a social mood. It was also the likeliest place for one of them to wait for her. She found herself at the base of stairs that lead up to a curtained entrance. Interesting choice of location. She ascended the steps with light feet and brushed aside the curtain with the confidence of someone who knew where they belonged. She saw the massive bonfire first and was pleasantly pleased. It was fucking cold in this country. Her gaze zeroed in on the bar where the bartender speaking with a blonde man sitting by himself. Perfect. Open seats. She walked past the other patrons enjoying their time with festive activities like music and dancing, ignoring them in favor of her true desire.


She reached an open barstool, not giving a damn that it was directly beside the blond man. The chair itself was the same height as she, so she looked at the bartender before she figured that one out. "I want to get three tokkuri's of sake. I don't need a sakazuki." She wasn't surprised when the bartender gave her a certain look, but he didn't argue with her request. She turned her attention back to the chair in front of her. There didn't appear to be a ledge beneath for her to step on, which was frustrating. How was she supposed to get on a chair too tall for her? Green eyes scanned the small area for non existent ledges. Was everyone in this damn town tall? She sighed as she stepped back a few feet and took a running leap onto the stool. She would catch her hands on the edge of the stool as her shoulder would crash against the blond patron's, then pull herself straight onto the stool and off of the man. Her checkered hat would slip a little, revealing much longer red hair for a flash of second before She would adjust it back in place. She would sheepishly look at the blond, green eyes, one decorated by a scar, meeting the man's, "Sorry about that."

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Three men and a young kunoichi sat around the open bonfire, where the wood continued to crackle and pop with the intensity of the inferno. The flickering flames lapped upwards at the oakwood roof above. The flurry of red, orange and yellow seemed just as bright as they were warm, allowing for a comfortable temperature throughout the tavern. The smoke billowed upwards from the smoldering wood, exiting the room through a small square hole just above it. Although it could be closed on rainy or snowy days, it was left open at this particular time to allow an escape for the noxious by-products of burning timber. The man closest to the entrance of the bar suddenly bellowed out in a fit of laughter as he looked towards the hands of the man beside him, which sat roughly three feet apart in the midst of the air. "Y'don't believe me, do ya? I is tellin' ya it was this big!" he exclaimed, his hands widening even further as he spoke the words.


"That sucker was the biggest damn fish I ever did see, let alone caught!" he shouted, before bringing his hands back down to rest dormant. He was an elderly man and visibly frail, his wrinkly pale skin clung to his arm like wet clothes on a pole. "You're telling me... But somehow I have trouble believing it, old man." the younger man, likely in his mid twenties, responded from closest to the entrance. Suijin would catch bits and pieces of the conversation from then on, but mostly disregarded the significance of their conversation. He knew the two of them as frequent patrons of the bar in which he sat. Seeing their faces in such a place was no less shocking than seeing the Mizukage at his tower, it was simple where they were expected to be, more likely than not.

The entirety of the establishment wreaked of booze and fiery ashes, leaving one to wonder just what types of smells hid beneath the two potent scents. The blonde-haired shinobi took his glass in a firm grip, before bringing it up so that the edge pressed into his bottom lip. He took a quick sip, setting the cup back down on the table once he had swallowed the refreshing liquid. He wondered what it would be like if he were to drink there. It was not as if he were easily inhibited by alcohol, or other substances, but it would be unprofessional to drink on the job. At least, this was the way he saw it. Although he was still a young man, he had a deep sense of duty and responsibility. Perhaps his rough past had simply molded him to be that way, but he seldom mused over such thoughts.


He was who he was, why he was did not concern him. The shinobi had but one goal and that was to serve and protect the village that had taken him in as one of their own and given him a second chance at life. One that was nearly seized from him many times before his settlement there. Without doubt, the world was of a cruel and callous nature, bearing down on the hearts, minds and bodies of all who inhabited it. Anyone who lacked the ability to adapt and move forward would simply be snuffed out, like a dying flame, by the pressures of life. Some would gradually lose themselves or everything that mattered to them, yet still they would flicker on faintly. Suijin himself was more akin to the bonfire in the midst of the room, but fueled by his melancholy past rather than maplewood. Regardless, his life burned brilliantly with the intensity of a man who felt as though he had found nearly everything he wanted from life. Now, he meant only to keep it and maintain its security.

The glass cup sat atop the long wooden slab that constituted the bar itself, the perspiration that had collected along the outside of the container now dripped down in every direction. The water soaked into the wood, leaving behind a circular wet ring that seemed stained into the surface of the wood. Naturally it would easily dry in no time and be back to its usual tone, but for now it remained darkened and damp. There were various patterns and grooves all across the surface of the wood, giving it a more rugged texture. Given the general atmosphere of the tavern, this did not surprise Suijin in the least. "I want to get three tokkuri's of sake. I don't need a sakazuki." he would hear a newcomer say as he appeared to search for a satisfactory place to sit. The Water Shinobi turned his head to glance at the person who was already placing their order before they had even taken a seat. 'He seems eager to get his booze...' Suijin mused inwardly to himself, as the alleged man, who was fairly small in stature, had just began to lurch forward with a sudden swift and unprecedented leap forward.


He landed, surprisingly accurately, atop the stool that had matched his hat almost evenly but couldn't prevent his shoulder from colliding into Suijin's. He turned to look over, only to catch a glimpse of his elongated hair that had been hidden beneath a cap, but quickly stowed away once more. His eyes descended to examine the man's face for a moment, taking in every detail and feature of the stranger. Their face was quite feminine... For a man. It did not take very long for Suijin to put two and two together, coming to the realization rather abruptly. He wasn't entirely sure but it appeared to be a female posing as a male, though why she would do such a thing was beyond him. He was not the type to judge others for their lifestyle choices anyway. He was also not exactly a fan of having his shoulder rammed unexpectedly by that of another, but there were things he could overlook and that was easily one of them. Mistakes happened, after all, being both the norm and bane of humanity.

"Sorry about that." the words came with a meek expression, surprising Suijin who had already decided that the young woman, or whatever he or she was, was the reckless and brash type. The young hunter ninja wondered if he had simply pegged her wrong or if that too was a facade, just as her appearance seemed to be. He did not leave her waiting for long, however, as he let out a chuckle at the interesting character who had found their way into the tavern. "Don't worry about it, stranger. Accidents happen. What brings you to Noumu?" his words were somewhat plain and almost monotonous, but he pressed with a question. He had never seen her before, though she was clearly making an effort to conceal her appearance. This struck him as suspicious, but he had yet to think anything more of it. If he had, perhaps he would have remembered the reports of an ex-water shinobi who had been drifting throughout the lands disguised as a boy. Things seemed to come to Suijin in their own time, however. Just because he did not remember in that moment did not mean it wouldn't come to him eventually.

The harbor was constantly busy not only with the constant flow of ships docking and undocking all throughout the day and night, but also with persistent crime rates that were not always easily dealt with. The water village had dispatched many high-level shinobi to patrol and monitor the area but even still, it seemed like the criminal clans were always one step ahead of their pursuers. This was something that Suijin wished to change for himself, as he was tired of the place he cared for being reduced to violence and theft. Things had certainly improved over the years, that much was certain. The leader of the hunter ninja wondered if a stronger presence in Noumu Harbor would be needed, given the constant stream of rogue and criminal shinobi, many of whom would hitch a ride on ships and pose significant risk to the merchants and diplomats who traveled to the Water. He couldn't allow such things to tarnish the reputation of his home village.

He drowned out the many noises of the bar that seemed to come from all directions; people talking, people singing, the toasting of glasses and the sound of silverware on porcelain plates. None of the background was relevant at that moment, because the only thing that seemed out of place was the singular person before him. He was already entertaining the possibility that she could be a rogue shinobi, even if he had yet to ascertain exactly which village she was from or who she really was. For the time being, he would simply engage her in conversation and analyze her answers to determine what he should do about her, if she were to prove herself a threat to the village or its inhabitants. Suijin was certainly no stickler but if there was anything that he could not allow to slide it was actions against his village. He wondered if such actions would even be a concern though. Was the young woman a viable threat or simply someone passing through? That had yet to be determined.

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The scent of smoke and ash filled her senses, and it was a comforting scent to her. Occasionally further perfumed by the scent of salt whenever a slight breeze would find its way through the curtained entrance of the tavern, the throbbing in her temple was slowly accompanied by a pang of homesickness. The group of shinobi playing instruments inside the tavern filled the room with a charming shanty that rolled through the room, wall to wall, like the undulation of the sea.  It was pleasant in the way it wasn't too loud and boisterous, as many musicians in taverns were ought to be, and it was particularly a fitting piece for the location of the tavern and its patronage. It was difficult for those with a connection to the ocean not to be somewhat lulled, as evidenced by the two fishermen, one young and one old, that quoted down a peg. She herself was just like them, with a sailor deep in her heart, and the fact the music helped with the throbbing migraine in her temples only furthered her calmness; her solace in that moment.


Her sake arrived, placed before her by the rugged bartender. Normally she would have given him her sweetest smile, thanked him for his assistance. She frequented enough bars to know that a little bit of gratitude expressed could go a long way, if not for the bartender himself, then at least for her own satisfaction. She wrapped her fingers tight around the first tokkuri and drank its contents in one go. While the music was nice, it didn't hurt to have a better aid for the pain in her head. She placed the tokkuri down in line behind the third, so that they were still in her own sense of sequential order.


When the blond beside her actually responded, she turned to look at him. He had a much nicer face than a certain other pissheaded pissant she knew, as well as a far less annoying laugh. His didn't sound like the screeching wail of a chicken just pissed on by a yellow cat born at high noon in summer. "Don't worry about it, stranger. Accidents happen. What brings you to Noumu?" Amethyst eyes hidden behind green contacts gazed around the tavern before returning to meet the blond's once more. How much could be said? This country was the last place Osaka's mother had been seen, after all.  The question was innocent enough. This man, though he came off as friendly, gave her a strange vibe with the way he stared. Was it the scar in the middle of her left eye? Her hand unconsciously went to her cheek where it touched the tip of the rough, raised line. Sure she got a lot of looks over it, but no one ever quite stared this hard. She leaned back from him a few centimeters, putting some kind of distance between them.


It was probably best for her to keep her response vague. With her luck, this blond could also be crazy like the last. She smiled a little in response to him, weariness from her migraine just barely creasing her brows, "I'm here with some friends for an errand." A part of her hoped Aorie or Osaka would hurry and arrive. Being alone with this man whose whole body seemed tight with a dogged attentiveness put her a little on edge. Of course, this could actually be her headache affecting her people reading skills also.

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Suijin briefly shifted his attention from the disguised woman sitting at his right to the bartender who now sat three drinks atop the wooden surface of the bar before her. Given the short distance between his nose and the glasses, he caught a whiff of the alcoholic aroma radiating from within the cups. For a brief a moment, it seemed to overpower all other scents in the room as the smell was wafted towards his nose by a salty gust that had found its way through the curtains. It did not take long, however, for it to subside. He had never been much of a drinker, as he rejected it in seemingly every regard. Its effects, its taste and its smell. 'I wonder if this tavern has any tea available...' the man thought to himself, his eyes shifting to examine everything behind the bar, as if searching for any evidence of the drink. The wall was covered with shelves upon shelves of containers bearing alcoholic contents. Beneath it was a wooden counter, similar in style to the bar, that supported an assortment of mugs and glasses atop a clean towel. To the left was a large bowl filled to the brim with ice, though he wondered where they kept the rest and how they prevented it from melting. His eyes darted to the right to take in the two pitchers that sat on the opposite side, glistening with perspiration in the warm light cast by a nearby candle, in addition to what was given off by the roaring flames in the center of the room. The contents of one was clearly water, but the other had a yellow tint to it. Perhaps it was lemonade?

He'd never been a fan of lemonade, so he opted to forsake his search of a better drink than the water that still sat neglected in front of him. As he glanced back over to his right, he would see the young woman downing an entire glass in one continuous gulp. Clearly she was a seasoned alcoholic. Although he had noted the scar, he now wondered what kind of person would bear such a wound, present their self as a male and down alcohol as if it were smooth as water. Even if he knew almost nothing about this person yet, he was sure they would prove of interest if nothing else. Suddenly she leaned backwards, as if she were uncomfortable with the situation. It was in this moment that Suijin caught himself, turning his attention back to his cup of water.

The hunter ninja had lived the majority of his life in isolation and thus had few social skills to speak of. It was a common occurrence for him to do things that others might find unusual, such as staring for too long or expressing certain emotions in situations where they weren't warranted. Since he had found a new home in the water village, he had overcome many of these quirks but it was clear that he was out of place in the modern shinobi world. Every aspect of his person, from his stature to his expressionless gaze were likely intimidating to those not familiar with his mannerisms. He pondered whether or not it would help to drink, even if just a little. Soon he dismissed the thought, as he was on the job. With a quiet sigh, he turned back to his water for the time being. After taking the small cup in his grasp once more, he would lift the edge towards his mouth to take yet another sip. After one gulp, he returned the container to it's place on the bar, his eyes glancing at the water level of the cup, which sat just halfway between the bottom and top now.

"I'm here with some friends for an errand." the woman had finally responded to his question, though it was brief and vague. Although he no longer stared at her, he could easily make out her image in the edge of his peripheral vision. Suijin was a cautious man and a questionable stranger sitting within such a close proximity of him warranted some attention, if nothing else. He could not forget that he was there for a purpose, though he didn't mind getting to know this person for the time being. Especially if she had any information that was of value to him or the village. "Hopefully it doesn't give you any trouble then." the blonde-haired man would respond. "I know you didn't ask, but I'm here for a job of sorts, though I've come alone." he would go on, unsure if it was a good idea to reveal such information. Suijin was the honest type, however, and he felt giving the person more information would make her more comfortable with opening to him. Then again, people were never his strong-suit.

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The red head's gaze lingered on the burly bartender as he went about his business. The man's skin was the pale sandy color of someone used to living in a region that got little sunlight in comparison to the rest of the world. Even the man's hair were dark from a lack of sun streaks. He moved about behind the bar as if it were his own backyard, but she could see from the coarseness of his hands that he must also be accustomed to labor, probably ice picking or tree cutting or whatever the people of Noumu were apt to do. She suspected fishing. Unlike the man sitting beside her. She turned her attention back to the blond, the orbs of false green settling over him with steady observation of her own. He was thin, nimble, really. Normally she'd write him off as the scholarly sort, someone she could perchance discuss an interest in books with, but hard callouses over his knuckles bellied a history, or skill?, at hitting back at something. Callouses similar to her own. Maybe he was both a scholar and a fighter? That would certainly pique her interest. Reimei was damn good at being rough and tumble, even ferocious, and in extreme, feral, but she did enjoy making friends where she could.


She took a drink from one of her sake's again. He had offered her some bit of information about himself without her prying for it. A classic case of needling for information, an invitation for her to open up and spill ... something. Though she was aware of this, she was inclined to concede to it. He didn't seem like a crazy kidnapper alien fiend, so maybe he might know something about people from outside the country coming into the Water territory and never being seen again? It would be nice to have some kind of ally in this unknown to her area. 


Her brows furrowed as she met the blond's own eyes. Then again, normal people didn't generally just go missing. Criminals were not always so blatant about their motives, kidnapper alien fiend man eaters would not be that obvious. They wouldn't be alone, either. She found herself caught between wanting to open up and make a friendly acquaintance, and suspicion that he was actually a rabid crazy kidnapping alien fiend man eater. She set her drink down on the bar with a soft clip sound. She would take a sudden, sharp breath and turn her whole body to face the man. A sign that he had her undivided attention. She would smile, an open gesture, and hope he was a serial killer in disguise. "Alone? Isn't that a little risky nowadays?" Yeah, play it safe, Reimei. She would toe the waters before deciding wether or not he could be reliable, either as an ally or an information source.

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As Suijin turned his gaze ever so slightly to the right to watch the bartender tending to his usual duties, he became aware of the lingering gaze that had set upon him. The crimson-haired kunoichi who sat to his right seemed to be examining him with a fervent attentiveness that would make anyone else uncomfortable. Given his lack of socialization throughout his early life, one would think this would especially be the case for him. It was the contrary, however, as he had no issue with being observed so long as he was aware of it. As she took another sip of alcohol from the glass container, he turned his own gaze to get a second look at her, taking in her appearance carefully this time. Although he hadn't noticed the nagging feeling prior, it gradually began to bother him with each second he looked at her. He felt as though he knew the woman, although he was fairly oblivious as to where and when. The green of her eyes seemed contrary to the reddish hue of her hair, both contrasting with the paleness of her skin tone. Although she was fairly short in stature, she had a feminine figure that seemed to stop abruptly at her chest, appearing flatter than the rest of her frame. He wondered if she were simply lacking in bosom or bound them in an attempt to conceal her gender.

The observant shinobi entertained the latter notion, as she seemed keen on concealing who she truly was, including her gender. His eyes raised to meet her gaze when she turned to look at him, noting the furrowing of her brows. He wondered if she was someone who could be trusted, and just how much so. Even though he wished to provide her with sufficient information to make her comfortable enough to do the same, he had no intention of disclosing exactly who he was. At the very least, not just yet. While he was honest, withholding the truth was not necessarily synonymous with lying.

"Alone? Isn't that a little risky nowadays?" she would question him. This was not an unreasonable question to ask, given the state of the world. There seemed to be violence around every corner. "Perhaps it is. Even so, I'd rather die on my own two feet than live on the shoulder of another." Suijin responded, as his gaze returned to his half-filled glass once more. "Besides... I've always been alone. I'm accustomed to handling my own problems." he noted, as he glanced at the shelves of alcohol behind the bar. "Hey friend, can I get a sake as well?" he requested, deciding that having a little to drink couldn't hurt. As he waited for the burly bartender to retrieve his order, he turned back to his new acquaintance. "So where are you from exactly?" he questioned, wondering if her response might help him remember why she looked so familiar to him.

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