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A Traditional Ninja Romance - Chapter 2

Title: A Traditional Ninja Romance

Author: Sinnatious
 
Summary: TezRyo Ninja AU.  Ryoma's mission:  To infiltrate the Seigaku clan and seduce their leader.
 
Rating: M for violence and yaoi.

Author’s Note: OMG, the Ryoma pillow and Tezuka blanket HAS BEEN MADE A REALITY.

Prologue
Chapter 1
 
____________________________ 
 
A Traditional Ninja Romance
 
By Sinnatious
 
Chapter 2
____________________________ 
 
 
The next few days were rather uneventful. Ryoma went on one short mission with Momoshiro – a routine delivery that he suspected was to test his stealth – but was otherwise just left to spar with other ninja and settle in.
 
It surprised him how simple it had been to integrate with the clan so far, actually. Momoshiro had apparently appointed himself as 'big brother'; showing him to his room, explaining who everyone was, and detailing the usual flow of their missions and work.  They were all things that Ryoma could have figured out on his own, but he was hardly going to complain about having information handed to him on a silver platter, even if he was still highly suspicious about Lady Ryuuzaki giving him such carefree admittance to her old clan.  Despite everything appearing normal and okay, his common sense continued to tell him that unconventional though these people might be, they were still ninja and thus this was surely all an elaborate trap.
 
That said, Seigaku was easily the strangest ninja clan he’d ever seen. Granted, Ryoma hadn’t seen that many, having essentially always been doing solo work at his father’s behest until this oddball mission. But he doubted it would make a difference.

"And that's Sakuno, Lady Ryuuzaki's granddaughter," Momoshiro pointed out. He was systemically naming everybody in the training yard. It was mostly just trainees at that time of day, half of who were unabashedly staring at him. 

Ryoma threw a disinterested glance at her. Her long auburn hair was tied back into two braids. If he squinted, he could maybe see a bit of resemblance to the old woman.  She squeaked and blushed at his gaze, turning back to the training dummies. "What's she doing?"

"Eh, she comes here every now and again to try and learn some basics.  She's made friends with one of the girls that works in the kitchen, I think," he dismissed.  It was easy to see why Momoshiro was so quick to write her off.  At even a quick glance it was obvious she was rather lacking in confidence and terribly uncoordinated.  Ryoma recalled from his father's admittedly skeletal debriefing that Lady Ryuuzaki had once been the head of Seigaku clan herself many years ago, but apparently after marrying the daimyo she no longer cared for the ninja lifestyle, and so did not earnestly seek to train her offspring.  Sakuno’s presence there was likely an indulgence. The woman’s comments when she’d interviewed him suggested as much.
 
“That’s the Viper; he’s another one of the main squad,” Momoshiro continued, gesturing towards a scowling ninja wearing a black bandanna in the corner of the training yard. The trainees were all giving him a wide berth. “Can you guess what his weapon of choice is?” The tall ninja chuckled to himself at that.
 
Ryoma cast a critical eye over the so-called ‘Viper’. He heard that some ninja liked to train and use snakes as their primary tools, but had never actually met a snake tamer before. His face was scarier than what he’d expect from someone of that speciality, but then again maybe he was just basing that on the assumption that it was mostly women who used snakes - able to hide their pets easily in their long sleeves without arousing suspicion.
 
An abnormally tall ninja wearing thick glasses approached the Viper with an envelope in hand. Odd – it was normally only scholars who wore glasses. “And that’s Inui, he’s our best spy,” Momoshiro informed him. As though he could hear them, Inui looked in their direction and started striding purposefully their way.
 
“Momoshiro. Echizen,” he greeted. Ryoma didn’t bother being offended at the skipped introduction. If the man really was their best spy it stood to reason that introductions were unnecessary.
 
“Well-informed as always,” Momoshiro commented with a loud laugh.
 
Inui adjusted his glasses. “Of course. There is much talk about the new member in our ranks who easily defeated our best team.”
 
Ryoma scoffed at that. “They were holding back.” 
 
That earned him a contemplative glance from the spy. “Hmm. Then the same is true for you, if you were aware of it.”
 
Ryoma just shrugged.
 
“I shall be honest, Echizen. I have distressingly little information on you, and Lady Ryuuzaki was not forthcoming with information in regards to why she wanted you to join the clan. I was hoping you could fill me in on some of your history.”
 
This was dangerous territory, but it would be safer to cooperate. Ryoma shrugged again.
 
Taking that as permission, Inui asked, “Who trained you?”
 
“My father.”
 
“You didn’t learn from a dojo, or as part of a clan?”
 
“No.”
 
“Who is your father?”
 
Names might compromise the mission. And honestly, Ryoma was a little embarrassed of the old man. “Used to be a mercenary, I think. He knows Ryuuzaki-daimyo’s wife somehow.” It was apparently enough to satisfy Inui, who then moved on to the next topic.
 
“Your speciality?”
 
“Don’t really have one.”
 
“Interesting. Another all-rounder. Your previous mission experience?”
 
“I just said I didn’t belong to a clan - the most I could ever do was take on a couple of independent jobs for travelling merchants,” Ryoma lied. It struck him as a trap question.
 
Inui seemed pleased by that answer. “Of course.”
 
“Inui-senpai, was there any other reason you came to talk to us?” Momoshiro interjected.
 
“Ah, yes.” The spy handed them each an envelope. “A mission. A valuable item was stolen from one of the daimyo’s estates. It has been requested we retrieve it.”
 
“If it’s so valuable, why wasn’t it better protected?” Ryoma asked, leafing through the contents of the envelope. It just contained a basic description and general mission intelligence. Seemed to be a fancy piece of jewellery. Expensive, certainly, but not something one would normally use ninja to retrieve. It was an unnecessary risk and waste of resources.
 
“It was suitably protected, but it was stolen by another ninja clan.”
 
“Oh ho, anyone dangerous?” Momoshiro asked.
 
“Gyokurin. We won’t need everyone to deal with them. It’ll be you, Echizen, Oishi, Eiji, and Kawamura. Kaidoh will be following as backup.”
 
Gyokurin was a small, local clan that survived by avoiding stepping on too many toes. Ryoma was confident he could have performed the retrieval by himself, but wouldn’t be surprised if Seigaku was using this as a chance to gauge his skill in real combat. That suspicion was all but confirmed when Inui continued, “It won’t be a stealth mission. We’re intending to send a strong message to Gyokurin that these sorts of actions won’t be tolerated.”
 
Momoshiro scratched the back of his head. “Yeah, I guessed that with Kawamura coming along. When do we leave?”
 
“At sundown. Meet at the gates. If you’ll excuse me, I need to find Eiji to inform him as well.” Inui stalked past them, leaving the training grounds.
 
Momoshiro peered at the sky. “Hmm, that’s not a lot of time. I guess we’d better go get ready. You need any extra equipment?”
 
“I brought my own.”
 
“Right. Hey, I’ll show you where all the equipment is stored anyway. Ninja in the main squad can help themselves to it anytime.”
 
“I’m not in the main squad yet,” Ryoma pointed out.
 
Momoshiro waved it off. “You will be. Heck, you’re already doing missions with us. They’re probably just dragging their feet with making it official.”
 
A quick detour showed him where the storage room for weapons were, and where Inui and Kaidoh kept their poisons. Ryoma retired to his own quarters – a room shared by four trainees – to fetch some extra shuriken and wire. His kodachi would probably be enough for this mission, but many fights with the old man gave him the habit of hiding as many tricks up his sleeves as possible. It was a habit that frequently saved his life.
 
He arrived at the gates just as the sun was setting. The buildings were bathed in a warm rosy glow. The normally pleasing colour seemed ominous prior to a mission. Everyone else was already present, clad in shades of black and dark blue. “Cutting it a bit close, Echizen!” Momoshiro called. Ryoma just tugged his mask up over his face in response.
 
“Hoi hoi, ready to go Ochibi?” Eiji asked, bouncing over to him. For whatever reason, the redhead had apparently taken a bit of a liking to him.
 
Ryoma took a quick stock of his comrades. There were two he didn’t recognise. “I’m Kawamura,” one of the strangers greeted him. “You must be the new recruit. Echizen, right?”
 
He nodded. This Kawamura looked tough – his muscles were obvious even through his dark garb – but his demeanour and tone seemed far too gentle and sweet for the battlefield. 
 
“Saaa, nice to meet you,” the other stranger said congenially. Even though he bore a pleasant smile, Ryoma’s instincts went on immediate alert. He took a reflexive step away, fingers positively itching for a weapon. 
 
“Kaidoh?” he asked warily.
 
“I’m afraid not. He’s over there,” the smiling ninja indicated with a gesture. Ryoma spied the Viper leaning against the gates wearing a scowl. Kaidoh must have been his real name. “I’m Fuji. I’m just here to see everyone off. And I sort of wanted to see this remarkable new ninja that everybody is so interested in for myself. Please don’t pay me any attention.”
 
Ryoma didn’t relax. How could this Fuji really ‘see’ him if he hadn’t yet opened his eyes? Or was he blind? A ninja who relied solely on his eyes was a ninja quickly dead, but even so…
 
“Stop it Fuji, you’re making him uncomfortable,” Oishi chided, and then turned to Ryoma with a smile. “Fuji is our specialist in psychological warfare.”
 
Ryoma made a mental note to keep a careful eye on this Fuji person. He projected an aura of intelligence and knowledge, and next to Inui would probably be the most likely person to discover his true intentions. “Nice to meet you,” he offered warily, adjusting his facemask to make sure it was properly on. It wouldn’t make a difference, but it made him feel a little better.
 
Fuji’s smile widened a little, but he didn’t otherwise respond. “You’d best be moving out if you want to be home by a reasonable time tonight. Good luck everyone.”
 
Ryoma didn’t relax until he was out of sight. Stranger and stranger ninja continued to just pop out of the woodwork at Seigaku. They were an odd bunch, too, and younger than most ninja in active service. Most of the ones he’d met so far were still straddling the line between adolescence and adulthood, though Ryoma reluctantly acknowledged he was hardly one to talk; he was barely of age himself.
 
Oishi gave them a quick briefing on the mission, and then they set out as a unit, silently darting through trees. Their target was about an hour away at a steady jog, though it took a bit longer as they slowed their pace to avoid detection.
 
The object Gyokurin had stolen was in the residence of a rich merchant - their current client. Obviously whomever Gyokurin served didn’t pay them enough if they were taking on these sorts of contracts. The building featured an ornamental tiled roof and long wooden verandas on all sides, but was utterly lacking in any real defensive features – the wall surrounding the property was so low that even a farmer could scale it if properly motivated. Two ninja were standing in plain sight. Careful observation yielded another lingering in the shadows. Inui’s intelligence pegged five of them at the residence, so the remaining two were likely inside. 
 
Oishi made a series of hand signals. He and Eiji crept forward, while the rest of them remained back. 
 
“They’re going in by themselves?” Ryoma whispered; his words partially muffled by black fabric. He had not yet learned all of Seigaku’s signals. 
 
“Just watch,” Momoshiro assured him. “Like Inui said, Oishi and Eiji make the best team. They can get anything done.”
 
Ryoma stood back and watched from the shadows. The pair darted through the trees, circling in towards the unsuspecting pair of ninja. At some unseen signal, they leapt forward as one – Oishi with a long blade and Eiji with a hail of darts and kunai. The shower of projectiles glinted in the moonlight like silver rain.
 
The two Gyokurin ninja barely had a chance to react. They made a good effort, but they were clearly outclassed. Ryoma spared a moment to be mildly impressed. Eiji looked like he possessed the agility, speed, and talent for the unexpected movements that were requisite for a great ninja, but upon first impression Oishi seemed more like he ought to be managing the clan’s paperwork rather than participating in missions. His brief test against the pair hadn’t changed that opinion, but watching them work together like this revealed hidden depths to their skills.
 
Drawn by the battle, the hidden Gyokurin ninja attempted to join the fray. That was Kawamura’s cue. He charged into the fight with a bellowing war cry.
 
Upon quick assessment, Ryoma decided that Kawamura should have been a samurai instead of a ninja. He had monstrous strength, and amazing skill in hand-to-hand combat, but he possessed almost no stealth - especially when engaging in aforementioned combat, turning him from a respectful, soft-spoken ninja to some sort of devil on the battlefield. The transformation occurring before his eyes was remarkable. The meek Kawamura was alternating between throwing punches and firebombs with great gusto.
 
Kawamura’s shouting drew the remaining two ninja from indoors. “It’s our turn!” Momoshiro whispered. “Let’s go!” He dropped from the trees, and Ryoma scrambled to follow.
 
Adrenaline pumped through his veins. The world sharpened into focus as he drew his blade, ears picking up the faint whistle of the steel as clearly as birdsong. The hilt of his kodachi felt light in his hands, and the fresh scent of earth upturned from Momoshiro’s thundering footsteps was sweet in his nostrils. Golden eyes zeroed in on the shorter of the two ninja – Momoshiro was already making a beeline for the other one – cataloguing every tiny detail of their appearance and effortlessly picking out the weapons hidden in their clothes.
 
The steel of his blade caught the moonlight, leaving a silver arc as it descended upon his victim. The Gyokurin ninja hastily parried, his blade ringing at the impact. Ryoma stepped around past the blade, already moving for a second strike, then a third. His opponent faltered under his speed. His reflexes were good to be keeping up with the younger ninja, but his swordsmanship was comparatively clumsy. He knew it, too.
 
Ryoma tilted his head to the side. A shuriken sailed harmlessly past his ear. “Hey, I’m your opponent!” Momoshiro yelled, clearly miffed that his target had time enough to interfere in someone else’s fight. 
 
Couldn’t his colleague fight more quietly? Ryoma leant back to avoid the sweep of a blade, rested his hand on the ground and flipped backwards, kicking his enemy soundly on the jaw. It made a satisfying crack. He darted forward again. The Gyokurin ninja, dazed and starting to panic, tried to turn and run.
 
He wasn’t getting away. Ryoma jerked his wrist, and the wire that had been stealthily wound around the ninja’s ankle during his back flip tightened. His opponent toppled to the ground with a grunt. In the space of an eye blink Ryoma was poised above him, and rammed his kodachi into his shoulder.
 
The cry of pain distracted the Gyokurin ninja’s partner, giving Momoshiro a chance to disable his own opponent with one well-placed punch. As his enemy dropped to the ground unconscious, Momoshiro glanced over at him, cracking his knuckles. “Ha, finished already? You’re fast.”
 
“Hn.” Ryoma withdrew his blade, his opponent whimpering beneath him. It bothered him to just leave things there – it felt sort of untidy – but their orders were to teach Gyokurin a lesson, not lay waste to their clan. Killing off their members would spawn grudges, whereas leaving them beaten and alive would create respect and fear. “The others?”
 
“They’re still finishing up by the looks of it. We’d better finish the mission.” Momoshiro moved to enter the house.
 
“Momo-senpai!”
 
“Huh?” he asked, pausing just before the steps to the entrance.
 
“There’s a trip wire right in front of you, and a loose floorboard right in front of that.”
 
Swearing, Momoshiro backtracked and sidestepped the traps. Ryoma rolled his eyes and followed. Thanks to Inui’s floor plans – Seigaku’s spy was apparently quite thorough – it didn’t take long to recover the daimyo’s precious trinket. The rest of the team met up with them as they exited the building.
 
“Got it?” Eiji asked, hopping from foot to foot. Momoshiro lobbed it to the redhead, who squealed with delight and caught it. Oishi looked like he was about to have a heart attack at their careless handling of such an expensive object. 
 
“The rest of Gyokurin?” Momoshiro asked.
 
“We managed them okay,” Kawamura reported modestly. Ryoma raised an eyebrow, observing the aftermath. You could almost recreate the entire battle just by looking at the path of the carnage. Small fires were still blazing on the sooty grass.
 
“Right, good work everyone. Let’s move out before Gyokurin can send reinforcements,” Oishi ordered.
 
They retreated as a unit back into the trees. Ryoma felt his senses start to dull as the adrenaline rush from the battle receded. It had been his first real fight against a ninja other than his father for some time, and his first team mission ever. It felt surprisingly good. The camaraderie and shared high of a successful mission buzzed in his veins. He’d expected that they would drag him down, but Seigaku’s ninja had proven to be of a high calibre indeed. Maybe not quite as good as him yet, but after seeing them in action Ryoma was keen to test his skills against them. He’d be demanding a proper round against Oishi and Eiji, too; after witnessing them on the battlefield, it was blindingly obvious that they hadn’t even tried during his test.
 
“So, what did you think of your first team mission?” Momoshiro asked when they arrived back at the compound.
 
“Heh. It was interesting. Seigaku’s got some pretty strong ninja,” Ryoma remarked idly.
 
“Oh, just wait until you meet our leader,” Momoshiro assured him, sticking his chest out a little proudly. “He’s the strongest of us all.”
 
That was reassuring. Wait… ‘he’?
 
 

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
tezukaryo
Apr. 25th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
"That was reassuring. Wait… ‘he’?"

God, I could just imagine the look on Ryoma face, then he would smirk, mada mada dane, thinking of the horror on his father's face. *grin*

Now, I can't wait until Ryoma meet Tezuka . ^__^
sinnatious
Apr. 26th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
I did go to some effort to give Tezuka a nice entrance. Hopefully it does not disappoint. :)
argentum_luna
Apr. 25th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
OMG.Yes, you have converted me ♥

I love Taka-san, as usual!! XD And Fuji! Psychological warfare :D!

LOL at the last bit-- I bet Nanjiroh thought the leader was Sakuno or something! Have fun, Ryoma :D

I spotted something that you might like to change "arising suspicion"--> arousing suspicion? (If I'm wrong don't kill me plz)
sinnatious
Apr. 26th, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)
Oooh, yes, good find. *runs and fixes* Thanks!

Excellent, my evil plan is working.

The Regulars are so much fun to write that it should be criminal.
iluxia
Apr. 25th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Hurry up with it. I want Tezuka.
sinnatious
Apr. 26th, 2008 06:51 am (UTC)
Hai, hai, he's coming. :P
iluxia
Apr. 26th, 2008 07:02 am (UTC)
*sigh* And here I was just trying to convince those Concerto readers to wait and that Tezuka will come when it's his time. *stretches* Writing can be tiring.
yusahana6323
Apr. 25th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
Emerging from a pile of literature review and then reading this might just kill me. XD

Ahhahhh. Did Ryoma honestly expect a female leader? XDD Poor boy.
sinnatious
Apr. 26th, 2008 06:54 am (UTC)
Poor Ryoma always learns about the world the hard way. XP
m3owchan
Apr. 26th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
xD Oh Ryoma.<3
roseofthine
Apr. 26th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)
“Yeah, I guessed that with Kawamura coming along. When do we leave?”

-snorts-

i-i'm sorry, it's just. D;
sinnatious
Apr. 26th, 2008 06:54 am (UTC)
YAY FOR KAWAMURA! GREAT-O!
sleepingfingers
Apr. 27th, 2008 06:08 am (UTC)
I really like the story so far, especially how it both follows the manga's sequence and not at the same time. :)

That was reassuring. Wait… ‘he’?

I can't wait for Tezuka's entrance. :D
sinnatious
Apr. 29th, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)
Heee, you noticed, did you? I only keep a loose correlation of events, but it's fun to work with that way.

Hopefully Tezuka's entrance does not disappoint. :)
jade_peace
Apr. 27th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
Fuji's Psychological Warfare.

And Kawamura xD.

♥The last line.
gwynhafra
Apr. 29th, 2008 07:47 am (UTC)
*chuckles*

This fic is cute. I especially liked Ryoma's thoughts on Fuji. Was he blind? XD

I think many have said this, but I look forward to seeing Tezuka make an appearance. *waves little TezuRyo flags*

sinnatious
Apr. 29th, 2008 10:13 am (UTC)
Completely unrelated to your comment, but please allow me to express my adoration for your avatar. It totally make my day. *____*
ichinonaru
May. 26th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
*flails* I am sooo leaving FF.net now and start hunting you here in LJ... I don't go to LJ much but well... I got too impatient and decided to really look for quality stuff here! Wahhh 3am and I'm still not asleep! I'm planning on reading the next chapters! Heehee, I love Ryoma's reaction on... the last line! WAHAHAH! I can sooo imagine his inner mind, if that's possible!
~~~ Hikari Manganji ~~~
tintin013
Aug. 9th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
ryoma meeting tezuka!!:) can't wait
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )