Title: A Traditional Ninja Romance
Summary: TezRyo Ninja AU. Ryoma's mission: To infiltrate the Seigaku clan and seduce their leader.
Rating: M for violence and yaoi.
A Traditional Ninja Romance
Ryoma spent the next three days after the mission mulling over Momoshiro’s words. It had been a mistake, right? He must have misheard.
Except that his ears were never wrong. Maybe his comrade had misspoken. That seemed quite plausible. That must be the case. He was completely doomed otherwise. None of his research had prepared him for that eventuality.
What if he had to seduce some dirty old pervert? If the leader of Seigaku was anything like his father he might have to kill himself.
He spent several days trying to discover some more about this mysterious leader, but he was conspicuously difficult to find. Either he was always absent from the compound, or spent most of his time inside the central building where the main squad lived. Ryoma thought he had probably pinpointed his living quarters, but didn’t dare keep vigil on them, lest he be noticed and his intentions thrown into suspicion. For the very same reason he couldn’t ask any of the other ninja too many questions about their leader, either.
It made for an anxious couple of days. Ryoma was half of the mind to go to his father and demand he call the whole mission off. But if he failed to complete a mission, the old man would never let him hear the end of it.
There was no choice. He’d just have to bide his time and get more information.
Ryoma threw himself into his training as a distraction. While he was better balanced than most of Seigaku’s main squad, it slightly irked him that Kikumaru had demonstrated a small advantage in speed, and both Momoshiro and Kawamura dwarfed him in brute strength. It weighed heavily on his mind that if his mission objectives were discovered, the clan might turn on him. Improvement was necessary.
Training apparently wasn’t to happen that day, though. Ryoma only just arrived at the training grounds when the alarm was sounded.
“What’s going on?” he asked, snagging Momoshiro as he darted past.
“Echizen!” The tall ninja looked hassled. “Good, I was looking for you! High level alert! A Gyokurin ninja is inside the compound!”
What? “Their target?”
“We don’t know! Oishi suspects revenge. Fuji just found the two guards on the gate unconscious. We’re supposed to kill the intruder on sight. The rest of us are handling the outer perimeter. You join the others searching the inner buildings!” He didn’t stay to give any more information than that, hurrying on his way.
Mind racing furiously, Ryoma contemplated what little he knew about the situation. Gyokurin ninja were invading Seigaku’s stronghold. Clearly it was a suicide mission. The only motivation would be revenge – the item they’d retrieved was already back in the hands of the daimyo. For revenge, who would be the most likely target?
Oh no they didn’t. Ryoma had a mission to complete, and he outright refused to let some third-rate small time ninja kill his target.
Putting on a burst of speed, Ryoma headed directly for the central building. Wind whistled past his ears, drowning out the snapshots of calls from other ninja.
It took only seconds to reach the courtyard next to the inner building. Alighting on a tree branch, his eyes scanned the clearing. A shadow, movement. A black-clad figure was running for the building. Ryoma’s eyes widened at the sight of small barrel tucked underneath his arm. Gunpowder?!
Ryoma dropped to the ground. He wouldn’t be fast enough. He let three shuriken fly. Two pelted harmlessly off armour hidden underneath the cloth, while the third sank into the left thigh. The ninja stumbled, but didn’t stop. Panicked, he sent another spray of them at the barrel itself. Maybe he could reduce the size of the explosion? They thudded into the thin wood, black powder beginning to trickle out in small rivers from the holes they made. The ninja swore.
Then the shouji blew open.
Ryoma flipped backwards out of the line of fire purely on reflex. At first all his eyes managed to catch was a blur of brown and black and silver dashing into the courtyard. His breath hitched as he realised that the blur belonged to a person.
A kodachi swept upwards in a shining arc. The barrel of gunpowder went flying, then cracked open mid-flight, scattering the dangerous black sand across the ground. The Gyokurin ninja stumbled backwards, clutching at a bleeding shoulder. He went to draw a sword, but hadn’t even removed it from his sheath before it was knocked from his grasp with a well-placed kick.
It was amazing. Ryoma found himself holding his breath at the display of grace and skill. He hadn’t seen such control and finesse on any ninja other than his father. Every movement was so economical, so precise…
Gyokurin’s invader let out a gurgled cry as a blade plunged through his throat. He slumped bonelessly to the ground, and the courtyard was still again.
Ryoma stared. Was this one of Seigaku’s ninja? He was undoubtedly of the main squad – someone of his skill must be - but this was the first time Ryoma had seen him. His posture was straight, and despite just disposing of an enemy not a single hair was out of place. Dark brown eyes surveyed the surroundings from behind a pair of thin, wire-framed glasses.
“You are Echizen Ryoma,” he stated without preamble. Ryoma started, not expecting to be addressed. The man’s voice was deep and smooth, and his accent cultured. He was clearly well educated. That might explain the glasses.
“Yes,” he replied succinctly.
“Hn. Good work.” Ryoma didn’t see why on earth he should be complimented – all he’d done was slow the attacker down slightly. Fortunately, he was rescued from responding by the shuffle of approaching footsteps.
Oishi and Kikumaru burst onto the scene, out of breath. “Tezuka! There’s…” Oishi trailed off when he noticed the body of the intruder lying in a growing pool of blood. “Oh.”
Tezuka. Ryoma mentally filed the name away for reference. This was a ninja worth watching.
“Nyaaaa, we were too late. But Tezuka-buchou took care of it anyway!” Eiji exclaimed; a hand placed over his heart in relief.
“We expect nothing less of our leader,” Oishi remarked, shoulders slumping. It was clear that he’d feared the worst.
“Some credit must go to Echizen for his assistance,” Tezuka said, inclining his head slightly in Ryoma’s direction. Clearly he was the humble sort – Ryoma didn’t honestly think the outcome would have changed were he there or not.
That was when his mind furiously back-pedalled to Oishi and Eiji’s last statements.
Wait… this was the leader of Seigaku?
Shocked, Ryoma couldn’t stop himself from staring. This was not what he’d been expecting at all. This Tezuka certainly possessed a commanding presence, but he was awfully young for a clan head. Granted, he was probably the oldest ninja Ryoma had seen at Seigaku so far, but that wasn’t saying much.
“Still, that Gyokurin would send an assassin…” Oishi remarked, bending over the body to inspect it.
“It was a suicide run,” Tezuka explained. “They were hoping to catch me off guard in a moment of carelessness. Get one of the trainees to clean up that gunpowder before someone sets it off accidentally.”
“Right,” Oishi agreed.
“And gather the main squad for a mission report,” Tezuka ordered. “Echizen, you come too.”
He bowed abruptly, mind racing. Oishi and Eiji dispersed to collect the rest of the main squad and to find some trainees to clean up the mess. Tezuka carefully cleaned the blade of his kodachi and then disappeared back inside the building as though he were a ghost. Given that the door was left open, Ryoma took it as an invitation to follow.
It was his first time inside the central building. It wasn’t that unlike the rest of the buildings, although perhaps it was a bit larger, and the construction older. The room he entered was rather plain – there was some decorative panelling around the walls, but other than that the only feature was a low desk and several flat cushions for kneeling on. Perhaps this was Tezuka’s office? Golden-brown eyes quickly picked out at least two hidden entrances to the room, and he suspected that there were many more. It was like being home again.
“I do not believe we were formally introduced. Tezuka Kunimitsu. I am the current captain of the Seigaku clan.” The deep voice broke him abruptly out of his contemplation.
Ryoma bowed hastily. “Echizen Ryoma.”
“Please, take a seat while we wait for the others to arrive.”
He selected one of the cushions laid out and dropped to his knees on it. His heart thudded so loudly in his chest that he was certain the sound must be filling the whole room. The adrenaline from the battle hadn’t quite worn off yet.
So this was the target. He was numb with shock, but fortunately training kicked in and kept the gears in his mind turning.
Okay. He'd been dreading some fat, ugly girl - simply because he knew that was something his father would find hilarious - but this wasn't so bad. Granted, the gender was completely wrong, thus nullifying a great deal of the rushed research he'd performed before starting the mission, but Tezuka was at least rather easy on the eyes. He had a finely muscled figure, broad shoulders, and though his countenance was stern, his dark brown eyes were rather magnetic. Ryoma's gaze lingered on the callused hands approvingly. Despite being clan head, he obviously still trained hard.
He probably ought to be using this opportunity to gather more information, or get himself into the captain’s good graces, but Ryoma wound up sitting there observing the target in silence. Tezuka might not have been as bad as he’d imagined, but how was he supposed to seduce someone so serious? And why on earth did his father want him to? Tezuka was an excellent ninja, certainly, and Ryoma could already see from that one skirmish that he would be able to learn a lot from him, but a seduction? Surely there would be someone better suited to such a task.
Then again, maybe not. Seigaku’s esteemed leader didn’t seem like the sort who would consider entertaining a prostitute or even a geisha. Perhaps his father had attempted sending someone else before, and was trying a different tack. That possibility was annoyingly likely. Ryoma wished his father would actually tell him these things for once so that he knew for sure.
Having met the target, he concluded that the purpose of the mission must either be for information or assassination. Most of the time such an approach was too risky to work, but it was probably the only weakness left available to exploit in such a ninja. Even a suicide run by Gyokurin hadn’t left a mark. It would be necessary to get inside his guard first. Ryoma dismissed the thought, though. Speculating about the grander goals didn’t matter when he hadn’t even completed the initial objective.
Chatter in the hallway interrupted the serene silence. Ryoma sat up a little straighter as the rest of the main squad tumbled into the room.
“Tezuka, everyone’s here,” Oishi announced.
“Very well. Let us begin.”
At those words, the rowdy bunch organised themselves into a loose circle, settling down and sitting at attention. It was rather remarkable how Tezuka could rein them in so quickly and efficiently. Then again, they were professional ninja. It was just rather easy to forget with the way they acted sometimes.
“As you all know, a Gyokurin ninja broke into the compound today. I believe the intent was to destroy the central building with myself inside. The intruder has been apprehended and disposed of. Casualties?”
“Just the two who were on guard at the gate,” Oishi promptly reported. “They were only knocked unconscious. Their injuries are minor.”
Tezuka nodded to show he heard. “I gathered you here today as I suspect the attack was in revenge for our most recent mission. You are all familiar with what the mission parameters entailed. It was supposed to be a warning to Gyokurin, not a declaration of war. Was anyone killed in the mission?”
“We already submitted the report…” Oishi began.
“I would prefer to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth.”
“Oishi’s and my opponents were just hit with darts, nya!” Eiji half-bounced on his knees. “I made extra sure they were only tipped with sedatives!”
“I beat him up pretty badly, but I don’t think there was any permanent damage,” Kawamura reported sheepishly.
“Knocked mine unconscious,” Momoshiro added.
The others were looking to him now. “Sword through the shoulder. Wasn’t fatal.”
“It was likely injured pride, then,” Fuji remarked. “Gyokurin has been struggling lately, right Inui?”
“Correct. The lord they serve is not particularly powerful, and allocates very few resources to them. They have been relying on work-for-hire to survive, but a series of contracts have gone badly. This latest loss of face may have irreparably tarnished their reputation. No one will hire mercenaries with such a high failure rate.” Inui adjusted his glasses. “That said, I do not expect that they will further hostilities any longer. This latest attempt will show them that they are outmatched.”
Tezuka mulled over these words briefly. “Very well then. Inui and Fuji, I want you to pay close attention to Gyokurin’s movements over the next few days, just in case. Oishi, organise some extra patrols for the perimeter. We mustn’t be careless. Dismissed.”
The gathering dispersed, and Ryoma found himself back outside. He cast a glance at the sky. His father would be expecting a report sometime in the next couple of days. He had absolutely no idea what he was going to say.