Naruto: Shichiyo Gaiden XLII
Chapter 42: The Training Clock Begins
The night is still young in Konoha as the 11 genin finalist exit the observation tower. The genin eliminated in the past round begin to leave either heading out of the village or back to their temporary dwellings. The teammates of the remaining members within the competition reconvene with one another.
“I'm exhausted.” Koichi hangs his head down tiredly as he walks beside Ryoko heading towards Koji.
“We get to rest now so stop complaining.” Ryoko says. Koji sighs as he leans against a tree. Ryoko and Koichi look at their teammate and they see the expressed fatigue on his face, mixed in with pain that dwells from his broken arm. *Koji's the most exhausted of any of us.* “Koji, you should really go to the medical wing and get that checked out again. You could have received more severe damage in that arm.”
“I'm find Ryoko-chan, I took care of it.” Koji tries to brush off her concern. Koji gets from the tree and begins walking towards them.
“Trust me, I'm fine. We need to get some rest and you guys need to start preparing for you next exam.”
“Koji Shichiyo.” Koji and his team look over to see Jiraiya and his team walking over to them. Hi takes the lead as he comes before Koji. “I'm grateful to you.” He begins, “When he was distracted, if you hadn't replaced me with that transformation of your puppet's remains, I would've been the one in your position.”
“I have no idea the level of importance this exam is for you but I know just how insignificant it was for me.” Koichi and Ryoko's guilt returns understanding Koji's sacrifices for them. “I figured you're intentions couldn't be less significant then my own, sacrificing my own flag wasn't of any consequence to me.”
“As for your reasons I could care less.” Hi says strangely, He fixes his glasses. “What I came here to tell you is...I always repay my debts.” Hi walks away and is followed by his teammates. Hime looks at Ryoko as she turns away smiling.
“Can't wait to see what you have in one month...Ryoko-chan.”
The two kunoichi are eager to put their skill to the test against one another, one month couldn't be any longer for the two of them.
“I'll help you train Ryoko.” Koichi places his hand on her shoulder and smiles. “We'll help each other and we'll show those Konoha guys how we do it in Suna.”
“I'll help you guys too, just because one of my arms is out of commission doesn't mean...” Before Koji can finish his sentence he begins to fall like a rock. His body gives out and he's unable to move a single muscle in his body. *Damn.*
Koichi catches Koji before he falls to the ground. “Koji, KOJI!” Koichi's words are loud however Koji only hears his brother's voice faintly as all sound begins to drown out and Koji blacks out. *He overdid it...*
“That idiot, I knew this would happen if I let him continue.” A voice says from behind the genin. Ino stands behind the three Suna genin with her hands on her hips. “*sigh* give him to me I'll take him to the medical wing.”
“I'm coming with you.” Koichi says.
“No, you'd only get in the way, just let me handle this and you can come see him tomorrow.”
“No fly! He's my brother and I—”
“Are going to worry about preparing for this last exam.” Ino cuts Koichi off as she picks up Koji. “The two of you have made it to this last round, you're going to be fighting everybody who has managed to pass up to this point as well. This is the top of the top. Everybody here has proven themselves to have the drive enough to be here and from this point onwards, you're chuunin candidates for your village. This last test will be your toughest test as formal combat is one of the hardest aspects of a shinobi's life.” Ino begins walking away, her lecture from her own experience leaves the two Suna genin speechless as she walks away. “Besides, you're brother and teammate fought for the both of you go make it here. I know of a few people like him and he's not going to want you to be thinking about him when your dreams and goals are staring you right in your face, in your grasp.” Ino turns and gives a confident smile to the two and winks. “So try to think about what he wants for you guys and finish these exams.”
Ino walks away with the young Koji in her arms and the night thickens.
~Several Hours Pass~
Ino exists the operating room as the sun peeks over the horizon, bringing the morning to Konoha. She sighs as walks out and several other medics rush past her. She doesn't bat an eyelash at the rush of medics. She opens her eyes, sorrow fills them as she looks down at the ground. *Shikamaru-kun...*
“Shishou!” A young medic says from behind Ino. “Shikamaru is stabilizing but his episode last night was too close.”
“I know that...We need to call back Sakura.” Ino says.
The young medic looks at Ino and blushes. “You did a great job shishou. If it weren't for you, Shikamaru would've died. You—”
“I don't have the skills enough to keep this up, it took too long to stabilize him and he went through so much pain. Sakura's a much stronger medic then I am and I can't deny that.” Ino puts her hand on the girl's head and smiles. “You're really sweet but I've come to accept my position here and besides in terms of training Sakura had an unfair advantage. If I were trained by one of the legendary Sannin and Hokage I'd be stronger than her.” Ino arrogantly “I picked up second hand from her and I turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.” The girl nods her head and smiles at Ino.
“Ino,” Ino turns to another medic.
“What is it, I'm a little busy here.”
“I just wanted to give you the report on the Suna genin, Koji Shichiyo, like you requested.”
“Well, he's been finished for some time now, it didn't take us more then an hour after you brought him in to fix him up.”
“But how can that be? I saw the damage to his arm it was—”
“It looked worse then it actually was. However the bones had already been mended part of the way. The damage he sustained looked like they had already been healed.” The medic says.
“But that can't be, there were no medics on his unit and I was...” Ino cuts herself off and remembers back to the chuunin academy exam with Koji's abilities in the medical field. “So, what was needed?”
“Just some minor tending to some bruising and the little pieces that were missed. At first we thought it was you who had healed him but you're craft is cleaner then that, it had to be a pretty experienced novice who did the job.”
*That kid truly is strange* Ino crosses her arms and smiles a little. “Run him through a physical and give him a discharge.” The medic bows and heads out to follow the orders. Ino turns back to the young girl. “Kana-chan, I have a little assignment for you do you think you'd be up for it?”
“Of course.” The girl lights up with enthusiasm.
~Main District of Konoha~
Koichi and Ryoko walk together along the streets of the main district after a full nights sleep. The two wonder in the search of breakfast.
“Alright, first we get breakfast then we start this training to kick this next test in the ass!” Koichi has a big grin on his face and he pounds his fist into his hand.
“Is there any reason you're so loud this early in the morning?” Ryoko says followed by a yawn. “Our best bet would be to find sensei and maybe go check up on Koji in the hospital.” Ryoko says.
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that.” Koichi says calming down. “I guess that's kinda horrible of me to say, I'm just so excited right now.”
The two shinobi pass by a cake shop on their trek through the village, Ryoko looks into the shop sees a strawberry, vanilla swirl cake. “Hey, does Koji have a sweet tooth?”
Koichi laughs slightly, “He's extremely picky about it.”
“Well what about that strawberry vanilla cake you like so much? Don't you twins have similar likes or whatever?”
“No, it has to be our mother's recipe.” Koichi's voice becomes bleak and dismal as he begins to reminisce.
“You're mother's recipe?” Ryoko's curiosity is backed by worry and upset as she realizes the wound she's brought up by mentioning the cake.
Koichi's head, once held high now lingers looking to the ground, his puffed out chest has sunk and he simply stands there with a dismal sad smile. “She was an amazing cook. She could cook anything and bake everything better. I remember saying she was going to open up a restaurant when she retired.” Ryoko stares at Koichi as he reminisces about his parents.
“Dad said she couldn't do it, with her giving away all her recipes.” Koichi chuckles slightly as he says this but it's dull and filled with sadness. “Then one day mother made this amazing cake I swear Koji and I made ourselves sick eating virtually the whole thing ourselves. When we all took that first bite it was amazing and we all knew it.”
Koichi, Koji and their father sit at the table beside one another as Mai places a large dish on the table. She smiles somewhat cynically and pulls the cover off the dish and reveals a beautiful yellow and pink cake. The cake's colors spiraled around each other as if in a cyclone. The icing on the top of the cake was white and even layered with pink roses on the side. Strawberries lined around the inside edges around the cake with a vanilla leaf in the center. The icing went around the edge of the top of the cake and from a point spiraled down around the cake as well.
The three boys gazed in awe at the magnificence of the cake. As three pieces were cut from the splendid cake, the first bite taken by all three of them gave the same reaction, pure astonishment. A cake so beautiful already, tastes vastly greater then it looks.
The young Koichi's eyes light up and sparkle. “This...”
The young Koji trembles unable to comprehend the barrage of flavor “Is...”
“Amazing!” All three of the men simultaneously blurt out.
“Ahhahahahaha!” Mai lets out with a somewhat playful evil laugh. “I knew it would be great! I knew it would be great because I'm a great cook, how easily I can seduce you with my cooking.”
“I was immediately attracted to your beauty but once I tasted your food I knew I had fallen into your trap.” Taigetsu says smiling towards the ground.
“I know.” Mai says with a sigh of arrogance, waving her hand. “Just be lucky you're not too bad looking and that you have such a lovable personality or else you never would've had a chance.”
Mai suddenly feels two sets of hands yanking down on her apron, “Mom, mom.” the two young boys say in unison.
“How did you make it?” Koji asks.
“Sorry dear, but I can't tell you.” Mai says gently to her children.
Their faces go south, “Why not?” Koichi asks.
“You're father insists I don't tell others my recipes so I'm keeping it to myself for a little while.” Mai says.
“I didn't mean from us.” Taigetsu says laughingly.
“Oops.” She says rolling her eyes. “Too late now, my minds already made up. You'll have to kill me to get this recipe.” She says holding up a folded slip of paper.
**End of Flashback**
“It's ironic how things work out.” Koichi says remembering his mother's words on the matter. His heart sinks deeper and he sighs. “Koji and I tried to remake the cake but...unfortunately we both take after our father in that area.” Koichi confesses. Ryoko continues to look at Koichi and just as she begins to put on a sympathetic face, Koichi shoots right back up. “Oh well, I'll just have to try again!” A vein in Ryoko's head goes off and she balls her fist and punches Koichi in the back of the head. “What was that for?”
“Fortunately for you I can bake.” Ryoko blushes slightly. “If you guys don't mind that is.” A smile returns to Koichi's and he reaches inside his headband.
“hope you can live up to your word.” Koichi hands her the slip of paper with his mother's recipe in it. “I always keep it with me for good luck.”
Ryoko places it in her headband the recipe in her headband and the two continue to walk. “Maybe we should head to the hospital now.”
“No need.” Koichi and Ryoko turn to see Koji standing behind them. His arm is in a sling still bandaged up. Behind him, a blond haired girl with a cream colored sleeveless shirt and skirt. Her shirt has the insignia of Konoha's medical corp on it and she has her Konoha headband tied around her right arm.
“Koji, you're out already?” Koichi asks surprised.
“I told you before, I took care of it.”
Koichi and Ryoko's attention turns to the girl behind Koji who has a look of agitation and displeasure on her as she stands over Koji. “Who's the chick?” Koichi asks.
“I'm not a chick you little brat!” Kana blurts out.
“Who you calling a brat!” Koichi shouts back. “*hmph* if you're going to try and get a girlfriend Koji you should shoot higher then this flat chested...”
“What did you SAY!” Kana begins to run for Koichi and Koji grabs her by the collar of his shirt and pulls her down.
“You're supposed to be babysitting me not killing my brother. I thought you medics avoided fights.” Koji says.
“So you're defending him huh?!”
“To the contrary...Ryoko-chan.”
“With pleasure.” Koichi bares an oblivious expression just before Ryoko punches him square in the face sending him flying down the street. “Don't mind him a bit, now can we know who you are?”
“She's Kana Yamanaka, she's my personal nurse.” Koji says.
“Unfortunately yes. I was assigned to watch him for the duration of the time he's here.” She says displeased. Ryoko can tell the obvious displeasure in Kana's attitude, however she notices the same in Koji's expression.
“Ryoko why do you keep doing that?!” Koichi says walking towards the three again. He holds his nose, bloody from the punch.
“Because you're an idiot and deserve it.” She says. “Now shut up.”
“Can we please go get some breakfast now?!” Koichi says impatiently.
“We need to start your training.” Koji says. “You only have a month so we need to start now.”
“Oh no you don't.” Kana says. “You're in no condition to be doing any type of activity like that.” Koji grits his teeth a little.
“Stay out of this.” Koji says in a low yet stern tone.
“No, Shishou tasked me with keeping an eye on you and making sure you don't over exert yourself or aggravate your injuries. That's how you ended up the way you did after the last exams. Those are her orders to me and for you and that's how it's going to work got it?!”
“I agree with her Koji.” Ryoko says. “You're in no condition to be overexerting yourself right now you should just rest up for the rest of the time here.”
“I'm not going to be helpless.” Koji starts walking away from Kana. Kana squints her eyes angrily and she simple lifts her foot of slightly and stomps it down. The earth beneath her cracks in a single section and beneath Koji's feet. Koji swerves to the side just before the crack reaches him and he looks at Kana with discontent.
“Don't try me, I'm not letting you or anybody disobey Shishou!”
“Koji, just let Ryoko and I do this ourselves.” Koichi's tone is soft this time. “You've done enough for us, it's time for us to put in our own share of the work ya know? Don't worry.”
“No buts, we're doing this without you.” Koji looks down at the ground disappointed and nods his head.
“Is this how you're spending your time training?” A stern voice appears from behind the four shinobi. They all turn and a black haired shinobi with a Suna headband looks down at them.
“Dad?” Ryoko says confused.
“That's your dad?” Koichi says. Koichi looks into Kai's eyes completely unaware of who he is. However as Koichi looks into his eyes he gets a chill and the memories of his sealing flood back into his head in a flash.
“Dad what are you doing here?”
“I came here to train you for this final exam.”
“Oh, so you heard that I made it this far?” Ryoko's tone is desperate, trying to impress her father yet it's low.
“I expected nothing less, if I had came here and you weren't here, that would've been a disappointing surprise.” His tone is not complimenting it's stern and rather annoyed at the question his daughter asked. “Now come on, we've already wasted enough time.” He says turning around. He begins walking and without hesitation Ryoko follows him. She looks down depressed, hurt by her father's tone.
Koji looks at Kai, his face expresses silent anger as he tightens his fists. “Koji, you go on and enjoy your day, I'm going to skip breakfast and start my training. Don't wait up.” Koichi runs off leaving Koji and Kana alone.
One month begins now, the 11 remaining candidates prepare themselves for the tensing last round of the chuunin exams. Their promotion and prestige in their village rides on their performance.