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living proof

maito_gaia in narukorp

[Log & Thread]"Return of the Stray"[Open to Gaia, Aki, Tsurude, Izume, Kotsuki, & medic-nins]

It was funny how you could be aware of something and yet very unaware at the same time.

A part of Aki knew that he was huddled in the corner of an alley, pressing himself against the brick walls as best he could. The thin fabric of the hospital gown stuck to his skin as rain fell, droplets falling off the ends of his hair as he violently shivered. His knees were drawn up to his chest, arms around his legs.

In his mind, Orochimayu was there but as she was when he was her student. Holding him while she stroked his hair, whispering pretty comforts.

Gaia, on the other hand, was fully aware of where she was and what she was doing. Right now, she was in the middle of her 87th lap around the village, which she was doing with back-hand springs. (She’d sworn to get a dozen of MinMin Bakery’s sweet rolls before two o’clock that day. How was she supposed to know they were so popular and always sold out before noon?!)

She heard him first, then saw him in mid-spring. Pushing off the ground, Konoha’s self-proclaimed Green Beauty flipped into the air, twisting and landing in the middle of the alley, a shallow puddle splashing at her feet.

“Aki-san?” she blinked, not quite registering his current state. “I thought you were supposed to be in the hospital. Don’t tell me you’re trying to escape. You mustn’t mistreat your body that way, Aki-san, or else you’ll be unable to enjoy your Springtime of Youth to its fullest~!!”

Her teeth pinged.

Aki didn't even look up, still huddled over and shivering. He kept whispering to the visage of Orochimayu that was there, telling her to go away and then to stay a moment later. He didn't want to be alone, where it was dark and cold.

He felt like he was ten years old again, hiding right after Dad had gone and died. Orochimayu had found him and taken him home with her. The man looked up, fevered eyes behind purple bangs as he tried to figure out who was smiling....so very brightly at him.

And it was then Gaia finally noticed his condition. Curled up defensively, visibly shaking, murmuring and disheveled, looking up at her with unstable eyes. It was a little hard to tell if the rain made him look more dangerous or more pathetic. Either way, he didn’t look very much like Aki.

“…Aki-san… are you alright?” she asked, smile melting into a deeper concern as she took a slow but solid step forward, hand coming up to stretch itself out to him.

Aki automatically pressed back against the corner again, an arm going over his head as he moaned.

"Kept fighting....supposed to right?" He murmured shakily. "It don't stop...keeps comin...I keep losing..." Aki looked up again. "...Who are you?"

Gaia almost had an involuntary twitch to respond flashily when asked to identify herself. And while she had some sense right now to actually keep herself from doing so…


…Perhaps she just wanted to test his reaction.

“Why… I am the Lovely and Youthful Green Beauty of Konoha~!!!” She winked, she posed, her teeth pinged again, heck she even Sparkled. “Maito Gaia!!!

He stared at her, damp bangs still obscuring a pale and hollow face.

"..." Aki suddenly struggled to stand and then pointed a shaky finger at her. "I...I know...." he said thickly.

To Gaia this definitely seemed like a good sign. Attention usually was regardless. “Ah, perhaps you are remembering some of my amazing and fantastic feats?” she inquired, smiling as charmingly as someone with her eyebrows could, holding her chin between two fingers.

"You...an' Kakami..." Aki said trying to grip on the slight sense of reality he had managed to gain. "You do those stupid...competitions."

His arm fell and he leaned against the wall heavily. "I...where am I?"

Gaia also had something of an involuntary reaction to Kakami’s name. One that involved a nearly visible fire in her eyes.

“MY ETERNAL RIVAL!!” She deflated a little at hearing them referred to as stupid competitions. “They are Great Challenges!!” she stated in her defense.

Deciding to answer his question instead of launching into a passionate speech on said Great Challenges, Gaia composed herself a bit more, hand lifting aside her soaked flak jacket to rest on one hip. “You’re outside, some blocks away from the hospital.” Actually it was more like some miles, but for someone of her amazing speed and talent, it might as well blocks! “You still need your rest, Aki-san.” She extended a hand again. “Allow me to escort you back.”

"No...no..." He shook his head, leaning to the side dizzily. "Can't go back there...she'll find me there."

He lurched forward, gripping Gaia's arm, while an almost frenzied look entered his eyes. "She always comes back...I can't get away from her..."

And suddenly he was very Not-Aki again. “W-who does?” the kunoichi inquired, her face a mixture of confusion and concern. “One of the nurses?” she tried guessing.

"Shhhh!" Aki tugged on her arm impatiently. "She'll hear you. Shhh...."

He looked around a little wildly. "She's got very good hearing...."

Gaia frowned, her large eyebrows knitting upwardly as her unease grew alongside Aki’s unusual behavior. It reached the point to where it caused Gaia to do something she rarely ever did.

She spoke softly.

“…Aki-san. Perhaps we should go see Hokage-sama…”

"Shhh!" Aki began to shake. Violently so.

"Just got her to go away, don't want her back. Don't want her touching them...she's got me, can't help that and the cat's all been sliced." He looked up. "Why'd they do that? Poor kitty...never had a chance."

Gaia’s eyes narrowed, her face growing stern. It was becoming quite clear now that talk may not be the means of coaxing Aki into his normal persona. Regardless, Gaia always tried to be someone who gave fair warning when it was due before resorting to any kind of brute force.

“Aki-san,” she said again, stronger. “Please allow me to escort you to Hokage-sama. You’re obviously not feeling very well and your condition is in need of his attention.”

Aki suddenly winced and put his hand over the seal on his neck. "Shh...she doesn't like that...she hears...." He swallowed and stumbled away from Gaia.

He turned, looking around, at the wet walls and the ground and the dark sky. He turned back and saw Gaia again, then lurched for her, gripping her arms.

"Help me?" he asked. "You here to help me?"

His clasp on his cursed seal did not go unnoticed. Gaia’s eyes narrowed again for a fraction of a second before looking Aki in the eye with a firm but positive conviction.

She placed her strong hands firmly on his shoulders in her best reassuring manner. “Yes Aki-san, I’m here to help you.” It was a pledge on her behalf, not only to help him but to help him now. Either he was coming along peacefully, or she was ready to aid in more… commanding fashion.

"...." He swallowed and looked at her with a very desperate look in his gray eyes.

Aki's head bowed and he fell against her, resting his head on her shoulder. "Help me..." he moaned quietly, shivering violently.

Gaia caught him neatly in a hug to comfort and reassure him. It was tight, but she kept in mind not to crush him (as her hugs sometimes had the tendency to do when she wasn’t careful). “Don’t worry, Aki-san. Your friends won’t fail you.”

She lifted him into her arms, like cradling a child or damsel in distress. It looked a little role-reversing perhaps, but Gaia had always been tall and strong, so in a way it wasn’t awkward at all. Gently, but swiftly, she launched up onto the rooftops and raced towards the Hokage’s House, her hold on Aki never weakening.

As Gaia entered the doors to the Hokage's House, Aki still in her arms, both soaked and dripping with rain, she turned to the nearest attendant. With a tone that was grave with urgent business she said:

"Bring Hokage-sama immediately. This is important."


After forty two straight hours of sitting in his office without coffee, sake, or sleep, Tsurude was not a happy camper. The other Kages kept sending ridiculous invitations to things ("For the love of-- don't they have anything better to do?" he asked Shizuya who just grinned sheepishly) and the people of Konoha-- his own people-- were making his life harder by sending requests for vacations ("HA!! Good one"), proposals ("Thursday Night Sake Parties? I'll have to think about that one") and other things that were generally giving him a head ache.

"AHHH!!" he bellowed finally, losing what little patience he had. He stopped himself though, from throwing a chair out the window like he did before. Izume and Kotsuki were not here to get it, at any rate. When someone flung open his door, Tsurude look murderous. "CAN'T YOU SEE I'M BUSY RUNNING A VILLAGE? -- I mean, what's wrong?"

The chuunin (Tsurude wasn't good with names-- he could barely remember the people who worked right under him), babbled something about Aki and Gaia (What?) and to go downstairs quickly.

Tsurude didn't waste a moment. Whatever it was, it was bad... and it was an excuse to get away from his desk.
Gaia sat Aki in the nearest chair, which happened to be a lounge sofa, and quietly murmured something she hoped was encouraging yet soothing to keep the man calm. While the watermark on the furniture would be regretable, it didn't seem nearly as important as keeping Aki comfortable.

Whe Tsurude came marching hastily into the room, Gaia took a step away from Aki and the couch, standing at attention with a salute, water droplets falling off of her as she clicked her heels.

"Hokage-sama!" she stated respectfully. Letting her attentive hand fall back to her side, Gaia continued on in urgent tone, all the while attempting to appear 'relaxed'. "Hokage-sama, I found Aki-san here out in the rain and thought it best he be brought right to you. Normally I would have simply taken him back to the hospital, but....." Trying to keep her voice low enough out of concern for offending Aki, she said, "...His condition seemed too... unstable to be under the attention of normal doctors. There's something wrong in his head. He may be hallucinating..."
Aki didn't responde much while Gaia carried him, softly mumbling to himself in a voice that couldn't be understood - barely heard actually.

Once on the lounge sofa, Aki fell ot the side slightly, half laying on it. Gray eyes stared straight ahead at nothing, wet violet hair stickting to his face and neck.