Ghosts and Memories, Tea and Tears

Chaji: formal tea with full meal

Chaji: formal tea with full meal

by: Lovesrainscent

Author disclaimer: I do not own any of the Naruto characters below,
and stand to make no profit on this story.

Ghosts.

The damned place was full of ghosts.

She walked through the streets of Konoha more often now, hat down low over her eyes, peering beneath the rim, unsure if the people she passed seemed more like ghosts or maybe she was just looking through them. All of it, her friends, her citizens, Konoha itself, all seemed so transient now.

When Nawaki died it had simply seemed impossible that he could be gone.

When Dan died she’d been weighted down with it all, the enormity of her loss, an eternity without him. She’d fled Konoha because everywhere she looked reminded her of Dan. Each restaurant and shop had been a place that they had frequented. The training grounds, the classrooms all held memories of him which she could never escape as long as she remained in the village.

But now this.

Jiraiya was gone and everything in the world seemed so ephemeral, so transient and illusory.

He should be here. He should always be here. No matter how far she had wandered, how long she stayed away, she had always known in the back of her mind that he would be waiting for her.

And now he was gone.

This feeling wasn’t the inability to comprehend the loss as it had been with Nawaki. She understood far too well Jiraiya was gone and not coming back.

It wasn’t the dull weight of living without Dan, lost in her youth; the seemingly unending years to be spent without her lover stretching before her. Tsunade wasn’t dreading all the years ahead without Jiraiya.

She regretted all the intervening years when she had spent so little time with him. And now she haunted the streets of Konoha like a ghost herself, looking for places that would remind her of him.

Walking through it today she realized how much the village had changed. Buildings had been torn down and replaced. Many had been destroyed in one battle or another, some rebuilt, some not, but all areas had changed. There were few places left where she and Jiraiya had spent time together. Guiltily she acknowledged that there had been few places to begin with. Jiraiya had always asked and she had always made excuses.

Tipping the hat forward, shielding her eyes a little more, she was grateful yet again for that accoutrement of office. It kept her from having to meet people’s eyes. It also hid the red rims of her own. Not from tears but from the drinking. She started a few minutes earlier each morning it seemed. Never enough to be drunk exactly, just enough to take the edge off and get through the day.

As long as the papers got signed and the missions doled out she was doing her job, wasn’t she?

Tsunade entered her office, avoiding the concerned looks from her guards and her assistants. She tossed the hat onto the desk and sat down heavily, picking up the pen to begin tackling the papers in front of her.

Voices outside her door stopped her. Politest of disagreements, soon escalating. Shizune’s clipped tones indicated her exasperation. Who could fluster her aide so?

“Stand aside, Shizune,” voice graveled by age and, if the truth be known, smoking.

Koharu.

Tsunade’s heart froze. What did the old hag want here?

“Lady Koharu,” Shizune replied, “I am sorry but the Hokage cannot be disturbed when her door is closed. I cannot let you …”

“Our dear Hokage-sama was my serving girl before you were even born, Shizune! Open the door or I will do it myself.” The curt reply sounded like a cat growling.

Tsunade saved them both by opening the door herself.

“What it is you want, Koharu-san?” she sneered the honorific, wanting to tack on an extra ‘you old hag’ but thinking better of it. Shizune already understood her opinion of the old woman all too well. But Izumo and Kotetsu were in earshot.

“Shizune, you do such an admirable job of standing watch,” Koharu said as she bustled past them both. “See to it that we’re not disturbed.”

Tsunade rolled her eyes at Shizune and actually allowed the ghost of a smile to play about her lips as she closed the door behind them, following Koharu into the office. At least it was only the old woman, she hadn’t brought Homura-windbag along in tow.

“Well,” she snapped, crossing her arms in front of her chest, “what do you want Koharu?”

“Want? I merely came to see you, Tsunade-chan. Although tea would be nice.” Her voice was rough and oddly soft.

It was a most ungainly combination. Tsunade found it suspicious.

“Fine,” she replied moving toward the door. “I’ll have Shizune fetch some.”

“A pity. You used to do such a lovely job yourself, Tsunade-chan. Why don’t you prepare it?”

Tsunade huffed and turned toward the shelf that held her own utilitarian service.

Standing with her back to the old woman while the water heated she drummed her fingers impatiently on the countertop. When the water was ready she poured it into the pot along with the tea then pivoted with the tray to where Koharu sat. Sliding it onto the desk she sloshed the tea into the cups and thrust one toward the councilwoman.

“Here,” she said curtly.

Accepting the cup with a ‘thank you’ Koharu added, “Pity.”

Tsunade grabbed her own cup and sat down across the desk from Koharu.

“Cut the critique,” she said through gritted teeth. “You rapped my knuckles enough times for doing it wrong when I was a girl. I’m a grown woman now. Drink your damn tea and tell me why you’re here.”

Porcelain cup held delicately in the fingertips of both hands, Koharu looked down into the steam and murmured a question, “How are you feeling, Tsunade-chan?”

This brought Tsunade up short.

“I’m…I’m fine,” she stuttered, wondering why she hadn’t snapped back an answer.

“Is that so?” came the whispered question.

Dammit, how could the old hag be soft now? For years she had been nothing but grit and steel, scathing comment and biting insight. The last thing she wanted was her pity and she said so.

Koharu sniffed. “I do not pity you Tsunade. You had a friend so dear to you that you are inconsolable in his loss. A friendship such as that is to be envied, not pitied. No, my purpose here is to tell you that you need to grieve.”

A small derisive laugh escaped Tsunade’s lips. “Hah, you’d like that wouldn’t you – to catch me crying? A reason to call me soft.”

Koharu shook her head. “You misunderstand grief, then, Tsunade. It reminds us we were fortunate to have someone so very important to us in our lives. I would not call you soft if you grieve. I question your humanity when you don’t. That is what makes me question if you are currently fit to be Hokage.”

“So that’s it then? Tell me old woman, when has the office ever run more smoothly?”

“Smooth. Yes. And soulless.”

“And does the Hokage not walk among her people in the village? Tell me that old woman. Every day. Don’t you see me on the streets of Konoha every day?”

“I see you on the streets walking between people, avoiding them. Looking right through them. Tell me, Tsunade, do you ever look them in the eye or are you too busy searching for dango shops and ramen stands that don’t exist anymore?”

Tsunade slammed both hands flat on the desk. “What do you care? What would you even know about it you old hag? Do you know what it’s like to lose someone who saved your life more times than you can count? Someone who saved you when you didn’t even know you needed saving?”

She pushed herself from her chair, leaning over the desk and councilwoman both. “He died alone, Koharu! I wasn’t even there to help him. He died alone, lonely, no one to bring his body back. We don’t even have his body so we can’t…”

“Yes,” Koharu spoke her voice still soft but the firmness now betrayed by her own quaver, “I do know.”

The words echoed in Tsunade’s ears. Ice gripped her heart and she swallowed hard. Bowing her head, willing tears not to fall she managed to rasp out, “Forgive me, Koharu-sama. Of course you know.”

Still gripping her desk, Tsunade felt Koharu’s hands cover her own. She had expected the old woman’s hands to be rough and dry. Instead they were soft and warm.

She rubbed the back of Tsunade’s hands softly, then reached up and smoothed her brow, tucking back an errant strand of hair.

Tsunade hadn’t realized how much she needed this, someone to care about her, to take care of her. She’d been so busy hiding behind her hat and drink, looking right through people and assuming they were looking through her.

She was grateful that at least one person had been looking out for her. She thought she could just stay here the rest of the afternoon, Koharu’s tired, gnarled old hands holding her own.

But when the old woman whispered, “Tsunade-chan,” once more in that strange mixture of gravel and tenderness that she had earlier found off-putting, Tsunade felt a dam inside her break. She choked back one sob but couldn’t stop the second one. Stumbling around the corner of her desk she sank to her knees. Resting her head in Koharu’s lap, she sobbed out all the tears she had been holding back since she’d heard the news.

* * *

Some days later, Moegi grumbled to herself about her current assignment. She tottered through the village on the unfamiliar okobo getta praying that she would not ruin the Hokage’s own girlhood kimono. Her head hurt from all the tugging and pulling she’d had to endure until her hair was arranged satisfactorily. Moegi wondered if she’d ever be able to blink again.

Her mission was to deliver four invitations to a chaji hosted by the Hokage herself.

The first two were to be delivered to the two elderly council members. Moegi was basically terrified of the pair. She trembled as she executed the deep formal bow and presented their invitations to them.

The next went to Kakashi-sensei, who, although imposing, never seemed to frighten her as much as the two old people did. She felt that her bow and gestures were much more fluid and graceful by the time she got to him. The twinkle in his eye as he smiled, she assumed, when he accepted the invitation from her reassured her.

The fourth was actually the most difficult to execute. Her sensei had been inordinately proud that his student had been requested by the Hokage herself. Yet when she showed up in the formal attire and presented Tsunade’s invitation, Ebisu was bemused and then suddenly speechless. Apparently, he hadn’t expected to be one of the recipients, although he really shouldn’t have been surprised. Moegi, tempted to giggle, struggled very hard not to.

Moegi did not participate in the ceremony itself, Shizune served as hanto to her mistress.

Tsunade’s presentation was flawless, earning the admiration of all and a few tears from Koharu.

In the end it was just as well that Moegi had no further involvement in the ceremony beyond delivering the invitations. The wall scroll Tsunade had chosen for the tokonoma was one Jiraiya himself had created.

And the quotation in calligraphy made even Koharu blush.

Author Notes:

chaji – formal tea ceremony with meal

hanto – assistant to the host at a chaji

tokonoma – alcove in the tea room where a wall scroll is displayed that has been chosen by the host to reflect the theme of the ceremony

The number of guests at a chaji is typically four

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~ by lovesrainscent on February 1, 2009.

44 Responses to “Ghosts and Memories, Tea and Tears”

  1. Ahhh…..I’m ffffffiiiiiiirrrrrrrsssssssssttttttt. And Bono isn’t. Although, getting firsts and shagging…mebbe he’d settle for #2 and a shag?

    Awesome work, loves. This stunned me, because the manga doesn’t give Koharu enough characterization to be human, and you managed to bring the old battleaxe to life in a very beautiful (and yet true to form) way. Thanks.

  2. Second?????

  3. An excellent addition to the first chapter.
    I admire such talent. My own scrawlings are fit only for the WTF column

  4. 4th

  5. Well done LovesRS. Can the girls get slash treatments, or is that reserved only for the guys? 🙂

  6. Thanks guys. I’m glad you like them. I hope you’re not drowning in angst by the time these bits are done.

    @jdb44: LOL “slash treatments”? Is that something new at the salon I’ve not heard about? Anyway, yes, do you mean girl on girl? 🙂

  7. @jdb44: Or did you mean het?

  8. @LovesRS- I’m blushing three shades… should have never challenged you. The first option is what I think I was referring to… thought I was being clever, but you didn’t blink. 🙂

  9. Wonderful first and second chapter. I liked how you made Koharu very human and, well, softer than she is portrayed in both the anime and the manga. The interaction between Koharu and Tsunade was so touching it brought tears.

    Tsunade is my favorite character in Naruto. You have done an excellent job in portraying someone who was both a war hero (a Sannin) and a woman who has dealt with happiness, love, joy, loss, devastation and heartbreak. Yet must balance that with be strength for those around her, including the village. She may be Hokage and a war hero but, she is, bottom line, a kind, caring woman with a heart that feels deeply and cares for others first.

    I can’t wait for the next chapter! 😀

  10. if only this was a small filler…great job on telling this story with enough emotions to allow you to really feel the pain of tsunade…

  11. loves, can you tell us why these four were invited to the formal tea?

  12. No…must…not…like…Koharu…Damn! >_< Lost out to the beautiful writing. 😉 Fine, I’ll like her for the brief time until Tsunade grabs her by the shirt and throws her down on her old wrinkly ass http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/421/09/. Only this caliber of writing can make me change my feelings towards a character I’ve had no good feelings towards…none at all. You probably didn’t even want to make the character as likable as you did but you did it anyway intentionally or not, and I like the story all the better for it. Great job and looking forward to the others!

    Best Part

    “I see you on the streets walking between people, avoiding them. Looking right through them. Tell me, Tsunade, do you ever look them in the eye or are you too busy searching for dango shops and ramen stands that don’t exist anymore?”

    Damn, that’s some deep s**t right there. 🙂

  13. The pace for this chapter was perfect, and I especially enjoyed how you started with the picture of Tsunade haunting the streets of Konoha. Koharu’s gentle pressure was executed beautifully, befitting someone of her age and experience ^_^ As before, I’m eagerly awaiting the next entry!

  14. @all – thanks again – your kind words make me blush.

    @ibiki – why were those four invited?

    Koharu and Homura – in the context of the story, it’s both a matter of respect of their position in the village and also, because the chaji is honoring Jiriaya but indirectly Sarutobi, too.

    Kakashi – he’s Minato’s student (Jiraiya’s grand-student?) and also the biggest fan in the village of Jiraiya-the-author. Tsunade knows this.

    Ebisu – LOL – the reason for Ebisu is my favorite plot hole in all of Naruto occurs in anime 63 Jiraiya Returns (there’s probably a manga reference, but I remember it from the show) Naruto’s asleep after training with Jiraiya all day. Jiraiya’s watching him from the rooftop, Ebisu has been following them. Ebisu confronts him, tells him the Hokage has “his” men looking for him (Ebisu trains Konohomaru, doesn’t that make *him* one of Sarutobi’s men?) And then when Jiraiya asks if Ebisu has told Sarutobi that he’s back in town, Ebisu says no. Jiraiya says “Good, it’s better that way.”
    Presumably Ebisu continues to keep Jiraiya’s secret.

    WTF is up with that Ebisu? You KNOW your Hokage wants to know when this guy comes back. You KNOW it’s Jiraiya for a whole day, tracking him around with Naruto and yet you DON’T tell Sarutobi – YOUR HOKAGE? What is UP with that? Just where do your loyalties lie, Ebisu and why?

    There is some major reason why Ebisu is loyal to Jiraiya. Tsunade knows it but I don’t. Let your imagination run wild, I know mine certainly does. I could probably write the reason, but jdb44 et. al. wouldn’t want to read it 🙂

  15. @supertrek89 – made you like Koharau for a just a moment did I? heh heh heh, Tsunade’s looking backwards – wait’ll we get to Orochimaru…

  16. @loves: OH, you didn’t bring up the Koharu-sensei bit. Way back when, when Jiraiya is offered the Hokage-ship, he greets Homura-sama and Koharu-sensei. Hmm. O rly? Sensei? heh heh heh…

  17. @ibiki – oh, yeah, forgot about that. Had Ebisu on my mind…

  18. @supertrek- LovesRS’s story about Shikaku and Yoshino, Holding Out for a Hero, turned Oro into a fairly durned sympathetic character… and Yoshino was fleshed out in a way that you couldn’t help but like her.

    However, the story that followed was one of her slashers about Kabuto/Oro, I only got a few lines into that story before hitting the return button. I suppose that LovesRS gets a chuckle from that. 🙂

    @LovesRS- Other than Ebisu, was there any significance to Moegi delivering the invitations?

    I never thought Ebi and Jiraiya were really acquainted prior to Naruto’s training. Remember when Ebisu caught Jiraiya “spying” at the hot springs, it didn’t appear that they knew each other. Then Jiraiya pwned Ebisu, and Naruto went into plan B mode, “Hey you Perv, who’s gonna train me now?” Hmm, was that fortuitous or planned?

    I know you don’t do Naruto stories, but I am now imagining this story with Naruto as the Fourth participant. You gotta admit there’s some potential for comedy that would raise Tsunade’s ire…and spirits. Ok, I know it misses the point.

  19. @jdb44

    re: Moegi delivering the invitations – since Koharu had rapped Tsunade’s knuckles for doing things ‘wrong’ when she was a girl, Tsunade needed somebody to ‘rap’ in turn. I think it’s a girl-thing – kind of like when you’re the flower girl at a wedding and your mom is putting your hair up but she’s tugging *your* hair too hard because she knows your *grandma’s* gonna tell her *she* did it wrong. The others are teens – too old to put up with that sh*t. But Moegi’s only eleven-ish – she’s got to sit still and take it while Tsunade treats her like a Barbie doll. We can be viscious that way.

    re: Ebisu and Jiraiya – good points but I think there’s enough ambiguity there either way. At the outset it seems like Ebisu doesn’t know/recognize Jiraiya. But that evening Jiraiya addresses him by name without being introduced so clearly he knows who Ebisu is.

    re: a Fourth participant…hmmm..yeah…I had actually thought of Morino Ibiki because when Jiraiya made is dramatic entrance to fight Oro’s snakes, he says he hasn’t seen Ibiki “since he was a little squirt.”

  20. Ebisu is also a nosebleeding perv…

  21. holy shnizzle bunnies that was great!!!! but why do you have to make me feel bad for someone so universally hatted? its not fair i tell you STOP BEING SO GOOD AT THIS!!!! 😉

  22. @Lovesrainscent & Jdb44: Orochimaru…good…maybe even…likable…it can’t be could it?!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! *faints*

    @Lovesrainscent:

    “There is some major reason why Ebisu is loyal to Jiraiya. Tsunade knows it but I don’t. Let your imagination run wild, I know mine certainly does. I could probably write the reason, but jdb44 et. al. wouldn’t want to read it 🙂 ”

    Hey hey now, just what kinda loyalty are you implying? Oh, that kinda loyalty…uh huh…

    *BLECH*

    Clean up in Aisle 3! >_<

  23. @supertrek89 LOL – I’ll try to behave over here. Loyalty is just…loyalty … I thought it was interesting that Ebisu seemed to not have gone to/does not go to tell the Hokage even though he knows it’s what the old man wants. (Also, I think it’s interesting that jdb44 was the first to bring up slash over here, hmmmmmm…..)

  24. @supertrek- Bonks Super on the noggin. 🙂 I didn’t say Orochimaru was good or likeable, just said he was a sympathetic character. Yoshino, on the other hand, was likeable. Keep in mind that Shikamaru is constantly babbling about how much of wench his mom (Yoshino) is, so the portrayal is a stark contrast to current canon.

    LovesRS holds a different view of Sandaime than the manga has, so far, revealed. It’s not the doting, grandfatherly, protector of all that’s good. She sees him as being so duplicitous and self-serving that Machiavelli himself would be envious. I assumed that Ebisu’s actions were, to some degree, directed by that portrait. Am I wrong, Loves?

    @LovesRS- You ladies did get into my head over there. Covers his ears, squeezes his eyes shut, and begins his mantra; “I can’t here you, I can’t here you……” As you said above, viscious. BTW, it has been awful quiet over on the other side.

    I have always liked Ibiki’s character, and wonder why Kishi hasn’t made him a bigger player in the Manga. Truthfully, I don’t see that happening in the future either.

  25. @Lovesrainscent: Hahahahahhaha LMAO at,

    “Also, I think it’s interesting that jdb44 was the first to bring up slash over here, hmmmmmm…..” (Lovesrainscent)

    Jdb44’s gonna get all kinds of defensive when he sees that. 😄

    Oh, and you don’t have to behave as long as you’re writing naughty fics about me and Hinata, Sakura, Ino, Ten Ten, Tsunade, Shizune, Kurenai, Temari, and Konan…ahhh the list goes on and on. Hell, you can even throw in a crossover with Bleach and One Piece female characters! Inoue, Yoruichi, Nami, and Nico Robin!!! GAH!!!

    *Major nose bleed*
    *Gets some tissue to cover his nose*

    Just don’t forget,

    “Let your imagination run wild, I know mine certainly does.” (Lovesrainscent)

    I’ll hold you to that! 😉

  26. @Supertrek- Yah, it was right hook, straight to the jaw. Well, at least she didn’t bloody my nose… again.

  27. @Jdb44: Youch, that hurt!…and yes I really meant to say “Youch!” 🙂 And what…Loves believes the 3rd is anything but good? He is the epitome of good…the role model of a saintly grandpapa…if their was a Santa Clause in the Naruniverse, yes it would be Sandaime! This…THIS IS MADNESS! @_@

  28. I’ll be interested in seeing LovesjRS’s reply to your kind words about Sandaime. She does have some sound logic behind her theory.

  29. @Supertrek- “Oh, and you don’t have to behave as long as you’re writing naughty fics about me and Hinata, Sakura, Ino, Ten Ten, Tsunade, Shizune, Kurenai, Temari, and Konan…ahhh the list goes on and on.” Bad move leaving your list open ended. LovesRS is apt to surprise you. That ain’t necessarily a good thing.

  30. @Jdb44: Bah humbug to her slandering of Sandaime’s good name and ‘Will Of Fire’! Wait…why am I still on Christmas? Anyway, I’ll be glad to defend the 3rd Hokage in a reasonable debate with her. I’m hesitant to read her story on it though because she’ll have the advantage of excellent storytelling. 0_0

  31. @Jdb44: Nonononononono, don’t give her any ideas! The female characters have to be age appropriate, not too old not too young, FEMALE, and fairly attractive. Bonus points for downright beautiful. ^^

  32. @supertrek…best be careful, I think the oxygen supply to your brain has been cut back a bit. JDB is right about the surprises. 😀

  33. @jdb44 and supertrek:

    I’m not sure I can offer a completely sound, well reasoned debate that will pass the manga-purity test. But here’s the LRS view:

    You have to understand that I wandered into Naruto only a couple of episodes before “Jiraiya Returns”, so while I’m still trying to figure out who’s-who, this interesting little interchange occurs where Ebisu appears (to me) to go completely against the Hokage’s directive, siding with Jiraiya without even asking WHY Jiraiya thinks it’s better the Hokage doesn’t know he’s back yet.

    So – first impressions are lasting. I saw the Jiraiya and Ebisu exchange BEFORE I went back and saw all that grandfatherly business between Iruka and Sarutobi et. al. So from where I sit, for whatever reason, there is at least one ninja in Konoha that has unquestioning loyalty to Jiraiya that exceeds his loyalty to his own Hokage.

    I admit that seeing them out of sequence may have led me to be predisposed to not see the grandfatherlyness of Sarutobi. However, I still maintain that Ebisu was more loyal to Jiraiya. And I want to know why.

    Then, at the memorial service for Sarutobi, I didn’t see Jiraiya there. Everybody knows he’s back in town and everybody’s at the service except Jiraiya. Sure – he has his flashback fond memories moments, but he’s apart from the rest of them for some reason.

    There’s just an assortment of little tidbits like that that make me think Sarutobi is not *just* the grandfatherly-defender of all that’s good. I’m not sure I’d call him completely duplicitous and self-serving but I think his motivations are more complex than simply defender of the good. Or at least the choices he has to make are more complex (and perhaps painful) in order to be able to defend the good.

    After all, he let Naruto grow up shunned and taunted, didn’t he? Rather Dumbledore-esque when you think about it.

  34. @jdb44 – re: “Keep in mind that Shikamaru is constantly babbling about how much of wench his mom (Yoshino) is, so the portrayal is a stark contrast to current canon.”

    Exactly. However those observations in current canon are made by a 12-16 year old boy about his own mom. (And her husband’s attempt to explain women in general to that same son.)

    I know that my 12-year old’s opinion of me probably differs greatly than that of my co-workers.

    What do we know about her? Well, she’s a chuunin. So that means, at some point, she must have passed the chuunin exams and been on missions of her own comparable to what Sakura/Ino/Tenten/Hinata are on now. (Correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think any of those 4 are jonin yet?)

  35. @Ibiki: Maybe I should remove the bloody cloth from under my nose then to let some oxygen in! *L*

    @Lovesrainscent: Are you talking about this exchange between the characters ttp://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/91/19/ and ttp://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/91/20/? If so, since Jiraiya is such a wanderer Ebisu might have been cautious about reporting him to the Hokage because he feared he would just run off somewhere again. As you can see Ebisu knew the village needed Jiraiya to help defend itself against Orochimaru since Tsunade was nowhere to be seen. So Ebisu was playing Mr.Nice Guy and held back informing the Hokage to not chase him away. Plus, Ebisu agrees with the 3rd’s decision of needing Jiraiya as a countermeasure against Orochimaru. So who’s side is he really on now? But alas, I have no proof that any of this is true for these are just my assumptions. I only have two pages to go on but…yeah. As for proving Sadaime is good I can dig up links on that later. =)

  36. @supertrek:
    “since Jiraiya is such a wanderer Ebisu might have been cautious about reporting him to the Hokage because he feared he would just run off somewhere again”

    I agree with you, he “might” have been cautious… or then again he “might” have other reasons. I think there’s ambiguity there.

    Certainly Ebisu knows the village needs Jiraiya. I agree 100%.

    And I also don’t *disagree* that Sarutobi is defending the good. I just think he has made some choices that seem harsh to me. But he had too, he is or was the Hokage, that’s his job.

  37. @super: I’d be digging up those links, but I’d save them for loves’ last chappie. Hee.

  38. @LovesRS- I can’t remember when the Machiavellian Yondaime discussion occurred, but I’m sure that you had more ammunition than what’s above. In fact, I don’t really recall the Jiraiya/Ebisu discussion as one of your arguments. I do remember thinking your arguments had merit and couldn’t dismiss them out of hand.

    I suppose I over-simplified your version of the dark side of Sarutobi. But if I recall, you said something to the effect that it was naive to think of him as the kind grandfather that everyone loves. I know, that doesn’t make him the sinister character portrayed above. We’ll have to say that his nuanced character has only been shown from one angle… so far.

    RE: Yoshino- Your preaching to the Choir. You’ve already convinced me, I’m a Yoshino convert. My point was that Kishi has made her into Shikamaru’s reason for not relating (thinking that they are all “troublesome”) to women. Although Shikaku does try to explain things, he often appears to be a Yoshino apologist, which leads me to think that he (to some extent) agrees with Shikamaru. That begs the question. How does your husband describe you when he’s talking to your own 12 year old? 🙂

    @Ibiki & LovesRS – Ooh. If I’m thinking of the right story, she wasn’t happy with him… and he was downright Machiavellian.

  39. @ lovesRS- Love what you did with the ghost stuff. Keep up the good work. Can’t wait to read what you come up with next.

  40. @capnmexico – thank you (but be careful what you wish for 😉 )

    @ibiki – you’re setting me up aren’t you? 🙂

    @jdb – I think you meant Machiavellian Sandaime, not Yondaime, I can’t recall ever having written/read/discussed Yondaime in that context.

    Also, I believe the arguments I made in support of my view of Sarutobi that you are referring to are in my author notes at the end of Hero. In short, given the scope of Orochimaru’s operation we saw in the flashbacks, it is my firm opinion that Sarutobi knew. He may not have wanted to know but he knew. And you’re right, Ebisu wasn’t part of that.

    As far as what my husband tells my 12-year? Hmmm…

  41. @loves: heh heh heh…you know my motto…”To the pain!”

  42. That which does not destroy me makes me stronger…

  43. @LovesRS- Yes I did, thank you for the correction. I guess, the current chapter has kept Yondaime on my brain.

    That’s right, you stated that Sarutobi had to have at least turned a blind eye to Orochimaru’s (what did Ibiki call it – eugenics?) experiments. I’m losing grey matter on a daily basis, thanks for the memory jog.

    We Dad’s try to tow the line for you moms, honest. In fact the reason I’m now a Naruto Nerd is because my wife, forced me (and it was under duress) to preview episodes of Naruto before the boys could watch them. Kind ironic don’t ya think? I know she does. I can’t blame bleach on her directly, but I try.

    Is the story that Ibiki alluded to one that I might have already read elsewhere? Just wondering aloud.

  44. @jdb44: “Is the story that Ibiki alluded to one that I might have already read elsewhere? Just wondering aloud.”

    Maybe 🙂

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