Chapter 1- In the filing room
Genma wearily walked up to the filing clerk sitting at her desk and handed his mission report to her. She smiled up at him, "Thank you Shirunai-san. I'm glad you made it back safely again."
He hesitated, did he know her? Had he flirted with her one night and forgotten about her? No, she was just smiling up at him, genuinely happy that he was safe. He looked at her, really looked at her for the first time since she had started working in the tower. She was an attractive woman, a few years younger than he was, maybe. She had chestnut brown hair that was pulled back from her face into a barrette, he wondered how long it was if she was to let it down. Her dark blue green eyes were almost turquoise as they smiled back at him. He judged her to be about six or so inches shorter than he was, but it was a guess since she was sitting, perched on her stool and he was standing on the other side of her desk. Her lips were neither thin nor full, making the perfect bow on her face. Her outfit declared her civilian status, she wore a deeply cut teal t-shirt that might have shown too much cleavage had it not been for the tank top underneath that was dotted with pink, teal, and purple flowers. His eye drifted to the promise of cleavage but he looked away quickly, he didn't want to seem like he was ogling her. He reflected that he might have flirted with her if they'd met in a bar, she was cute.
"Thank you. I'm glad to be back too." He turned to walk away, heading for his shower and his bed but turned back on a whim, taking the senbon pin he kept in his mouth out for a moment. "I'm sorry, I forgot your name?" As if he'd ever known it. The truth was that most of the jonin simply handed their mission reports in for filing and left, never even noticing the people who did the filing.
She looked back up from her log where she had been noting the receipt of his mission report. "Umeko. Umeko Nagamine."
"Well then thank you Nagamine-san." Genma replaced the senbon pin and turned to walk away wondering how many filing clerks he had simply overlooked since he'd become a jonin.
As he turned to walk away a man, slightly taller than he brushed past him as if he were simply in the way of this man's more important business. He paused at the door to look back and watch him. He was in the uniform of an Anbu but it looked uncomfortable on him, as if the man wasn't quite used to the weight of the added armor worked into the uniform and the mask that protected his identity from those around him.
He watched as the unknown man approached the same filing clerk that Genma himself had just been speaking with. She looked up at him smiling but her smile quickly changed to a look of dread. Clearly she knew who he was. Genma reflected that the filing clerks in this office probably knew a lot more than anyone realized.
The man leaned over the desk, resting his hand on her forearm. It might have been a gesture of affection except Genma could see the dents he was making in her arm from the pressure he was applying with his fingers and her face pale at whatever it was he was saying to her as he whispered in her ear. She nodded her head, apparently agreeing with whatever it was the man had to say and he released her arm and stood. As he did she looked up and caught Genma observing the interchange. She smiled nervously and gathered some files as if to bring them back to the filing room. The man caught her attention once more, saying something Genma couldn't hear and though she looked shaken she nodded and smiled. The smile wasn't genuine though, it was a nervous smile, as if she was caught in a trap and had to appease her captor in order to preserve her life.
Genma left the room feeling perturbed and wondered what it was he had just witnessed. He shrugged, Anbu guys could be touchy, and this guy had looked young besides, perhaps he was just one of the difficult ones. He wandered towards the break room to grab a drink and say hi to anyone in there before he headed home for his much deserved shower and sleep.
Sliding the door to the break room open he was relieved to see that it was only Raido and Kotetsu in here just now. He poured himself a cup of tea and walked over to where they were sitting.
"Hey there." He greeted them.
"Welcome back Genma." Raido looked over at his tired friend.
"Hey there." Kotetsu nodded his head to the older jonin. "How was your mission?"
"Good. Quiet. Got the job done and came home, just a few scratches and bruises. That's the way I like them."
They both agreed with him.
"Did you hear that we have a new crop of Anbu graduates?" Raido asked.
"I hadn't but I think I just saw one giving a filing clerk a hard time. Why do they have to be so cocky when they're young?" Genma had no patience for disrespect. So what if the person filing your paperwork wasn't a jonin level ninja? You didn't have to know seventy-five ways to kill someone in order to file some paperwork.
Raido began filling him in on the gossip and news that had occurred during the two weeks he'd been gone but their conversation was interrupted by two Anbu guys walking into the room talking loudly. Genma recognized one of them to be the same man, well boy really, who had nearly flattened him in his hurry to get to the filing clerk. He was talking to his friend.
"Did you see her, Hiroshi? Smiling at that jonin as if he was the sweetest thing she'd ever seen?"
"To be honest, Tamotsu, you deck anyone of us who even look at her. So, no, I wasn't watching her."
"She was flirting with him!"
"She's a filing clerk, couldn't she just have been being nice?"
"She called him by name. That's more than being nice. I gave her a warning. She won't do it again."
"Seriously, if you don't trust her why do you stay with her? Umeko's a nice girl and she's never given you a reason to doubt her."
"You don't see it, do you? The way she looks at other guys and how she disrespects my authority? I stay with her because she's mine. And that's the way it will always be." He looked out the window with a superior look of chauvinism on his face. "That's the way girls like you. She wouldn't be dating an Anbu if she wanted a pushover who let her run wild and waited on her every word. Girls like a firm hand." He demonstrated this by slapping one of his hands with the other one.
Genma's fist tightened around his paper cup of tea threatening to crush it and he bit down on the senbon pin that usually hung casually from his mouth . Obviously they were discussing him and the exchange he had just had with the filing clerk. He hadn't gotten the impression that she'd been flirting and he did get the impression that this upstart moron had a much better opinion of himself than he should. Raido and Kotetsu had been listening too and he could see that they were no happier than he was at the man's disrespectful tone. Not to mention their flaunting of basic Anbu rules and ettiquette in a public room.
He rose, handing his tea cup to Raido and walked across the room to them. His walk indicated that he was headed for the door but at the last moment he turned, grabbing the punk by his arm, which he quickly twisted around behind the man as he shoved him up against the wall, pointing his senbon pin directly at the mans throat. The kids friend jumped to his aid but instead found himself pinned by Raido. Kotetsu leaned against the wall next to him.
"I wouldn't bother. Even though you're both Anbu, you're new Anbu and the men who have you pinned are both trained assassins. Just hear him out, Tamotsu." Kotetsu knew that Genma had very little tolerance for disrespect and the fact that this man had not only disrespected some very basic Anbu rules and a woman in the same breath meant he was in for a treat.
Genma leaned into the young mans face. "Who was your Anbu Sensei? Because I think maybe I need to have a word with him. Or perhaps I should just go straight to Ibiki? He might be able to make you understand why you wear a mask and don't tell people your name."
The younger man paled.
Genma rolled his senbon pin, letting it graze the skin on his neck and continued. "Perhaps you need a reminder of just why the Anbu identities are concealed. Did you think you were cool waltzing in here and calling each other by name? Did you think no one would notice? Perhaps Lady Tsunade would like to know how her newest Anbu members respect their new positions?"
"Hey. It was a mistake. I'll be more careful next time. I never even saw you guys sitting there. And this is headquarters, right? Where better to make a mistake?" He was grasping for any way out.
Genma could tell that he didn't like being at the disadvantage and he pressed him harder against the wall. "There isn't room for mistakes for an Anbu, no second chances. Consider yourself lucky that only the three of us heard you and we're willing to look away, THIS TIME!"
Tamotsu was looking visibly shaken by now but Genma wasn't done.
"I also heard what you said about that sweet filing girl. I take it she's your girlfriend?"
Tamotsu nodded that Genma had guessed correctly.
"While you're searching your heart and finding it in you to respect your job you should probably reconsider your opinion about women as well. That kind of attitude won't get you very far if it gets out. There aren't too many guys, or girls for that matter, around here that will stand by and watch you be an asshole."
Genma released the man, looking him up and down. "And probably most of them could take you out before you even knew they were in the room."
Raido released Tamotsu's friend at the same time. He and Kotetsu following Genma out the door of the break room.
Genma sighed and looked at Raido. "Is it a sign that I'm getting old, Raido, that I just can't stand by and watch stuff like that? A few years ago I might have mentioned to him that keeping his mouth shut would be a healthier choice, and even longer ago I would have just laughed at him."
"Nah. He was a jerk."
"Well, I'll see you. I have a date with my shower and my bed and I don't want to be late."