The bad part about being a heavy sleeper is that waking up tends to be a long, drawn-out process. But on this particular morning, Suko woke up to a wet pinky being jammed into his ear. The result was a bout of flailing limbs and a string of curses from Suko, who ended up face to face with his grinning little sister in a tangle of blankets.
"Suko! Yesterday, Naya told me about wet willies, do you know what those are?" How Fumika had so much energy so early in the morning was beyond Suko, who was in the trenches of his teenage years at this point, meaning sleep seemed a lot more important these days. Suko squinted at his younger sister, wiping the gunk out of the corner of his eyes and letting out a brief yawn. He then dramatically raised one finger, making sure he had Fumika's full attention before placing the appendage into his mouth, prepping a wet willy of his own. Finally understanding the danger she was in, Fumika let out a squeal and attempted to flee the bed. Unfortunately for her, Suko struck faster than she could react, drenching her ear, inspiring disgusted laughter from the both of them.
"If you stick any of those grubby little fingers of yours near me again I'll bite 'em off!" Suko always feigned seriousness when he threatened his sister, and Fumika always feigned fear until they both would burst out laughing. Their mother happened to walk in during their latest bout of this, and if it had been any other day their conversation wouldn't have been as clipped.
"Suko! Why aren't you dressed yet? Your father is already stressed as it is, he shouldn't have to worry about his son being late to his graduation ceremony. Fumika, come on sweetie, it's your brother's big day, one that he'll be late to if he doesn't get his ass into gear." Fumika pouted as she hopped off her brother's bed and stomped out of the room, making sure Nishioka knew she was mad for ruining the siblings' fun. Suko's mom sighed and shook her head, "have two kids they said, it'll be fun they said..." Suko chuckled, sliding out from under the mess of blankets he had created and began rifling through his clothing to find something suitable for the day.
"Nervous?" Nishioka asked tentatively, knowing that Suko had been training nonstop for years in preparation for this day. Suko shrugged as he stepped into his outfit for the day. The teen shifted over to a mirror in his room, checking to make sure he looked presentable. Presentable always seemed too vague for Suko, who for the most part refused to wear clothing that covered his tattoos. Today was an exception though, because despite his complaints, Suko was dressed in dark joggers, a white shirt (most shirts are normally a no-go for him), and his trademark black vest.
"I'm probably less freaked out than Dad is, to be honest." Nishioka just nodded sympathetically. "he'll be fine, it's not every day that your son becomes a genin though. Have I mentioned how proud I am of you yet?" She came to stand behind him so that both could see their reflections in the mirror. Nishi ruffled her son's hair before ushering him out the room. "Dad said he'd be waiting outside for you after you eat and everything." Suko nodded, wondering why his father wanted to walk him to the ceremony instead of eating breakfast with them all like he normally did. Maybe he was doing work right now and was going to walk him to the ceremony because he wouldn't be able to attend the actual event. This type of skepticism was normal for Suko, who operated under the assumption that his dad was always up to something. Breakfast seemed to tick by like molasses, but Suko kissed his mother and sister goodbye with a full stomach. "I'll see both of you later at Saito for dinner, tell Dad that if he's late he's getting thumped right in that old, wrinkly forehead of his," Nishioka clucked her tongue, "Watch yourself bub, I'm the same age as your father and I don't look a day over thirty," she called out after him.
Suko opened the front door of his house and wasn't surprised to see his father waiting at the bottom of the front steps. Matsushina Tanji was a stone-like character, made of strong angles and what seemed like an absence of softness. As his son approached, the man unfolded his arms from his chest and smiled, a gesture that looked weird to Suko just because of its rareness. Once in range, Tanji clapped a hand on Suko's shoulder and drew him to his side. "Excited, bud? Your journey as a shinobi begins today, is anything pressing on your mind?" The man began walking as he talked and Suko fell into step with him, pondering the question given.
As his son ruminated, Tanji seemingly pulled a pack of cigarettes out of thin air, along with matches that he kept who knows where when he wasn't using them. The man took a cigarette for himself and then, after hesitating a moment, offered one to Suko.
Eyeing his father suspiciously, Suko hesitated to take the tobacco product before finally relenting. "I figure, if you're old enough to fight for our village then one of these can't be the worse thing for you," was Tanji's explanation. After lighting it with a match, Suko put the cigarette between his lips and inhaled lightly. Tanji chuckled when Suko's face scrunched up as he coughed lightly. "Ugh, Dad, you do this for fun?" Tanji flicked some ash away from his person and shrugged, "It's actually kind of calming when you get used to it." Suko grinned, "Calming? I'll take nerves over this shit any day."
"Fair enough, bud, fair enough."
Anticipation was practically palpable in the courtyard of the academy. Suko stood with his classmates proudly, feeling the contagious excitement vibrate through him. He did his best to soak it all in, the Amekage, her assistant, his classmates, all of it. Since he didn't know much about his own Kage, Suko was curious about what kid of person she was, she certainly acted in an interesting manner. It was hard to not be drawn into her words though, which sat in his mind-space to be chewed on later. Being a shinobi of Amegakure no Sato means you bear the burden of sacrifice so that others do not have to. And then what followed that, the rain weeps for you, and the suffering you will cause and receive. Suko repeated those words in his head as he looked down at his forehead protector, as if repeating them enough times would reveal something he didn't notice at first.
You finally did it, you're a genin now, do you feel any different? Do you feel like you've done something of worth? Suko pondered this as the ceremony came to a close and he came to the decision that he felt good about today, but his work was no where near finished. In fact, it had only begun. Pulling himself out of his thoughts, Suko grounded himself in the present moment. The next thing to do was head to Saito
for the meal with his family.
Taking the back roads, meaning the rooftops, Suko arrived at Saito in record time from the academy. Slipping through the back door, Suko managed to sneak by without attracting too may eager adults wanting to ask him questions about graduation. Finding Nishioka wasn't hard, as she was sternly giving orders to one of her newer cooks, the poor guy looked like he wouldn't last 'til the end of the week the way he had his tail tucked between hid legs. "Sorry to interrupt but where are Dad and Fummie sitting?" His mother gestured to a table in the quieter section of the shop, where the rest of their family sat.
As if right on cue, Suko heard Sadako's loud voice enter the shop. The newly-appointed genin shifted past his mother and out to the front of the restaurant where he could see if his ears were deceiving him or not. Seeing three of his classmates drew a smile to his lips and he waved enthusiastically.
"Sadako, Hikari, Masae, those are some cool looking Hitai-ate, are they new or something?" He asked this with a grin as he ushered them deeper into the restaurant. "But seriously, what's up guys? Come here for some post-grad grub?"