Nadare sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. "Resshin, I know you want Recca to grow strong, but at the very least you could be a little kinder to him."
The Karyu leader shot her a frown. "Since when have you been so interested in how I treated my son, Nadare?"
Translation: It'd none of your business and stay out of it.
Unfortunately, that was the last thing Nadare planned on doing. She had truly begun to care for her new master; his astounding will and sincerity touched her heart where it had never been affected before. Resshin may have been the greatest flamemaster of the Hokage, but Nadare was not about to let him antagonize his own son in such a way.
"Ever since he became my- no, our new master," she replied as calmly as she could. Resshin's frown deepened, but he didn't make any sign interrupting her. "Resshin, he's your son, and I know you just want him to be the best he can be. You and I both believe that he can surpass all of us and become the greatest flamemaster ever."
"Hey, don't I have any say in this?" Madoka complained good-naturedly.
"I like Recca too; he's a good kid. And he's got a lot of potential to become very good at flame-throwing."
"You just like him because he's the only one who figured out how to break your shield," Kokuu tossed back. He pulled his shades down with a wink and eyed Rui, who promptly changed her appearance so that the kimono covered her completely. Kokuu, naturally, was disappointed.
"Nani?" Madoka was indignant. "How dare you say that!"
"Really? So Recca wasn't the first to break through your shield! Madoka, are you really the King of the Kekkai?"
"I wasn't talking about that, you lech! I meant I wasn't that shallow!"
"Is that so…"
"Why you--!" A squabble with an excess of name-calling ensued between the two.Homura's deep voice rose above the bickering. "He'll make a fine warrior; there's no doubt about that. He's already very accomplished for his age."
"I agree." Nadare turned in surprise to Saiha. Other than Setsuna, Saiha was the most belligerant of the dragons. "You have nothing to be ashamed of, Resshin. If anything, you should be extremely proud of him."
"Who said I was ashamed of Recca?" Resshin demanded. He slammed a fist on the table, causing all seven other dragons to fall silent. "I'm not ashamed of him! If I'm ashamed of anyone, it's Kurei! That a son of mine could act so despicably!"
"You're not being fair again, Resshin," Nadare declared. "Kurei has had an indescribably horrifying childhood. You can't expect him to really be as normal and as sane as Recca."
"Even Recca can be an insanely stupid idiot sometimes," Koku muttered under his breath. Nadare had to agree with that.
"He does need more experience," Resshin continued. "I know he's gained all- well, most of you's respect," he looked pointedly at Setsuna, who sat in the corner, a hideous half-grin twisting his face. "And I know that some of you even go out of your way for him. But he needs to grow more and to become more of a man."
"Resshin, he's only seventeen!" Nadare protested, her own temper starting to snap. "Let him be a teenager for at least a little bit! Why make him grow up so suddenly? He'll have the rest of his life to grow up, but he'll never be a child again!"
"He's had sixteen years to be a child!" Resshin snarled. "That's more than enough! He needs to accept his destiny now, as the leader of the Hokage! He needs to take the responsibility he was destined for!"
Destiny. Nadare recoiled as she heard it. That word stung her ears and burned her mind to ashes. How she hated that word, and the utter helplessness it described! Red flames seemed to leap before her eyes, filling her mind with an preternatural red haze. Destiny. Not letting anyone have a choice in their lives.
Resshin might believe destiny put Recca in this position. But Nadare never believed in destiny. Not since it had destroyed her life.
"Destiny means nothing!" she screamed. Madoka, sitting next to her, jumped at her shrill cry and scuttled a little distance away, eyeing her warily. "NOTHING! How DARE you say that destiny controls Recca's life when you're trying to manipulate his life into your own! He's your SON!"
Saiha's eyes widened as he watched the normally demure girl turn into a raging, explosive woman. He'd never guessed Nadare had such a grudge against Resshin for putting Recca through so many unnecessary trials, including his near death experience with Kurei and the Kurei clone.
understand?! You're using destiny as an excuse! YOU want to
control Recca's life! No wonder you were the last dragon to accept
him! And you still don't accept him! You used your damn leader's
role as a wall between you and him! Don't you know that hurts him?!
He never chose to be your son, the seventh leader of
the Hokage! Do you think he WANTS this?! He wants to have the eight of us all inside of him? Did he want to be sent 400 years into the future, have a mother who will never be able to touch him, and a father who keeps him a distance and wans to control him?!"
"Enough." Resshin's voice was cold. Nadare sucked in her breath abruptly, suddenly filled with apprehension. She'd never heard Resshin sound so angry. "Nadare, I don't know what's gotten into you, but it must stop at once. I will not have you critisizing how I train my son, and furthermore--"
"Your son," Nadare managed to get out through clenched teeth, "Will most likely DIE if you keep this up, Resshin. Can't you see that he's already starting to crack under the pressure? He just got through a killing tournament! None of us ever had to go through that before, where if we lost a match we'd be killed! Right away, he's pitted against Kouran again, not to mention the remaining Uruha, which is already being bolstered again to replace the members lost during the Ura Butou Satsujin. The last thing he needs is you to drag him back here and have a fight with him when he's already been beat up. And I know you think that his love for that girl is petty-- "
"Nadare." Resshin's voice grew colder still. "Enough." Flames began to dance from his hand, signifying an unspoken threat that would become reality if she chose to continue speaking.
Upset as she was, Nadare was still very sensible, and she knew that she had already crossed the line and was dangerously close to enraging Resshin. True, she was a highly skilled flamemaster, but Resshin easily surpased her. There was no doubt who would win if they got into a fight.
But she was upset enough to feel a loathing at staying even in the same room as Resshin; his blindness to his son's emotional state was painful for both her and Recca, whom she cared dearly about. Hearing him state so surely and steadfastly that he'd continue this grueling test on Recca had been the last straw.
Nadare didn't stay to find out any more. She stood quickly and fled out of their room, knocking a chair over in her haste. She flung open the door and ran outside, not caring where she ran, as long as she was increasing the distance between her and that cursed fool of a father. Faintly, she heard Madoka's concerned calls for her to stop and to come back, but she paid them little heed. She knew she wouldn't be able to handle it.