Seji takes a lot of care to mix his medicines exactly. The key to a good medicine is preciseness, and catering to the patient. There are of course general things; throat soothers, headache tamers, stomach settlers, that almost anyone can benefit from but those are not what bring people to an apothecary like Seji.
“I am a priest, not a healer.” he says often enough as he checks heart rate, temperature and the color of a person's tongue. “I can make you some tea for the digestive issues, but you really need to discuss your diet and possible allergies with a medic.” He'll explain as he gathers various roots and leaves and boils some flower petals, grinding or cutting before wrapping up a bundle of fragrant herbage in paper sheets tied with string. “And there's no tea for a teenager I'm afraid, it sounds to me like he needs to be given some space and time to work out why he's so angry, and maybe a few inanimate objects to abuse. Cutting firewood is always a soothing, productive activity.” And the upset parent will hum and pass over some coins, leave with a bowel that's less cranky and a mind a bit clearer.
The bulk of his customers are like this, middle-aged to older civilians living as peacefully as they can in their small sector of the village, producing children who grow up idolizing their shinobi neighbors, and who have the mundane, boring lives of people just trying to get by. Market people, farmers, laundresses and cooks, cobblers and trashmen and great great grannies all come by. He trades relaxing incense for soup bones from the butcher, passes candies to the school kids who bring him scraggly weed bouquets and offers advice to the troubled souls that come in the small hours of the morning, tears staining their faces because the gods don't care.
If anyone was asked to describe the man Seji Ashouka to an utter stranger, they'd call him kind, gentle, patient and dull.
If anyone asked a shinobi to describe him, the first word would be 'dangerous'. At least if it was a shinobi of any actual skill or intelligence. Ibiki who used 'dangerous' to describe any human he did not know utterly to the atom of their chakra paths, would follow up with 'cunning', 'incredibly skilled and deceptive', and 'Probably ANBU level'.
Kakashi, who was an actual if mostly retired ANBU, agreed and felt there ought to be a word specifically for the kind of person who was better at your job than you, but also not doing your job. If there was a word it wasn't yet in any volume of Icha Icha.
As a mostly retired ANBU and now hopefully retired instructor of Team Seven, there was no particular reason for Kakashi to be spying on the village's most popular and successful brewer of teas and poultices, except that the Council in their infinite wisdom had made a special and specific position of Instructor for the man, for one Uchiha Sasuke the would-be Avenger. On the surface, and at least a layer or two beneath, Sasuke was supposed to spy on the man, learn everything about him, and finish what previous members of T+I had failed to do which was discover who, what, and how dangerous he really was. Digging down a bit deeper someone wanted Sasuke away from Kakashi for a while, and he had to admit that probably wasn't a completely horrible idea... they were far too similar in some ways and Sasuke was picking up all the skills and abilities Kakashi could teach, but without any of the connections to his team, or his village, that kept Kakashi from going rogue back at that age.
Still, assigning the Heir the Uchiha to a lowly civilian priest would put the kid's back up enough he might just go missing-nin for good. At least if he failed to connect the same dots that the Council had. Seji Ashouka had been in Konoha less than a year before the attack of the Fox. He'd been given citizenship by the Fourth directly, under 'refugee' status, and he'd earned the highest honor a civilian could by protecting the entire civilian section of village under a massive chakra Ward that had ended up with him laid out in a coma for a week. Similarly, with the attack from Sand he'd stepped in and powered a Ward to shield half the village from both released Tails, that coincidentally prevented the Snake bastard from escaping until he'd been drained near death of both chakra and blood. Orochimaru unfortunately escaped only missing most of his limbs.
Seji's 'house' in the civilian district was a modest two story affair with the main floor being utilized as a work shop and sales counter. The upstairs was relegated to living space. There existed a floored patio instead of a yard to the back that housed an ever increasing army of potted plants, and flower boxes under ever window. There were also wards so powerful and subtle that no whisper of sound, motion or light escaped once activated, inscribed in plaster, wood and stone and bound with blood seals. The man took privacy, and the secrets of his clients, as sacred. Because he was an apothecary as well as a priest, every windowsill and doorway to the outside was lined in a mixture of raw salt crystals and powdered cinnamon. Salt for demons, cinnamon for ants.
Whatever the 'gentle', 'kind', 'patient' little priest from Wave Country decided to teach Sasuke, it wouldn't be to be weak or stupid.
“What is that?”
“Unagi. Well, specifically unagi jerky.” Seji waved the scrap of pressed, salted, fishy smelling meat at him invitingly. “It's good for you!”
“No. Thank you.” Sasuke wrinkled his nose and reminded himself that Wave people were weird. “You make fish jerky.”
“I buy it. It's a bit more expensive than deer or hog.” Seji tore a small strip off the piece he held and popped it into his mouth. “If there was more than river fish readily available I might try my hand at smoking, but river fish are better just charred and stewed really. Unless it's salmon.”
Sasuke had never had opinions before on fish, except that they were easy when on mission or in a survival situation to find. Even in Wave he hadn't bothered really paying attention to the cuisine. There was food, he ate it, it may have had more fish than chicken. He did remember a lecture from Kakashi one evening about the cute factor of small animals and how that measured into their nutritional value, but he'd passed most of that off as more bullshit from the master bullshitter.
“Is that why you have a cupboard full of seaweed? To mask the fact they're river fish you're cooking?” He asked idly as he continued taking inventory of the small kitchen.
“Mmm, no. Not really. It's just a healthy snack and it keeps forever, plus you can cook with it, or in a pinch use it to thicken the base mix of plaster casts and clay poultices.”
Sasuke paused and rewound that conversation in his head to make sure he'd heard it right, then went back to the cupboard and double checked the dates on the various boxes. Sure enough not one box was over a year old, and at least one had been purchased only a few weeks ago. As far as the rest of the cupboards went there was a decent collection of pots and pans, an army of cans of vegetables only T+I would consider food outside of a crisis, a small collection of mission rations probably purchased for him, and three small sacks that looked as though they'd never been opened, purchased only because someone said they were a necessity of a kitchen; of rice, flour and sugar. In the fridge was more terrifying fish jerky, a bowl of impossibly small fish fry that had been fried crispy and salted, a jug of milk, a smaller jug of orange juice, and three small brown eggs.
“This is everything edible in your house.”
“Technically everything in my house is edible, including you and I, but cannibalism is frowned on in polite society.”
“You don't even have cooking sake.”
“I have almost two thousand ingredients to make teas and lozenges and vitamin supplements... I have alcohol but it's in the laundry room.” Seji shrugged at him, chewing on a long thin fish bone.
“Why is your alcohol in the laundry room?”
“Because the club soda is in there to. I keep telling myself I'm going to learn to mix the two one day but.. club soda is good for stains and doing laundry makes me want to drink.” He tossed the bone in the garbage can. “I'm not a good cook. Or house keeper.”
Sasuke tried to imagine living off dried seaweed and pressed fish. It made him slightly nauseous. “How have you not died of scurvy?”
“There's lots of vitamin C in seaweed actually. Anyway if the Council wanted me to teach you to Adult that way, they really should have done more research on my spending habits.”