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Sunday, January 20, 2013

One Day at a Time

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of its characters and make no money from this.

Day Four: Expected Company

A boulder half his height. The city coming into their view. A sick tree thirty five degrees to the west from the boulder. A patch of decaying flowers seventy meters ahead of the boulder. This was it. This was the meeting spot.

"Sakura." Kakashi called her name, his voice never betraying the hesitance and doubt he felt. He hadn't uttered a word about this mission's goal. Her trust in him was so infaillible that she didn't see the need to ask. His heart pumped widly as he anticipated the next array of events that were about to happen.

"Yes, Kakashi-Sensei?" She turned to him when he stopped, her eyes watching him, giving him her full attention. She still followed his lead, hanging onto his every words when they were on missions. He was the leader. He was letting her walk in the wolf's den.

"Sakura, a group of rogue ninjas is about to intercept us. Let them. Act as if oblivious." His instructions were brief and to the point, because he couldn't bear to give her all the details. She would know soon enough. Fear was never one of the many emotions that flashed in her eyes. He felt like a traitor.

Barely seconds later, when he had kneeled down to rummage in the backpack he had set on the ground, smoke bombs exploded all around them. The thick gas formed a perfect circle around them, obstructing their view from the outside world. The duo immediately readied for a fight, kunai drawn and ready to pounce at anything that showed a sign of life. Easily enough, the chuunin dodged an incoming senbon. Her agility and speed had vastly improved over the years, sometimes still catching him off guard.

Many more senbon seemingly fell from the sky, but none even grazed the skin of the perfectly coordinated couple who now stood back to back in the middle of circle, ears sharp as they waited for a clue as to where their enemies.

"Don't move. It'll be coming from the right. Let him get you." She obeyed without hesitation. The thin needle, indeed coming from the right, lodged into her thigh. It seemed as if she had never seen it coming. He felt the pressure of her back ease off and heard the loud thud of her body hitting the ground.

"Sakura!" He called as he turned around, reaching for her. He was well aware of the senbon aimed at his arm and that he couldn't dodge it because he had turned to help Sakura. It should do the trick, he assumed before it pierced his skin and spread its poison in his blood stream. Everything went black.
When he finally came back to his senses, he couldn't make much of the room he was in. No lights were lit and his eyes seemed to refuse to adjust to the darkness. He expelled an exasperated breath as he rolled his head against the wall he was leaning on, trying to clear the fog that his mind was trapped in. Whatever it was they'd used to knock him out, they'd put the triple dose to make sure he wouldn't be up any time soon.

When he felt comfortable enough to move, he ran a hand on the group around him, searching for his partner. He crawled on the ground only a little distance before bumping into her still asleep body. Good, she was with him. He'd been afraid that they might lock her up in a different area. At least she wouldn't be alone. He wasn't sure how much comfort he could really offer her, but he hoped it was better than going through this alone.

After what he assumed to be two hours, he felt starting to stir, fighting the grogginess as he had. Her panic was evident as she felt his hand on her shoulder, but he reassured her quickly.

"Sakura, it's me." She quieted quickly after hearing his voice, though he felt her hesitance.

"Where are we?" Her question was to be expected. Too bad he didn't have a good answer.

"I don't know." His reply was honest, though he omitted a few details for the time being. Her body moved into a sitting position, brushing against his so they could be aware of each other's movements.

"But you knew what was going to happen. This is the mission, isn't it?" Curiosity was the main feeling he could detect in her voice, though fear seemed to be an underlying tone. He nodded his head. There were many words that wanted to come out of his mouth, but he had trouble figured out what they were.

"Then what's the plan?" Her tone was thick with impatience.

"We wait." He replied simlpy. He had no doubt this mission would be in the top ten of his lifelong worst missions list. Did he really keep a list of that anyway?

"Kakashi-sensei, please tell me what this is about." Her breathing was picking up and her voice was slightly shaky. Her patience was wearing thin. He hung his head low and sucked on his lower lip as he gathered the courage to tell her the mission brief.

"This is your first S-Class mission. We were captured by a missing nin group who we have reason to believe is trying to steal some of Konoha's forbidden jutstus. Our goal is to gather information on them and get out of here once we have enough." That was the gist of it. His voice had remained even although he just wanted to pull his hair out. She wasn't supposed to be here. She wasn't ready for this. The elders had no idea what they threw her in... No, they were perfectly aware. He just didn't want to admit why they did it.

"But I'm only chuunin! I can't participate in S-Class missions yet." Her body tensed against his. She wasn't stupid, she could guess where this was headed.

"I was supposed to be alone. Looks like the elders wouldn't have it though." He stared straight ahead. He fought to keep his breathing steady and regular. Chuunin never got sent on S-Class missions unless it was to the jonin's benefit.

"I see." Her breathing pratically stopped, her focus being only on her thoughts, he assumed. She was clever, she would deduce her part in this soon enough.

"So, I guess there's not many options. Either I'm here to patch you up, which I doubt because of these chakra-binding bracelets we're wearing, or I'm gonna be the target." Her voice betrayed no emotion that might have been whirling in her mind. He could be proud of her, he thought for a second. She was one brave girl. When he didn't give her an answer, she chuckled. He heard her head hit the wall behind them.

"No wonder Tsunade got herself so drunk. Probably didn't get a say in this." He couldn't tell if she felt bitter or compassionate for her shishou. "You do have the information they're after, right?"

"I do." No words came to him. All he wanted to do was apologize to her, but what good would it do. He wasn't the one to have pushed her into this. He wasn't the one who could get her out of this.

"So, it's pretty easy to understand why I'm here. You probably insisted on doing this mission alone." She started as she leaned her head against his shoulder, her tone purely analytical.

"But it wouldn't do to have a precious jonin go on a near suicide mission by himself. But that's only one reason why I'm here." He didn't know why she continued speaking, why she had to go over this out loud.

"I'm close to you. With your past, it's obvious you've been under torture numerous times so that means I will be the target." How could she say this so coldly while he could feel his blood boiling?
"They'll get to me to get to you. It's a good strategy on both sides, really. You'll be in a good shape when the time comes to high tail it out of here. You're much stronger than me, so that's good." He was in complete denial for this part. It was an awful strategy. Any strategy that put her in such a position was awful.

"As soon as we're relatively safe, you'll find a way to get these bracelets off. Then it'll be easy for me to patch myself up with Tsunade's technique. No jonin match my skills there. It works. How long do we have?" He had never witnessed said technique for himself, but he knew that it was an amazing one. One that had kept her alive in a fight against an Akatsuki member.

"Two months. If we don't have anything by then, we're out of here." Sixty days. That wouldn't be long... If they were lucky, he'd be able to have all the information long before then, but he was lucid enough to know it was unlikely. He took some time to remisnisce the moment she had told him about that fight. She had been so proud. He had been floored with worry. His student had almost died. She had a sword piercing her abdomen all the way through her back. He could never be more thankful that she was a medic. She would have died if she hadn't been.

"Okay." Her answer was so simple, it bothered him. Why was she taking this so easily? Wasn't she afraid? He shut his eyes tightly as he anticipated what was about to come and, just for a selfish moment, wondered on who it would be the hardest.

Chapter Five: Click Here

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